Monday, August 12, 2019

Introducing TpT ClassFund and Why You Should Use It

Have you heard of TpT ClassFund?  Read on for an explanation, links for more info, and a time-sensitive offer.

Find out about TpT ClassFund & Why You Should Use It | The ESL Nexus
Find out more HERE
TpT ClassFund is a new program from TeachersPayTeachers that gives people an easy way to purchase TpT resources for educators.  There are other online programs that offer the general public ways to support teachers.  What makes this one different is that it is focused solely on providing resources from TpT.  Another difference is that there are no fees for setting up and using TpT ClassFund, so all the money contributed goes towards your selected resources.  Click HERE to read all about it.

TpT has written some blog posts to help you get started:
* How To Talk About TpT ClassFund — And the Impact It Will Have
* 3 Templates for Easy and Impactful Fundraising Through TpT ClassFund™
* Getting Started with TpT ClassFund™: 6 Top Fundraising Tips

And if you set up a TpT ClassFund for yourself, TpT will match contributions made to your fund up to US$50.00 that are made by September 8th or when TpT's maximum $500,000 limit has been reached, whichever comes first.  So by acting sooner, you'll get a nice bonus added to your TpT ClassFund!

If you are one of the more than two-thirds of the teachers in the U.S. use TpT (according to Forbes), or are an educator in another country who uses TpT resources, this new program is bound to help you out!


Monday, August 5, 2019

Don't Miss Out on the Back to School Sale!

Getting ready for the start of a new school year was always something I enjoyed.  Soon enough, reality would sink in and I’d be overloaded with work.  But in the few remaining weeks of summer, looking forward to trying new activities and meeting my students was something I anticipated with great pleasure.

You know what else educators anticipate?  The Back to School Sale by Teachers Pay Teachers!  That’s right – it’s that time of year again.  TpT is having a sale on Tuesday and Wednesday, August 6 and 7, 2019, to help you get ready for whenever you go back to school.  (Or if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, think of the sale as a mid-season reward :-) )

Find great deals for the start of school & the rest of the year at The ESL Nexus during TpT's BTS Sale on August 6 & 7, 2019!
Find all my resources on sale at The ESL Nexus
Everything in my store will be on sale for 20% off, including bundles.  Most stores will also be on sale and by using the promo code BTS19, you’ll get an additional 5% off for a total of up to 25% off.  Just fill your cart with already-discounted resources, then add the promo code at checkout.  VoilĂ , you’ve saved yourself a lot of money!

If you have students from other countries and cultures in your class, you will probably want to get my best-selling Multilingual Welcome Signs resource if you haven’t already purchased it.  It makes a great bulletin board display or you can decorate your door with them.  Use these 8.5” x 11” posters to create a welcoming atmosphere for all your students.

Find great deals for the start of school & the rest of the year at The ESL Nexus during TpT's BTS Sale on August 6 & 7, 2019!
Click HERE for more info; source: The ESL Nexus
If you teach ancient history, I’ve just finished – as in, about half an hour ago – a new resource about Early Humans in Prehistory.  It includes charts that are filled in with information about the Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, Copper, Bronze, and Iron Ages.  Each chart covers a different age and the information is written so students at lower levels of reading proficiency will comprehend them.  A glossary and list of multiple-meaning words will aid students as they read.  Or they can use the blank charts to take notes when reading other texts.  Task cards, word searches, and a crossword puzzle are also included; answer keys are provided for all.

Find great deals for the start of school & the rest of the year at The ESL Nexus during TpT's BTS Sale on August 6 & 7, 2019!
Click HERE for more info; source: The ESL Nexus
You might also like my big bundle of holiday word search and crossword puzzles.  It contains resources for 18 different American holidays.  It’s regularly priced at $44.20 (which itself is 20% percent off the cost of buying each resource separately) but with an additional 20% off and then the promotional 5% discount on top of that, you’ll save over $10.00 if you buy it during the sale.  That's a great deal so I hope you take advantage!

