Monday, October 15, 2018

October #ELLEdTech Twitter Chat: Social Studies

"There is nothing new in the world except the history you do not know."
-- Harry S Truman

Sadly, in the era of No Child Left Behind, the teaching of Social Studies became an afterthought.  Since in most states it wasn't tested like Language Arts and Math were, it got short shrift in school schedules.  Indeed, in many districts, it was subsumed into other subjects and wasn't taught as a discrete subject at all.

But Social Studies, which includes the topics of history, geography, civics, and economics, is hugely important.  Without an informed citizenry, a country cannot function effectively.  And for English Language Learners, many of whom are immigrants, learning about the history and culture of their new country is crucial to successfully adjusting to their new life.  Even for first-generation and other ELLs, it's important to learn about the origins, concepts, and customs of the country they live in.

Social Studies was my favorite subject both as a student and a teacher.  I loved teaching about U.S. American culture when I worked at universities in Asia and about U.S. and world history and geography when I taught ELLs in Massachusetts.  My ESL Social Studies courses for middle schoolers were the classes I most enjoyed teaching and it's why the majority of resources in my TpT store have a Social Studies focus.

So I am very pleased to announce that Laurah, my co-host from Tools for Teachers by Laurah J, and I will be discussing Tech Tools for Teaching Social Studies for the October #ELLEdTech chat, which is this coming Sunday, October 21st.  The focus will be on social studies in general, such as geography and history; we'll leave civics and economics for future chats.  As usual, the chat will start at 4:00pm Pacific, 7:00pm Eastern, and 11:00pm UTC time.  Below are the details.

You are invited to join the next #ELLEdTech Twitter chat on October 21st to discuss using Tech Tools to Teach Social Studies! | The ESL Nexus
Join us -- All educators are welcome!  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 tech tools do you use to help your students learn Social Studies, Geography or History? #ELLEdTech
7:13 = Q2:  How do these tools help students learn about Social Studies, Geography or History?  #ELLEdTech
7:21 =  Q3:  What are the advantages & benefits of using these tech tools for teaching about Social Studies, Geography or History? #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 use technology to help ELLs learn Social Studies, Geography or History? #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.

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, goo.gl or ow.ly 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!

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Monday, October 1, 2018

What Do ELLs Think About Their ESL Program? (Part 2)

"A good beginning is half the work done."
-- Puerto Rican proverb

This is the second part in my series about former English Language Learners reflecting on their time in their ESL program.  Each of my students entered the program under different circumstances.  In the first post, my student was born in the U.S. to immigrant parents.  (You can read the first interview here.)  In this post, my student was of Puerto Rican heritage and grew up in a Spanish and English-speaking home in Massachusetts.

Learn what former English Language Learners think about their ESL program in this series of guest blog posts. Read what a Puerto Rican student has to say in his post | The ESL Nexus
Part 2 in a series; source: The ESL Nexus
Julio started getting ESL support from me halfway through 5th grade.  He had repeated kindergarten and then, because he still wasn’t progressing like the other children, he was placed in a special education program.  But since Julio came from a bilingual background,  thanks to his special ed teacher in 5th grade he was tested to see if ESL support would benefit him.  When the results showed that it would, he was placed into my class.  Julio was in my ESL Social Studies class from then until he finished 8th grade, when he exited out and went to the local vocational school for high school.

Now working as an electrician, Julio is studying for his journeyman license.  After he passes the licensing test, he is thinking about going for his masters license a year after that so he can run his own company.  Below, he reflects on his time as an ESL student.  His responses have been edited for clarity.

Learn what a former English Language Learner thinks about his ESL program in this guest blog post that is the second in a series | The ESL Nexus
Julio, graduating from high school; source: Julio
* What grade were you in when you first started receiving ESL support? 
I was in an ESL program from 5th Grade to 8th Grade.

* How did you feel about being in the ESL program?
At first, what I felt about being in a ESL program was that I didn’t like the idea at all. I felt different from the other kids at the time and didn’t know what it was until I got into it. But after a few classes I enjoyed the ESL program.

* How did being in the ESL program help you?
Being in the ESL program helped me in many ways. Some of the ways were that it helped me get the confidence to speak out loud and it taught me when and how to use certain words in my writing as well, such as the right grammar. Growing up, my writing wasn’t so good but I can say that the ESL class helped me out a lot.

