Skip to main content

ESL Class Ruminations

I have been using the Daily5 with my beginner to intermediate middle school students and have been fairly happy with the results: children who like to read and write. They are finding authors and series they enjoy and are discovering that writing can be a powerful way to communicate with others. I work with my students in a pull out situation.

Recently, though, I've been feeling pressure, mostly from myself and a little bit from observing my students, to change up some of what goes on in class so that there are authentic assignments that stretch my students as language learners. More specifically, I'm trying to determine which tasks are useful because they extend and enrich students' English language development, and which are just busy work and students are finding a chore to complete. The four standard weekly assignments are:

  1. Dialogue Journals - running conversation twice/week between my students and myself.
  2. Storytelling - about a personally significant event. This also involves listening to other students' stories, taking notes, and choosing one interesting story to write about.
  3. Filling out a graphic organizer about a story the child listened to on the computer.
  4. T-chart for read to self which includes writing from the reflection side of the chart.
I try to confer with students about their work immediately or as soon as possible the next day. I do a lot of teaching during these one-on-one conferences but I'm beginning to wonder if all four activities are equally valuable. Which ones can I cut or tweak to make them more authentic or more meaningful to students?

As a result of writing up this blog post, I have decided to ask students about the value of each activity to their growth as a language learner. I know which two assignments I find valuable and which one may not be as useful right now and may need some tweaking to make it worthwhile. Dialogue Journals are valuable in any setting and I may need to make some changes to the procedure in order to make them more accessible to students..

I will ask my students to write down what they like and what they don't like about each assignment, and to give a suggestion for how each can be improved. I will compile their responses and report back next time. In the meantime, do you think these assignments are valuable for beginning to intermediate ESL students? Why or why not?

Cross posted at A Slice of Life.

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Mini Lessons

Sometimes, I plan too many teaching points for one lesson. For example, instead of focusing on one strategy that students need in order to become more proficient readers and writers, I try to teach several strategies at the same time. 

Sometimes, I stretch out a teaching point beyond the 10- or 12-minute time limit I've given myself because I worry that my mini lesson wasn't enough or my students won't have understood what I intended to teach. So, sometimes, I beat the lesson to a pulp one too many times, or forget to have the kids practice the lesson before they go off to read or write. (Asking students to practice a lesson after you teach it, with you right there to observe and help guide students through the process, is very effective. Try not to skip this step!)  

Here's an example of a mini lesson that lasted less than 10 minutes and resulted in better learning.

My students are in the second round of historical fiction book clubs. In a couple of weeks, we will start …

A Confession

I have a confession to make.

I want to write a book. 
A professional book. 
I think I have a lot to say. 
I think others could benefit from my experience.
After all, I have been an educator for over 30 years.

But, what could I possibly say that hasn't been said before?
What new knowledge could I add to the table?
Who would even bother to read what I have to say?

These are questions borne of fear.
Fear of not being good enough.
Fear of not being able to complete such a daunting project. 
(At least, that's what it feels like to me right now.)
Fear that I won't make time.
Fear that I'll run out of time.

But, over the last couple of days, I've gotten some encouraging words of support from the Innovative Teaching Academy - 
#ITA17 Facebook group. 

You can do it!Write for yourself.
But the message that is propelling me forward is this one: 
It doesn't matter how many times something has been said...each time someone else says it, new people hear it...and that's where you make the d…


Today's post is short and sweet because I just got back from a night of playing Bunko with friends. 

I share some questions I'm grappling with in my classroom. 

No answers. 

Just questions.

(1) What purpose do math stations serve in my classroom?

(2) How can I continue to engage writers without overwhelming them or me?

(3) How can I determine if my tangled readers are learning to be better readers from the books they choose to read?

(4) How can I strike a balance between student choice and making sure my students learn what they need to learn at any given time?

(5) Am I demanding too much from my students?

As I find responses and solutions to these issues, I will post some ideas on my blog.

Any thoughts are more than welcomed!