Task 4.5

This course is the first time I have tried a blog…I’m considering continuing to develop and add to my blog even after the course has finished. I’m not sure how many people would be interested in my ramblings, but it is helpful to think out loud sometimes. I have found that it has helped me organize my thoughts and focus.

 

As ESL teachers living abroad, we pretty much depend on web resources to enhance and guide our lessons. They are easy to access and a great interactive resource for the classroom and at home. Here are my reviews of 3 different web tools I have found useful, educational, and engaging for my students in grades 1&2.

 

  1. https://www.raz-plus.com/

 

This application is a wonderful resource. This application allows teachers to assign reading material as a class, in groups or individually. There are benchmarks set up within the program that allow students to progress through the levels at their own pace. Students are also able to make recordings for their teachers to track and assess. There many resources available to be used in the classroom. Projectable books, printable copies with text and without, comprehension worksheets, assessments for all levels. Every year we discover more and more we can use on this application. It a yearly subscription application.

 

  1. www.starfall.com

 

This site has manty advantages. It is the perfect level for grade 1 ESL students. It starts with developing the alphabet sounds and then develops to short and long vowel videos, activities and animated stories. There are additional seasonal activities that are engaging and fun for all levels to participate in. Many of my students use this website at home and when it comes to phonics time they are so confident and engaged in the lesson. This website allows the students to develop and then engage prior knowledge during lessons. The stories can be used to assess the students’ literacy skills. It’s free with the option to purchase access to more resources.

 

  1. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCx1xhxQyzR4TT6PmXO0khbQ

 

We also use this video series to scaffold vocabulary based lessons. The creator has done a great job at creating videos that are engaging for all learners and they incorporate repetitive text that is grade and grammatically appropriate. My students also love this series of videos and again, watching them at home prior to our lessons at school, helps the scaffolding process and the development of accessing prior knowledge.

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Task 2.3

I share the classroom with the homeroom teacher. Ideally, I would have my own classroom where I could organize and implement my program, but that is not an option so no point in dwelling on if only..

Anyway, back to reality…we are given limited space and have to be creative at times, using windows, doors and even ceilings to display materials to support our program. We have all the usual visual displays; numbers, colours, days, months, weather, common phrases/questions, unit flashcards and classroom rules. The homeroom teacher also has many visuals as well as student work on display. As one can imagine, there is not a lot of empty space!

Resolution #1:

Take responsibility of making the classroom environment bilingual. I’ve always had my English resources and visuals separate from the homeroom teacher’s. I’ll enhance my visuals to include bilingual resources and visuals to better assist all levels.

Resolution #2:

Ensure that my visuals and limited space are being used effectively. Highlight current and most commonly used structures and change displays and visuals more frequently. For example, instead of using up valuable space with colours, have the colour flashcards on hand for when they are needed, but use this space to display more meaningful and relevant material.

Resolution #3:

Create a more well rounded program to address more learning styles. It is critical to stay current and update your lessons and program to suit the changing needs of our students. It can be overwhelming keeping up to date on all the new educational programs, online reading programs and behavioural apps, but it is important to stay current and research new ideas and techniques to enhance your teaching.

Resolution #4:

Plan more meaningful assessments. We have no set outcomes or ministry curriculum goals at my level, so it is up to the school and my team to create our goals and develop a program that we feel will best meet these goals. I feel that if I can plan more meaningful assessments, something that better shows their learning, then it will in turn help me plan more meaningful lessons.

Resolution #5:

After completing the previous task, I have done some reflecting and I feel that I am more aware of the needs of new students coming into my classroom. I would like to take action, share and implement the welcoming procedure I created for the last task.

This list could be updated on a daily basis. My colleagues and I are constantly discussing/debating what we can do to improve our program and how can we make it happen. ‘Nothing happens overnight‘, or ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day‘… so it’s important, I think, to focus on 1 or 2 goals or resolutions and work towards achieving these goals. If we try to change everything all at once, we will get lost and discouraged.

Task 1.5

I have recently started an AQ course, Teaching ELL part 2. Being an ESL teacher for the past 12 years I have attended numerous seminars and countless workshops where we are constantly being fed the same theories and guidelines, that in theory, should work, but as we all know, putting actual theory into practice is not as easy as it looks on paper or in a slideshow. My colleagues and I are constantly discussing how we can make our lessons more effective. How can we reach all the students…does this mean we have to plan 16 different activities, in 1 lesson, to suit all the individual needs?  What should be taught at each level? How can we create a scaffolded program from K-4?

From my recent readings and teaching experience, it has become very evident that a solid acquisition of a first language is vital to academic success in a second language. Today during my monthly meeting with the student counselor, we were discussing a grade 1 student and all the difficulties, mostly behavioural, that I am having with him in the classroom. She told me that the classroom teacher is also having difficulties and then she told me that they have no advice or help to offer me. If he cannot learn in lessons that are in his native language, how can I reach him in an L2 that he can barely understand? So, I put my ESL hat on and I started to think about what types of activities would work for him and allow me to deliver my lessons to the class. After reading about BICS and CALP, I can understand that this student needs to develop strong BICS in his L1 and L2 before any academic language. I want to share these articles with my classroom teacher, student counselor and the primary school coordinator to bring awareness to them the difficulties we face when confronted with students like this.

Using Cummins quadrants during our planning would be very beneficial for all subject teachers. If the classroom teacher shares with me the types of activities she is planning for this student, I can mirror her and use the same types of activities so he will be familiar with the concept and goal even if he doesn’t fully understand the content.

From visiting the UDL website, I was reminded that when planning an inquiry based lesson or assignment it is important to plan backwards. By this I mean, you need to plan the summative assessment, final task or outcome, and then decide how you will deliver your lessons and what activities you should plan to ensure that the students meet the expectations and are successful. I work at a PYP school and this is the planning strategy they use as well.