Monday, January 14, 2019

How to Prepare for Classroom and Standardized Tests: An #ELLEdTech Chat

"I was the guy that would cram for everything, so I guess I was a bit of a slacker.
I was a procrastinator. I spent a lot of all-nighters getting ready for tests."
-- Chuck Liddell

I know I’m not alone in saying I hated taking standardized tests.  The pressure of having to finish within a proscribed time period combined with not knowing precisely what would be on the test generated a high level of anxiety.  And to top it off, it often took weeks before I found out the results.  Taking tests for classroom subjects in high school and college were easier because the teachers and professors reviewed what exactly would be on them and I usually found out fairly quickly what my grade was, which alleviated the anxiety of waiting and wondering how I’d done.

English Language Learners, who have to respond not only to content-area questions but must also do it in a language they are not proficient in, have it doubly hard.  But there are lots of things teachers can do to help ELLs succeed on the tests they have to take.  I taught my students strategies for taking tests that I myself had successfully used when studying for a foreign language placement exam for a French program and for the Massachusetts test to become certified in teaching Social Studies.  I created a resource based on those strategies and additional research and while I can’t guarantee your students will ace all the tests they take, implementing them should give them confidence and help them better prepare for their exams.  I also have a Pinterest board about assessment that you might find helpful.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Test-Preparation-Posters-Task-Cards-Checklist-3716797
For more info, click HERE; source: The ESL Nexus
In addition to test preparation strategies, there are also test-taking strategies that can be taught as well as various websites for reviewing specific types of content material.  For the content subject tests I gave my students, I always announced them several days in advance and reminded them every subsequent day about it, and spent the day before a scheduled test reviewing the material with them.  I did various kinds of reviews so they wouldn’t get bored.  When I had to administer the WIDA ACCESS test to my students, and the LAS test before that, I spent the week beforehand giving students practice tests to acclimate them to the test formats.

Since the time for administering the WIDA ACCESS test has begun, I thought it’d be useful to spend the next #ELLEdTech chat discussing Tech Tools for Teaching Test Prep and Test-Taking Strategies.  Laurah, my co-host, isn’t able to join us so I’ll be solo hosting this month.  Please join in so I’m not talking to myself! 

The chat is on Sunday, January 20, 2019, at 7pm Eastern, 4pm Pacific and Midnight UTC (sorry about that!).  Below are the details.

Join the January #ELLEdTech Twitter chat on Sunday, 1/20/19 to discuss test prep & test-taking strategies for ELLs | The ESL Nexus
All are welcome -- please join us!  Source: The ESL Nexus
Schedule and Questions
7:00 = Introduction:  Tell us your name, location, level/grade and subject taught. #ELLEdTech
7:05 = Q1: How do you prepare ELLs for classroom tests &/or standardized testing? #ELLEdTech?
7:13 = Q2:  What is your favorite tech tool for teaching test prep or test-taking skills to ELLs? #ELLEdTech
7:21 =  Q3:  Why do you like that tool for teaching test prep or test-taking skills to ELLs? #ELLEdTech
7:29 = Q4:  What do teachers or ELLs need to know in order to use your favorite tool successfully? #ELLEdTech
7:37 = Q5: What other tools would you recommend for teaching test prep or test-taking skills to 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, @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.  And remember to check out my Pinterest board on Assessment and ELLs, which posts resources, articles and ideas about this topic.

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Monday, December 31, 2018

Happy New Year Around the World, Plus a Gift Guide

Xin Nian Kuai Le!
-- or, Happy New Year in Mandarin Chinese

January 1st is New Year’s Day throughout the world that uses the Christian Gregorian calendar.  But many religions and cultures celebrate the New Year on other days.  Below is a chart showing New Year celebrations for some other religions and cultures.

