Posts from the ‘English’ Category

Writing to Publish

I am trying to focus my classroom instruction on authentic student writing this year.  I feel that if students feel that they have a real audience, then they will craft better writing.  I have devised several ways to publish their writing.  

I recently signed my class up for ePals.  This is a program that matches classrooms from around the world.  Your students e-mail other students their age.  They can share their history, experiences, culture, etc.  You can also set this program up so that you and the other classroom work on a project together.  I want my students to not only establish a relationship with their ePal, but to talk about the literature that they are reading.  I am hoping that it will broaden my students’ thinking.  If this is something that you are interested in also pursuing, I would visit their site at http://www.epals.com

I am also going to use amazon.com to publish my students’ book reviews.  They can post the reviews on books they have read under an account that I created.  The website allows them to select under 13 as an option.  When that is selected, the review shows up as “Kid’s Review” so I don’t have to worry about them adding their name or any personal information.  I have just started this project, and will post my classroom experiences soon.  The title of the post will be Amazon Book Reviews.

Another project that I am going to start next month with my students is a Holiday Letter.  Every year, my husband and I seem to get letter after letter from family members telling us about their year.  It really is a “year in review.”  It seems to me that this is just another form of summary writing, which, let’s face it, most students struggle with.  I am going to have my students write their own Holiday Letter and then mail it to family members that they don’t live with.  I then plan to piggy-back this with summaries later on in the year.

I am also looking to incorporate dialog journals into my class.  Another teacher in my district and I have started talking about ways to share our students’ writing with each other.  So far, she sent my students some writing to assess.  I am hoping that this will lead to a dialog journal of some sort.  I haven’t completely worked out the logistics yet, but it is something that I am excited about.  

I really think that all of these authentic writing projects will help my students refine and polish their writing.  At least, that is my hope!

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

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.