Monday, April 25, 2022

Resource Round Up for Teacher Appreciation Week: Deals for Teachers

My annual blog post with discounts for Teacher Appreciation Week is a little different this year.  Instead of highlighting specific offers for teachers in various categories such as restaurants, stores, and museums, I’m doing a round up of websites that have collated deals from all over.

Find links to special deals for teachers in this resource round up of websites that are celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week
Source: The ESL Nexus
The reason is that this year, Teacher Appreciation Week goes from May 2nd through May 6th and many sites that I listed in previous years have not announced their special deals for teachers yet.  However, I want to publish my blog post before the week starts, to give you time to read through and see which offers you’d like to take advantage of.   
So I’m sharing these meta lists with you, and they say they will be updated for Teacher Appreciation Week as the places announce their deals.  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, although in some cases that is noted in their blurbs.  I know your time is limited so sorry about that.

Websites Listing 2022 Teacher Appreciation Week Deals

* From dontpayfull: Teacher Discounts 2022: The Complete List of Offers for Educators

* From Parade: 160+ Well-Deserved Freebies and Discounts for Teachers, Including Teacher Appreciation Week Deals Offered Now
* From dealhack: Teacher Discounts Guide: The Ultimate List of Stores
* From Edmentum: The Best Deals of Teacher Appreciation Week 2022

* And from PTOToday: Teacher Appreciation Week 2022 Resources
The first 4 websites overlap each other and include many of the same resources.  The last one is more about 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 for 2022.
Considering how difficult teaching has been this year and throughout the pandemic years, 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!


Friday, March 4, 2022

How to Support Ukraine and the Ukrainian People

The whole world knows now that Russia invaded Ukraine. Ukrainians are fighting valiantly to resist and preserve their sovereignty.  A week after this unprovoked war began, the Ukrainian people’s resolve and resilience has motivated people everywhere to come together and support them.  Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky’s courage in leading his country in the face of overwhelming odds is inspirational.
In this blog post, I write about my personal connection to Ukraine and share a list of organizations you can donate to if you’d like to support the Ukrainian people.

Quotation by Ukrainian poet Lesia Ukrainka overlad on Ukrainian flag
Lesia Ukrainka (1871-1913) was a Ukrainian poet

My Ukrainian Family History

My mother's paternal grandfather came from Ukraine. The extended family lived in small villages about 2 hours north of Odesa.  My great-grandfather emigrated in 1904 to the U.S. and several of his brothers followed.  They initially settled in Ashley, North Dakota, and some of my relatives are buried in the Jewish cemetery there, which is on the list of National Register of Historic Places.
But 2 brothers remained in Ukraine.  Some of their descendants survived World War II and moved to Odesa and Moscow, and some of them then emigrated to Israel. About 7-8 years ago, my side of the family re-established contact with the relatives in Israel.  They’d compiled a family history so I now know where in Ukraine they lived. 
One year we did a big Skype chat but mostly we communicate by email.  So when the Ukraine war began, I emailed my cousin to find out how they were doing.  His wife’s father and grandfather live in Kyiv but so far, he says they are fine.
I also have connections to Ukraine on other sides of my family.  My mother's maternal grandparents came from a region of Poland that is now part of Ukraine.  On my father’s side, my grandmother emigrated in 1913 from a village in the Austro-Hungarian Empire that is now located in Ukraine.  In fact, the New York Times has posted articles from the nearest city to her hometown.

How to Help Ukraine in Its War with Russia

So I still feel a connection to Ukraine, and have ever since high school when I learned about my family roots in that country.  When I asked my cousin how we here in the U.S. could help, he recommended an organization called United Help Ukraine.  I’ve donated to them and also to World Central Kitchen, because food security is an issue close to me and I think highly of the work this organization does.  If you want to help the people of Ukraine, I encourage you to donate whatever you can to these organizations.  Thank you!

More Organizations that are Helping Ukraine

* List of 28 organizations compiled by CNN

* List of 9 organizations compiled by Returned Peace Corps Volunteers in Ukraine

* List of 23 organizations compiled by USAID

Ukrainian TpT Sellers

Last but not least, here are links to the TpT stores of 2 Ukrainian sellers:
* Victoria from Crazy Charizma
* Natalie from Math is Easy

Slava Ukraini - Glory to Ukraine text overlaid on Ukrainian flag
Slava Ukraini!

I truly hope this senseless war ends soon, with Ukraine victorious and remaining an independent country.


Monday, February 7, 2022

It's a February TpT Sale: What's Not to Love?!

What do Love, Presidents, and an Irish saint have in common?  They all include my educational resources in my store that'll be available at a discount during TpT’s upcoming winter sale!

