Sunday, April 21, 2019

Happy Passover and Easter!

"Passover and Easter are the only Jewish and Christian holidays that move in sync, like the ice skating pairs we saw during the winter Olympics."
-- Marvin Olasky

Here are some images and quotations to ponder about these 2 important holidays.

Happy Passover to all! | The ESL Nexus
Seder plate at my Friday Passover dinner; source: The ESL Nexus
"Passover has a message for the conscience and the heart of all mankind. For what does it commemorate? It commemorates the deliverance of a people from degrading slavery, from most foul and cruel tyranny. And so, it is Israel's - nay, God's protest against unrighteousness, whether individual or national."
-- Rabbi Morris Joseph, 1848 - 1930

Happy Easter to all! | The ESL Nexus
Chocolate Easter bunny free gift from a local store: source: The ESL Nexus

"Let the resurrection joy lift us from loneliness and weakness and despair to strength and beauty and happiness."
-- Deacon Floyd Tomkins, 1850 - 1932

Monday, April 8, 2019

How to Use 8 Websites to Teach about Climate Change

"Tomorrow we schoolstrike for our future."
-- Greta Thunberg

If you don’t know who Greta Thunberg is, chances are your more environmentally-aware students do.  She’s the Swedish teenager who started the worldwide movement of students striking on Fridays to address the impact of climate change.  You can read more about her HERE.

Below are 8 websites that will help ELLs (and other students) learn about climate change.  I’ve included a short description of each site and rated the level of language proficiency needed to comprehend the information in them.  They are not listed in any particular order.

Use these 8 websites to teach your students about climate change; includes 8 ideas for using the websites | The ESL Nexus
Click on the blue title links to go to the websites; source: The ESL Nexus
Teach Climate Change Through Positive Action (For teachers)
By MiddleWeb
Read about 7 ways you can get your students involved in learning about and having a positive impact on climate change in this blog post.  Within each category, 2-3 actionable ideas are offered.

NASA Climate Kids (Intermediate)
By the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Webpages that answer “Big Questions” and provide info about weather & climate, the atmosphere, water, energy, and plants & animals.  Includes videos, games, and activities that explain concepts in easy-to-understand ways.  Lots of visuals make this site appropriate for ELLs and other students reading at a middle school grade level.

Climate Basics for Kids (Advanced)
By the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions
An informative website that explains the science behind climate change, what the greenhouse effect is, the impact of climate change, and what people can do about climate change.  Includes some visuals but is mostly text-based.  Links to many more webpages dealing with climate change and the environment are included at the bottom of the homepage screen.

What is Climate Change? (Advanced)
By National Geographic Kids
A webpage with basic information about the causes of climate change and its effects on the planet, wildlife, and people.

A Student’s Guide to Global Climate Change (Intermediate)
By the Environmental Protection Agency
Webpages about climate change basics and the impacts of climate change, how to think like a scientist, things people can do to help the environment, and how climate change affects different parts of the world.  Each webpage has text and visuals along with links to further information.  Some pages have interactive activities that students can do.

Tiki the Penguin’s Guide to Climate Change (Intermediate)
By the staff at OneWorld
A 3-minute pictorial guide explains climate change in language that is suitable for lower intermediate learners.  The homepage has a table of contents with 10 links to click on for info related to climate change.  Those pages include explanatory information, visuals, and links to even more information.  The webpages are colorful and the paragraphs are short and written in informal language.  A nice bonus is that the pages can be translated into 34 other languages, which is great for ELLs at beginning levels of language proficiency because it will help them understand the concepts presented.  The people behind this guide also offer 8 other Guides for Kids HERE.

Climate Change for Kids: OLogy (Intermediate)
By the American Museum of Natural History
This website includes articles, videos, games, quizzes, and activities about climate change.  Lots of visuals and short texts help make the colorful webpages comprehensible.

