Archive for October, 2008

LàTeen Magazine

 Today, while I was viewing the exhibits at the NMSA conference, I came across a very interesting magazine. The magazine is specifically for Latino teens and is appropriately named LàTeen. LàTeen was originally created by a class of 8th graders and their teacher. At this time, I do not know all of the details as to how the magazine became what it is today. There is a website to accompany LàTeen, but it is still under construction. However, you can visit www.lateen.com and register your school or classroom for a free 6-month subscription (must have tax id). Teens or Youth can also register for an individual free 6-month subscription.

 

LàTeen Magazine contains articles in Spanish and English (the same article is not featured in both languages). The articles are about fashion, sports, famous Latinos, and much more. I look forward to receiving my first copy to read through and report back on some ways to incorporate this magazine into the classroom. If you or your students have already had the opportunity to read LàTeen Magazine, please share with us your thoughts

NMSA 35th Annual Conference- Denver, CO

We are off to the National Middle School Association’s 35th Annual Conference in Denver. How exciting!! The last time I went to the NMSA conference was in 2001 as a college senior. Having been in the classroom now, I am looking forward to all of the great things that will be presented such as technology, strategies, methods, resources, and freebies from the exhibit hall of course. 

Tomorrow afternoon, Jennifer and I will be presenting in one of the concurrent sessions. The title for our session is Strategies, Methods, and Resources for Increasing ELL Student Understanding and Performance. Some of the things we will cover during the 75 minute session are Who are English language learners?, Characteristics?, Structure- discipline, classroom procedures, graphic organizers, Academic vs. Content Vocabulary, Foldables, and Example of a modified lesson. Believe me, we have tons more that we could talk about but this was all that we could fit into the time. If you would like a copy of our handouts, visit our wiki (some pages are still a work in progress) at http://ellclassroom.wikispaces.com/NMSAhandouts

I look forward to reporting back on all that I learn over the next few days!

Culture

 

In education, it is important to recognize the cultures within the school and promote them. If an educator is not aware of a student’s culture, it could result in discipline issues. For example, “failure to make eye contact is usually interpreted as a sign of dishonesty or shiftiness. But in many cultures, children are taught that they should look down when being spoken to by an adult. Looking away is a gesture of respect” (Jameson, 2003, p. 55). If an educator is not aware of this cultural teaching, the student may find himself in trouble without realizing the cause of his punishment. “Students must first learn to understand their own cultures and then they can begin to understand and accept the cultures of others” (Jameson, 2003, p. 56). This understanding facilitates the transition into another culture such as the school setting. Without the understanding of culture in respect to the home and the school, a student may begin to blend the two cultures resulting in discipline issues not only at school but also at home. Relationships and awareness of student interests are a result of an educator’s knowledge of culture in relation to each student. The more that is known about the culture the more realistic an educator’s expectations of the student. Learning styles, interests, relationships, expectations, and parent communication and involvement can be improved through knowledge of culture.

Overall, a holistic view of culture can be seen through its various aspects. A culture that is viewed from only one perspective will prompt many questions and result in confusion. It is in the best interests of educators to educate themselves in the culture of their students. The benefits will abound reaching the students and their family. 

 

Jameson, J. (2003). Enriching Content Classes for Secondary ESOL Students. Illinois: Delta Systems CO., Inc.

20 Questions

Last Christmas, my husband and I were invited to a white elephant party and were looking for a nice but fun gift to bring when we came across the handheld game 20Q’s. My husband was immediately addicted and we bought one as our gift. That little bit of background leads me to my current thoughts on an inexpensive but useful classroom tool for English language learners or struggling readers.

In order to play the game, you must pick a common object that most people would know about, be able to read or have someone read the questions for you, and then answer questions about your object’s characteristics. The choices are yes, no, and sometimes. The online game provides more answer choices. Here is a sample question. (I indicated that my object was an animal.)

Q2.  Does it have fur? 

 Yes ,   No  , Unknown, Irrelevant, Sometimes, Probably, Doubtful

Fun for struggling readers:

My nephew turned 15 this summer and I was stumped as to what to give him that wouldn’t just be thrown in his room and never used. Thankfully, I remembered the 20Q’s game and thought that it would be something he would enjoy. I was right. He and my husband played with the game pretty much all day and then again at dinner that night. My nephew is what most educators would classify as a struggling reader due to dyslexia and isn’t interested in reading. However, this “toy” required him to read the questions presented in order for the game to guess his object. My husband commented later that he thought the 20Q’s game would help our nephew with his reading because there were times when he did not know a word and would have to ask for help. 

Reinforcement/Fun for ELLs:

In an ELL classroom (only ELL students such as NEPs or NEPs and LEPs), 20 questions could be used to teach vocabulary and the characteristics of vocabulary. For example, if students are learning English for the first time, it is important for them to learn common school objects. The facilitator (teacher, instructor, para, tutor) will show them pictures of these objects or point them out around the school or in a book. Once the students are familiar with the names of these objects, identifying their individual characteristics creates a deeper understanding of the object and allows the students to then begin comparing and contrasting the objects or categorizing them into groups (comparing and contrasting and categorizing are higher level thinking skills). 

