Monday, May 8, 2023

Who Wouldn't Enjoy This Week's TPT Teacher Appreciation Sale?

It's Teacher Appreciation Week so TPT is having a sale starting Tuesday at 12:01am Eastern time and ending Wednesday at 11:59om Eastern time. That’s May 9th and 10th.
Everything in my store will, as usual, be 20% off. The promo code for getting an additional 5% off at checkout is THANKYOU23. So you’ll save 25% on everything in my store during the sale. Yay!

On a green background, text at the top of the image anounces the TPT sale on May 9-10; in the middle, 3 resources for this time of year are showcased, and at the bottom the promo code THANKYOU23 is shown.
Find these & more great resources at The ESL Nexus
Here is more info about the resources in the image above:

* The Mothers Day Puzzles come in both print and digital versions.  They help teach or review 20 vocabulary words about Mothers Day and can help your ELLs learn about this holiday.

* The Student Evaluation Forms are also in print and digital versions.  They help students reflect on what they have learned at the end of a unit or the end of the year.  One happy buyer said, "Wow! You made my day. This is extremely well written, and exactly what I
was looking for. I cannot believe I do not have to create this on my own. Again, wow!"

* The Social Studies Bundle, also in print and digital versions, includes 4 resources for different Social Studies courses.  All of them include activities that help students review what they learned during the year and ask them to do a persuasive writing task.  As one happy customer said, "Awesome resource! Exactly what I needed!"

I'm sure you'll enjoy the sale -- Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!


Monday, May 1, 2023

Teacher Appreciation Day and Week Deals for Teachers: Resource Round Up

Here is my annual blog post with discounts for Teacher Appreciation Week!  Like last year, instead of highlighting specific offers for teachers in various categories such as restaurants, stores, and museums, it's a round up of websites that have collated deals from all over.

Overhead image showing yellow notepad announcing Special Deals, coffee in cup, and tablet saying dates of 2023 Teacher Appreciation Week. Background is white wood with a few color paper clips scattered on it.
Source: The ESL Nexus

This year, Teacher Appreciation Week goes from May 8th through May 12th but Teacher Appreciation Day is on May 2nd.  Not all sites have announced their special deals for teachers yet.  However, I want to publish my blog post before May 2nd, so you can grab whatever offers are available for that day.  This will also give you more time to read through and see which offers you’d like to take advantage of for the following week.   
So I’m sharing these meta lists with you, which have been updated for Teacher Appreciation Day and Teacher Appreciation Week for 2023.  These lists also include year-round offers so hopefully you will find them useful longer than for just the week designated for teachers.  (Because, of course, teachers should be celebrated all year long, not just 1 week!) Unfortunately, though, it also means that you'll have to click on the links that appeal to you to see which offers are valid when, although in some cases that is noted in their blurbs.  I know your time is limited so sorry about that.

Websites Listing 2023 Teacher Appreciation Week Deals

* From dontpayfull: Teacher Discounts 2023: The Complete List of Offers for Educators

* From We Are Teachers: The Best Teacher Appreciation Giveaways and Deals for 2023

* From dealhack: Teacher Discounts Guide: The Ultimate List of Stores

* From The Takeout: Where to Get Free Food on Teacher Appreciation Day

* And from PTOToday: Teacher Appreciation Week 2023 Resources
The first 3 websites overlap each other and include many of the same resources.  The 4th site shares deals from restaurants that are giving away free food on Teacher Appreciation Day, May 2nd.  The last website is more about the ways families, friends, and colleagues can honor the teachers in their lives.  

I haven’t verified all the links so it’s possible that some of them won’t lead to special offers in your own geographical area.  And, sorry international educators, but I'm pretty sure these discounts are only applicable in the US.

I hope you find at least 1 thing on 1 of these sites that will make your week a little nicer.

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!


Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Is Retaining ESL Students a Good Idea? What the Research Shows

This is the time of year when many teachers consider retaining ESL students.  But retention of English Learners is problematic.  Let’s look at why you might think keeping an ELL back for a year is a good idea, then see what the research says.

First half of title at top, image of girl looking puzzled seated at desk in middle, second half of title at bottom
Source: The ESL Nexus

Reasons for Retaining ESL Students

Is retention good for students?  These are some of the reasons you may think keeping an EL student back for a year is a good idea:
* My English Language Learner is not doing well in my classroom.
* My ELL struggles with understanding the academic content I’m teaching.
* My Multilingual Learner has a hard time communicating their ideas clearly in English.
* My non-native English-speaking student finds it difficult to focus on classroom tasks for extended periods of time.
You may think retaining ESL students who fit that profile will benefit them.  The rationale is that giving a student an extra year to learn the content subjects will help the ELL catch up to their peers.  You may think that holding an English Learner back for a year will give them more time to improve their English language proficiency.  You may think that retaining your Multilingual Learner will allow the student to become more mature and better able to do grade-appropriate classroom work.

