Friday, December 20, 2013

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Prayer for a Teacher


T ~ Take us in your arms and may your love carry us through each day
E ~ Enlighten us when we can't see the forest from the trees
A ~ Avail to us the creativity, passion and knowledge we need to impart
C ~ Create in us endurance to keep going when our strength is used up
H ~ Help us to remain focused while navigating the ocean of change and uncertainty
E ~ Encourage us daily as we travel through great challenges
R ~ Remind us of the true purpose of our mission

Friday, November 8, 2013

Website Shout Out: Aesop's Fables

A friend posted this site on Facebook and I thought it was fabulous.  It has dozens of links to Aesop's fables.  I'll definitely use these when we do Oral Tradition Literature.  

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween in our ESOL Class

We only have 50 minutes from bell to bell.  By the time we take care of attendance and other housekeeping chores, we are down to 45 minutes.  We had time for two journal entries.  

The first was a video prompt.  We showed the students the commercial of the Headless Horseman, maybe it was the Horseless Headsman.  We found it on YouTube.  We took the opportunity to teach the students the suffix "-less" and give some background knowledge on American legends and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" by Washington Irving.    Many students knew the story because they had already read it in their own language.  We showed the video 3 times.  The first viewing gave them an overall view of the message.  After the second viewing students wrote in their journals what they saw and what they heard.  After the third viewing, students wrote in their journals the message they felt the video was trying to convey.  After students reflected on the video, we had volunteers share out their written reflections.  Next year we''ll plan for a two-day lesson to read excerpts from the legend before we show the video.  This will  help students who have never heard the story before. 

The next activity was in reference to the American expression "Skeleton Crew".  Each student had a picture of a skeleton and the definition of a skeleton crew.  We discussed what "skeleton" and "crew" mean.  Next, we discussed the expression and how it is used.  Students gave examples of "skeleton crews" and the difficulty of being "short-handed" in their journals.  We also gave opportunities for students to share out.  

Students seemed to enjoy both activities and they learned tons of new words and phrases.  
Good Day! 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Website Shout Out:

I found this amazing website for ELL teachers, administrators, librarians, parents and students.  Teachers can find teaching resources, as well as professional development and webcasts dedicated to second language learning.  There's material for all grade levels.  There's a glossary for parents with all the common acronyms associated with academic programs and resources for ELL's.  I was able to find charts on cognates and false cognates for my Spanish/English speakers.  I will be sharing these with them next week in small group.  I bookmarked this site because I know I'll be referencing it frequently.   Check it out.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Just Write Journals

I use Just Write Journals mostly every day in our ESOL class.  On our agenda board the J.W.J. prompt is written.  Students immediately begin writing in their journals while I take attendance and take care of other housekeeping duties.  I collect the journals every 2 weeks.  Each journal is worth 20 points.  I mostly check for completion, however I do leave comments and feedback.  

The heading for each journal consists of the date, the entry number and the topic.  Entry numbers are assigned according to nine weeks.  For example, we are now beginning the second nine weeks.  Mondays entry number will be 2.1.  By the end of the nine weeks, I know how many journal entries each student should have.  Bonus points are given to students who put in extra effort.  This might be a descriptive graphic, an extraordinary response or just demonstrating more effort than usual.  Credit is always given.  The only prompts that don't receive credit are the ones that aren't there.  

This writing strategy and practice has proven to be very effective in my ESOL class.  We can see the progression of their writing throughout the year.  It provides for many samples of their writing.  It gives them a place to practice using new words and newly learned writing skills.  We encourage students to use their best English.  Bilingual entries are certainly encouraged for beginners.  If a bilingual entry is too difficult, students are encouraged to write in their first language.  Prompts are translated through online translators.  

 We try to keep the journals light and fun so that students will not grow weary of writing.  Sometimes we surprise students with a stapled air head or book mark just to show how much I appreciate their effort.  