Find great deals for the start of school & the rest of the year at The ESL Nexus during TpT's BTS Sale on August 6 & 7, 2019!
Click HERE for more info; source: The ESL Nexus
Whatever you do, don’t forgot to use the promo code BTS19!  Happy shopping!


Monday, July 22, 2019

How a Family Reunion is Like the Start of the New School Year

"My idea of good company is the company of clever, well-informed people who
 have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company."
-- Jane Austen

Setting up my classroom for a new school year was nothing compared to getting my house in order for the visitors I had over the 4th of July weekend!  Three months ago, I received an email from the Japanese exchange student, Naomi, that my family had hosted for a year back in the 1970s.  She wrote that she and her husband were planning a trip to the U.S. and would like to visit us in Arizona.

How a Family Reunion is Like the Start of the New School Year | The ESL Nexus
My family and Naomi when she graduated from her U.S. high school; source: The ESL Nexus
As a result, I spent the next three months preparing for their visit.  I had visited them in Japan in 2005 but my parents and sister hadn’t seen Naomi in over 40 years and had never met her husband.  As you can imagine, we all wanted everything to be perfect for the reunion.  (Like I always wanted my classroom to look the very best it possibly could for the beginning of the school year.)

The upcoming visit by Naomi and Toru, her husband, was the catalyst for finally remodeling my guest bathroom.  It took me a month to choose the vanity, floor tiles, mirror, towel bars, and sink and shower fixtures.  Multiple visits to Home Depot and Lowe’s, in person and online, occurred.  (Just like when I was trying to map out the content of my ESL Social Studies courses for the year by reading numerous textbooks and surfing various websites, searching for info that would enable me to design effective lessons.)

Discussions with my parents and aunt, who live in the same community as me and with my sister who along with her Japanese husband (!) live in Los Angeles and planned to fly over for the long weekend, ensued.  We debated sightseeing activities, restaurants to go to, and which meals we would cook at whose home.  Coordinating all this took time.  (So did consulting with mainstream teachers but that was similarly ultimately rewarding as it made for a better learning experience for my students.)

Finally the big day arrived and my father and I drove to the airport to pick up Naomi and Toru.  In the photo collage below, the top left photo shows the moment they saw us waiting for them in the airport.  The rest of my family was waiting at my house to greet them.  (While I always looked forward to meeting my students – many of whom I had for more than one year -- the anticipation of seeing them again after summer vacation was nothing like the excitement of seeing Naomi, and her husband, after so many years.)

How a Family Reunion is Like the Start of the New School Year | The ESL Nexus
Enjoying our reunion decades later; source: The ESL Nexus
The other photos in the collage show some of our activities: Dinner at a restaurant for their first-ever taste of Mexican food (top right) and cooking a Japanese meal for us the next morning (middle left).  That was fun because I had compiled a cookbook of family recipes for my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary and included recipes Naomi had cooked when she stayed with us years ago – what she prepared that Saturday morning was one of those recipes.  We went to a nearby state park so Naomi and Toru could enjoy the desert landscape up close (middle right).  Saturday evening, we ate dinner at my aunt’s house and made one of the recipes my mother frequently cooked when Naomi was in high school and lived with us (bottom left).  After dinner, we viewed family photos and reminisced.  Then, Sunday morning I and my mother drove them back to the airport and said farewell (bottom right).

The days went by in a blur and all too soon it was over.  Naomi and Toru were gone, on their way to the next destination of their 2-week trip.  It was hard to say good-bye after such a wonderful reunion.  But we’ll keep in touch and hopefully, one day, we will see each other in person again.  (Like it was hard to say good-bye to a favorite class at the end of a school year but knowing that I’d stay in touch with a few of those students as they made their way through high school, college, and out into the world beyond.)

How a Family Reunion is Like the Start of the New School Year | The ESL Nexus
Greeting my guests with a cake at my home; source: The ESL Nexus
So that is why I haven’t blogged in the past 2 months.  All my attention was focused on getting things ready for this visit by Naomi and Toru.  And even if I do say so myself, it was worth all the time spent because it was an amazing weekend and a wonderful experience hosting them.  Arigato, Naomi and Toru, for making this Fourth of July a truly special and unforgettable holiday!


