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Reflect & Recharge

 As the school year is coming to an end I wanted to address my last blog of the year to all of you. I hope you have found the strategies that I have shared this year helpful and have made a positive difference in how you teach students who are learning English. 

For me, being a part of the blogging Scholastic team has been an incredible experience. Having the unique opportunity to share ideas I use in the classroom on a global level is something that I wish all teachers could do. Being a Scholastic blogger has made me reflect on my own teaching and I know I am a better teacher for it!  

The power of teaching is to set the stage for students to have opportunities to succeed. The hope I have for my students is that they continue to blossom and grow in their own special way and experience many new ways to find success in their learning adventure.

My summer plans include spending time with my family, traveling, improve my Spanish and train my new puppy, Reese's to stay and come on demand. 

A BIG HUGE thanks to the Scholastic website team. It has been a real honor and privilege to be a part of this company for the last three years. I have loved every second of it!!!
My love

Shoot for Higher Learning

One of the advantages of being a blogger is it allows for a great deal of self reflection.  Putting my ideas on "paper" allows me to take a step back and see what worked and what didn't with a lesson.  How can I adapt it to fit all learners?  How can I differentiate to make it more challenging for the advanced learners? 

My hopes and expectations for all my students who walk through my door is to inspire them to continue on a path of learning that will take them as far as they can go.  I want students to understand how important education is.  They have to learn how to problem solve and approach problems with different perspectives.  Teaching is more than learning what is in a textbook.  It is learning how to use life experiences as a learning opportunity. 

Thank you for stopping by our 3rd grade classroom this year.  I am going to enjoy ths summer with my two month old son before returning to the 3rd grade world in the fall. Remember, it is never too early to instill the importance of college!



Hot off the Press

Have your English language learners create newspaper stories! Many students are curious about what is going on locally and globally. Have your class read the daily newspaper to see what they find interesting to write about. They can work independently or in cooperative groups (great for English language modeling!) Then have the students take a black and white picture of what they wrote about. They will love the opportunity to be their own photojournalist. Use all the stories and make your own class newspaper. 

Another idea is getting reprints of newspapers from the past or even go online. The students can write about a historical event as if they were living in that time period. For example, if your students are learning about the American Revolution, have them choose a battle or an American hero to write about.
I'd love to hear about how you implemented this ELD strategy in your class!

Sensory Similes

After state testing is finally completed ( yahoo!!!! ), we focus on different types of poetry and art genres.  For similes, students rotate from different stations and complete a sensory chart.  The stations are themed for summer activities ( movies, beach, books, food, sports)

Students complete each simile on the chart:

Looks like_____________
Feels like_____________
Sounds like____________
Tastes like_____________

The students explore the items at the station and complete the chart.  Below is an example of a student at the "beach" station ( sand, pail, bucket of salty water ).  The student is an intermediate learner.

Looks like a land full of gold
Feels like tiny rocks
Sounds like fish jumping in the water
Tastes like dirty bath water

Concession stand 


Teaching about Cinco De Mayo using ELD strategies

Here are exciting, valuable, and easy to prep ELD strategies to use when teaching about Cinco de Mayo!!!

KWL Chart: Using chart paper I write at the top K W L, The K stands for what do you know about the topic, the W stands for what do you want to learn about the topic, and the L stands for what did you learn about the topic. At this time my students are learning about Mexico so the K stands for what do you know about Mexico, the W stands for what do you want to learn about Mexico and the L stands for what did you learn about Mexico. Applying this to Cinco De Mayo, What do you KNOW about Cinco De Mayo? What do you WANT to learn about Cinco De Mayo? What did you LEARN about Cinco De Mayo?

Narrative input chart: Using chart paper, I draw a visual representation of the battle that took place in Puebla, Mexico. I tell the events of the battle between the outnumbered Mexican army and the French soldiers by drawing pictures to go along with the story. Eventually, the students retell the story and then add to it. 

