Friday, June 29, 2012

Canary Islands Whistle Language

Recently, I was talking with a foreign language teacher about languages offered in public schools. I remember having choices of Spanish, German, French, Italian and Latin when I was in high school. Nowadays, with our ever changing world, we see offerings of Arabic, Chinese and others that were never offered when I was in high school. 

I've always been fascinated with languages even though I could never quite master them. Some have a musical appeal, like Swedish and certain Chinese dialects.

My friend and I wondered how school boards choose the languages that are taught today because of the large number of dialects of languages, like Chinese. 

I can't even imagine what African languages would be chosen. Maybe, Swahili? Within just that one language, I'm sure there are many, many dialects.

When I was in college, one of my courses included a study of the Igbo tribe of Nigeria. The Igbo, is one ethnic group, but there are also the Yorubas and Hausas. All speak the same language but with different dialects. 

There are over 6,000 endangered languages around the world, some of which are now being taught in schools.  One we learned about, when we first visited Switzerland, is Romansh, one of the four official languages of Switzerland. It's a language of the mountain people and hadn't been taught in schools until they brought it back a few years ago. 


"Romansh is a romance language of the Rhaetian group spoken in northern Italy and Switzerland, primarily in the Rhine Valley in the Swiss canton of Graub√ľnden (Grisons)."

Listen to the sounds of some of these words. You'll hear the definite ties to Italian and French and of course, German.

Then there's the unusual whistle language of the Canary Islands, off the coast of Africa. One of my favorite principals told fascinating stories to me about his summer vacations in the Canaries and the whistle language. I've never forgotten it. 

This YouTube video is a fascinating account of the history, people and whistle language of La Gomera (Canary Islands) It shows kids in school learning the whistles.

Whistled language of the island of La Gomera (Canary Islands), the Silbo Gomero - YouTube

It's important we save these endangered languages, both orally and written forms.

Have a wonderful summer!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Polka Dot Monsters

I decided to try my hand at creating some clip art. I've always loved to draw and do art work so this was FUN!

I just finished a bunch of borders and frames but want to work on more before posting them.

Here are two of four polka dot monsters I made today... Maybe I should call them "critters"???

I'm up for suggestions! What would you call them? Crumpies? Thingamajiggies? :)

Update  6/19/2012

I've removed my critters for now. I want to finish the set. Stay tuned! :)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Nonfiction Detective Task Cards

When I run contests in my classes, it motivates even those kids who are less likely to participate in class activities, to become involved.

Who doesn't love a contest? 

When I was 10 years old, my parents entered me in a "Singing Dog" contest that was being sponsored by a local television station. I was a shy child, and usually had butterflies in my stomach when I had to participate in class discussions so the thought of me appearing on television to participate in a contest was frightening!

When I practiced my clarinet, my dachshund, Gretchen, would HOWL. The high notes hurt her poor ears! The song she hated the most was "When the Saints Go Marching In", a song we were practicing in school. Gretchen would throw her head back, close her eyes and howl, howl, howl in all different notes! Was it singing? No. The poor dog was telling us that she hated it.

The day of the contest...

When we got to the t.v studio, I was shaking so much my teeth were chattering. My dog leaned against my leg, so I figured she felt like I did. Our competitors were all kids and their dogs. Most of the dogs were smaller and looked like scared rabbits and had their tails between their legs. I remember looking to my left and standing there was the biggest German Shepherd I've ever seen. He was introduced as TANK. A perfect name for a huge dog!

I was assigned the number four to be on stage. TANK was last. I put my clarinet together and gripped Gretchen's leash as I walked to the middle of the stage and began playing the song. Gretchen threw her head back, howled and shook her floppy ears. She looked at me with soulful eyes that begged me to stop playing.  

I'll never forget the rounds of applause when we walked off stage. I was sure Gretchen would win!

When it was TANK'S turn, his deep voice resonated throughout the studio as his "master" played a jazzy type of song on his trumpet. Cheers went up! TANK was a huge hit with the audience.

TANK won and Gretchen came in second. Our prize? A camping PUP tent. It didn't matter that we didn't win. What mattered is that I had gained some self confidence and from that point on, I wasn't as afraid to be part of class discussions. 

When I started teaching, I decided to run contests for my students. They don't win huge prizes but it's the spirit of healthy competition that might also encourage shy or less motivated kids to participate. 

These are my Nonfiction Detective Task cards.  The packet includes how to use the three sets of cards as well as complete instructions about the contest!  Detective Jar labels are included in color and black and white.

Have fun!

Click on the cover ...

photo of Nonfiction Detective Task Cards PDF File task cards Ruth S. Teacher Park