Thursday, November 16, 2017

#ELLEdTech Chat: November 2017

Our next #ELLEdTech Twitter Chat is this Sunday, November 19 at 7pm EST. This month's topic is Teaching Holidays in a Culturally Sensitive Way. Join us to share your favorite tech tools and learn about others!


Questions and Timeline
7:00 = Tell us your name, location, level and subject taught #ELLEdTech
7:05 = Q1: What does it mean to teach holidays in a "culturally sensitive" way? #ELLEdTech
7:13 = Q2: How do you make sure to address holidays in a culturally sensitive way with your students? #ELLEdTech
7:21 = Q3: How can tech tools help with a culturally sensitive approach to holidays? #ELLEdTech
7:29 = Q4: What tech tools would you recommend for teaching holidays in a culturally sensitive
way? #ELLEdTech
7:37 = Q5: What advice do you have for teachers who want to use tech to teach holidays in a culturally sensitive manner? #ELLEdTech

Directions for Joining the Chat:
1. Log into Twitter on Sunday; the chat runs from 7:00 - 7:45pm Eastern Daylight Time.
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 tinyurlbitly,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. When responding to someone, please be sure to "mention" them by including their Twitter handle.
7. Make sure your twitter feed is set to "public." (And do remember that Twitter is completely public; that means anyone--students, parents, teachers, school staff, administrators--may see what you tweet.) 

You are welcome to let any of your teacher friends who might be interested in joining us know about this Twitter chat. We can't wait to chat with you on Sunday evening!

Can't make it to the chat? Check out the archives to see what you missed! (The archive is not currently showing everything. I'm still working on a better solution for chat archives- if you have one- please let me know!!)




    



Thursday, November 2, 2017

Breaking Out of Boredom: Using BreakoutEDU in Professional Development

Today I want to talk about one of the things I'm really excited about right now- using BreakoutEdu with teachers during Professional Development Workshops.



Just before I attended the Google Innovator Academy in Stockholm, Sweden (you can read about that over on my tech blog), Google sent each person in my cohort a BreakoutEdu kit. I'd only just learned about using breakout and escape room type games in the classroom a few months earlier, and was just beginning to create digital breakout games for teachers to use with their students. I was thrilled to get an actual Breakout Box of my own!


Of course, since I spend most of my time working with teachers, and leading workshops and other professional development, I immediately wondered how I could begin using this with my teachers. I found some awesome games on the BreakoutEdu site, BUT most of those designed for adults were related to team-building.

That didn't really help me- most of my workshops involve teachers from all over the county, and we're there to learn about ELLs, not build teamwork. Since I'm an ESOL Coach, I wanted to do games with my teachers that involved content related to the workshops I was teaching. To make that happen, that meant I needed to jump in and start creating my own games.

I looked at lots of examples, visited an Escape Room, and did lots of research. Then, I created my first game about The ESOL Bus- it focused on learning about three essential elements that should always be included in instruction for ELLs:

  • Build Background
  • Use Comprehensible Input
  • Scaffolding and Support


My teachers had a great time, and they did manage to breakout with just a few minutes remaining. Encouraged by that success, I then created a co-teaching game for a presentation I had planned for one of my schools who is implementing co-teaching. The same skills that are needed for a team to be successful in breakout- communication, collaboration, and respect- are also essential to building a good relationship with a partner teacher. So, teachers were able to explore best co-teaching practices to find clues and "breakout". Inside the box, I had candy (for the next activity on the agenda) and a card reminding them of those three essential "keys" to building a solid co-teaching relationship:


Later this month, I have my second session with the teachers in my Technology for ELLs Focus Group, and I plan to do a Breakout that will require them to use the skills they've learned about GSuite. I can't wait to see how it goes! 

After each breakout, I lead a reflection discussion so that we have time to discuss what we learned and what they thought of the breakout. 

All in all, if you are someone who leads professional development, I encourage you to consider how you can incorporate BreakoutEdu into some of your workshops. It's a great opener to get teachers up and moving and engaged, then you can tie in they clues they explored and what they learned during the Breakout to the topic of your workshop.

If you're already doing this, tell me how in the comments!






Saturday, September 16, 2017

#ELLEdTech Twitter Chat: Tools to Support ELLs with Homework

Our next #ELLEdTech Twitter Chat is this Sunday, September 17 at 7pm EST. This month's topic is Tools to Support ELLs with Homework. Join us to share your favorite tech tools and learn about others!


Questions and Timeline
7:00 = Tell us your name, location, level and subject taught #ELLEdTech
7:05 = Q1: What tools do you recommend to help ELLs with homework? #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 who want to incorporate technology into HW assignments for their ELLS? #ELLEdTech

Directions for Joining the Chat:
1. Log into Twitter on Sunday; the chat runs from 7:00 - 7:45pm Eastern Daylight Time.
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 tinyurlbitly,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. When responding to someone, please be sure to "mention" them by including their Twitter handle.
7. Make sure your twitter feed is set to "public." (And do remember that Twitter is completely public; that means anyone--students, parents, teachers, school staff, administrators--may see what you tweet.) 