We use composition books.  I've used spiral notebooks before, but they don't endure well.  I've also used pre-printed sheets for students to put in their binders.  I loved it, however it's way too expensive.  And, obviously, takes time to copy.  One year we created our own journals by stapling folded copy paper together.  We had a homemade journal for each nine weeks.  This worked fine except I had to provide the paper.  Again, costly.  The composition books seemed to work the best for us.  At the end of each nine weeks we fold our next page into a triangle to mark the beginning of a new quarter.  This provides for dividers.  Students who write in the front and back of each page usually don't have to purchase a new composition book the entire year.  

Grading is not time consuming for me because I don't have as many students as a non-ESOL teacher would have.  However, all our 8th grade team uses this strategy.  One teacher checks the journals each day.  She reads them as students are writing, and checks them simultaneously.  Another teacher collects journals every two weeks and gives students 10 points for each finished entry.  One more idea is to randomly choose an entry to use for a grade.  

Here are some journal ideas we use in our class: 

J.W.J = Just Write Journal
* This acronym goes on the agenda board on journal writing days.

C.Y.O.T.  = Choose Your Own Topic ("Coyote Day")
* Students are allowed to write about any topic of their choice.  Usually we brainstorm topics and fill the board with possible ideas.

W.W. = Word Write 
* This is a vocabulary strategy.  We choose one word a day from our vocabulary list.  Students have choices to write a narrative or a persuasive argument using the vocabulary word as their topic.  

A.A. = All About _________ 
*At the beginning of a unit or workshop, we use this prompt as our introduction.  Students write all they know about the specific topic or skill we are about to study.  If students don't have any background knowledge, they need to build it by either interviewing someone or doing a quick search online.  Usually we have a quick class discussion to get their juices flowing.

N.I.K.  = Now I Know ____________ (skill)  ("Nick Day")
* At the end of a unit, we use this prompt as a "reflection".  Students write about all that they have learned concerning the specific skill they learned.

C.E. = Current Events
*Students may choose topics from the news or just their own life.

* I found this idea in many blogs I've followed.  (Take a look at my blog list.)  Students write the word CURRENTLY on the top of their paper.  Then, I project a list of sentence starters that includes the pronoun "I" and a verb on our screen.  Students then finish the sentences using ideas from experiences, feelings or activities they are currently involved in.  This is a great strategy for English Language Learners.

* We use the journal at the end of a unit of study to reflect on lessons learned, activities we've worked on, and student-ratings of the activities.

Visual Prompts
* Students receive a 3 by 5 black and white picture in their mailbox on the given day.  Students then glue-stick the picture into their journal entry and write a narrative, informational or argumentative response referencing the picture.

* Students are asked to react to certain articles, stories or facts we are currently reading about in class based on personal opinion and bias.

Paragraph Frames
* Students are given a cloze paragraph referring to a certain topic or vocabulary word.  Students write the entire paragraph in their journals including their responses to the blanks.

*Students share their journal entries with a buddy.  This provides students with the opportunity to practice reading their own writing and finding their own errors.

Class Journal
Last year we kept a Class Journal.  Each week students were given a poll question to answer.  I had a student do the math and create the statistics for the class according to the responses.  Then, in our class journal students would share the reason for their poll choice.  This year we haven't had the opportunity to continue the Class Journal idea.  Maybe we'll pick it up during the second semester.

Happy Journaling!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

First Nine Weeks Reflection

It's almost mind blowing to think 9-week exams begin on Wednesday.  This year continues to speed on.  Here are some reflections of my year so far...

1) Many students reached their reading goal for the first nine weeks.  Also, some took me at my word and earned bonus reading points.  I love when my students earn extra points.

2) Many students are receiving passing scores on the Reading Counts quizzes.  When they get so excited and proud of their accomplishment, it makes my day.

3) Returning students are keeping up with their portfolios and new students are catching on.  Many of my students have never had to keep a learning notebook.  Some students find this to be a great challenge, but others have completely embraced the idea.  This week we'll be taking a class period to organize and update them before the 9 week exams.  