In addition to the content vocabulary such as the school objects, ELLs would also need to understand the academic vocabulary that is included in the game such as yes, no, unknown, irrelevant, sometimes, probably, and doubtful. If the students have no knowledge of these words then it is impossible for them to answer the question correctly. 

In a content classroom with ELL students, this “toy” could be useful as a “filler” (something that they could do after they have finished their work or if there are a few minutes left of class). 

The game is available in stores such as Target, Wal-mart, K-mart, and Toys r Us for approximately $7-$10. 

It is also online at http://www.20q.net/

If you have used 20Q’s in your classroom or have any other ideas on how 20Q’s could be incorporated into the classroom, please share your experiences and ideas with us.

Interactive Whiteboards

Interactive whiteboards, electronic whiteboards, smartboards, whatever they may be called, they have been a huge hit with teachers across every grade level and content area. Display your computer screen on your whiteboard, show a video/ multimedia presentation, create a graphic organizer or fill one in as a class, manipulate virtual manipulatives in math, create words or sentences with letter and word tiles, demonstrate how to ______ (you fill in the blank), save, cut, copy, paste, and print notes from class, etc. Think outside of the box and the options are endless. 

 

Please share your ideas and experiences, we would love to hear how you have incorporated this multifaceted tool in your classroom.

Virtual (online) Math Manipulatives

For Teachers:

The National Library of Virtual Manipulatives (http://nlvm.usu.edu/en/nav/vlibrary.html) is a math resource provided by Utah State University. Here you and your students have access to a large (almost unlimited) number of virtual math manipulatives. The manipulatives are categorized by grade level as well as the five standards of mathematics: number & operations, algebra, geometry, measurement, and data analysis & probability. If you have Spanish or French speaking students, they can select to read the site in their first language. 

Electronic whiteboard users or even facilitators with only a single computer and LCD projector can use these resources to demonstrate how to use the classroom manipulatives or as whole group instruction of the concept.

For Students:

If math is hard or you are stuck on a problem, it sometimes helps to see a picture of the problem. In math class, your teacher may have manipulatives (hands-on objects) that you can move or change to help you understand the problem. Here is a link to virtual (online) math manipulatives just like the ones you may use in class. You can also select Spanish or French at the bottom of the page to read the instructions in your first language.

http://nlvm.usu.edu/en/nav/vlibrary.html

Newspapers in Classrooms Part 1

I recently stayed at a Double Tree Hotel that provided a copy of the U.S.A. Today every morning to guests.  I had previously read this newspaper, but it had been several years since I had seen a copy.  I couldn’t believe what I had been missing.  I immediately had so many ideas for skills that I could use the newspaper to teach my classes. 

I began on Wednesday.  I got four copies of the same newspaper (back issues) and separated them into the four sections (news, sports, life, and money).  

Newspaper Sections

Newspaper Sections

 

Newspapers setup and ready to be used.

Newspapers setup and ready to be used.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I decided that my students needed basic exposure to the newspaper and the structure used to convey the information.  I decided that a great place to start was text features.  This is such an important concept to help students find information in non-fiction text, and they don’t always get explicit instruction in it, and I know that they need it. 

I decided that I would first start with a “brain dump”.  

Instructions students had to follow for "brain dump."

Instructions students had to follow.

I had them write “text features” at the top of a blank page.  I then asked them to write everything they knew about text features on that page.  I walked around the classroom while students were working.  I noticed that no one had any information written down.  I realized that they probably did know something about text features, but that they weren’t aware of what they were.  I then picked up a text book and visually showed them some of the text features.  As soon as I did that, I got a couple of “Ah’s” from various students.  I then asked them what some of the text features I had shown them were.  They started listing some and explained how they could be used.  After that, I asked them again to write down everything that they knew and the pencils started flying.  

Text Features "brain dump"

Text Features

After a couple of minutes, I asked for them to share additional information that they had written.  I then asked about other places that text features are used, and several students did say a newspaper.  I showed them the newspaper that we were going to use to look for text features.  I knew that my 6th grade students had been studying frequency charts, so I decided that we would create a frequency chart for text features.  I gave each of them a small piece of paper and had them copy down various text features and the four sections of the newspaper.  

Text Features Frequency Chart

Text Features Frequency Chart

After they finished making the chart, they were told which section to begin working on.

Students working on charts.

Students working on charts.

They had approximately seven minutes to find as many of the text features as they could in that section. They used tallies to record their information.  

Searching for text features

Searching for text features

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If they had questions, they could ask other members of their group.  If their group members didn’t know, they could ask me.  It went really well and I was able to explain so many different types of text features and how they were used in real life.

My next activity will be to have them return to their original “brain dump” and write all of the new information that they learned about text features.  They will then analyze the data that they collected- looking for trends, explanations in the numbers, and commonalities that they see across sections.