Sunday, 30 July 2017

So Many Resources, So Little Time!

We are back into back to school preparation where I live.  Once July comes to a close, teachers begin thinking about the first few weeks of school.  To be honest, I'm always thinking about school. I've been working on a summer course for teaching English language learners.  This is where I began my career and this is where it will unwind.  I always thought I'd concentrate on Math but I've always had the desire to return to my roots of watching language acquisition unfold.  To be honest, I love Literacy!  It embeds every aspect of the curriculum.

When it comes to Literacy, I 've accumulated quite a stock of resources.  From Debbie Diller to Tony Stead, I have it all.  The problem is finding enough time to sit down and read one from cover to cover. Now, with this new position, I've begun to accumulate new resources.  I love this new one from Fenner and Snyder:  Unlocking English Learners' Potential

It's the why and how to access English language learner's potential.  There are tips for scaffolding, promotion of oral language development and academic language, analyzing text through close reading and text-dependent questions, building background knowledge and designing formative assessments.

The strategies in this book are perfect for any teacher of English language learners.  Whether it is in a mainstream program or sheltered class, this resource will support instruction.  Now, off to reading the next book. 

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Guest Post on Minds in Bloom

Hi everyone,

I'm thrilled to be a guest on the blog, "Minds in Bloom", where  I write about encouraging writing skills. To find useful tips and a free download, click on the link below:

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Back to School Giveaway

I've teamed up with some fabulous TpT authors to host a giveaway.  The entry dates are from July 23rd to 25th.  

Just click on the link below to enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Social Justice Leadership for English Language Learners

After reading “Leading inclusive ELL: Social Justice Leadership for English Language Learners”, it is argued that ”social justice leadership has a necessary connection to creating more equitable and better services for ELL students and their families”. (p. 37) In two elementary schools mentioned in the article, the leaders maintained a stance that language is a valuable resource.  Both schools were able to promote social justice for ELLs while providing access for educational opportunities.  Both principals understood the pedagogy behind ESL instruction, the value of inclusion, collaboration, co-teaching, building capacity within the school and viewing parents as partners.    
I view these factors as essential to creating a socially just school for elementary ELLs.  I will speak to my own teaching experience at three schools.  I taught from grades K to 6 and in most cases had combined grades.  Each year I had anywhere from 10% to 25% ELLs in my classroom.  Each of my schools was assigned an ESL itinerant teacher.  My first two schools used a withdrawal model.  The students met one block per week with the ESL teacher in another classroom.  Students were often pulled out during the Language Block. My third school had an ESL teacher who was comfortable with co-teaching, co-planning and collaboration.  We would often meet to go over the STEP framework to determine which next steps were beneficial for our ELLs.   I prefer the inclusive model.  My students thrived this way.  Most of the time, the itinerant was able to support the activities presented by scaffolding for the ELL student.  She also rotated her scheduling to work with the students during other subjects.
We tried to work on cross-curricular activities that blended in well with our Language block. My third school had evidence that “the success of ELL inclusion depends on the full and consistent pedagogical and attitudinal commitment of all educators.” (p. 8)  In this case, the school did.  Although our instructional leader was not an ESL specialist, he did meet with the itinerant teacher,classroom teacher and resource teacher each term to go over class profiles.  Additional support systems, if warranted, were put in place.   These included support of an interpreter, MLO, speech therapist, psychologist or itinerant resource teacher if needed.
A question comes to mind after thinking about the three schools I taught at. How could I begin to initiate a collaborative approach to inclusive learning opportunities for ELLs?
Another question has me questioning the different approaches to ESL teaching. How do I in my new role as ESL consultant begin to support the 30 itinerant teachers in developing strategies for inclusive programming?  In other words, how am I going to put research into practice?
Thinking of the two schools in the article and their approaches, they had strong instructional leaders who brought a wealth of knowledge, were able to access resources, funding and build communities with release time, teacher voice, parent partnerships and community involvement. “Their example brings hope and clarity to the field by redefining integrated, inclusive services for ELLs and promoting the ongoing evolution of socially just ways to meet the needs of ELLs and their families.” (p. 36)  
Article: Theoharis & O’Toole, “Leading Inclusive ELL: Social Justice Leadership for English Language Learners.” Educational Administration Quarterly, Queen’s University, 2011.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Build a Positive Classroom Community

This is a repost about one of my favourite ways to build a classroom community:

Two years ago, I decided to implement something in my classroom that changed the classroom community.  We had kindness week and things just didn't resonate with the students like I thought they would.  So, I brought in my Blessings Jar: It was a simple empty jar decorated with a label and glued on buttons.  It was what was inside that became the thing that my classroom needed:  validation of students from one another and to each other.  

Students were asked to notice things during the day that made them feel blessed.  They would then write them down and place them in the jar.  At the end of the week during our class meetings, we would open the jar and read the blessings.   

We then gathered the blessings and placed them into categories.  This was a great way to incorporate math into our lesson as well.  Just click on the image to download your own copy of the blessings jar templates. All you need is a jar!

Friday, 14 July 2017

Back to School Mega Giveaway!

Fancy winning some extra spending money to help you purchase everything you need for your 2017-18 classroom? I have teamed up with a group of amazing teachers for a giveaway pack:

PRIZES INCLUDE 1 x $200 TPT Giftcard. 1 x $200 Amazon Giftcard, 1 x $25 Starbucks Giftcard, and 1 x $15 Starbucks Giftcard!

Starts: Friday 14th July 2017 12am

Ends: Saturday 21st July 2017 12am

Just enter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway