Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A joke you can tell in class!

A disappointed salesman of Cola returned from his assignment to Israel.  A friend asked, "Why weren't you successful with the Israelis?"
The salesman explained, "When I got posted, I was very confident that I would make a good sales pitch.  But I had a problem. I didn't know how to speak Hebrew. So I planned to convey the message through three posters :

First poster : A man lying in the hot desert sand ... totally exhausted and fainting.

Second poster : The man is drinking Cola
Third poster : Our man is now totally refreshed.
And then these posters were pasted all over the place."
"Terrific! That should have worked!" said the friend.
"The heck it should have!" said the salesman.
"No one told me they read from right to left!"

From somewhere on the Internet! 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Today's Date in History

I just found a very interesting site, Today's Date in History.

Just to start out, I picked today's date, December 23rd.

In the classroom, you could use this for a writing assignment, or a research project.

Example.  Take an event and show how it was significant or not,

One event that was insignificatn:
1975Congress passes Metric Conversion Act

Well, this didn't work because in the United States people still use the old system of measurement!  When I was growing up, we used inches, yards and miles.
The temperature is in Fahrenheit, and in the kitchen we use cups, quarts and gallons.

Did the fact that Congress passed the Metric Conversion Act really change the way that Americans measure the world?  Not really.  I was going to school during the 70's and really, people in the States still measure the old way.  Coming to Israel where the measurements really are in Metric was a big change for me!  And to tell the truth, in the kitchen I still measure in cups!

Rachael Orbach  

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Spelling i before e words and some exceptions.

With all the other things that we have to do in the classroom, we can't forget spelling!  This is a spelling assignment for the pesky  i before e rule. 

Rachael Alice 

Name ________________________  Date ______________________

Spelling  i before e words and some exceptions.

height – this word is an exception to the rule.

hierarchy - The i-before-e rule works here.
weigh – here is an exception to the rule


Write each word in a sentence:















Tuesday, December 11, 2012

I, Too, Sing America Exersice Langston Hughes

If you are using the poem I, Too, Sing America in a 10th grade class, then here are some questions that you can use for reading comprehension.   

Have fun with the poem, and have a Happy Chanuka! 

Rachael Alice 
For Chanuka Pictures go to:Chanuka Pictures

Questions about I, Too, Sing America.
    1. Why is Langston Hughes considered a great American poet?
    1. What is the main point of the poem.
    1. What emotion is the voice of the narrator?
    1. What does eating in the kitchen represent?
    1. Why was the narrator in the kitchen?
    1. In stanza two, the narrator tells of his plans to get out of the kitchen. Why is this important?
    1. What is the narrator's expectations that other people will say?
    1. How will the narrator feel then?
    1. What is your general impression of this poem?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Exercise Relative Pronouns

This is a short exercise if you are working on Relative Pronouns.

There are a few Relative Pronouns, Who, which, That, Where.

Complete the sentences with the correct Relative Pronoun.

1. I have an older sister _________________________ thinks she knows everything.
2. I am a person _______________________ is very shy.
3. Who ate the cake ____________________ was here on the table?
4. Artemis Fowl, ______________________ is a series of books about a mythical world was recently on the New York Times Best-Seller's list.
5. Shmuel, ________________________ is the tallest, is a great basketball player.
6. Did you see my cellphone _____________________was on the table?

Rachael Alice Orbach

Sunday, November 18, 2012

New Book on Amazon, and you can get it now!

"To Be A Cat Is To Love Life" is here!  I have put it up on Amazon,

Offer good only until Amazon puts up the final publishing page.  Get your copy now to compliment the first Cat Story

Happy Reading!

Rachael Alice
P.S.  Don't forget to put up a Reader's Review of the book!  If you have  a Kindle, you can lend Cat Story either or both to your friends for free!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Get Cat Story at a lower price on Amazon

Thank you everyone who downloaded my new book  "Cat Stories - The First Adventure!"  I hope that you enjoy the book.

Now I have a request for you. If you liked the book, then if you could be so kind and write a reader's review, that will help me very much!

Refer your friends to buy the book at the lower price of $4.99 instead of $7.00!

Click here:
Cat Stories - The First Adventure! Cat Stories - The First Adventure

Have a great day!

P.S. Book 2 is written and I am in the process of formatting it for Amazon so it will be up soon!

Rachael Alice Orbach

For more books go to:Rachael Alice Books on Amazon

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Cat Story - The graphic Novel is now on Amazon Kindle

Announcing the release of the Cat Stories - The first adventure on Amazon Kindle by local Jerusalem  author, musician and  English teacher, Rachael Alice Orbach 
This book is a fun look at cats and humans and how they interact with each other. Handwritten and drawn by the author for your enjoyment.
Read it on your Kindle, or other digital format! 