4) I'm so pleased to see the growth of some of my returning students.  They arrived a year or two ago at "hello" and now their reading lexiles are showing great progress, their writing includes many new words we've learned over the years, and their grades have improved from other classes. One major trait we can all agree is necessary in the teaching of English to second language learners is patience.  Progress is never over night, but when it begins to reveal itself it is sweet!  

5)  New students are getting the gist of our classroom culture and procedures.  Things have settled and we are in the process of learning.  Returning students have stepped up to the plate to become student leaders. When we have a brand new student come, they are able and willing to show them the ropes.  I love when my students take positive leadership!  

6)  The first nine weeks has not been easy, it never is.  However, we continue to move forward knowing that learning is a process, teaching is an adventure, and tomorrow we'll do better.  

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Website Shout Out: Free

I found this great site through Facebook, "Free ESLTopics".  It includes printable language quizzes and activities for ELL students with answer keys.  I think these activities might be useful to use as bell work.  The quizzes can also be a great diagnostic assessment to see what language skills our ELL's have at the beginning of the year.  We can then give the diagnostic again towards the middle and end of the year.   After each diagnostic we can create short mini lessons to use in small group to target specific language skills students may have difficulty with.  So glad to have found this site.  

Saturday, September 14, 2013

My Space

  Before I taught at the middle school level, I taught ESOL at the elementary level.  One of my first classes was practically a closet that was shared by 3 teachers and a para-professional.  We separated ourselves with stand up boards.  Most of the time I'd take my students to the hallway to teach.  It was much quieter there.  At another school, I shared a portable with 5 ESOL teachers and 5 paraprofessionals.  Although it was cramped, we had some good times.  We made it work.  These are just two examples of some very interesting spaces I've had over the years.  But, when I came to middle school, I finally arrived at classroom heaven.  I was given a gigantic classroom, all for my program.  It was almost unbelievable.  I've been in the same classroom since I started 12 years ago.  I do not take this for granted.  I thank the Lord each day for this blessing.

As far as classroom decor, it's my goal to try to make the room look inviting, but more importantly, I want to provide my students with as much language input and academic support as I can. Anyone that has come to my classroom knows that it is a work in progress.   As the school year begins to take form, and we see what works and what doesn't, we make the necessary changes.  

Here are some pictures of what my classroom looks like right now.

This is my front board, next to my desk.  I have lots of space, but I don't have many boards.  So, I have to make do.  The art teacher that shares a pod with me gave me this board idea.  Her board looks very similar.  Last year my board was divided by periods.  Even though it worked for the students, it was a daily chore for me.  I wanted to find a method that would lessen my board chores.  This format gives a view of the week and a glimpse of upcoming events for the following week.  Rather than separating learning targets per period, I now prepare them per subject.  I teach 2 Reading classes and 3 Language Arts classes.  I teach the same students for both subjects.  Each Monday, we go over the week's expectations and special events, and we highlight what's coming up.  After that, we go over our plan for the day for both classes. Then, we begin our activities.  

This section of the class is where students check out books, return them, and turn in assignments by period.  

This is one of my reading corners.  I have 3 reading spaces for students to choose to read from.  They have a choice as long as they are responsible.  If I see their choice of reading space is jeopardizing their ability to attend to their book, they'll have to read at their desk.  The reading spaces are there to support their reading experience, not hinder it.  Students are allowed to read in these spaces during their Just Read rotation.  My reading class is divided into 4 rotations:  Small Group with teacher, Computer Learning, Just Read, Just Write.  Each rotation runs about 17 to 20 minutes in length.  Our first period is 90 minutes and my second and third period is a double block.  This allows me the time to have multiple rotations.  By 12:30pm, on any regular given day,  I would have taught 7 small groups.  It's a lot of work, but it pays off.  

This system of displaying student work is also new.  I was always taping and bringing down throughout the year and I wanted a system that would lessen that chore, as well.  I found this idea on Pinterest.  I put up plastic storage bags with each student's name on it.  Now, all I do is slip in the students' artifacts in their corresponding bag.  It is so much easier.  Thank you, Pinterest!