Learn when the New Year is celebrated by various religions & cultures and use the gift guide in this blog post to help you celebrate Chinese New Year | The ESL Nexus
New Year celebrations in 2019; source: The ESL Nexus
Perhaps the most famous non-religious New Year holiday in the U.S. is Chinese New Year.  In China, the holiday has been celebrated for thousands of years.  Originally religious and lasting 15 days, it is now a secular holiday.  Chinese communities around the world celebrate it as well, often with parades that include lion and dragon dances.  When I first went to China, I arrived towards the end of Spring Festival, which culminates with the Lantern Festival.  I was invited to the home of a family, with whom I became close, and got to see how the holiday was celebrated there. 

After I returned to the U.S. and started teaching in a public school, I always made a point of doing something in my ESL Social Studies classes to celebrate Spring Festival, pointing out that that was what the Chinese people called the holiday.  I’ve created this gift guide so you, too, can celebrate Chinese New Year with your students.  Some of the items are for you to share with your students and some are for just for you. 

Find great ideas for celebrating Chinese New Year in this gift guide! | The ESL Nexus
10 items that help you celebrate Spring Festival; source: The ESL Nexus
(This post contains Amazon affiliate links.  That means that I make a small commission if you make a purchase but it's at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support!)

Click on the pictures for info about each item.

FOR STUDENTS

White Rabbit Candy

This was very popular when I was in China and I was happy to find it in the U.S. upon my return.  It's sort of like taffee; sometimes it's chewy and sometimes it's not but both types are good.  I passed it out it to my students until my district said we couldn't give food to students anymore.

Chopsticks

One year, when I taught Chinese language as an after-school activity, I brought in Chinese food from a local restaurant on the last day and showed students how to use chopsticks.  We all had fun trying to eat with them!  This product contains 100 pairs of bamboo chopsticks.  I used to think disposable chopsticks were a waste but bamboo is a renewable resource so now I know it's okay to use them.

Red Envelopes

Red envelopes with money inside are traditionally given to children for Spring Festival.  Instead of money, you could write short notes to your students and put them inside one of the envelopes.  Or you could have your students do a writing assignment: Depending on their grade and language proficiency, they could write a poem about Chinese New Year, or make a card for their family or a classmate, or draw a picture about Chinese New Year and put it inside the envelope.

Fortune Cookies


Even though fortune cookies were created in the U.S. -- I never ate them in China -- what would Chinese New Year be without them?  This bag includes 50 cookies; although I haven't personally eaten this particular brand, what I like about them is that they don't have high fructose corn syrup in them. And the sayings are supposed to be appropriate for kids.

Chinese Take-Out Boxes


These boxes would make great gift bags!  You can put the White Rabbit candy, chopsticks, fortune cookie, and red envelope containing a note to your students (if you're doing that) all in one of these small boxes.  Or put any other Chinese New Year related items in it and give them to your students.  The boxes are 16 ounces in size and there are 15 of them in the package.

FOR TEACHERS

Room Decorations


Traditionally, people hang posters with Chinese couplets or pictures of Chinese gods on each side of their door for good luck in the new year.  When I was traveling in southwest China on one of my vacations, I bought one poster and when I came home, I got it framed.  Subsequently, I bought small posters that said "Xin Nian Kuai Le" (Happy New Year) and put them up in my classroom for Chinese New Year every year.  These decorations will surely create a festive atmosphere in your room.

Jasmine Tea


Everywhere I went in China, I was offered jasmine tea.  This is the brand I found in Chinese grocery stores in the U.S. and it's delicious.  Just put a teaspoonful in a cup and let it steep in hot water for a few minutes.  The tin makes a pretty container, too, once you've finished all the tea.

Yixing Teapot
 
Yixing is a town in China near Shanghai famous for its "purple sand" teapots.  One year, a friend and I went there.  I bought several teapots in various shapes and colors.  The reason Yixing teapots are famous is because, if you only brew the same kind of tea in the pot, after a long time, supposedly you no longer need to use tea leaves -- you can just put boiling water in the pot and it will taste like the flavor of the tea that was used.  Yixing teapots come in a wide range of prices; the most expensive can run hundreds of dollars, but this is much more reasonable for a teacher's budget.

