Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Resources for Discussing Hatred and Racism with Students

Let's practice motivation and love, not discrimination and hate.
Read more at:
"Let's practice motivation and love, not discrimination and hate."
-- Zendaya

Let's practice motivation and love, not discrimination and hate.
Read more at:
Following the events in Charlottesville, Virginia this past weekend, I thought it might be helpful to post some resources you can use with your students to help them address the tragedy and its aftermath.  In the references below, you'll find links to articles, podcasts, websites, books, webinars and/or classroom activities that can help students and teachers deal with what happened.  Just click on the title to go directly to that site.

* 10 Ways to Fight Hate (from the Southern Poverty Law Center)

* Resources for Addressing Racism and Hatred in the Classroom (from ASCD)

* Teachers Share Resources for Addressing Charlottesville Hate Rally in the Classroom (from Education Week)

* Eight Ways Teachers Can Fight Hate & Injustice (from MiddleWeb)

* There is No Apolitical Classroom: Resources for Teaching in These Times (from NCTE's Standing Committee Against Racism and Bias in the Teaching of English)

Resources for Discussing Hatred and Racism with Students | The ESL Nexus
Wordle created by The ESL Nexus
If you know of additional resources, please leave the link in the Comments section below.


Monday, August 14, 2017

Let's Discuss How To Facilitate Collaboration Between Teachers!

"Unity is strength... when there is teamwork and collaboration,
wonderful things can be achieved."
-- Mattie J.T. Stepanek

One of the things I liked most when I was a classroom teacher was collaborating with other teachers.  Co-teaching in a mainstream classroom, designing lessons and projects with regular and special ed teachers, discussing the progress -- or lack thereof -- of ELLs, and jointly figuring out what grades to give the English Language Learners we shared were just some of the ways I and the SPED and mainstream teachers worked together at my school.

Teamwork among teachers fosters success in students. Join the #ELLEdTech Twitter chat on 8/20/17 for ideas on how to facilitate collaboration between ESL, SPED & mainstream teachers | The ESL Nexus
The #ELLEdTech Twitter chats resume August 20, 2017!  Source: The ESL Nexus
Unfortunately, it wasn't easy to find the time for collaboration.  Without common planning time, which was only feasible for one of the multiple grade levels I taught every year, I had to find other ways to communicate with the other teachers of my ELLs.  Most often, I sought them out in their classrooms during my lunch period or after school or I resorted to sending email messages and hoping they'd respond quickly.

These were not always the quickest or most effective ways of discussing the needs of our students.  For the first Twitter chat of the new school year on Sunday, August 20, 2017, Laurah and I are going to discuss Tools that Facilitate Collaboration between ESL & Mainstream & SPED Teachers.  We hope you'll join us and share your ideas for promoting collaboration among teachers who work with ELLs.  Below are the details:

Schedule and Questions
7:00 = Introductions: Tell us your name, location, level and subject taught #ELLEdTech
7:05 = Q1: How do you collaborate with the teachers you work with? (ESOL, SpEd, Mainstream)  #ELLEdTech
7:13 = Q2: What tech tools do you use to facilitate collaboration? #ELLEdTech
7:21 = Q3: What’s important to consider when using technology to facilitate collaboration? #ELLEdTech
7:29 = Q4: Are there any challenges teachers might encounter when using these tools? #ELLEdTech
7:37 = Q5: What advice do you have for teachers who want to use technology to facilitate collaboration? #ELLEdTech

Directions for Joining the Chat
1. Log into Twitter on Sunday; the chat runs from 7:00 - 7:45pm Eastern.
2. Search for tweets with the hashtag #ELLEdTech in the search bar.  Make sure to click “All tweets.”
3. The first five minutes will be spent introducing ourselves.
4. Starting at 7:05, @ESOL_Odyssey or @The_ESL_Nexus will post questions every 8 minutes using Q1, Q2, Q3, etc. to identify the questions and the hashtag #ELLEdTech.
5.  Answer the questions by prefacing them with A1, A2, A3, etc. and use the hashtag #ELLEdTech.
6.  Follow any teachers who respond and are also using #ELLEdTech.
7.  Like (click the heart icon) and post responses to other teachers' tweets.

Teamwork among teachers fosters success in students. Join the #ELLEdTech Twitter chat on 8/20/17 for ideas on how to facilitate collaboration between ESL, SPED & mainstream teachers | The ESL Nexus
Share your favorite tech tools with other educators; source: The ESL Nexus
You can schedule your answers to the questions in advance by using an online scheduler such as TweetDeck or HootSuite (and remember to use A1, A2, etc. and #ELLEdTech).  Links are encouraged, but use tinyurl, bitly, or to shorten your link so it can be included in your tweet.  Just click one of those links, paste the longer link in the app's box to shorten it for Twitter, then paste the shortened link into your tweet. If you have relevant images, we encourage you to post them, too.