I'm also giving RAK (Random Acts of Kindness) Awards to students who go out of their way to help each other succeed in class.  I find that middle schoolers love awards and even stickers, just like younger kids.  I like them, too!  

I also have my small group table, Reading Awards section, portfolio storage, student mailboxes, and word wall to show you.  I'll include that in Part Two of My Space.

Have a Great Weekend!  

Monday, September 9, 2013

Florida Tests and ELL's

Wow, striking statistics!  Last year 91% of ELL's in Florida and in Orange County failed the 10th grade Reading FCAT.  I probably can't change the world, but it is my goal to change my little slice of it.  In Room 1-117 we work hard to be the 9% that passes!,0,4468057.story

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Reflections of an ELL Teacher

Time really is no one's friend.  We're already about to begin the third week of school.  Already, I'm worried that I won't have enough time to give my students all that they need.  When my ELL's come to me, they are at least six years behind where they need to be.  And, if they are in eighth grade, the challenge is even more great.  How do I prepare these kids in order to pass the graduation test in tenth grade?   I always panic when I get the first reading assessment score.  I will have at least half of my class score a zero percent in reading ability.  This is not because they cannot read, it's because they read in a different language than the assessment.  In addition, these students are not five or six years old, with many years to catch-up.  Rather, these are eleven, twelve, thirteen, and sometimes, fourteen year olds.  The task is daunting, at best.

Each year I must apply to myself all the encouraging messages I preach to my students.  We do this one day at a time, one task at a time, one success at a time.  Rome wasn't built in a day.  A good crop is not harvested in one day.  We must daily give our very best, and do better tomorrow.  And, one day, maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but one day, we will see the fruit of our labor.  And, at the end of the year, there will be big smiles, and big hugs, and perhaps tears, as we see all that we accomplished together.  The biggest heart filler is when they come back as 16 and 17 year olds thanking me for planting the seeds they needed in order to reap their own academic and personal harvest.  

So, this weekend, as I reflect on the past two weeks, and look ahead on the countless others that are to come, may I remember the successes of the past and encourage myself, we can do this!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Susan Cain: The Power of Introverts

I found this video about introverts to be very interesting and I thought you might, also.  Many ELL's tend be introverted when they first arrive to the United States.  In school they call this time "the silent period".  Sometimes teachers don't understand the immense adjustment it is for a person, especially an adolescent, to perform academically, socially and culturally within an unknown paradigm.  Although this video is not directly referring to second language learning, however, indirectly I think the points apply.  

Monday, August 19, 2013

After School Reflection Journal

 I've been journaling since my teen years.  This summer I decided to kick it up a notch.  I began keeping a personal art/prayer/everything journal.  Then, I thought about perhaps starting a journal about my experiences in the classroom.  Hence, the "After School Reflection Journal" was born.  Each afternoon, after the kids have been dismissed and the final bell of the day has rung, I hope to write some final thoughts for the day.  I plan to celebrate what worked and be honest about what didn't. Today I added my first post.  Unfortunately, I ended up making a list of countless things I must do, but that's ok...  Eventually it will become a reflection journal and not a "To Do List".  

This is a 5 by 8 inch binder.

The journal has 4 divisions, one for each nine weeks.

A closer look..
I like the pocket dividers so that I can keep little notes of encouragement that I usually receive from colleagues, students and parents.

I may not need 2 half pages for one entry.  I plan to write only a few sentences.  However, I gave myself more space for days I may need to write more.  The most difficult part of preparing this notebook was getting the right dimensions on the 3-whole punch.  
Another idea would be to purchase 5 by 8 index cards instead of copying so many pages.  I decided with the copies because I wanted each page to have the same heading.   I also wanted the notebook to open vertically.

The pages are copied front and back to save paper.

 An alternative to this format is to purchase a calendar with large boxes.  I debated which one to use this year, this format won.  