Think-Pair-Share: The students are given a question. Each student thinks about what they are going to say, then pairs up with another student and shares out his/her idea with a classmate. For example have the students think about important facts about Cinco De Mayo, then pair up with a classmate and share out. A great way to check for understanding and to see if the students are listening to each other is to ask the students to share what their partner said. 
Look to this website for more ideas on celebrating Mexico: http://www2.scholastic.com/browse/teach.jsp

KwlMexican costumes  

Photo Writing

When doing narrative writing, I have students use photos of events we have attended to write a story in sequential order.  For example, we recently attended a sea lab field trip.  I took pictures of students and printed several out for each group.  Students put the photos in order with post-it notes attached to each photo.  The post-it notes contain nouns, verbs, and adjectives that could be used when describing the photo. 

Students then work in pairs to write a narrative with the photos as a visual guide of the experience.  They have a mini word bank for each photo with the post-it note.  Students edit their papers using a green crayon to underline the capital letters ( green for "go") and a red crayon to highlight the punctuation ( red for "stop").

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Spring into ELD!!!

Spring is just around the corner so I thought it seemed fit to share a couple of ELD strategies focusing on our next blossoming season. An ELD strategy that I find extremely powerful and can be used at all grades is a pictorial input chart. A pictorial input chart is a chart that the picture has been already lightly drawn with a pencil. This can be done by hand, with an overhead projector or an Elmo. In my class we are learning about the parts of a tree. During the course of the lesson I use a darker marker to trace the picture as I am discussing the parts of a tree. This strategy provides your English language learners with hearing the words as you are giving them a visual by tracing the picture. Display the chart so the students can refer back to it when journaling or discussing the parts of a tree. The picture can be as simple or as detailed as need be. 

Spring 1
Another ELD strategy that I use is a T chart. In my class we are learning about living things vs. non living things. I make a huge T on a piece of chart paper. On one side of the T chart the students glued pictures from magazines of living things and the other side they glued pictures of non living things. These are also our essential science vocabulary words so I display the chart so the students can refer back to it when necessary. 
Spring 2
Spring 3
                     HAVE A GREAT SPRING VACATION!!!

The Hot Seat!!!

The hot seat is an exciting and valuable strategy to use with your English language learners. Here is how it works. Have one student sit in the "hot seat" and assume the identity of a historical figure or character from a story. The other students need to ask questions in order to give them clues to find out who the historical figure or character is. Use your grade level social studies standards to choose a historical figure or character. I think this strategy is beneficial because it is open-ended, contextual and can be used at every grade level. For younger children have them wear a hat or include a prop. In addition assist when necessary if you see the student in the hot seat struggling to find an answer to the question. 


Math Mentors

Aside from teaching students the technical part of the English language, it is also important to build their self confidence.  During math, I have rotations where I pull small groups to work on specific areas of need.  At the same time, my English Language Learners are placed in the position as math mentors.  There are small groups that focus on different "tutorials" where students can attend these groups.  I find the strength of that child in math and I use it so he/she can act as a mentor to other students.

I find their confidence and oral language skills greatly improve after having the role of math mentor. No student has ever refused being offered the role of math mentor.  The students take the role of the teacher and have to explain the math problems/strategies to the other students in the group.  Students love when it is their turn to be math mentor.

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Adding English one Sentence Frame at a time

Sentence framing is a terrific ELD strategy to increase your students' English language fluency. Beginning, early intermediate and intermediate levels can benefit by using sentence frames because it is an additive approach to each level's language development. For example, a beginning speaker of English would be able to respond to I like ________ or I can ________. An early intermediate speaker would be able to respond to I like ________ and _______ or I can _______ and ________. Another example that would be appropriate for the early intermediate level is ______________ have _______________ . (eg: have legs.) Adding even more opportunity for language development would be a sentence such as I like ______ with _______ and ______. (eg: I like sandwiches with peanut butter and jelly) The students really enjoy responding to the sentence framing and it gives the teacher an opportunity to easily differentiate instruction for a variety of English levels. 

Some more examples: ___________ is my friend. I like ____ with ______. My favorite ______ is _____.Sentence frame Sentence frame #2

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Strategies for English Language Learners are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.