Is this your first Twitter chat? Here are our rules:
1. Please stay on topic.
2. Please do not post about paid products unless explicitly asked.
3. If you arrive after the chat has started, please try to read the previous tweets before joining in.
4. Feel free to just read, like, and/or retweet if you prefer -- we know the first time can be a little overwhelming!
5. Always use the hashtag #ELLEdTech when tweeting.
6. Make sure your twitter feed is set to "public." (And do remember that Twitter is completely public; that means anyone--students, parents, administrators--may see what you tweet.)

You are welcome to let your teacher friends who might be interested in joining us know about this Twitter chat. We look forward to chatting with you next Sunday!


Monday, July 31, 2017

Getting the Work-Life Balance Right

"Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony."
-- Thomas Merton

I am late with today’s blog post because I wanted to finish a new resource before tomorrow.  What’s so special about tomorrow?  Well, it’s TpT’s Back to School Sale!

Whether your school year has just begun or you are in the middle of it, if you are an educator you are probably exhausted much of the time.  But it will be well worth your time to browse around the TpT website Tuesday and Wednesday, August 1st and 2nd, because there will be lots of really good deals available.

My and many other teacher-authors’ products will be on sale for 20% off their regular prices.  And when you use promo code BTS2017, you’ll get an extra 5% off for a total savings of 25%.  Since my bundles are already 20% or 25% off the price of the individual products in them, you can save a lot during the sale. 

Shop during TpT's Back To School Sale on 8/1-2/17 & save up to 25% with promo code BTS2017!
Find Social Studies, Language Arts, Science, Math, Decor & more at The ESL Nexus!
The resource I was scrambling to finish is about Ancient India.  It’s a collection of blank and filled-in charts about 7 famous emperors and 5 important empires.  Also included is a word search puzzle with 3 levels of difficulty.

Get this new resource about Ancient India at a discounted price during TpT Back To School Sale on 8/1-2/17!
Click HERE for more info; source: The ESL Nexus
I’m working on a series of similar products about various social studies topics.  If there is a particular subject you would like me to create charts for, please let me know in the Comments below or email me if you prefer.

The third announcement is to let you know that I am cutting back on the frequency of my blog posts.  From now on, I will blog twice a month instead of every week.  The reason is two-fold: I want to spend more time creating new resources and also I have become quite involved with some non-work activities.  It has taken me some time to find the right work-life balance and I think this schedule will be good.  But when something special or unexpected arises, like TpT’s Back To School Sale, I will post here regardless of the day of the week.

Happy shopping and see you soon!


Monday, July 24, 2017

6 Reasons Why You Should Attend a Professional Conference

"Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get."
-- Forrest Gump

Whew!  I just got home yesterday from the 4th annual TeachersPayTeachers Conference.  Lasting for 3 days, it ran from early Monday afternoon through Wednesday night in Anaheim, California.  But since I have family in Los Angeles, I visited my relatives afterwards, which is why I didn’t get home until Sunday.

Seeing some of my relatives for the first time in a couple of years was great but what I want to write about now is, of course, the 2017 TpT Conference.  This was the second one I attended; my first TpT Conference was in 2015 in Las Vegas.  At that time, I offered 5 suggestions for having a positive experience at a conference.

6 reasons why you should go to a professional conference & 15 conferences to attend | The ESL Nexus
Entrance to the TpT Conference; source: The ESL Nexus
Today, I’d like to give you 6 reasons for attending a professional conference.  Every conference is different and what you get out of it may not be what you anticipated or expected.  But serendipity is usually a good thing!

Reason #1: Presenting

I was honored that my proposal to give a presentation about creating materials for ELLs was accepted.  Being a presenter is a great experience because it shows that others recognize you have something to offer people and it validates the work you do.

6 reasons why you should go to a professional conference & 15 conferences to attend | The ESL Nexus
Delicious cookie given to presenters; source: The ESL Nexus
Also, when you’re a presenter, there are usually some perks. Some conferences pay part of the fees associated with attending, like TpT, and others do not, like TESOL International Association, at which I’ve also presented.  Naturally, I was nervous about presenting in front of my peers but I’d prepared and rehearsed and knew my subject matter so I was pretty confident on that account.  What I was more stressed about was whether I’d have any technical difficulties during my presentation and if so, how I’d deal with that.  Fortunately, all went off without a hitch. 

Reason #2: Learning
Every conference has its own particular focus.  Conferences often have themes as a way of connecting all the disparate strands of sessions being presented.  The TpT theme was “Discover New Dimensions.”  So in addition to the sessions about product creation and using social media, there were sessions about teaching trends, reaching all learners, and using technology.