I'm hoping that I will be able to read the journal during the summer to reflect on both amazing and challenging moments of the past year.  I think it may also remind me of things I should definitely repeat and others I shouldn't.  

Friday, August 16, 2013

A Few Tips for New Teachers

1)  If you're a gal, don't wear high heels, unless you have a really good arch. And, if you're a guy, don't break in a new pair of shoes on a school day.

2)  Eat. Breakfast and lunch should not be negotiable.   Food = Energy

3)  Sleep.  A good night's sleep does wonders for our overall tone and disposition.

4) Decorate your area with colors, trinkets, and other things you love.  When you're having a tough day, these things will most likely bring a smile to your face and help lighten the moment.  

5) Don't expect to be perfect.  No one is.  Just do the very best you can each day and strive to be better the next. Encourage yourself when you've had a great day and when you haven't. Tomorrow will be better, expect nothing less.

6) Be present-minded.  With so many things demanding your attention, being focused can sometimes be a challenge.  Focusing on the task at hand, with intentionality, will help you become more effective.  

7) Be prepared.  Winging it is hit or miss.  After school make sure you know the details of the next day.  When you get to school the next morning you'll be more relaxed and less hurried.

8) Expect the unexpected.  And, when it comes, breathe!  It's not the end of the world.

9) Make friends with people who are excited and passionate about what they do.  This passion will ignite in you and those you serve.

10) Find something to celebrate every day, maybe two.

11) Ask questions.  Teachers are usually willing and happy to help.

12) Observe great teachers on your campus.

13) Keep copies of everything.

14) Always make extra copies of hand-outs in case you receive a new student or someone needs a second copy.

15) Wash your hands frequently, use your own pens and pencils, and build your immune system.

I wish you a blessed and successful first year.  The best is yet to come. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Bye, Bye Summer 2013

I Had A Blast!


I have 2 months to rest, think, reflect, create, have fun, clean, and just breathe.  I'm not a world traveler, so I don't fly to exotic places, but I utilize my time off for doing things that fill my heart with joy.  Every summer is different.  This summer was all about technology.  I've plunged into the blog world.  I'm not an expert and I totally wish I knew more, but I've begun the process.  I'm looking forward to trying out all the new skills, strategies and activities I've learned through blogging with my students and families.  On Tuesday I officially go back to work.  I'm going to miss my summer mornings and my "hot" coffee.  But, I'm also ready to for the school year to start because...


I'm looking forward to meeting my new students who come from all parts of the world.  I get to be their first English teacher in America.  I don't take that privilege lightly.  I know how important first impressions are.

I'm looking forward to seeing light bulbs go on, excitement when a goal is reached, amazement and surprise when goals are exceeded.

I'm looking forward to affecting, igniting, inspiring future destinies and dreams; planting hope...

I'm looking forward to
~persuading a non-reader to love reading,
~a hesitant writer to write better than expected,
~a reluctant L1 speaker to speak to me in English,
~write journals in English,
~complete a directive in English without looking at me like deer in headlights.

When the stresses of the job come crashing over me like an avalanche, I will remember these things I looked forward to, and these will be my driving force.

It is my prayer that this year will be the best one yet.

Wishing you a happy and wonderful 2014 school year!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Blog Shout Out

I'm going to use my educational blog to highlight and give a SHOUT OUT to amazing and resourceful blogs I stumble across through my internet travels.  

Today's BLOG SHOUT OUT goes to (drum roll...)

"Eat. Write. Teach."

I really love this blog.  It is great for secondary teachers.   The creator of the blog is called Stephanie.  She includes technology tutorials, organization templates, pacing guides and much, more more.  I signed up to follow her blog by email because I can tell this blog is going to be a great source of professional development for me.  

Check It Out

Friday, August 2, 2013

Creativity and Learning

I was watching a documentary on The Teaching Channel called, "Art Essentials" If you have some time, I encourage you to take a minute to watch it.  The amazing teachers are inspiring.

