October 12, 2017

How to Build Background Knowledge: October 2107 #ELLEdTech Chat

My professors in grad school emphasized the importance of developing schema among English Language Learners.  Schema is the fancy word for background knowledge.  (And schemata is the plural.)  ELLs who are immigrants or who grow up in the U.S. immersed in cultures that are not the dominant American culture often come to school lacking essential information that would help them be successful. 

For example, ELLs may not be familiar with the traditions of American holidays such as Halloween or Thanksgiving.  They might not have the same reaction to hearing the names George Washington and Abraham Lincoln as kids who’ve grown up hearing about them and celebrating these iconic presidents.  They probably have never heard various proverbs, like An apple a day keeps the doctor away.   ELLs are at a disadvantage when they are in classes with other students who already have this cultural foundation if their teachers do not provide the background knowledge they need in order to fully understand lessons that build on these concepts.

You are invited to the October #ELLEdTech chat on 10/15/17, where we'll discuss using technology tools to build background knowledge | The ESL Nexus
This is why building schema for ELLs is essential; source: The ESL Nexus
It’s not just holidays and history, though, where building background knowledge is essential.  Culture permeates learning!  When students read fiction or information texts in language arts, when they do word problems in math, when they read about discoveries in science – there’s often an underlying assumption that people will recognize and understand the unstated cultural aspects in those subjects.  When ELLs don’t understand those references, their learning can suffer.

This is even more important when it comes to taking tests.  That’s why there are committees who analyze every test item on standardized tests to ensure there is no cultural bias in them.  I served on one such committee in Massachusetts and it was fascinating to see how the process worked.  We spent a lot of time doing our best to ensure that students did not need any prior background knowledge in order to answer questions correctly.

If you are interested in finding out how you can help build schema in your ELLs, please join us this Sunday, October 15, 2017, for this month’s #ELLEdTech chat.  We’ll discuss what technology tools can help build background knowledge, what their pros and cons are, and offer some advice for teachers who would like to use these tools.

You are invited to the October #ELLEdTech chat on 10/15/17, where we'll discuss using technology tools to build background knowledge | The ESL Nexus
All are welcome! source: Tools for Teachers by Laurah J
Here are the details:

Schedule and Questions
7:00 = Introduction: Tell us your name, location, level/grade and subject taught #ELLEdTech
7:05 = Q1: What tools do you recommend to help ELLs with background knowledge? #ELLEdTech
7:13 = Q2: How do these tools help teachers facilitate ELLs’ learning? #ELLEdTech
7:21 = Q3: What are the advantages & benefits of using these tools? #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 on using technology to build background knowledge? #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!