Thursday, May 19, 2016

#ELLEdTech Twitter Chat #4

Our fourth #ELLEdTech Twitter chat is Sunday, May 22 at 7pm EST. This month's topic is Tech Tools for ELL Assessment. Assessment is such an important part of the learning cycle and allows us, as educators to make the necessary adjustments to our teaching and learning plans, and allows students to set learning goals for themselves. 

Questions and Timeline
7:00 = Tell us your name, location, level and subject taught #ELLEdTech
7:05 = Q1: How do you use technology for assessment of ELLs? #ELLEdTech
7:13 = Q2: What are your favorite tech tools for ELL assessment? #ELLEdTech
7:21 = Q3: What benefits do you see from using technology for assessment? #ELLEdTech
7:29 = Q4: Have you noticed any drawbacks from using tech for assessment? #ELLEdTech 
7:37 = Q5: What advice do you have for teachers on getting started with using technology for
assessment? #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, or 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 solution for chat archives- trying to find the best solution. If you have one- please let me know!!)

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Tech Tip Tuesday: New! Schedule Assignments in Google Classroom

One of the things I love most about Google Apps for Education is that they're always working hard to develop and add the features that teachers request. Last week, they added a long awaited feature- the ability to schedule assignments in Google Classroom!

In the past, you could go ahead and create posts for future assignments, but they had to be kept in draft format and manually posted when you wanted them to post. Now, you can schedule them so (if you're like me) you don't forget!

There's really no magic to this one, I just wanted to let you know about it in case you've always wished it was there and haven't noticed the new change! To schedule your post, create an assignment as usual (this video can help if you don't know how!). But, instead of choosing "assign" or "save as draft", choose the new "schedule" option and set your date and time!

Thanks Google!!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

ELL Strategy: Question Ladders

As teacher appreciation week continues, I wanted to bring you another great tip for working with your ELLs. There's nothing I like better than sharing tips that can make a teacher's life or planning easier!

This strategy is all about helping students develop their own questions and set a purpose for learning or reading. In order to engage students in the learning process and allow them to  become  more independent  learners,  they  need  to  be  able  to  form and ask questions. Not just any questions will do-­‐ we need to teach students to ask high quality questions that can guide reading and learning.  This  strategy  helps  students  generate  questions  for  reading  (or  learning  in  general),  giving them  the  opportunity  to  both  set  a purpose  for  reading,  and  to  make  connections  with  what they  already  know  about  the  topic  from  personal  experience,  prior learning, or previous readings.

Prior  to  reading,  provide  students  with  a  copy  of  the  text.  Allow  students to use headlines, captions, pictures, and section headings to determine the concept or topic of the reading (this is filled into the  first “rung”). Next, students  use  the question  ladder  and  work  independently  or  in  small groups  to  generate  questions  that  they expect  to  be  answered  during  reading.    As  they  read and  find  answers  to  their  questions,  students  can  make  notes  next  to  each rung.

Another  way  to  use this  is to provide  each student with a  copy  of  the question ladder when introducing a new unit of study. The topic of  study  is  filled  into  the  first  “rung”  on  the  ladder, and  then  students  can  work  independently  or  cooperatively  to  generate questions they hope to have answered throughout the unit. These can be compiled on a classroom chart and as students find answers, they can make notes on post-­‐its and place these on the “rungs” of the ladder.

When introducing this strategy, I recommend doing it whole-group style a few times, then in small groups, before expecting students to be able to do it independently.

Scaffolding this for students at different proficiency levels:

  • Beginners (WIDA levels 1/2): Add sentence frames centered around the 5 Ws and H, along with a word bank.
  • Intermediate (WIDA levels 2/3): Add a word bank (question words, content words) to support students
  • Advanced (WIDA levels 4/5): These students should be able to form questions without language supports!

I'd love to hear how you use this strategy in your classroom!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

I keep teaching because...

There's no doubt about it. Teaching can be one of the most demanding, exhausting, and thankless professions to puruse. Long hours, grumpy parents, excessive testing, and mountains of paperwork and non-instructional duties can take their toll because they get between us and what we truly love- teaching our kiddos!

