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