Monday, May 20, 2019

How to Teach After Testing is Over

"Year's end,
all corners of this floating world,
-- Basho

Do your students feel like the school year is over once they’ve finished taking their annual standardized English, math, and science tests?  Mine sure did!  But there was still a good 2 months left in the year and a lot of learning can and should take place during that time.

Ideas for keeping students focused on learning after standardized testing is over #EndofYear #SummativeAssessment | The ESL Nexus
Check out all my End of Year resources HERE; source: The ESL Nexus
It was always a struggle to keep students focused on what I was teaching when they could look out the window and see that summer was coming.  And lots of teachers had a tendency to ease up, especially in the last week, and show movies, play games, or do other activities that had only a tenuous connection to the subjects they were teaching.

My feeling was that I should be teaching up until the last day of school.  Many of my ELLs would be spending the summer just hanging around at home; their families either didn’t have the money to send their kids to summer camp or other organized activities or they were working and couldn't drive them back and forth to such activities.  These students actually were not looking forward to summer vacation because they didn't have anything to do.  Other ELLs would go visit relatives in other countries and spend their time speaking their native language instead of English.  So I wanted to get in as much teaching and learning as possible. 

Here are some suggestions to help you keep your students focused during the last few weeks of school:
* Tell students that although the standardized tests are over, report card grades haven’t closed and the work they do now counts towards their grades.
* Make your lessons engaging but maintain rigor.  Don’t play games or show movies just to fill up the time; make sure there is a content connection and purpose for using those games and movies.
* If allowed, teach class outside a few times.  If your school has a playground, you can go and sit there and teach.  There are also lots of English, math, and science tasks students can do just walking around outside the building, such as writing poetry, measuring distances in customary and metric units, and making scientific observations about flora and fauna.  Make going outside special, a reward.
* When students complain – and they will! -- that their other teachers are just doing fun things, explain that in your classroom, you still have things you need to teach them.  Tell your students you want to make the lessons as enjoyable as possible but you need their cooperation to make that happen.  In other words, get students to understand that the better their behavior, the more enjoyable the class will be.
* Maintain classroom discipline.  Don’t slack off and let students get away with things they wouldn’t be allowed to do the rest of the year.  Once that happens, it will be almost impossible to get things back under control.

You’ll probably also want to do some kind of summative assessment.  Not only does that give you an idea of how well your students learned, it gives students themselves a way to see everything they’ve accomplished in your class.  In addition, it gives you an indication of which topics were easiest/hardest for students and which areas you need to give more attention to next year.

I used 2 kinds of summative assessments.  One was a self-assessment form that I used in all my middle school classes.  It asked students to reflect on the topics they learned, how well they learned those things, how much effort they put into the class, and what suggestions they had for improving the class.  Students could consult each other to help them remember what they did but then they had to individually respond to the questions that asked for their opinions.

Let your students reflect on their learning at the end of the year with these final self-assessment forms #EndofYear #SummativeAssessment | The ESL Nexus
Click HERE for these Final Self-Evaluation Forms; source: The ESL Nexus
The other summative assessment was specifically for my 8th grade ESL Social Studies class, which was about world history.  It was a multi-day assignment that asked students which ancient civilization they would like to live in.  My students really enjoyed this activity – it was a different kind of assessment from all the others they’d had and they all said it was fun to do.

Give your students in Ancient or World History classes this fun end of year activity that lets them demonstrate what they learned in your class #EndofYear #SummativeAssessment | The ESL Nexus
Click HERE for this EOY Ancient & World History resource; source: The ESL Nexus
I subsequently created similar end of year assessments, based on my other ESL Social Studies classes, for U.S. History, World Geography, and U. S. Geography, as well as end of year resources for Science and English Language Arts.  There’s also a money-saving bundle of all the Social Studies resources HERE.

Wishing you a wonderful end to your school year!