Skip to main content

ESL Ruminations, Take #2

On May 7th, I wrote a post detailing concerns I was having about the activities that my ESL students were engaged in during our class time. I surveyed the class and got some interesting responses about what was going well and what changes we could make to improve these assignments.

What follows are some of their comments and suggestions:

  • My students asked for the opportunity to have conversations with each other, or with me, about a variety of topics. So, we initiated what I call, "conversation partners". We've done this a few times and  they have been working really well. The first time we did this, we brainstormed some possible topics so that the students would have an idea of what they could talk about with each other; we only had to do this one time. They have approximately 10 minutes for a conversation. We do pairs or trios but no more than that. At the end of the conversation time I ask each of them what they learned about their partner.
  • Almost unanimously, my students did not like doing T-charts about the books they are reading. They say it slows them down and distracts then from their reading; we don't do these anymore.
  • One student suggested that instead of telling a story about themselves, they could do something else. Act it out? Draw it? Write a comic? We haven't determined this yet.
  • For listen to reading, someone suggested that in lieu of filling in a story map once a week they could share about the story they had listened to with the class. Another child recommended that we add a section on feelings (or substitute for one of the 6 areas of the story map?); we haven't implemented either of these two ideas, yet.
The most powerful change we have made thus far has been to introduce conversation partners. First of all, everyone likes to talk and middle school kids are no exception. Having my students partner up with a classmate to talk about a topic of their choice for 10 minutes has proven very successful. Furthermore, students acquiring another language need lots of time for conversation. When they are with their conversation partners, they can get help if they don't know a word or phrase in English. We have made this a part of the Daily 5 choices; the kids call it the Daily 6!

This experience reminds me the importance of asking kids a simple question: what's going well and what can we improve? If you've never done this or if you have, please leave a comment about your thoughts.

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

The Reading Strategies Book - Chapter 12, Supporting Students’ Conversations – Speaking, Listening, and Deepening Comprehension

The strategy lessons highlighted in Chapter 12, Supporting Students’ Conversations – Speaking, Listening, and Deepening Comprehension, in The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo are critical to students’ engagement and comprehension, as well as their ability to write literary essays, or even book reviews, summaries and reflective pieces about books. If students aren’t able to talk about books in a way that is invigorating and joyful, they will be less likely to develop an interest in growing ideas for writing about books.
In her introduction to this chapter, Jennifer Serravallo, reminds us that when conversations go well, children are inspired by what they read and are motivated to keep reading. However, when conversations fall flat, then kids get bored and tune out. How do we avoid this situation and teach kids to have focused conversations about books? The answer is easy: teach kids strategies to help them develop effective conversational skills. 

As in other blog posts a…

Saying Goodbye

I can't get used to saying goodbye to my daughters even though we've been doing it for the past 10 years. You'd think it gets easier, but it doesn't. It still feels like the first time.

Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.*
At the airport, I watch families with their young children and try to remember what it was like when my girls were little. What I felt like. What I was doing at the time. What we weren't doing. Was I even aware of the passage of time?

When my kids were little I lived so much in the moment that there was no time to reflect on the fact that our time as a family was measured. Sooner than we were ready, we would have to let them go. Send them on their way. Wish them an abundance of everything, but especially of love, health and joy. 

They come through you, but not from you.* 
I nod and smile, a li…

Partner Reading and Content, Too Routine (PRC2)

I'm a hoarder.
There, I've said it.
I try to deny that I'm a hoarder but it comes back to haunt me every time I move houses, or pack up my classroom at the end of the school year.
I have old articles, lesson plans, handouts, folders brimming with teaching ideas, past issues of profesional journals. I hardly throw anything out though I've learned to be more selective over the years. My one rule of thumb, and I really try to stick to this, is that if I haven't used or referred to something in a year, then it's time to toss it into the recycle bin. One exception to this rule (you knew this was coming, didn't you?) is past issues of journals from professional organizations. However, with the ability to locate articles online through my professional memberships, even this exception is becoming less and less useful, which brings me to the topic of this blog post.
I am currently reading a copy of The Reading Teacher from 2010. I've clipped a couple of informat…