6 reasons why you should go to a professional conference & 15 conferences to attend | The ESL Nexus
Giving my presentation about reaching ELLs; source: The ESL Nexus
Conferences are also an opportunity to learn about the future direction of the sponsoring organization, which is always interesting.  Outside speakers are often invited to give keynote addresses and they are opportunities to hear from experts in the field.

Reason #3: Networking
One of the best benefits of attending a professional conference is the chance to network with your peers.  Participating in a Facebook group is not quite the same thing as meeting face to face!  Although – getting to know people online first can give you a reason for seeking out specific people at a conference if you know they are also attending.

Much networking occurs informally, at mealtimes or in the evenings at pre-organized meetups or social activities.  Back in 2015, I asked some of the people I met to contribute to an ELL e-book I was planning to create; without having first established those personal connections, it might’ve been harder to put the e-book together.  This year, I wanted to reconnect with some people I’d met at the 2015 conference and I’m happy to say I did that.

6 reasons why you should go to a professional conference & 15 conferences to attend | The ESL Nexus
Socializing at The House of Blues on Wednesday evening; source: The ESL Nexus
Networking may also involve job hunting.  Some conferences have a section set aside for job interviews and at others, it's done more informally.  If you go to a conference with the goal of looking for a new job or to make connections that could help you obtain a new job in the future, it's a good idea to be able to discuss your philosophy of teaching.  This resource can help you do just that.

Reason #4: Motivating
Whenever I return from a conference, I am excited to immediately put into practice the things I learned.  There are usually 1-2 things that are my key takeaways that I think I can implement right away.  The energy generated at conferences comes home with me and inspires me to get to work promptly and incorporate what I learned into my instructional materials and practice.

It’s great when conferences are held during the summer because then you have more time to process your learning but when you go to conferences during the school year, then you get to see the results of your work more quickly.  So, really, it doesn’t matter when you go as long as you do go!

6 reasons why you should go to a professional conference & 15 conferences to attend | The ESL Nexus
Looking forward to implementing new ideas; source: The ESL Nexus
Reason #5: Invigorating
Especially if you work in isolation – as I did at my school, where I was the only ESL teacher for 9 years – going to a conference surrounds you with people who are doing the same work as you.  That is vitally important because everyone needs to be able to talk shop with other people who can relate to your successes and challenges, who understand the jargon used in your field of work, and can offer emotional and professional support.

It’s so easy, as a teacher, to become demoralized but going to a conference is rejuvenating.  Being in a positive atmosphere is very encouraging and helps you create a positive environment back in your own classroom, school, office, or wherever you do your work.

6 reasons why you should go to a professional conference & 15 conferences to attend | The ESL Nexus
The TpT Conference definitely reignited my passion for creating resources; source: The ESL Nexus
Reason #6: Sightseeing
Conferences are often held in destination cities.  One year, the TESOL Convention was in Vancouver, Canada.  I’d never been to that part of Canada so after the conference ended, I visited the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, which was wonderful.  This year, the TpT Conference was in Anaheim, California, which is where Disneyland is located.  But since I went to Disneyland as a kid, I didn’t go again.  Even when they are in smaller cities, the conference organizers may arrange excursions to local points of interest.

Education conferences may also arrange visits to local schools.  While not exactly sightseeing, such visits do give conference attendees insights into what education is like elsewhere.

Bonus Reason: Exhausting
Conferences that last longer than 1 day are exhausting!  You’re on the go all the time and it’s hard to eat well.  Meeting new people can be mentally tiring if you’re shy or an introvert.  Trying to remember everyone’s name is taxing if, like me, you’re really bad at that.  You probably won’t get much rest, either.  If you're flying to and from the conference, that can be stressful.  However, when you get home, you are sure to get a good night's sleep!

6 reasons why you should go to a professional conference & 15 conferences to attend | The ESL Nexus
Flying home to Arizona--tired but happy; source: The ESL Nexus
So don’t let these minor inconveniences deter you because the benefits of attending a professional conference are so worth it!

Here are some educational conferences you might be interested in attending:
* TESOL International Convention & English Language Expo (TESOL International Association)
* TESOL Affiliates (A list of TESOL's local affiliate groups around the world)
* IATEFL Conference & Exhibition (International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language)
* NABE (National Association for Bilingual Education)
* WIDA Consortium (Formerly known as World-class Instructional Design and Assessment)
* ASCD (Formerly known as Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development)
* SDE Link to webpage for upcoming events (Staff Development for Educators)
* ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education)
* NCSS (National Council for the Social Studies)
* NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English)
* NSTA (National Science Teachers Association)
* NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics)
* ILA (International Literacy Association)
* Also, if you belong to the National Education Association or the American Federation of Teachers, many of not all of the state affiliates have annual conferences