Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Updating and Adding to Your Portfolio Assessment

In the past, I've discussed the rationale for portfolio assessment and how to start your own portfolio assessment system for your ESOL students. Hopefully by now, you've already begun your portfolios and included basic information, as well as some baseline assessments in reading, writing, speaking, and listening. So....now what?

What sorts of things should you be putting into your portfolios? Remember that you are including work from all four modalities, reading, writing, speaking and listening. Using work from all subject areas that you study (math, science, social studies, etc), as long as it includes language is fine.
  • Anecdotal notes- Make notes daily (and date them) about the things the student is struggling with, as well as what he or she is doing well. Also include other information that may be relevant, such as if the student appears tired or hungry. Make notes of behavior issues also. All of these things contribute to the student's ability to do well in school.
  • Classroom activities- The items that you include should be authentic. Don't have designated "portfolio activities", but rather choose items to go in the portfolio from authentic work that your students have completed in class. One of the ways that portfolio assessment differs from other formal assessments (tests) is that students are not aware of what will go in their portfolios when they are working on it and don't feel like they are being "tested". 
  • Testing Accommodations- Keep a copy of the student's testing accommodations form in the portfolio with the other biographical information. Also, use this FREE Testing Accommodations Record form to record the testing accommodations you provide for classroom tests and keep a copy in the portfolio. Remember, you are required to provide testing accommodations on ALL classroom tests, not just district and state tests!
  • Work that your student has struggled with or done poorly on- The tendency with a portfolio is to think that you should only put the student's BEST work in. However, this is not the case withan assessment portfolio. While you do want to include some of the student's best work to show how well he or she is doing, the idea of a portfolio is to demonstrate all aspects of the student's learning, not just where he or she excels. When you put in work or skills that the student has struggled with, then you can target those skills, and your portfolio will have room to show growth as well. 
  • Rubrics- You should include a rubric assessing each activity according to your state or districts English Language development standards.If your state or district does not have their own, I recommend using these Speaking and Writing Rubrics from WIDA, or you can purchase the Reading Comprehension Rubric or the Baseline Writing Rubric that are available in my TpT store.
One thing that many teachers struggle with is how to assess student speaking or listening informally. One way to do this is during pair-share time. Students should spend at least a little time each day explaining a new concept or idea to a classmate. Circulate and listen as students chat. Use the WiDA speaking rubric linked above to assess what students say to one another. You can create another rubric to measure listening. Then ask the student to retell what their classmate said, and use the rubric to assess his or her listening skills. Group presentations are another time when you can assess a student's listening or speaking abilities. However, please remember when assessing speaking that accent is not important, as long as it does not impede understanding.

Please let me know how your portfolio assessment is going!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day

We've all had them. We all know what they're like. Today, I had one of those days. Not because of anything that happened at school, but more because of personal matters. Whenever I'm having one of those days, I think about Alexander.

My husband introduced me to this wonderful book a few years ago, since it was a favorite from his childhood. If you've not read this book yourself or shared it with your class, I highly recommend it. It is high interest and something that everyone can relate to! Even the adult teachers that I worked with in Busan enjoyed this amusing story. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Strategy of the Week

Clock Buddies
This strategy is more of a grouping strategy to ensure that your students get lots of interaction with lots of different students in the class. We all know that students tend to group with the same partner during pair-share or pair-work time. When they interact with the same student all the time, their input opportunities are limited.
When we vary the partners that our students have, we vary their exposure to different backgrounds and points of view as well. Using the “clock buddies” strategy helps to mix up the partners that each student gets.

Here’s how it works:
1.     At the beginning of the day (or the week), give each student a “clock buddies” worksheet.
2.     Have the students mix and mingle to make “appointments” with one another. They can make appointments by writing a different classmate’s name on each of their clock slots. The student whose name they wrote at 9 am (for example) should have their name in the same time slot.
3.     When you need to pair students up, you can ask them to look at their clock worksheets and meet up with their “3 o’clock buddy” (for example). 

Click the picture below to download the Clock Buddies Appointment Sheet (free!)

Join me on Facebook!

If you're not already following me on facebook, please come join me! You can find me at Tools for Teachers by Laurah Jurca or by clicking the picture below! If you want to catch up on other great teaching blogs and stores, check out this linky party!

Friday, September 16, 2011

I've got the ickies...

I know I haven't posted much this week, but that's mostly because I've had to take two days off this week for the ickies. I was so wiped out by this infection that I pretty much slept and wasn't up to even working at home. So that got me to thinking, what sorts of things should we, as teachers, be doing to prevent the ickies? Flu season is coming up, so it seems like a timely issue. I know this isn't necessarily an ESOL issue, but it is a common sense issue!

Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.
As adults, we know this, but we must remind our students. I have been known to separate students who are unable to remember to cover their mouths/noses and continually cough or sneeze on other students. This may seem extreme, but one sneezing, coughing student can quickly spread the "ickies" to the rest of your class. Another option may be to find a "doctor" mask, allow the coughing/sneezing student to decorate it, and have him or her wear it while participating in whole-class activities.

