Thursday, January 31, 2013

Strategy of the Week

I know I haven't been doing this weekly, but I've been using a strategy lately that I really like. When I shared it with the teachers in the professional development class I'm teaching, the response was good, so I thought I'd share it here.

Strategy of the Week-
Round Table

For this strategy, you need to have several questions that you want to use to assess students' understanding. This activity works best with higher level questions that require more thought and extended answers. 

  1. Type up (or write) your questions, putting each question at the top of its own sheet of paper.
  2. Divide students into groups based on the number of questions you have. If you have 4 questions, your groups will have four members each. 
  3. Make sure each student has a question sheet to start with.
  4. Set a timer for 5 minutes, and have students write their response to the question.
  5. After 5 minutes, have students pass the paper to the group member on the right. 
  6. Give students 1 minute to read the response of the student before them, and then give them 5 minutes to write their own response.
  7. Repeat until all students have had a chance to answer each question, and the papers are back in the hand of the original responder.
  8. Give students a chance to read over the responses written to each question and come to a consensus on the best response for each one. The "best" response could be one single response, or two or three responses pieced together into a better response.
  9. Finally, discuss as a class and give each group a chance to share their responses to the question.
This strategy is great for any student but especially for English language learners. For starters, it gets students working in all four domains of language- they start with writing, read each other's responses, speak to discuss, and listen to their classmates. For another thing, it helps to lower the affective filter by giving students plenty of time to respond, and by allowing students to share their ideas aloud in a lower pressure, small-group setting. Teachers can take up the individual sheets for informal assessment. Additionally, the round-table nature allows students to build on one another's ideas.

Let me know how it goes if you try it out in your classroom!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Chinese & Lunar New Year Linky Party

I really love to celebrate diversity in my classroom. One of the ways I try to do this is to provide lots of skills-based activities featuring readings on other cultures and holidays. With that in mind, I created my FREE Chinese New Year Read-and-Retell Activity. This year the Lunar New Year falls on February 10. This fun activity is ideal for grades 3-5. It helps your students to learn a little about how the Lunar New Year is celebrated in China and the way this activity is constructed scaffolds your students' retelling and summary of what they learned through the use of key vocabulary words. This download contains the read-and-retell activity at 3 different reading levels to address the needs of all the students in your class.

This activity gets students reading, writing, speaking and listening all in one activity. This activity is aligned with Common Core State Standards and WiDA ELD standards.

I invite other TpT teacher-authors to share both their FREE and paid products for the Chinese and Lunar New Year.

All TpT Teacher-Authors are welcome to submit their products! Here are the rules:
1. Link directly to the product, not to your blog.
2. Post a link to this page on your blog or Facebook. This allows even more folks to see your products and the other products that are being shared.
3. Where it says "name" please put the name of the product. If it is a free product, please put "FREE" before the title. If it is a paid product, please put the price at the end of the title.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Product Swap: Little Match Girl

I participated in the product swap!

I swapped products with Jen over at Teaching, Life, and Everything in Between.

teaching, life, and everything in between

The first thing I want to say is that I am disappointed I don't have any pictures to share. I had planned to take some from the finished products this week, but ended up being out ALL WEEK because of the flu, so I am very sad I don't have pictures to share.

My students really enjoyed the story of the Little Match girl. and found it very touching. First off, I really love this product because Jen provides two versions of the story at different reading levels, with vocabulary activities designed around each one. This is perfect because I work with 4th grade ESOL students, and have 6 different groups that I work with, all at varied reading levels and language levels. The differentiated nature of this product was a HUGE bonus for me, as was the connection to the Common Core.

Jen also provided very thorough instructions throughout, especially for the Turn-and-Talks. I really liked the inclusion of the turn and talks, because my students need a chance to speak out loud about what they've read and what they're thinking. The mainstream teachers that work with my students don't always give them this opportunity, so I try to have plenty of "talk time" in my class. Another reason this product was so great for my students.

Next, Jen includes some activities for visualizing. We used the charts she included, which gave passages from the story, a box for "what I see" and a box for "what I think it means". I then shook it up a  little bit by having students draw their own picture for one of the passages, and writing a caption or quote from the story to go with the picture.

With one of my groups, we used the discussion cards to help us facilitate a mini Socratic Seminar about the story. The discussion cards were a great addition to the format of a Socratic Seminar, and I was very surprised by some of the insights and thoughts my students shared during the discussion.

Finally, I also really loved Jen's inclusion of writing extension activities. My students really need a lot of practice on this because they are very similar to the BCRs that my students do on the state test in March. Jen's prompts were perfect because they were related to the story, gave students a chance to make additional connections, and required them to pull information and evidence from the text to answer the question.

There are even some more activities included that I didn't have time to get to before the students went home for break. I wish I had more time so I could get them all in!

All-in-all, this is a great product and I can't wait to see more from Jen!!