Tao Te Jing Book


I bought the first edition of this book back in the 1980s.  In my opinion, it's the best translation ever of the Tao.  The book is organized with one page in  Chinese and the opposite page in the English translation.  Black-and-white photographs enhance the chapters.  From what I can tell, this newer version has the same layout.  If you want to contemplate the Tao -- the Way -- you won't go wrong with this book.

TpT Bundle of China Resources
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/China-Big-Bundle-of-Writing-Reading-Grammar-Word-Search-Activities-Clipart-2898204

Lastly, here are 6 resources about China for students.  There is information about Chinese history, geography, and culture as well as emperors and philosophers.  Resources include reading, writing, and grammar activities plus word search puzzles for every animal of the Chinese zodiac.  Clipart images of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac, based on photographs of a souvenir I bought in Xi'an, are also included.  You can buy each resource separately but you'll save some money by purchasing this bundle.  You can find it HERE.

Whenever you celebrate the New Year, I wish you peace and good fortune!

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Friday, December 21, 2018

Monday, December 10, 2018

How to Teach Science with Technology Tools -- An #ELLEdTech Chat

 "Science is fun. Science is curiosity.  We all have natural curiosity.
Science is a process of investigating.  It's posing questions and coming up
with a method.  It's delving in."
Scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/science?lgm=l
--Sally Ride

When I was a student, my school district in Pennsylvania had a wonderful science curriculum.  The entire textbook consisted of descriptions of scientific concepts and how to demonstrate or prove them by doing experiments.  For every experiment we had to write a hypothesis, write the steps for doing the experiment, do the experiment and collect the data, analyze the data, and finally write a conclusion.  Then we had to submit that to the teacher who would, hopefully, approve it; if he didn't (all my science teachers were men), then we had to do the experiment again.  When the write-up of the research was approved, we could take the test and after that, we could start the next chapter.

I didn't know it then but we were following the steps of the scientific method, though I don't recall anyone ever using that term.  It was a great way to learn science because it was totally hands-on.  But it also had its downside, which was that some of us were more concerned about getting through the textbook as fast as possible so we could get a head start on the next year's book.  And often, as soon as we took and passed a test, we forgot the material in our rush to move on to the next topic.

Nevertheless, I developed a love of science as a result of being able to do the experiments all by myself.  But when I was a rising junior in high school, my family moved to another state and I was told that the science program in my new school consisted of the teacher standing at the front of the room doing the experiments while the class watched.  It sounded really boring.  And so, since science wasn't a required subject, I never took another science course in high school.

When I became a teacher and co-taught in mainstream science classes, I wanted my English Language Learners and the other students to enjoy science.  With that in mind, I created the resources in my Scientific Method Bundle. There are 3 resources in the bundle and they provide students with a way to talk with a real scientist and to learn about 5 scientists considered fathers of the scientific method.  There's also a poster that explains what the scientific method is, a short writing task about it, and a word search puzzle.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Scientific-Method-BUNDLE-with-Speaking-Listening-Reading-Writing-Activities-2008154
Click HERE for more info
Nowadays, there is a renewed emphasis on having students do science experiments themselves.  Unfortunately, not all schools have the funding to purchase materials to make that possible.  However, with access to the Internet, maker spaces, and virtual labs, there are many ways students can learn scientific concepts.  Please join Laurah, my co-host from Tools for Teachers by Laurah J, and me on Sunday, December 16th, to discuss Tech Tools for Teaching Science, the next #ELLEdTech chat topic.   As always, the chat will start at 4:00pm Pacific, 7:00pm Eastern, and 11:00pm UTC time.  Below are the details.

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 Science? #ELLEdTech
7:13 = Q2:  How do these tools help students learn about Science?  #ELLEdTech
7:21 =  Q3:  What are the advantages & benefits of using these tech tools for teaching about Science? #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 Science? #ELLEdTech

Come join the next #ELLEdTech Twitter chat on December 16h to discuss using Tech Tools to Teach Science! | The ESL Nexus
All are welcome to participate! source: The ESL Nexus
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.  And for more info about teaching science to ELLs, you might like to follow my Pinterest board Science for ELLs, which posts resources, articles and ideas about this subject.

SHARE:
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