Sunday, April 5, 2020

Take Advantage of the TpT Sale on Monday and Tuesday!

TeachersPayTeachers is having a sale on Monday and Tuesday, April 6th and April 7th, to help educators, parents, and other caregivers find resources they can use with students who are now learning remotely.  The sale begins at 12:00am Eastern on Monday and ends at 11:59pm Eastern on Tuesday.

Find great resources at The ESL Nexus for teaching students remotely during TpT's April 2020 sale!
Resources at The ESL Nexus are 20% off & when using the promo code, will be discounted another 5%!  To go to the store, click HERE
As usual, all the resources in my store, including my already-discounted bundles, will be 20% off.  Also, TpT is offering an additional 5% discount when the promo code FORYOU is used during the checkout process.  Many other stores will also be participating in the sale so you can save up to 25% depending on how those stores set their discounts.

In my TpT store, you can quickly find resources that students can use at home by clicking on my Custom Category called Unexpected School Closing & Distance Learning Resources.  They include a mix of Google Drive™ and printable resources suitable for distance learning.  In the product descriptions, there is an explanation of how you can use each resource for remote learning with students.  You can see what that looks like for my most recent resource, US Elections Vocabulary, Reading & Writing: Independent Work, Distance Learning, which is both an online resource and one that can be used by students working independently on their own.

Enjoy the sale!


Sunday, March 15, 2020

5 Suggestions for Effectively Teaching ELLs Remotely

"I'm always interested in learning something new."
-- Katherine Johnson

Are you affected by the school closings due to the coronavirus pandemic?  This blog post  offers you some tips for teaching English Language Learners remotely.  I’d also like to give you some links to resources you may find useful.  (More resources are being posted on my Facebook page.)

Here are 5 suggestions to help you effectively teach ELLs remotely plus links to some useful resources. | The ESL Nexus
Click HERE for a free resource about reading & writing logs; source: The ESL Nexus
Tips for Teaching ELLs Remotely
* If you are making videos for your students to access at home or are teaching through a streaming platform, please speak more slowly and clearly than you typically do.  It is hard enough for ELLs to process material they hear in a classroom with a live teacher – listening through a computer or other device makes it even more difficult.
* ELLs may not understand the work they are given.  If they are not able to ask you for an explanation or how to do it, they shouldn’t be penalized if they do not complete the tasks.
* Remember that the adults in the family may not be able to help their children do work that is assigned.  The adults may not know enough English or they may have jobs they still have to go to and aren’t home to help their children.
* Encourage the parents and caregivers of ELLs to read to their children in the adults’ native language.  Students will get the benefit of hearing good modeling of language and it will probably be easier for the adults to discuss the books with their kids as well.  Doing this will help the ELLs develop their reading skills because the skills developed in one language will transfer over to English.
* Some ELLs may only be able to access the Internet with a smartphone.  (That was the case with a few of my students.)  If they don’t have a computer or even a tablet for their work, it may be difficult for them to do the work the way you want or expect.  Please understand that the students are trying their best, just like you.

A recent article from Edutopia describes how an American teacher and her colleagues, whose students are in China, went online to teach their classes.  There are lots of specific ideas here that will be very helpful if you are in this situation.  You can read the article HERE.

The Canadian Ministry of Health has information in 30 languages available on an Ontario, Canada, government website.  This is very helpful if your ELLs' families do not understand English well.  There is other info in English on this page specifically for Canadians; click HERE to go to the clickable list of languages at the bottom of the webpage.

Resources to Help Educators
One of my resources, Out of School, Vacation, and Holiday Writing & Reading Logs, is now free for a limited time.  It had been a paid product but I think this is something students can easily use at home so while the Covid-19 pandemic is forcing schools to be closed, it will be free.  I also added a digital component to the resource: You can now access it with your Google Drive account.  Please click HERE to get your copy.