* What was different about your ESL classes from your other classes?
What was different about my ESL class from all my other classes was that there wasn’t ever a day we didn’t learn something new. But to also go with that, the teacher would always make it fun and interesting. Which always had me looking forward to the class everyday. The way of teaching in the ESL class was different from any other class I had.

* What should teachers and school staff know about ESL students?
Things teachers and school staff should know about ESL students is that they will work hard and give it their all. If a student comes in not knowing good English and they don’t have such good grammar, give them time because in the end it will all work out in the long run. It worked for me in high school; everyone thought I wasn’t Spanish because my English was very good.


* What is one piece of advice you have for teachers who have ESL students in their classes?
Some advice for teachers with ESL students in their class is make it fun when teaching -- change it up with a little fun once in a while.  Play games like Jeopardy or fun quiz games with points that students are able to use on tests.  Don’t just make it about the book work because not everyone enjoys reading a book.
Learn what a former English Language Learner thinks about his ESL program in this guest blog post; Part 2 in a series | The ESL Nexus
Puerto Rican & American flags; source: The ESL Nexus
Thanks so much, Julio, for sharing your thoughts and suggestions!  Best wishes in your career and good luck when you take the licensing test!

You can read more about Julio’s thoughts on learning English in middle school in the book TESOL Voices: Secondary Education.  Julio was one of the students who helped me write Chapter 2, which is about teaching content-based ESL.  You can find out more about the book HERE.

Stay tuned for the next blog post in this series, coming next month!

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Monday, September 10, 2018

How to Collaborate and Communicate: 2 Skills for Students

"The fun for me in collaboration is, one, working with other people
just makes you smarter; that's proven."
--Lin-Manual Miranda

Now that the school year is in full swing, in the U.S. anyway, it's time to talk about collaboration!  Being able to collaborate effectively and in appropriate ways with others, whether it be administrators, teaching colleagues, students, or families of students, will help ensure the success of English Language Learners in school.  And in order to collaborate effectively, it's essential to be able to communicate well.

So please join my co-host Laurah, from Tools for Teachers by Laurah J, and me in the next #ELLEdTech chat to discuss Tech Tools for Collaboration and Communication.  These are the two remaining skills that are part of the 4C Framework.  To read more about Collaboration, please click HERE and for more info about Communication, click HERE.  The chat is on Sunday, September 16th and will start at 4:00pm Pacific, 7:00pm Eastern, and 11:00pm UTC time on the third Sunday of each month.

Come join the next #ELLEdTech Twitter chat on September 16th to discuss the 4C topics of Collaboration & Communication.| The ESL Nexus
Join us -- All educators are welcome!  Source: The ESL Nexus
Schedule and Questions
7:00 = Introduction:  Tell us your name, location, level/grade and subject taught. #ELLEdTech
7:05 = Q1:  Which tech tools do you use to help your students engage in collaboration and communication?  #ELLEdTech
7:13 = Q2:  How does providing opportunities to communicate and collaborate with peers support ELLs in language growth?  #ELLEdTech
7:21 =  Q3:  What are the advantages & benefits of using your favorite collaboration and communication 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 use technology to support collaboration and communication with 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.

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, goo.gl or ow.ly 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!

SHARE:

Monday, August 27, 2018

What Do ELLs Think About Their ESL Program? Part 1 in a Series

"There are no national frontiers to learning."
-- Japanese proverb

This is the first in a series of guest blog posts by former English Language Learners.  I thought it'd be interesting to hear what they think of their time in an ESL program so I invited a few of my former students to answer some questions.  Here is the first interview.

Learn what former English Language Learners think about their ESL program in this series of guest blog posts. Read what a Japanese student has to say in her post | The ESL Nexus
Part 1 in a series; source: The ESL Nexus
Chihiro is a Japanese-American girl -- born in the U.S. to parents who immigrated from Japan -- who was placed in my ESL class in 3rd grade when her family moved into my school district.  As an elementary student, I saw her and her classmates only a few times a week but starting in 5th grade, she and the other 5th grade ELLs were in my ESL Social Studies class which met every day.  At the end of 6th grade, Chihiro exited out of the ESL program.