Image of gnome holding valentine announcing TpT's winter sale
Find discounted resources in The ESL Nexus store on 2/8/22 & 2/9/22
It’s happening on Tuesday and Wednesday, February 8 and 9, 2022.  And not just Valentine’s Day, Presidents Day, and St. Patrick’s Day resources will be on sale – you’ll be able to get all my products on sale for 20% off. Even better, when you apply the promo code FEBSALE22 at checkout, an additional 5% discount will be taken for a total savings of 25% on all my resources.
Here are some of my resources you can use in the next few months that'll be on sale:

Valentines' Day

Covers of 2 Valentine's Day resources by The ESL Nexus
Click HERE for more info about these resources

Presidents Day

Covers of 2 Presidents Day resources by The ESL Nexus
Click HERE for more info about these resources

St. Patrick's Day

Covers of 2 St. Patrick's Day resources by The ESL Nexus
Click HERE for more info about these resources
Now that’s something to love, vote on, and dance a jig for!  Happy shopping!


Monday, January 10, 2022

Using Realia in the Classroom: Teaching about Africa with Artifacts

A little more than a year ago, I wrote a blog post about gifts from various charitable organizations that teachers can use when teaching Social Studies.  One of the organizations I described was Postcards from Timbuktu and I mentioned that I was going to buy a few items from them.  I’m pleased to share in this blog post what I got and then I’d like to explain one way I used realia such as these in my classroom.  At the end, I’ll mention a few of my TpT resources that are based on African artifacts.



Picture of a postcard from Mali with a butterfly design
Source: The ESL Nexus

I received 3 of the items a few months later but not the postcard from Timbuktu.  I chose the option to have a student draw a picture on my postcard and I suspect because I placed my order just as the coronavirus pandemic was beginning to impact everything, that was partly the reason.  So I waited several months and then contacted the organization (which they ask customers to do if the postcard doesn’t arrive).  They promptly mailed another postcard which I received a few months afterwards.  It *was* coming from Timbuktu after all! 


Picture of mudcloth from Mali and poster of Arabic calligraphy on top
Source: The ESL Nexus

The Postcards from Timbuktu website offers you the opportunity to get a word written in Arabic calligraphy by a master calligrapher.  It comes as an A4 sized poster.  You can read more about it HERE.  Since I already have a piece or art with my name written in a special kind of Chinese calligraphy, I decided to get my name written in Arabic.  But then the problem was figuring out how to say my name in Arabic.  Fortunately, a friend of mine is a native Arabic speaker and he helped me choose the word that I felt was best.  I love this artwork!

After looking around the Postcards From Timbuktu website, I also decided to get a piece of mudcloth.  This is a particular type of West African textile that Mali is famous for.  The website suggests using the mudcloth as a matte for the calligraphy poster but I’m not sure I want to use it that way because I think it hides too much of the design.


Picture of leather box containing salt from the Sahara Desert
Source: The ESL Nexus

The last thing I purchased was a container of salt.  The small round box my salt came in measures about 3.5” in diameter.  It’s made a camel leather but feels solid like wood.  It’s in a teal color which, it turns out, is made from indigo – so cool.  There’s a little card inside the box explaining where the salt comes from.  The website says the salt isn’t food grade but I couldn’t resist tasting a loose flake: Yup, it’s definitely salt!


When I taught my ESL World Geography class, among other things I used artifacts I acquired when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Sierra Leone.  But if you aren’t fortunate enough to have had such an experience, you can use these materials from Postcards from Timbuktu or other items you may have from Africa.  These ideas are also applicable when teaching about other regions, though of course you will need to use realia from there instead.  (I have no financial connection to Postcards From Timbuktu; I just really like their products and their mission to support local craftspeople and a school.)
Display an artifact.  When I did this, I set out several items on a couple desks and students walked around looking at them.  (Not only did that get them up and moving around, it also let them see each thing up close.)  If you have English language Learners at lower proficiency levels of English, you may want to tell your students to talk about each artifact with a partner after they’ve had time to examine each one.  Then tell students to pick an artifact and write about it.  I instructed my students to use sensory words and to be as descriptive as possible.
Depending on their language proficiency, you can have beginners just write words or phrases in a list; intermediate level ELLs can write a paragraph or two; advanced ELLs and native English speakers can write a short composition.  Allow however much time you feel is sufficient for this – it can be the bulk of your class time or just a short quick-write to introduce a lesson.
When they were finished writing, I asked for volunteers to read what they wrote.  Then I asked the class to guess which artifact was being described.  Often, but not always, they guessed correctly.
As a follow-up, you can ask your students to peer edit their work and then rewrite it for homework.


Cover of TpT resource of photographs of 12 artifacts from Sierra Leone
Source: The ESL Nexus

If you aren’t able to find actual realia from Africa, you might find this resource a suitable alternative.  It includes 12 photographs of artifacts I bought in Sierra Leone.  Background information about each image is included, along with a map of Africa and a picture of the Sierra Leonean flag.  You can also use the clipart to create a bulletin board display or use the images for your own classroom materials.

Quotation about Africa by Mary Bethune
Source: The ESL Nexus
There are lots more ways to use realia in the classroom and in future blog posts, I will offer some more ideas.