Enjoy this story and more to come! 
Rachael Alice 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

We need to revamp Math Class

Now after all the talk about High Order Thinking Skills, and the program is being used in all the English classes in Israel.  We have been teaching this way for about 2 years, some even three.

How do you feel about this program?  Do you feel that the students are really benefiting?
Can these skills be taught even earlier in the school career?  What about the students learning this when they are in Elementary School, in their native language?  Why do these basic skill have to wait until 15 years old?

There has also been talk in the Math world, at least in the United States and in the UK about problem solving skills.   Dan Meyer gives us some insights about how Math is taught now, and what it could be.

We need to make Math more relevant to each student.  I remember a classic math word problem.

I'm going to bore you a bit:

 1. There are two trains, one is going 50 miles an hour west, the other is going 80 miles an hour east.  At what speed are they going to crash?

Why is this a good math problem at all?  Who said that the trains are on the same track?  Maybe they aren't even in the same state?  One is in Arizona and the other is in New York.

I never saw the relevance of this problem.

Now, my mother is an artist.  She never got math either.  So maybe she would have been more interested in math if it was more real to her.

2. You want to mix paint to get the color turquoise.  You have blue paint and yellow paint.  What proportion of blue and yellow paint do you need?  Do you need any more colors in order to make turquoise?

Now which problem is more real to an artist?  The one with the trains, or the paint?  Dan Meyer has more to say about this subject, a video worth watching:

I welcome your comments!

Rachael Orbach

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Lesson Plan for Harry Chapin

The Cat's in the Cradle by Harry Chapin
  Rachael Orbach

Audio lesson for an 8th grade English speaker's class or 10th grade 5 point.  

Timing for this lesson is two 45 minute periods.

I would start out this lesson by first giving a talk about Harry Chapin, who he was, what he did and the causes he believed in.  I would give the students a copy of his biography.  The timing of Harry's work is very important.  He was not as famous as Bob Dylan, or Pete Seeger, but with his songs he did raise awareness of the vagaries of American life.  At the end of his life he did benefit concerts to end hunger. 
10 minutes.   

Then I would play the song: "Cat's in the Cradle" , two times.

I would have the students read the words, the first time while listening to the song, and then the second time the song would be played, I would hand out the chart and have the students complete the chart while listening.  
I would give 10 minutes for the students to listen to the song, as well as to fill out the chart.

We would then have a feedback session writing on the board all the answers of the students.  10 minutes.

The end of the first period would end with listening to the song again. 

2nd lesson: 45 minutes

I would bring the book "Cat's Cradle" by Kurt Vonnegut to class, and read out loud a short excerpt that explains the title of the book.,  I would also bring some string and show the beginning of the string game. If anyone knows how to do the string game, then I would have the students play the game.
10 minutes

I would give out the sheet with the nursery rhymes and excerpts from Wikipedia.   

Group work:
In groups of 4, each group would pick a  rhyme  to fill out the chart,  and prepare, the rhyme, either by a choral reading, acting out, a jazz chant, or a dramatic reading.   I would try to have at least one person in each group who would be familiar with the poems, either in English or in Hebrew. Each group would also write their chart on the board.
20 minutes.  
Feedback as a class: 10 minutes 

I would go over all the poems, and have the students read the excerpts from Wikipedia, about Cat's Cradle."  

10 minutes
Then I would play the song by Harry Chapin once more.
5 minutes  

For Religious reasons:  ( I as a Jewish religious woman don't sing in front of men and boys)
If the class was a girls' class, then I would bring my guitar and sing and play the song, and hopefully get them to sing along.
5 minutes:  


If the students didn't know any of the allusions, I would point out that the chorus refers to nursery rhymes such as  "Rock a bye baby, on the tree top,"  The silver spoon refers to people who are born into rich families, the children get all the materialistic love , that is the best that money can buy.   

Each of these nursery rhymes convey contradictory messages, the Rock my Baby, talks about a cradle on the top of a tree. (what are we talking about really?)  Little Boy Blue, foreshadows what Chapin's song is about, the shepherd is fast asleep instead of doing his job. The boy with the silver spoon, is envied by other children because he comes to school with the latest electronic gadgets.

The book itself " Cat's Cradle" is rather complicated and hard to follow, because of Kurt Vonnegut's style of writing.  What I wanted to show was that Harry Chapin was probably aware of the book, as it was quite popular from the 1960's to the late 1970's.
But all these poems and songs, when one looks back at childhood, blend into one feeling of a secure childhood, where the family takes care of the children, helps them and gives then not only the financial security they need, but also emotional security.

