Monday, November 12, 2018

November #ELLEdTech Twitter Chat: Math

"By seventh grade, I was committed to mathematics."
-- Rosalyn Yalow

Not all students, however, love math like Rosalyn Yalow, a 1977 Nobel Prize winner, did.  English Language Learners in particular often have difficulty in their math classes.  Their lower levels of language proficiency can make it hard for them to be successful when have to solve word problems and then explain aloud or in writing how they got their answers.  As well, some teachers dislike teaching math because they do not have a solid grounding in the subject.

But it's crucial that teachers don't exhibit their anxiety when teaching math to their students, since their nervousness is often all too apparent to their students.  In addition, math is not, despite what many people think, a universal language that all students can easily understand.  How mathematical concepts are taught varies depending on the country you're in.  (For more info about that, please see my blog post Why You Need to Know How Math is Different in Other Countries.)

To help teachers help their ELLs learn math, the next #ELLEdTech chat will focus on Tech Tools for Teaching Math.  Please join Laurah, my co-host from Tools for Teachers by Laurah J, and me on Sunday, November 18th, to discuss this topic.  As always, the chat will start at 4:00pm Pacific, 7:00pm Eastern, and 11:00pm UTC time.  Below are the details.

Come join the next #ELLEdTech Twitter chat on November 18th to discuss using Tech Tools to Teach Math! | 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 Math? #ELLEdTech
7:13 = Q2:  How do these tools help students learn about Math?  #ELLEdTech
7:21 =  Q3:  What are the advantages & benefits of using these tech tools for teaching about Math? #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 Math? #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.  And for more info about teaching Math to ELLs, you might like to follow my Pinterest board Math for ELLs, which posts resources, articles and ideas about this subject.

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Monday, October 29, 2018

What Do ELLs Think About Their ESL Program? (Part 3)

"What little Johnny has not learned, big Johnny will not know."
-- Polish proverb

Have you ever wondered what English Language Learners think about being in an ESL program?  I thought it would be interesting and illuminating to find out so I invited a few of my former students to describe their experiences.  Here is the third and last interview.  You can read the first interview here and the second one here.

Learn what former English Language Learners think about their ESL program in this series of guest blog posts. Read what a Polish student has to say in her post | The ESL Nexus
Part 3 in a series; source: The ESL Nexus
Kasha is a Polish girl who emigrated to the U.S. with her mother in 5th grade.  When she arrived after the school year had already begun, Kasha didn't speak any English.  I worked with her one-on-one for one period every day and she had a tutor who spoke Polish to help her in her other classes.  Kasha also came to my 5th grade ESL Language Arts class and my 6th and 7the grade ESL Social Studies classes.  At the end of 7th grade, Kasha exited the ESL program, after scoring Proficient on the state-wide Massachusetts exam for Language Arts and doing very well in all her regular ed classes.

Throughout Kasha's high school and college years, we kept in touch.  She is now married, has a young daughter, and is currently an office manager for an optometrist.  Below, she reflects on her time as an ESL student in an American school.  Her responses have been lightly edited.

Learn what a former English Language Learner thinks about her ESL program in this guest blog post that is the third in a series | The ESL Nexus
Kasha and her family in Massachusetts; source: Kasha
* What grade were you in when you first started receiving ESL support? 
My 12 year old heart was broken when I learned that I would not be attending a Polish school when we moved to the U.S. in 2002. I realized quickly that my exciting move was about to become difficult since I had zero friends and my means of making any were limited. Even though the kids in my class were excited for the new kid, I felt trapped not being able to communicate with any of them. Initially, I didn’t even realize that I was spending a lot of time out of my regular classroom. I wasn’t fully aware how school was structured so I imagined other kids were also spending one-on-one time with a teacher at some point during school hours.

 
* How did you feel about being in the ESL program?
As I learned more and observed the other kids, I realized that I was taken out for most of my subjects other than science and math. I liked math, even though I wasn’t very good at it back home; here, it was the only thing that made sense and so I focused on that. My other subjects were confusing and challenging. I remember spending a lot of time not only learning new words but learning how to pronounce them, also I remember learning about US history and Native Americans. This was the hardest part as I had to use words I had learned hours earlier, process them, and attempt to make sense of the entire picture.

* How did being in the ESL program help you?
Despite having to concentrate and put all my effort into school, my ESL classes became easier as I learned and understood more. It wasn’t long until I couldn’t wait to leave my regular classroom where I felt different and left out. My ESL teacher and classmates never made me feel wrong and encouraged me to raise my hand. Even if the answer was wrong, I felt safe trying whereas I felt scared and ashamed of speaking out in my regular classes. Within a few months, I understood a whole lot more than I could speak and being in my regular classroom was frustrating because I wanted to be involved and I knew what was going on but I could not express it. While in my ESL classes, I found a way to communicate with teachers and other students and this enabled me to learn more and enjoy being in school for the first time in months.

* What was different about your ESL classes from your other classes?
I had many friends back home and the language barrier along with feeling inadequate with my speaking skills made this already difficult transition a lot harder. It was those hours I spent in ESL classes that gave me the confidence and allowed me to grow academically and emotionally.

* What should teachers and school staff know about ESL students?
One thing I wish the staff and my non-ESL teachers had known was how motivated I was to do well in their classes, too. I felt my blank stares and holding back from speaking aloud in front of everyone came off as a lack of effort when it was actually a fear of being wrong or different. I already felt out of place and behind my peers so I held back because of anxiety and fear, not because of a lack of interest.


* What is one piece of advice you have for teachers who have ESL students in their classes?
I would encourage teachers who have ESL students in their classroom to get to know them better by making a point to work with them one-on-one. This will instill trust and enable the student to open up in their mainstream classroom. ESL students process many things on their own as a lot of their time is interpreting behavior as they see it.  So it is important for teachers who have ESL students in their classroom to let those students know that they care about them and their success.

Learn what a former English Language Learner thinks about her ESL program in this guest blog post; Part 3 in a series | The ESL Nexus
Polish & American flags; source: The ESL Nexus
Thank you so much, Kasha, for sharing your experience and for your useful suggestions on working with English Language Learners. Best wishes in your career and married life!

You can read more about Kasha’s thoughts on learning English in middle school in the book TESOL Voices: Secondary Education.  Kasha 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.

I hope these first-person accounts of life as an English Language Learner have been helpful.  If you'd like more information about teaching ELLs, please follow me on Pinterest.  I have lots of boards that provide resources and info on all sorts of issues about working with ELLs.

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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!

SHARE:

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 and the third post 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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