And, here's an article I think you'll enjoy reading from John Hopkins School of Education written by Dr. Rosa Aurora Chavez-Eakle M.D., Ph. D., May 2010, on The Relevance of Creativity.


I've been teaching at the middle school level for the past 11 years. Before that I taught elementary students. I've noticed that middle schoolers enjoy creating as much as primary kids. The beauty of middle school is that students bring more experiences and life lessons to the table. However, many times middle schoolers are more self-conscious about their skills and abilities. The challenge is to motivate and encourage them to be risk takers. This kind of risk-taking atmosphere is not an easy task. It begins with me. I have to be a risk-taker and demonstrate to my students how to celebrate success and failure. Perfection is impossible to achieve. I strive to do my very best at the moment with what I know and what I want to know. The next time, I use what I've learned to do better. With this modeled, it flows to the kids. In my experience, for this to happen we must all feel safe. Building a classroom culture of respect, encouragement and mentorship is vital. Each year takes on a different tone because the dynamics of the group is different. Nonetheless, creating a safe, engaging and risk-taking environment is a daily objective, in addition to everything else. When we can transform attitudes such as apathy and indifference to risk taking and creative engagement, then we have made a lasting influence not only in our kids, but in ourselves.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Decorative Journals

Last year, while searching the internet for new and creative ideas, I ran across a YouTube video teaching how to alter a regular composition book into a gorgeous journal.  I got inspired!  So, I made a few of them as Christmas presents for the lovely and talented ladies I eat lunch with everyday.  We call ourselves, "The Lunch Bunch".   They absolutely loved them.  I've also made some for personal friends who love to write.

Here are pictures of the journals I decorated for "The Lunch Bunch". (Forgive my amateur photography skills, but I think you will be able to get the idea.)

 These are examples of the inside of the front and back cover.

In August many of the composition books go on sale, so it's a great time to stock up.  
Many of the craft stores put stickers and decorative paper on sale for 40% to 50% off, as well.    
An additional teacher discount is given to teachers with a school ID card.  Some schools do not issue teacher ID cards.  If that's the case, sometimes they accept other forms of proof of employment. 

The initial purchase of supplies may be a little bit of an investment.  
However, after purchasing the initial supplies, the following journals could range between $5 to $20, depending on how elaborate it's made.   One idea is to save birthday cards, calendars, ribbon, and scraps of decorative paper to use for future projects.  This lowers the cost.  I keep all my scraps of paper and stickers in a binder with pocket dividers.  This makes for easy storage and less clutter.  

Here is a list of materials I use:

A Composition Book

Decorative Paper

A Paper Cutter

Double-Sided Tape Dispenser

A Variety of Stickers, Accessories, Ribbons, ...

If you love to write, and create, this is a fun project.  
It's a wonderful gift that is useful and very much appreciated.
It's also a great project for our middle school students.  Kids can decorate their journal to show their unique personality and personal interests.  
I think I may have a journal decorating contest this year...  

Here are the You Tube videos that inspired me.

This video shows another example of an altered journal made for an elementary teacher.

This last video shows the same concept for spiral notebooks.


Unique Book Reports Projects from Unique Teaching Resources

Wonderful Creative Book Reports

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Student Learning Portfolios

 As all middle school teachers know, personal organization is crucial for the middle school student.   Students have 6 or more different teachers requiring different systems of organization.  And, each teacher is as different as night and day.    One method may work for one teacher and not for another.  After trying several methods, I have finally found a system that works for my students and me.  At the end of every year I give a survey to my students about different procedures and policies we used. Each year I receive high student ratings for our portfolio method. 

Portfolio Materials:
1 Binder (2 to 3 inches)
Lots of wide-ruled notebook paper
8 Dividers (Store bought or homemade)

Divider Labels:
1 - Housekeeping       Class Letter, Procedures, and Policies
2 - My Progress          Data, Progress Monitoring, Goal Setting, Progress Reports, Assessments
3 - My Recognition    Awards, Compliments, Assignments students are proud of
4 - Reading                Organized by Units
5 - Vocabulary           Organized by Units
6 - Writing                 Organized by Genre
7 - Language             Organized by Rules
8 - Literature             Organized by Genre

*Each unit includes a cover sheet.  The cover sheet includes the Learning Focus, Objective and Learning Strategies.  It also includes assessments and reflections.  Each assignment and or assessment is filed behind the cover sheet.  When we finish a unit, the cover sheet and corresponding work goes in the back of the section, the new unit we will start working on goes in the front of the section. 