Message from Antartica (Intermediate)
This is a short video, less than 3 minutes long and narrated in British English, which explains how CO2 is harming the planet.  You can show the subtitles but they lack punctation so it might a little hard for some ELLs to easily understand them.  However, the video does a good job explaining the impact of rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Students can use these websites in several ways:
* For information when writing research reports about climate change 
* To find information when making oral presentations about climate change
* To develop collaboration skills by reading separate sections of a website and then working in small groups to create presentations about the website or climate change
* To develop listening skills by working in pairs and having students take turns reading sections aloud and paraphrasing the information
* To learn new words by creating tasks that develop knowledge of scientific vocabulary words
* To develop writing skills by summarizing information on selected webpages
* To compare information about climate change on different websites by listing the commonalities and the differences in information presented
* To find activities they can do that help preserve the environment

For more ideas and ways to protect and preserve the environment, please check out my Gift Guide for Environmentally-Aware Educators.

Happy Earth Day!


Monday, March 25, 2019

How to Help Students Who Have Survived Sexual Violence

"I am not what happened to me. I am what I choose to become."
-- Carl Jung

I’ve been thinking, during Women’s History Month this year, about two girls who were my students at different times of my public school teaching career.  The first girl was 12 years old and her mother’s boyfriend had raped her; she became pregnant and had the baby.  The second girl was in 5th grade and had been abused by her father when they lived in another state; the father was serving time in prison for his crime. 

I was told about each girl’s past but wasn’t given any guidance in how to interact with them or how to help them be successful in school.  For example, I didn’t know how much I should hold each student accountable for doing homework, if I should try to get them to pay attention in class and contribute to discussions or let them stare out the window, if I should let them know I knew what had happened to them, or what.  So in this blog post, I want to share 5 resources in case you ever find yourself in a similar situation.  Because according to one statistic (on Page 5), "1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys have been sexually abused before the age of 18."

5 resources to help teachers support students who are survivors of sexual violence | The ESL Nexus
Find 5 helpful resources in this blog post; source: The ESL Nexus
Click on the blue and green links below for more information about each resource.

1) Best practices for supporting and educating students who have experienced domestic violence or sexual victimization 
From the National Education Association, this article gives background information specifically for teachers working with students who’ve been sexually abused.  It includes information about how such students may react in school and strategies for teachers to support their students.  At the end, there are links to 12 websites, 4 help lines, and bibliographies of children’s books aimed at elementary and teenage students about sexual violence.

2) What If My Student Discloses a Sexual Assault?
From Teaching Tolerance, this is a short article about what you can do if one of your students tells you they’ve been sexually assaulted.  The article presents different ways a student may divulge this information and how you can respond based on the circumstances.

3) Serving Teen Survivors: A Manual for Advocates
This 76-page guide is for all adults who work with teenagers, not just teachers, and is from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.  It presents statistics about sexual violence against teens, then discusses how teens may react to the trauma experienced, and includes 11 pages with tips in a Q&A format about specific aspects of working with teen survivors.  Following them, the guide includes 3 more sections about confidentiality and reporting requirements, responding in culturally appropriate ways, and a list of additional resources.

4) The National Child Traumatic Stress Network
This organization’s website has webpages and links to resources about child sexual abuse.  It isn’t aimed at teachers but some of the info provided will be helpful to educators, such as the page about the effects of sexual abuse on children.

5) Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network
RAINN bills itself as “the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization” and its website contains of wealth of material for people working with survivors and survivors themselves.  They also operate a confidential hotline for victims of sexual violence.  The information provided isn’t directed at teachers but some of it is relevant, such as this webpage with links to identifying warning signs in students who’ve experienced sexual violence.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month and I hope that if you are ever teaching a student who is a survivor of sexual violence, these resources will be of help to you.


Monday, March 11, 2019

The #ELLEdTech Twitter Chats are on Hiatus

"Sometimes you need to press pause to let everything sink in."
-- Sebastian Vettel

For those of you who have participated in the monthly #ELLEdTech Twitter chats, I would like to inform you that Laurah and I are taking some time off from co-hosting them.
FYI: No more #ELLEdTech chats until further notice; source: The ESL Nexus
We both were too busy to do one last month and our schedules going forward are also pretty filled.  So rather than post an announcement every month, I want to let you know that we won’t be doing them for the foreseeable future.  If and when we return, I will certainly post here to let you know.

In the meantime, many thanks to those of you who participated and contributed your thoughts and suggestions on how to help English Language Learners and their teachers use educational technology.  I appreciate it very much and hope you learned some useful ideas to implement with your students.