My 6th grade intermediate ELL class on the last day of my 2nd year teaching!

But those ah-hah moments when a kid's eyes light up because they finally get it or they finally did it- that's what makes it all worth it. Or maybe it's that moment when a student tells you that they love your class, that your class is the best. Sometimes, it's the moment when a student tells you about a great life lesson you didn't even know you were teaching.

For me, one of those moments was with the group of students pictured above. At the beginning of the year, when I told them that most of what we would do throughout the year would center around novels we read together in class, and that by the end of the year, we'd read 5 or 6 books together, the groans echoed off the walls and the children deflated so visibly I thought they'd slide out of their seats.

One boy in particular (on the far right) told me he would hate my class then because he hated reading. The students really enjoyed our first book, Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. I was amazed at how they connected and empathized with Sadako and her family. Then, we moved on to Bunnicula. The students loved it, and when I added the rest of the books in the trilogy to our classroom library, they nearly fought over who got them first. Instead of, "what book do we have to read next?" It was, "What book do we get to read next?" Throughout the year we also read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and Seedfolks.

That boy, my most reluctant reader, came to my room one day at the very end of the year, as I was packing up. He was quiet for a few minutes while helping me pack some books, but then he said, "Mrs. J? Do you remember when I told you I hated reading and I'd hate your class?" I told him that I did and asked what was on his mind. "Well, Mrs. J., the thing is, I was wrong. Your class is the best class I've ever been in, and you showed me that I actually do like to read, because it is fun." This is why I do what I do!

So, today is Giveaway #2 day!

Giveaway #2: Wednesday, May 4
First Prize: $10 TpT Gift Card
Second prize: Any Close Reading and Writing Activity from my store valued up to $6
How to enter: Comment on this post by midnight tonight and complete the phrase "I keep teaching because..." to tell us what gets you up every morning, sustains you through the year, and brings you back to do it all over again every August. Each comment will be assigned a number (in order of posting), and I'll use a random number generator to choose a first and second prize winner. 
Notification: I'll reply to the winner's comment and add the winner to the bottom of this post as well! You must email me within 24 hours to claim your prize or it will go to someone else!

UPDATE: Giveaway #2 Winners!
1st Prize- Alexa
2nd Prize- No other entires

Please email me at within 24 hours to claim your prize!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Tech Tip Tuesday: Teacher Appreciation Week! (and a GIVEAWAY)

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week! This week's tech tip is more of a gift for YOU and all the hard work you do!

Instead of giving you one tip this week, I've banded together with 17 other awesome TpT Teacher-Authors to bring you our (FREE) Third Annual Tech Tips for Teachers Ebook! It is packed full of great tips that work for students and classrooms at any level- learn about amazing web resources, shortcuts, and ideas for organizing technology. Also included are great tech-integrated freebies for primary, intermediate and secondary teachers!

Whether you're an Ed Tech pro or just learning the ropes of the 21st century classroom, there's something here for everyone! Click the image below to download your copy! I hope you find this to be a valuable resource!

Now it's time for the first of the Teacher Appreciation Week Giveaways!

Giveaway #1: Tuesday, May 3
First prize: $10 TpT Gift Card
Second prize: Any D.R.I.V.E. Learning Product from my store valued up to $6
How to enter: Comment on this post by midnight tonight and tell me which tech tip from the Tech Tips for Teachers Ebook you just can't wait to implement in your classroom and why! Each comment will be assigned a number (in order of posting) and I'll use a random number generator to select a first and second prize winner!
Notification: I'll reply here to the winner's comment and I'll also add an announcement to the bottom of this post to notify the winner! You must email me within 24 hours to claim your prize or it will go to someone else!

Also, doing forget to jump on TpT today and tomorrow for the big Teacher Appreciation Sale! You can get up to 28% off all purchases!

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week, and thanks again for all you do, teacher!

UPDATE: Giveaway #1 Winners!
1st Prize- Lyndsey  Carla*
2nd Prize- Kim

*I didn't hear from Lyndsey within the 24 hour window, so a new number was drawn, and Carla gets the $10 gift certificate!

Please email me at within 24 hours to claim your prize!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Teacher Appreciation Week- Giveaways!