*As students receive assignments back, they file the assignment in the corresponding division.  Note-taking and pending projects also are also filed in the corresponding division. 

*Once a week we take a few minutes from a class period to catch up on filing.  More organized students usually have everything already filed so they help students who are more laid back. 

*Students are given a score for the organization of their notebook at the end of the nine weeks.  A checklist is given to them with the due date in advance so that they can know what I will be checking.  The checklist includes a score for turning in the portfolio on the due date, 8 labeled divisions, assignments filed in the corresponding division, neatness and reading/language arts material only.  Being that we are always monitoring and helping each other with our portfolios, very seldom do I ever receive a very unorganized notebook.  Credit is always given for effort.

*Portfolios are kept in class.  If students need to study for a specific test or quiz, they take out what they need and file it back when they are finished.

*Each day I give out stickers for various reasons.  Students may receive stickers for quickly attending to class procedures, an incredible response, helping someone, turning in their assignment on time and/or neatly, ...  My students usually collect the stickers on the binder covers.  Middle school kids love stickers and so do I.  I try to buy different and interesting ones that they would like.  

These are some benefits of using this system:

1) Every assignment or hand-out has a place.  This fixes the problem of lost papers. 
2) Students appreciate personal organization.
3) Students are prepared, more often than not. 
4) Students find pending assignments quickly.
5) Portfolios become running records of skills learned. 
6) They become a source of personal academic pride.
7) Students can quickly demonstrate to anyone what they are working on and what they have learned.
8) Portfolios are very informative in parent/teacher/student conferences.
9) They are useful tool in student led conferences.
10) Students who enroll in the middle of the year are able to quickly get organized and follow the same rhythm.
11)  Being that my students come to me twice a day for both Reading and Language Arts, everything we need for both courses is in one binder.
 12) This system is more practical with smaller groups. Teachers with over 100 students may not be able to store so many binders in their room.  In this case, students could keep 9 week portfolios in a 1 inch binder, rather than a 2 to 3 inch binder.  At the end of nine weeks, students can file their information in a manilla folder to make room for the next nine weeks materials.  I've seen teachers at my school keep crates for each period with manilla folder portfolios.  Another variation is the spiral notebook.  I've included a video of a spiral portfolio in this post. 

13) At the end of the year, my students clean out their portfolios, but we discuss what things they should keep as resources for the next year. 

These are a few examples of some portfolios we've had.  Each year they take on a new look and we may change labels, but in essence it's the same system.  I'm the only ESL teacher at my school, so I get to see my students at least 2 of the three years of middle school.  Many invest in a good binder in 6th grade and they use it the three years. 
Students Place their Portfolio Checklist in the front of their binder
Table of Contents

Class Letter filed in Housekeeping Division
Cover Sheet for one of our Reading Unit  (This binder has homemade dividers using manilla folder tabs)

My Recognition Sticker Book

Labeled Dividers
Journal Entries filed in the Writing Division

Writing Rubrics filed in the Writing Division

 I'll take more pictures this year of our 2014 Portfolios once we set them up. 

This YouTube video presents a great variation to this portfolio with Spiral Notebooks.  

Austrailian Parents Pressured to Drop Home Language for English ( Leader Community Newspapers )

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

First Day On The Blog


I'm super excited to have finally started writing my own blog.  I've been inspired by the many bloggers I've been following and visiting on the web through the various websites and social networks.  Wow, just amazing...  I hope I can become as helpful and encouraging as you all have been to me.  Looking forward to posting tips and treasures that have helped me grow as an educator throughout the years...