Harry Chapin is pointing out, in a different media, that is easily accessed, that children need both emotional security and economic security.  When one parent is absent or emotionally uninvolved, it can have repercussions on the children. 

Sources and activities;

Little boy blue, come blow your horn
The sheep's in the meadow, the cow's in the corn
Where is that boy who looks after the sheep?
Under the haystack fast asleep
Will you wake him? Oh no, not I
For if I do he will surely cry
"Rock a bye baby - in the tree top..."
"When the wind blows - the cradle will rock..."
"When the bough breaks - the cradle will fall..."
"And down will come baby - cradle and all!"

The man in the moon
looked out of the moon,
Looked out of the moon and said,
moonman.gif (7570 bytes)
"'Tis time for all the children
on earth
To think about going to bed!"

The title of the song, Cat's Cradle  is a game played with string by two children, in which the string is held in a certain way,  if the teacher knows this game, it could be taught to the students.
"Cat's cradle is a well known series of string figures. The name of the entire game, the specific figures, their order, and the names of the figures vary. Versions of this game have been found in indigenous cultures all over the world--from the Arctic to the Equatorial zones. In some regions of the US, this game is also known as Jack in the Pulpit. "'s_cradle_(string_game)
The title is also from a science fiction book by Kurt Vonnegut, written in 1963 called :Cat's Cradle." The main story line of the book is about an extremely indifferent father who would rather be in the office than be at home with his wife and children. 
Ward, Selena. SparkNote on Cat's Cradle. 28 Dec. 2007 .

"The title of the book derives from the string game "cat's cradle". Early in the book, we learn that Felix Hoenikker was playing cat's cradle when the atom bomb was dropped. The game is later referenced by Newt Hoenikker, Felix's dwarf son.
The character Felix Hoenikker was inspired by Irving Langmuir, a scientist at General Electric in Schenectady, New York, where Vonnegut worked in the 1950s, with the town of Ilium representing Schenectady in many of Vonnegut's works. Langmuir himself came up with the idea of ice-nine as a joke. In terms of characterization, however, Hoenikker is a composite figure assembled from Stanislaw Ulam and Edward Teller, the two scientists who finalized the math for the H-Bomb.
The Hoenikker family also shares some characteristics with Vonnegut's own.[citation needed]
Cat's Cradle was nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1964.
A few years after the publication of Cat's Cradle, Soviet scientists announced the discovery of polywater, a substance that seemed eerily similar to ice-nine. The fervor around polywater lasted a few years but subsided when the initial results were shown to have been caused by impurities."
 to the words?
Pick a nursery rhyme to analyze:  ___________________________
Do you know this poem?

Who sung it to you? W

What does it remind you of?

, wait a minute! This is getting serious!)
What exactly is it we are supposed to be teaching our children with this little gem of a song? Doesn't it seem a bit strange to plant such images subconsciously?
(And they wonder why kids have nightmares...)

Friday, September 28, 2012

Use the Correct Verb exercise!

I use this as a homework assignment when I am working on the irregular verb chart.

This helps to the student to actually use the verbs!

Niece: I (tear, tore, will tear) my sweater this morning!  It (is, will be, was) my favorite, I wore it all last winter!

Aunt:  Let's go to Gimbels to (get, getting, got) a new one!

Uncle: Have you (forgot, will forget, forgottn ) that Gimbels has been (close closes, closed) for a few years now?  Could you (try, tried, have tried) Saks Fifth Avenue? Don't (take, took, will take) too long. We've (getting, got, will get) tickets for a helicopter ride over Central Park at 4:00pm. and at 7:00pm we're (go, going have gone) to the Royal Ballet at Lincoln Center.

Niece What will you (doing, do, did) tomorow?  I'm (go, going, have gone) to Greenwich Village to see the street musicians.  I want to (get, go, gone) tips on outdoor performing,  I (play, played, have played) the saxophone for two years now.

Aunt: We want to (will see, have seen, see the Empire State Building and Ground Zero. I'm (go, going, will go) to put up the pictures on my blog!

Uncle: She always (takes, take, will take) my picture next to all the momuments, and puts me on her blog.  But she is never in the pictures herself!

Aunt.  Have you actually ( looked, will look,  looking, )  at the offical Website of New York City?

Uncle:  We'll (sit, sat, sitting) in the Fountain Cafe to decide how to get to the Lincoln Center.

Niece: You (knowing, know, knew) that all riders on the bus (must have, will have, had) the exact fare.  Sincethe busses (stop, will stop, have stop) running at midnight, you have to take a cab, and they take only exact change.

