Saturday, September 16, 2017

September's #ELLEdTech chat: Tech Tools that Help ELLs With Homework

"My parents were very firm about me always getting my homework done."
-- Chelsea Clinton

Not all students are lucky enough to have parents who have the time and knowledge to help their children do homework.  In addition to not knowing enough English to help their children complete homework assignments, many parents and other caregivers of ELLs have to work during the afternoons and evenings and aren't even home when their kids are trying to do their homework.

So what kind of support can teachers and parents provide to English Language Learners to ensure they can do their homework tasks?  Join the #ELLEdTech Twitter chat on Sunday, September 17, 2017 at 7pm Eastern to discuss using technology that aids ELLs in doing their homework.
What tech tools do you use to help ELLs do their homework? Share your tips at this week's #ELLEdTEch chat on 9/17/17 | The ESL Nexus
Share your favorite tech tools with other educators; source: The ESL Nexus
Schedule and Questions
7:00 = Introduction: Tell us your name, location, level/grade and subject taught #ELLEdTech
7:05 = Q1: What tools do you recommend to help ELLs with homework? #ELLEdTech
7:13 = Q2: How do these tools help teachers facilitate ELLs’ learning? #ELLEdTech
7:21 = Q3: What are the advantages & benefits of using these tools? #ELLEdTech
7:29 = Q4: Are there any cons or drawbacks teachers or students might have when using these tools? #ELLEdTech
7:37 = Q5: What advice do you have for teachers who want to incorporate technology into HW assignments for their ELLS? #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.

What tech tools do you use to help ELLs do their homework? Share your tips at this week's #ELLEdTEch chat on 9/17/17 | The ESL Nexus
Topic: Tech tools that help ELLs with homework; 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 on Sunday!


Monday, September 11, 2017

How to Write Content and Language Objectives

"We all enjoy pushing ourselves to accomplish our objectives.
But we don't need stress to get there."
-- Andrew J. Bernstein

Quick – after you say hello and get your students settled in your classroom and ready to learn, what’s the next thing you should do?  If you said: Go over the written objectives for the lesson, you’re right!

You’re probably familiar with the SWABT formula, which is Students Will Be Able To… do something by the end of the lesson.  Many schools and teachers use this acronym as a guide for writing their objectives.  But what, actually, do you write? That is, how do you phrase your objectives?  And does it really matter?

Well, yes, it does.  If you’re teaching English Language Learners, and most classes in the U.S. have at least one ELL in them so you probably are, then one of the most useful things you can do is write your objectives in a way that tells students what content information they will learn and what language they will need or use to learn it.

Distinguishing between content and language posts is a key part of SIOP, the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol.  There’s a book that explains what SIOP is all about and how to implement it.  After I read it, I revised how I wrote my learning objectives and from then on wrote them according to the format described in the book.  I also designed a short-term training for educators in my former school district about SIOP because I thought the ideas were really helpful for ELLs.  (I wrote a review of the book a few months ago, which you can read here.)

Why it's important to write both content objectives & language objectives for classes that have ELLs in them and how to write these learning objectives |The ESL Nexus
This book explains what SIOP is; source: The ESL Nexus
So what does it mean to write content objectives and language objectives?  First, let’s define what those terms mean.  There may be different definitions but for me, content objectives are what students are going to learn – it’s the information about a topic or the subject matter knowledge.  The language objectives are the means by which students will learn the information, or the actual language concepts that are being taught.  In other words, the language objectives can be, for example, the grammar structures or vocabulary words students are learning; or they can be strategies for doing the content, such as working with a partner to peer edit a piece of writing.  I like to think of content objectives as the WHAT and language objectives as the HOW.

Why it's important to write both content objectives & language objectives for classes that have ELLs in them and how to write these learning objectives |The ESL Nexus
Types of learning objectives, based on SIOP; source: The ESL Nexus
But where do you get these objectives from?  Content objectives come from your content standards or frameworks; language objectives come from your ESL standards or framework.  Every U.S. state has ESL standards; 37 states and territories are members of the WIDA Consortium, 7 states are members of the ELPA21 Consortium, and the remaining states have their own ESL standards.  Likewise, every state also has content standards for core academic subjects, which may or may not be unique to a state.  The Common Core State Standards for Language Arts and Math standards adopted by many states if they didn’t write their own; the Next Generation Science Standards are for science; and the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards addresses social studies.  States also have their own standards for many specialist subjects such as art, technology, and health.  Other countries also have standards for teaching ELLs.