You are welcome to let any of your teacher friends who might be interested in joining us know about this Twitter chat. We can't wait to chat with you on Sunday evening!

Can't make it to the chat? Check out the archives to see what you missed! (The archive is not currently showing everything. I'm still working on a better solution for chat archives- if you have one- please let me know!!)





Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Using Technology with Newcomers: Newcomer ELLs and Computer Time

Ok y'all. I'm about to get serious over here for a minute, and I'm going to say some things you might not want to hear. But, as an ELL Specialist, this is something that is incredibly important to me. Throughout my career, I've been lucky to get to work with newcomer English learners from all over the world. I've learned as much from them as they have from me.



Every time a classroom teacher gets a newcomer ELL, I can see that look of fear in their eyes as they wonder how they are going to communicate with this child, much less teach this child. Many teachers mean well but do not know what else to do with the child, and they end up putting the child on the computer. So, while the rest of the class is participating in activities that allow them to interact with peers, increase their language use, and gain valuable content knowledge and skills, the newcomer ELL is working in isolation on the computer.

Even worse, many teachers will put Newcomer ELLs of any grade level on programs like ABCya, Starfall or other programs that are designed for PreK and Kindergarten students.

Why is this bad practice? 
Firstly, most of the website students get put on do little to nothing to support the second language acquisition process. Many lower-level phonics and reading programs/websites are designed for native speakers learning to use their first language, not for learners who are acquiring English as a second (or third! or fourth!) language.

Secondly, putting an older child on programs designed for PreK and Kindergarten students is simply not age-appropriate- they will quickly become bored because it is so far below their developmental level. Students end up wondering why they're working on "baby" work while other students are doing real learning. It can be discouraging for students. How would you feel if you walked into a Swedish 101 class and they put you on an app for Kindergarten children?

Thirdly, these students need to be included in the classroom community and need to interact with their peers- that is how they will begin acquiring English. That's not going to happen if the student is isolated for most of the day working on the computer.

Here are some major differences between acquiring your first (native) language, and acquiring a second (or additional) language that need to be taken into consideration when choosing appropriate learning tools- including technology tools:

  • In second language acquisition, knowledge of the first language also serves as a basis for learning the second language. 
  • In first language acquisition, children spend several years listening to language, babbling, and using telegraphic speech before they can form sentences. Second language learners do not have this opportunity, and need opportunities to use the language with peers.
  • Older learners are able to use more metacognitive processes in their learning.  They can consciously analyze and manipulate grammatical structures, sound patterns. They can also analyze how language works. Older ELLs need opportunities to analyze and manipulate language and grammar.
  • Older learners bring more life experience and background knowledge to their learning.  They have more schemata and more learning strategies to help them learn the second language. Learning activities should tap into this background knowledge and schema. 
  • In older learners, there may be less sensitivity to phonological distinctions not present in the native language.  Older ELLs may also have fewer opportunities to learn and use language authentically. These factors may reduce the likelihood that second language learners will attain native-like proficiency.  
  • In first language acquisition, learners have many chances to practice with native speakers (especially caregivers).  In second language acquisition, teachers must provide learners with the opportunity to practice extensively with native speakers.
  • Almost everyone acquires a first language, but not everyone acquires a second language. Acquiring a first language happens naturally, while acquiring a second language often requires conscious effort on the part of the learner. 
Choose wisely!
Technology can be an excellent tool to support language growth- when used correctly. It offers students opportunities to learn in new ways that weren't possible before. Based on the information above, it is important to choose resources that support the process of second language acquisition. For technology, this means that it should:
  • Be engaging and age appropriate
  • Provide ELLs with opportunities to actively use the language
  • Tap into background knowledge and existing schemata
  • Allow ELLs to use knowledge of their native language during learning
  • Cover material that is developmentally appropriate
Here are some great websites I've found that you can use with Newcomer ELLs in grades 3+:

Limit Computer Time
Newcomers are going to learn far more English (and likely some content too!) if they are permitted to interact with their peers and participate in whole and small group learning activities. They will not learn English or content if all their time is spent on the computer. Furthermore, isolating these learners on the computer makes them feel even more out of place than they already do, at a time when we should be making them feel like a welcome and important part of the classroom community. For this reason, I recommend limiting ELLs to 30 minutes a day of solo computer time. Additional time can be permitted for using technology in whole or small group situations.