Disinfect surfaces early and often.
In an elementary environment, teachers should grab a clorox wipe or something similar and clean their desks, pencil sharpener, door knobs, and any other common items at least once a day. Enlist your students to help! As a secondary teacher, it may be a good idea to have each class wipe down their desks before they leave for the next class. Advise students to avoid touching high-traffic surfaces such as handrails if possible.

Wash with warm water and soap.
There is a lot of debate out there as to whether hand sanitizers are really good, and the same is true for antibacterial soaps. I will leave you to make your own determination about these items, but do have students wash with good, old-fashioned warm (almost hot) water and soap, and do it as often as possible.

Remind students to stay home when sick.
While good attendance is important, good health is also important. Remind students that if they come to school sick, not only will it take them longer to get better, but they can make their classmates sick also. Make sure students know that work can be made up, and establish clear guidelines for doing so. Also advise parents to have their children get vaccinated for the flu if at all possible. They make those super kid-friendly nasal spray vaccinations now, so no needles necessary!

Eat healthy, and get plenty of rest.
When we are not eating right and not getting enough rest, we are setting ourselves up to get sick. A tired, malnourished immune system is a compromised immune system! So, turn off the computer and go to bed (after you finish reading, of course), even if you haven't crossed off everything on your list.  Drink plenty of water, and make smart food choices (I'm not saying don't eat cake, just throw in some fruits and veggies, and maybe swap out the ice cream on that cake for some frozen yogurt).

Stay healthy!!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Strategy of the Week (and a freebie!)

Zip Around
This activity provides students with a chance to apply content knowledge and practice content vocabulary while developing their listening and speaking skills.
Identify the important vocabulary and facts for practice or review. Create the pattern you will use on a piece of notebook paper to ensure that you will have answers for each question and that your cards will enable you to return to the starting question. Remember that the answer should not match the question on the same card, but rather will answer the question from the card preceding it. Make sure that there is only one answer for each question included. Write the questions into the template or onto index cards.

For example one card might say: “I have soil. Who has what plants need to make their own food?” The card that follows that would read “I have sunlight. Who has the part that plants use to take water from the soil?” The third card would then read,  "I have roots. Who has the part of the plant containing the reproductive organs?"   Clearly, this strategy can be adapted for many different content areas and topics.

Print these cards out on cardstock and laminate before playing to make them last longer.
  1. Mix up the cards, and then pass one out to each student.
  2. The first student to go should not read his or her “I have”, but instead begin with “Who has….?”
  3. The student who has the answer responds with “I have….”. “Who has…?”
  4. This pattern continues until each student has read his/her answer and question and you end with the student who began.
For the FREE TEMPLATE I created, click the picture below. You can also find a ready-to-go Solar System Zip-Around in my TpT store


Saturday, September 10, 2011

New products linky party

So, I know I haven't posted a strategy of the week yet, and for that I apologize. Hopefully I will get to it tomorrow! Today I have been very busy working on lesson plans and materials for this week. I have also been working on some new products for my TpT store. My powerpoints seem to be some of my best sellers, so I've been adding to my powerpoint collection in my store. The latest addition?

Introduction to Literary Genres

I know alot of other teachers are creating and posting new items on TpT right now too! So, I'm having a linky party to bring you a wide selection of great new products on TpT! Please enter your new product below! Please only post new products that have few views/purchases. All TpT sellers are welcome to join.

In a nutshell....

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A freebie!

This year I am working with fourth graders at my school, and one homeroom class has several newcomer students who don't know their numbers in English yet. To help them as they're learning, I created these Spanish-English number charts. I plan to print them back-to-back, laminate them, and then punch them with a three-hole punch so that the students can put them in their notebooks and always have them to refer back to. So, I'm offering this as a freebie for you too! It can also be useful to Spanish teachers who are teaching the numbers.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Strategy of the Week

This strategy involves students in making connections to their prior knowledge on a topic before reading, and then has them go back and adjust their answers after reading.
An anticipation guide is a series of statements, some of them true, some of them not true, that contain information from the text that students will be reading or from a lesson the teacher will be teaching. Before reading, students read the statements and put a check mark next to the statements that they think, based on their prior knowledge, are accurate.
After reading, students are to go back over their answers to the anticipation guide and make corrections, if necessary. I like to take it one step further by having my students write down the page number for each statement that helped them decide whether the statement is true or false.
Anticipation guides can be used for content, fictional, and expository texts.


Anticipation Guide – Raising a Happy Tadpole

Before reading make a prediction about the reading by putting a check mark  next to those statements you think are true. After you read the story, correct your answers. Write the page or paragraph number that helped you decide.

___1. Tadpoles are like fish.

___2. All tadpoles need light, but not too much light.

tadpoles evolving___3. Tadpoles live in water, and you can get the water right from the faucet in your house.

___4. All Tadpoles turn into frogs when they grow up.

___5. Tadpoles eat insects.

___6. If you are not careful, a pet tadpole might die.

___7. It is more difficult to keep a frog than it is to keep a tadpole.