Because in most of my classes I was teaching ESL within the context of academic subjects, I found it easier to determine the content objectives first and then extract the language objectives from them.  Let’s say, for example, that I was teaching a unit on Ancient India and the topic was the Indus River Valley Civilization, which I usually abbreviated due to space constraints on my poster board.  At the beginning of the unit, some of the things I’d want my students to learn would be where the civilization was located and when it existed.  So I might write my content objectives like this (although there are many ways I could write them and this is just an example):
* Determine the absolute location of the IRVC
* Determine the relative location of the IRVC
* State the dates the IRVC existed
* Write the latitude and longitude of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa
* List the modern-day countries that border the IRVC
* Read a timeline to find the dates of the IRVC

Why it's important to write both content objectives & language objectives for classes that have ELLs in them and how to write these learning objectives |The ESL Nexus
Example content & language objectives; source: The ESL Nexus
You may have noticed that I listed all the content objectives first and followed them with all the language objectives.  I liked to split them up like that because a) It was easy to correlate my language objectives with my content objectives that way and b) I wanted my students to see that they were learning both content and language during the lesson.

I wrote my objectives with dry-erase markers on lined, erasable, heavy-duty poster board.  I punched three holes in the top and hung them on a stand at the front of my classroom where everyone could see it.  I wrote the objectives for each class after school ended the day before, so they were all ready to go when I needed them.

Once students were in their seats, I started every class the same way.  It’s important to read through all the objectives because that helps ELLs understand what the class will be about.  Reading them aloud will help ELLs comprehend any new words they don’t recognize in print but which they may have heard someone say.  And when the objectives are visible for the entire period, ELLs can refer back to them throughout the lesson and use them as a sort of pacing guide.

You might be thinking: Hey, that’s gonna take extra time that I don’t have.  Well, yes, it does take a bit more time when you first start to do this but that’s because it’s a different way of thinking.  Once you get used to it, figuring out your language objectives becomes pretty easy and it doesn’t take long at all to write them. 

You might also be thinking: But I’m not an ESL teacher, so this doesn’t apply to me.  Wrong!  If anything, it’s even more important for mainstream teachers to write their objectives like this.  Doing so helps ELLs focus by giving them a guide of what to expect in the lesson.  As a result, ELLs will be less stressed and they'll feel a sense of control because they’ll be able to better follow what’s going on during the class. 

ELLs have to learn both the academic content and the English language simultaneously. Writing content and language objectives and then presenting them at the beginning of the lesson will give your ELLs – as well as your other students -- a head start on being successful in your class.


Monday, September 4, 2017

Teachers Helping Teachers Afftected by Hurricane Harvey

The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.
Read more at:
The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.
Read more at:
"The purpose of human life is to serve,
and to show compassion and the will to help others."
-- Albert Schweitzer

I would like to let you know that on Monday, September 4, 2017, all proceeds from sales at my TpT store will be sent to support this Teachers Helping Teachers fundraiser for Texas educators whose schools were damaged by Hurricane Harvey.  A fellow TpT seller, Dawn ViƱas, who lives in Texas, has organized this GoFundMe campaign and will personally deliver checks to affected schools.

Click HERE to make a donation; source: Leah Cleary
You can read more about the campaign HERE.  If you would like to help, just buy something from my store, The ESL Nexus, or any other store whose logo you see on the image above, on Monday, September 4th.  You can also make a contribution directly any time, if you prefer.  Thank you very much!


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Resources for Discussing Hatred and Racism with Students

Let's practice motivation and love, not discrimination and hate.
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"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)

* How to Talk to Your Kids About Charlottesville (from The New York Times)

* The first thing teachers should do when school starts is talk about hatred in America. Here’s help. (from The Washington Post)

* NCSS Response to the Tragedy in Charlottesville, Virginia (from the National Council of the Social Studies)

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.