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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.

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