Uncle: Where can I (would exchange, exchange, will exchange) shekels for dollars?  Is there a black market for a good rate?

Niece:  I'll (ask, will ask, asked) in Greenwich Village when I go tomorrow.


Where is this conversation taking place?

Why does the niece have to go shopping?

Why does she want to go to Greenwich Village?

Why is Auntie not in any pictures on her blog?

Where are they going right now?

About the Author:

Rachael Alice is available for private English lessons, as well on the website. She is the principle blogger of as well as the English blogger for the

Sunday, August 26, 2012

What is Silicon Valley?

Silicon Valley has become synonymous with the High tech bubble.  Many of the most successful names in the Internet are located there.  go to this blog post to find out more

Have fun the last day of summer vacation!

Rachael Alice
I am still available for haircuts this week!
call 052-750-0608 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

New Children's Story looking for publisher!

Here is a new children's story, hot off the press, or shall we say from the pencil and paper.

This is only a sample, mind you.  The whole book is 28 pages long full of cat adventures.

I am actively looking for a publisher!

Any and all leads that don't involve self publishing are appreciated.


Rachael Alice

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Primary School System in Israel

Now that the school year is about to begin, we need to find out about how the primary school system works.

If you are just coming on Aliyah, this is very important information.
I was really green about this and I didn't know anything.  But now after being here for 20 years, I can tell you   a thing or two about it.

Here is a blog post about it:

Good luck for the coming school year!

Rachael Orbach 

CAE English Achievement tests

The CAE English test is a high level test used by universities and the job market to gauge the English level of their candidates.  The test has many parts.  In this blog, you can find out about the English in Use part.

Good luck on the test!


Thursday, August 16, 2012

How to correct bad spelling

Lets face it.  Spelling in the modern world is getting worse.   Even with spell checker, many times the student chooses a wrong word just because it looks right.  But they don't know the meaning of the word, so it doesn't fit into the sentence!

I came across an old book written in 1918, by David M. Roth

Here is a lesson about spelling, sometimes old can be good!

He takes some words that are commonly misspelled, and have the student practice them in a different way than we usually do.

There are two ways that we can do this:
First we take the word that has a letter that we don't usually hear:

Privilege:  The letter i people usually don't hear and spell it with an e.

So how do you practice spelling this?
You make the i bigger.

privilege  This is much easier when you are working with a pen rather than on computer,
Write the word this way five times. Then test yourself the next day, writing the word regular.
See if you can spell it correctly!

Another way is to make the i a different color.
privilege  this also works better when writing by hand.
Write it five times , test yourself the next day to see if you can spell it correctly.

If you are teaching in a class,
Have the student keep a personal spelling dictionary of words that the student has had trouble spelling.
Have the student practice spelling the word, using one of these techniques.

I'm in the process of reading this Memory Course, and as I have other insights, I'll write a post about them so you can use them for yourself and in your classroom.

Till next time,

Rachael Orbach

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Vacationing during the summer

If you are like me, then you like to get away during the summer when it is very hot here in Israel.

There are many places to go where you can use your English.  I like to return to where I grew up in Los Angeles.

I have wonderful memories of Disneyland, rollerskating up and down Santa Monica Beach, playing First chair in the Santa Monica Symphonic Band, One time I was late to the performance which was on the boardwalk,  I parked in the tall parking garage, put money in the meter (not enough as it turns out) and put on my purple rollerskates, that just happened to match my dress, and pelted through the streets with my clarinet in the backpack.  I got there just as the Band Director had almost given up.  They left me a seat on the edge, so I saw my seat, rolled down the incline, grabbed the clarinet, put it together and the Director, Wally Umber nodded at me as I had the reed on the mouthpiece and we began to play.  Such memories of California!

Here is a blog post of places to visit in California if you are making plans, don't miss these!

If you want to stay in Israel there are lots of places to go up North!

Rachael Orbach - Get ready for your next job interview!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Very Useful V1 V2 V3 Teaching Chart

V1 V2 V3  Chart

 I use this chart to teach the different verb forms.  
Fill in the missing forms

V1   - Present Tense
V2 - Past Tense
V3 - Participle (used with the Perfect Tenses)





































If you want to work more on your English grammar, I recommend this book:

The Only Grammar Book You'll Ever Need: A One-Stop Source for Every Writing Assignment 1st Edition

Many people concentrate better while listening to music, so as you do this exercise, listen to this!
Music by Rachael Alice Orbach!

The Dort Automobile Company in Michigan

I came across this website while just browsing the web and I thought it added a facet of history to the Car industry.   https://til...