Wondering how to include Newcomers in learning with the rest of the Class? 
The answer is simple- scaffold the activities so they can acquire new language and new content together. Provide age- and grade-level appropriate activities and tasks, and find ways for them to demonstrate their knowledge with little or no language. You can learn more strategies for working with newcomers in my Newcomer series


Please teachers, I beg you- whatever you do, do not put Newcomer ELLs on PK or K programs/websites unless they are primary age learners, and please do not leave your newcomers on the computer all day. 








Friday, August 25, 2017

WIDA's 15 Essential Actions for Educators of ELLs


This year, one of the initiatives of our ESOL department is to help our teachers understand and implement the 15 Essential Actions identified by WIDA for educators of ELLs. These actions should be undertaken by all teachers working with ELLs- not just the ELL specialist!

Throughout this next school year, I'll probably make a few posts about the Essential Actions, so here's a quick video overview for you!





Wednesday, August 16, 2017

#ELLEdTech Chat: Tools that Facilitate Collaboration between ESL, Mainstream, and SPED Teachers

Our next #ELLEdTech Twitter Chat is this Sunday, August 20 at 7pm EST. This month's topic is Tools that Facilitate Collaboration between ESL, Mainstream, and SPED Teachers. Join us to share your favorite tech tools and learn about others!


Questions and Timeline
7:00 = Tell us your name, location, level and subject taught #ELLEdTech
7:05 = Q1: How do you collaborate with the teachers you work with? (ESOL, SpEd, Mainstream) #ELLEdTech
7:13 = Q2: What tech tools do you use to facilitate collaboration? #ELLEdTech
7:21 = Q3: What’s important to consider when using technology to facilitate collaboration? #ELLEdTech
7:29 = Q4: Are there any challenges teachers might encounter when using these tools? #ELLEdTech 
7:37 = Q5: What advice do you have for teachers who want to use technology to facilitate collaboration? #ELLEdTech

Directions for Joining the Chat:
1. Log into Twitter on Sunday; the chat runs from 7:00 - 7:45pm Eastern Daylight Time.
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 tinyurlbitly,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. When responding to someone, please be sure to "mention" them by including their Twitter handle.
7. Make sure your twitter feed is set to "public." (And do remember that Twitter is completely public; that means anyone--students, parents, teachers, school staff, administrators--may see what you tweet.) 

You are welcome to let any of your teacher friends who might be interested in joining us know about this Twitter chat. We can't wait to chat with you on Sunday evening!

Can't make it to the chat? Check out the archives to see what you missed! (The archive is not currently showing everything. I'm still working on a better solution for chat archives- if you have one- please let me know!!)





Saturday, July 22, 2017

Modifying Instruction for Newcomer ELLs: Chunking


So, we've covered Scaffolding and Supports along with Comprehensible Input. That means it's time to dive into chunking- my third tip for modifying instruction for newcomers.

What is "chunking"?
You  may or may not have heard this term before. Sounds kinda strange, right? Think about it this way: when you eat an apple, do you shove the whole thing in your mouth at once? No- that would be overwhelming and unmanageable- you'd choke! You eat small bits or chunks at a time to make it manageable to chew and swallow.

In the same way- when we give our students too much at once, they become overwhelmed and are likely to shut down or "choke". This is particularly true for newcomers- its much easier for them to become overwhelmed. So, we need to "chunk" for them- activities, directions, texts, tasks, information- providing small bits at a time instead of giving it to them all up front.

How can I chunk information for my newcomers?
It's really as simple as providing small amounts at a time. Here are some examples:

Directions 
When giving directions for an activity or task, don't give all the directions at once. Give one or two steps at a time. When students have finished those steps, provide the next set of steps or directions. When possible, provide directions orally and written. Another great way to help your newcomer ELLs remember and understand your directions is to use picture cards.




Activities and tasks
If you're already chunking the directions you give as suggested above, then the tasks and activities will naturally be chunked as well. It's great to give an overview of the complete task, but when it comes to actually beginning work, break it down into small, manageable pieces with clear directions. One students finish one chunk, then give directions for the next chunk.

Texts
If you ever studied a foreign language and were presented with a huge text, you know how overwhelming it can feel. Break texts into small pieces (such as paragraphs) for students, with opportunities to check understanding, get clarification, and ask questions in between. For newcomers, make sure that your text "chunks" don't have more than one important piece of information, and are comprehensible for their level of proficiency.

How can I make chunking easy?
One great way to easily chunk a worksheet or text is to simply use a folder and cut flaps in it to cover your different chunks. As the student moves through, they can open and close the different flaps to focus on one chunk at a time. I love this idea! You can even use old folders that have other things written on them, or a piece of large construction paper! Sticky notes work as well.

Another way, as suggested above, is to simply "chunk" activities or tasks by how you pace instruction, piece out tasks or assignments and provide directions.

Next up in the series: Alternative Responses and Assessments!