Here are 5 suggestions to help you effectively teach ELLs remotely plus links to some useful resources. | The ESL Nexus
Click HERE to get this resource; source: The ESL Nexus
I have created a Custom Category in my TpT store that lists all the resources I think can be used by students at home.  It’s called Unexpected School Closing & Distance Learning Resources.  These are not new resources, just ones that I think you might find helpful at this time or whenever your school is closed for an extended period of time.  I've added instructions for how you can use each resource remotely with your students.  Most resources require a teacher to explain what to or to do some advance prep so please read the product descriptions carefully.  There may be some parts of a resource that aren’t relevant for teaching remotely but if the bulk of it is, then it was added to this custom category.  Many resources need to be printed out, by you or your students if they have printers, but many also include Google Drive versions as well as printable versions.  Please click HERE to go to this webpage in my TpT store.

The State of Arizona has created a Virtual Resource Hub with about 125 general education, English, math, science, social studies, world language, and special education resources.  You can find it HERE.

Global Storybooks is a website that offers books in over 50 languages that students can read for free.  The books can also be downloaded.  Click HERE to access the website.

Unite for Literacy is a free online library with over 400 books that are narrated in English.  It is aimed at elementary students.  You can find it HERE.

This article has links to 12 Virtual Museum Tours that are free.  They are useful even if you're not teaching from your home.   And the National Park Service in collaboration with Google has made available free virtual tours that you can find HERE.

Epic is an online library with, it says, over 35,000 books aimed at students aged 12 and under.  Click HERE to go find out how your students can access the books for free until the end of the school year.

I hope this helps you at least a little during this uncertain time.  Stay safe and best wishes to you and your students!


Monday, March 9, 2020

An Immigrant Parent's Perspective on American Schools

Zi bù jiào, fǔ zhīguò.
(Parents are responsible for their children’s education.)
-- Chinese Proverb

Working with the parents and caregivers of my students was something I really enjoyed as an ESL teacher.  In a previous blog post, I wrote about why it was such a pleasure.

Find out about an immigrant parent's experience with American schools in this blog post | The ESL Nexus
What one parent thought; source: The ESL Nexus
One of my friends here in Tucson, Lin, is someone I first met when I taught in Wuhan, China.  She and her family moved to Arizona many years ago.  I thought it’d be interesting to get Lin’s thoughts on what it was like being an immigrant parent with young children in an American school.  Below are her responses to the questions I asked her.

Find out about an immigrant parent's experience with American schools in this blog post | The ESL Nexus
Lin in Tucson; source: The ESL Nexus
* How old were your children when they started school in the US?  Were they ever enrolled in an ESL program?  If not, why not?
They were 8 and 5.  No, I didn’t think they needed ESL. They attended English speaking preschool/kindergarten before.  I thought they could learn the language quickly in a natural environment.

* How did you feel when you went to register your children – did you know what to expect or was everything new and different?
I didn’t know what to expect. But everything went well except for the part where they needed all the immunization records. We  didn’t have all the records since we had lived in different countries. We were told we could fill out a form asking for an exemption and so we did it.

* What surprised you most about American schools?

There was almost no homework.  My kids always told me they could get most of their homework done at school, which is in great contrast to my experiences growing up when students had to spend hours on homework after school.

* Were there any similarities between the American schools and the schools you attended as a child?
One thing that is similar is that there is a teacher teaching in the classroom.  But when I grew up, classroom settings were very different. We had a different teacher for each subject.  Each teacher came in the classroom to give lectures and assigned homework for one period and there would be another teacher for next period. We hardly ever had group work or discussion.

* Were you ever involved in your children’s school activities, such as PTA/PTO, chaperoning field trips, volunteering in their classes, going to open houses or parent conferences?
Yes, I used to help teachers grade students' quizzes and homework.  I also helped distribute weekly flyers sent home and chaperoned  my kids’ field trips. When I grew up, my parents were not involved in any school activities.  Teachers would pay parents a visit at home if needed.

* Do you have any other comments about being an immigrant parent whose children attended American schools?
It wasn’t very easy to communicate with most teachers.  Maybe we didn’t have a lot in common to talk about.

Find out about an immigrant parent's experience with American schools in this blog post | The ESL Nexus
Chinese & American flags; source: The ESL Nexus
Thank you very much, Lin, for sharing your experiences!  Lin and her family lived in Northern Ireland and Canada before coming to the U.S but as you can see, even after living in other English-speaking countries, the American school experience was new for Lin.