We kept in touch as the years passed and I was very proud when Chihiro was named the salutatorian of her high school graduating class.  In addition to receiving her American high school diploma, Chihiro also received a Japanese high school diploma because she simultaneously completed all those requirements as well.

Chihiro is currently an undergraduate student in the nursing program at the University of Pennsylvania.  Below, she reflects on her time as an ESL student in American schools.  Her responses to my questions have been very lightly edited for clarity.

Learn what a former English Language Learner thinks about her ESL program in this guest blog post | The ESL Nexus
Chihiro in Tarrytown, N.Y., Summer 2018; source: Selfie by Chihiro
* What grade were you in when you first started receiving ESL support? 
I received ESL support starting in preschool. There was no official ESL program in my first Massachusetts school district at the time because there were not many non-English speakers. However, my school started implementing an ESL program when I started elementary school. I am not sure how true the story is but, apparently, they had to start an ESL program because of my poor English ability. If this story is actually true, I am slightly proud that I made a difference by initiating an ESL program.

 
* How did you feel about being in the ESL program?
I felt like I was being noticed and cared for. My first ESL program was with an ESL teacher who provided me with one-on-one, individualized teaching of English. My ESL teacher supported me by helping me with homework and class-assigned projects.  After I moved to another school district in Massachusetts, the ESL program in my new school was a classroom setting where I felt as though I was not alone. Instead of feeling ashamed or embarrassed about my English ability, the ESL program created an environment for me to feel special and not feel afraid to practice English.

* How did being in the ESL program help you?
The ESL program helped boost my confidence in English. The ESL program was a special resource for me as a child. It was a place where I learned to voice my thoughts and questions. It was a safe environment where I could be confident that no one would judge me for making grammar mistakes. I also learned to write well through the ESL program because the class consisted of many writing assignments. Another major help was how the ESL program helped me retain my culture. There were a lot of discussions on identity and children losing touch with their family background by becoming “Americanized.”  In my case, because the ESL program did not shun but upheld my cultural identity, I felt I was able to keep both the Japanese and American culture.

* What was different about your ESL classes from your other classes?
At the time, my ESL classes were different from my other classes because they integrated a lot of different cultures. I learned about the cultures of my classmates because the ESL classes were more open to sharing where our heritage came from and how our families practiced their cultures. It was also a comfortable place. The ESL class size was small, and that allowed me to be more comfortable to participate in class. I also received more attention and guidance from my ESL teacher whereas in my other classes, I never stood out and had to stay quiet to not disrupt my classmates.

* What should teachers and school staff know about ESL students?

I think ESL students can be easily misunderstood. I think there are expectations from teachers and school staff that ESL students know enough English. Sometimes, however, that is not the case. We all have our own pace. Because ESL students are still learning English, the words used or the way in which things are expressed may be taken the wrong way or be unclear. I think it is important for teachers and school staff to not just assume things based on the words spoken by them but they should try to understand the meaning behind their words. I remember how I would try to express something in English, but the words would not come out because I did not know the words to express my thoughts. Due to this situation, my teachers thought I was shy or did not like them. I also remember feeling disappointed and embarrassed when my teachers had a confused look, and I worried about being treated differently from my classmates because I was not fluent enough in English.


* What is one piece of advice you have for teachers who have ESL students in their classes?
Great question! One piece of advice I can suggest is to let ESL students talk and express themselves as much as they can. That can be through casual discussions, creative writing, or even podcasts. I think that is the best way students can improve their ability and confidence in the English language. The class may get loud and difficult to manage at times, like I saw my ESL teacher struggle with during class, but I think that was how I managed to improve my English the most. Instead of an uptight classroom setting with stressful assignments, the creative and lively atmosphere can encourage active learning.

Learn what a former English Language Learner thinks about her ESL program in this guest blog post | The ESL Nexus
Japanese & American flags; source: The ESL Nexus
Thank you very much, Chihiro, for sharing your experience and for your helpful suggestions on working with English Language Learners. Best wishes as you complete your college education!

If you would like to read more about Chihiro’s thoughts on learning English in middle school, check out the book TESOL Voices: Secondary Education.  Chihiro was one of the students who helped me write Chapter 2, which is about teaching content-based ESL.  You can find out more about the book HERE.

Stay tuned for the next blog post in this series, coming soon!

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