This week is teacher appreciation week. While a week is not nearly enough to recognize all the great teachers out there and all they do for students, I do want to make this week special for all my readers.

This week, I'll be having two giveaways with opportunities to win some great prizes! See below for how & win to enter each giveaway!

Giveaway #1: Tuesday, May 3
First prize: $10 TpT Gift Card
Second prize: Any D.R.I.V.E. Learning Product from my store valued up to $6
How to enter: Come by Tuesday, May 3 to comment on the Tech Tip Tuesday post about the new Tech Tips for Teachers Ebook and tell us which tip you can't wait to implement!

Giveaway #2: Wednesday, May 4
First Prize: $10 TpT Gift Card
Second prize: Any Close Reading and Writing Activity from my store valued up to $6
How to enter: Come by on Wednesday, May 4 to comment and tell us why you love being a teacher. What keeps you getting up and coming back to the classroom every day? What makes you return every August to do it all over again?

I hope you'll join me for your chance to win these great prizes!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Tech Tip Tuesday: Speaking Practice for ELLs Using Google Tools

I'm so excited about this Tech Tip Tuesday because I have another great use for some Google Tools to share with you!

This tech tip was inspired by a concern that I heard from many of my teachers- when their students had to do the ACCESS speaking test on the computer for the first time this year, many students had never been recorded before and were timid when it came to completing the tasks. Many teachers were concerned that this would have a detrimental effect on students' speaking scores.* Please see disclaimer at the end of this post.

Therefore, I wanted something that could provide a similar experience, while also providing valuable practice with computer literacy skills and targeted academic language. I've devised a way that's Google-integrated and allows teachers to provide students with speaking practice tasks. The two tools used for this tip are Mic Note for Google Chrome and Google Drive. The app is seamlessly integrated with Google Drive so that it is easy to import and share notes and recordings. I'm especially thrilled because this allows you to also include a recording of the prompt being read aloud and visuals- just like students encounter on the test.

The video below walks you through the process of adding the app to your Chrome browser, using the app to create the speaking prompt, and then covers how students will import the note, record their response and then export to the teacher for grading. Please don't miss the important notes at the bottom of this post!

This downloadable document is a handy quick-guide to the process that makes for easy reference once you've figured it all out!

A few important notes:

  • When you share the main folder with students, be sure to check the box at the bottom (underneath where you type the email addresses) that prevents editors (in this case, your students) from adding collaborators and changing access permissions. 
  • After every student has completed a task, you may wish to make the folder private again to yourself, or transfer the student files out of the shared folder and into folders shared only between you and the student. This helps add a layer of privacy by preventing students from accessing one another's work.
  • When students open the drive from the invitation email, they will need to click the blue "Add to my drive" button in the upper right so that they will be able to find the prompt notes and save their recordings. 
Why this is great for ELLs:
Using this tip allows teachers to provide valuable practice throughout the year that accomplishes several goals:
  • Gets students accustomed to recording themselves on the computer
  • Provides targeted practice for academic language, and more practice is always better
  • Gets students accustomed to format of the speaking tasks they have to do on the test

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this tip! If you try it out and have questions, please email me! If you try it and love it, please also let me know!

 I am NOT an advocate of teaching to the test. However, there are many real-life applications for recording one's voice with a computer, such as creating a video or a podcast. Getting students comfortable with being recorded and talking to a computer is great because it opens avenues to multi-modal projects and learning.

On another hand, my teachers often mentioned that they didn't really know how to assess student speaking in the day-to-day run of class, as often "speaking practice" was in the form of collaborative discussions. Authentic conversations are great, but often can be harder to assess. Sometimes getting an individual sample can be easier to assess and can be more valuable for showing academic language growth.

I also feel like this activity can be valuable because I don't believe it is fair to assess students using a type of activity that they haven't done before. That's why we have other types of practice for the PARCC and other tests they take. I don't think we should spend an overwhelming time doing this "practice for testing", but I do think it is important to expose students to activities similar to those they will be assessed on in the end. If students are truly proficient, I don't feel that unfamiliarity with the task should hold them back from exiting ESOL services.