Research has shown that when parents and caregivers are involved in their children’s education, students are more successful in school.  Getting adults involved is not easy, though, for many reasons.  Getting adults who are immigrants who speak a language other than English and who come from a different culture makes that even more difficult. 

Communication is key and one way to communicate with parents and caregivers is to keep them regularly informed about how their children are doing in school.  Email, texts, and apps such as Remind are one way to do that.  Another is by sending home reports on a regular basis.  My Weekly Progress Update Forms, in print and digital format, help teachers keep their students’ families informed by reporting on their academic progress, behavior, and participation in class.  You can find this resource HERE.


Monday, February 24, 2020

How to Create a Class Cookbook in 6 Easy Steps

"Food is our common ground, a universal experience."
-- James Beard

Food is a great entrée into a culture.  It answers all the who/what/where/when/why/how questions: Who prepares it, what are the ingredients, where are dishes prepared, when are they cooked, why are certain foods prepared, how are they made.  Discussing these aspects of food preparation is also a great way to develop language skills, of all students not just ELLs.  In fact, I wrote my master’s thesis on how teachers can use recipes to teach about the cultures of Francophone Africa and Asia.  (To see how using recipes can teach about culture, check out my blog post about making glutinous rice balls.)

When I was teaching English Language Development (ELD) to a group of 4th graders, one year I did a cookbook project with them.  We had class twice a week and the project took several weeks to complete.  The objectives were to learn about sequencing in stories, practice using sequencing by writing recipes, and practice writing descriptive writing.  The final product was a class cookbook of recipes written by the students.  We also had a party and invited students’ parents; the foods were cooked at home and the adults brought the dishes in to share with the class.

This is a project that you can do in a pull-out ESL class that focuses on ELD or in a world geography class with ELLs and other students.  Although it would be wonderful to have a class party with all the foods to share, that may not be possible in many schools.  Nevertheless, the learning objectives still make it a worthwhile endeavor.

Learn how to create a class cookbook in 6 easy steps | The ESL Nexus
Creating a class cookbook teaches many language skills; source: The ESL Nexus
Below are the steps for implementing the project:

* To provide background knowledge and information about sequencing, read 2 stories about cooking.  They are “pair-it” books from Steck-Vaughn; the first one listed is fiction and the second is non-fiction.   (This post contains affiliate links.  That means if you purchase one or both books below, I make a small commission but it's at no additional cost to you.  Thank you for your support!)

Nana’s Kitchen, by Darwin Walton, is about a grandmother who cooks a meal for her grandson.

You Can Cook, by Lornette Woo, deals with writing recipes.

* Then, each student picked their favorite food.  I told them it should be something special to their culture, not junk food or fast food.  They had to write the list of ingredients and how to made the dish.  This gave the students practice in writing in sequence. 

* Students exchanged their recipes with classmates and peer edited it.  They checked for language errors and that the recipes followed the correct format and were clear to understand.

* For more writing practice, the 4th graders then wrote a description of their favorite dish.  They explained why they chose that particular dish, described a special time they ate it, and anything else they thought readers should know about it. 

* These descriptions were also peer edited.  A final copy was then written.  Some students also drew pictures to accompany their recipes.

* We had a party during one of our regular class periods.  We invited students’ families and several of them came.  The food was delicious!

* The culmination of the project was the creation of a class cookbook.  I glued all the recipes, descriptions, and illustrations on multi-colored construction paper (the kids chose which colors to use for their work), wrote an introduction and table of contents, and created a title page with every student’s signature on it.  Then I laminated and bound everything.  The cookbook became part of our class library.
Learn how to create a class cookbook in 6 easy steps | The ESL Nexus
Pages from my class cookbook; source: The ESL Nexus
Creating a class cookbook is not a project just for elementary students.  I did a very similar project with a group of adults when I was teaching at a language school in New York City.  I didn't use the picture books but it wouldn't hurt to use them even with older learners or to find other books that are more suitable for teens and adults.  It is easy to adapt the language objectives to the proficiency level(s) of your students and it’s a wonderful way for you to get to know your students and for them to get to know each other.  Bon appetit!