Problems with Retaining ESL Students

Yes, you can retain an English Language Learner if they are not making adequate progress.  But the problem is figuring out the reason why the ELL isn’t making progress: Is it because the student doesn’t understand the material or is it because the student doesn’t understand the language that is used to teach the material?  Teachers have to modify their lessons so they are accessible to the English Learner student.  If that isn’t happening, then the ELL shouldn’t be retained.
Giving an English Learner more time to learn English, by holding back the student for a year, in theory sounds good.  But a student learning English as an additional language will continue to develop their language skills regardless of the grade they’re in (unless there is a severe learning disability, which is a different isue).  So this reason doesn’t hold up when examined more closely.  In fact, it is illegal to retain a student because they are not yet proficient in the English language.  In this video from Colorín Colorado, Roger Rosenthal, the Executive Director of the Migrant Legal Action Program, explains why.
An inability to stay on task to complete academic tasks does not necessarily mean the ELL is unable to do the work.  Very often, it means the student is overwhelmed by the language demands of the work and needs a break.  Trying to process cognitive demands while simultaneously filtering them through a new language is exhausting.  (Having attended high school in Sweden, I can personally attest to just how tiring it can be.)  So although it may appear that an English Learner is not mature enough to do the work or is unable to handle grade-level work, frequently the reason for that behavior is due to language issues and not academic issues.
If you’re having a hard time figuring out why your English Language Learner isn’t doing well in your class, my Learning Disability or ESL Issue Guide for Educators of ELLs can help.  It’s a questionnaire divided into 4 sections that ask about an ESL student’s academic experience and home environment.  After answering all the questions, you’ll have info to make an informed decision about whether or not your student should be retained, should be referred for testing to see if there might be a learning disability, or if more ESL support should be provided.

Image showing 4 pages from the Learning Disability or ESL Issue Guide for Educators of ELLs resource, with text at bottom giving info about the questionnaire
Click HERE for more info about this resource; source: The ESL Nexus

Research on Holding Students Back

But don’t take it just from me.  Research proves that retaining a student is ineffective and in the long-term is actually detrimental.
The Education Trust wrote recently about the harmful effects of retaining students.  They conclude that:
* Students who are retained do less well academically, socially, and emotionally over the long-term.
* English Language Learners and students who are Black or Latino are retained more often than students who are white or Asian, which raises questions of equitable treatment.
* Students who are retained need more support than just the extra year in order to achieve success.
Jamie L. Buckmaster wrote a 2019 doctoral dissertation called "Holding Back English Learners: The Impact of Early Elementary Grade Retention on Language Development."  The idea that keeping an ESL student back a year will help them develop their English language skills is thoroughly debunked and she concludes that: The findings indicate a clear message: there is no evidence that retention is beneficial to EL students. Grade retention was harmful to student language achievement. (P. 80)

It’s clear that retention of ELLs should only happen in rare cases.  If you are thinking about retaining an English Language Learner, please think again!  And please share this blog post with your colleagues if they have EL students they are considering holding back a year.


Thursday, March 23, 2023

Get 12 Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr Posters for Free!

The month-long Muslim holiday of Ramadan began recently.  I’ve created some free Ramadan decorations for you as well as for Eid al-Fitr, which occurs at the end of Ramadan.  The link to download them is below.

On a yellow background, at top is title saying Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr Freebie and underneath are images of 6 of the 12 posters in the resource
Grab your freebie HERE; source: The ESL Nexus
When you use these decorations, you’ll create a positive, welcoming, and supporting classroom for your students.  Your Muslim students will appreciate your acknowledgment of the most important holiday in Islam and your other students will be exposed to another culture and religion in a respectful way.

Ramadan Posters

Muslims around the world who celebrate Ramadan often greet each other by saying Ramadan Kareem.  That means Generous Ramadan or Have a Generous Ramadan
One of the practices of the holiday is to give money to charity, so some people consider this greeting an admonition to be generous in the amount of their charitable giving. 
The freebie has 6 posters that say Ramadan Kareem

Eid al-Fitr Posters

When Ramadan ends, it is Eid al-Fitr, which lasts 3 days.  Greetings for Eid al-Fitr consist of saying Eid Mubarak.  That means Blessed Eid or Have a Blessed Eid.
Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr by having a large feast, exchanging gifts, and going to a mosque to pray.
The freebie has 6 posters that say Eid Mubarak

How to Use the Posters

You can print all of them out to create a bulletin board for your classroom.  Another way to use them is to change your printer settings so you’re printing multiple images of 1 poster on a page.  Then, you can use the smaller versions as cards for your students, their families, and/or your Muslim colleagues.

Another Ramadan Resource

For more detailed information and activities that teach students about the holiday, check out my Ramadan Activities resource.  It includes a reading passage with accompanying comprehension questions, task cards, a crossword puzzle and word searches, and posters with a different Ramadan greeting.

Cover of TPT resource with title at top, images  of pages representing the activities in the resource in the center, and smaller text at the bottom giving info about the types of activities included in the resource
Click HERE for more info about this resource; source: The ESL Nexus

As one educator said about it, “Thank you for this thorough collection that will be useful for educating students during Ramadan or at any time during a world history unit. Colorful and interesting!”

Happy Ramadan!