Thursday, April 23, 2015

One Note for the Classroom Tutorial

How much paper do you use on a weekly basis? A daily basis? In my classroom, I use none.  Zero. Zilch. How do I do it? I use One Note.  One Note is a Microsoft Office program which acts like a 3 ring binder.  All the teachers in my school have used One Note for lesson plans and curriculum for about 3 years, and this year grades 3-8 were given access as well.

I'll start by showing you how I organize my lesson plans.  Since I teach multiple grades, I create a simple table that I can forward to administration.  The links lead to other pages within my Lesson Plan notebook.

Once you click the link, you are taken to a specific plan.

The scroll bar on the right (yellow) makes it easy for me to keep all the handouts and supplementary materials I need right next to the lesson plan.  Once I've collected all the materials I'm going to use in a lesson, I decide which ones to place into the notebook I share with my students.

There are quite a few ways to input documents into One Note.  The two ways I use most are below:

Click on Insert, then file printout.  Then you can choose your file to print the same way you would choose an attachment for an email.


In the print dialogue box, switch the printer to Print to One Note, then click print.

A dialogue box will pop up in One Note asking you where you'd like to place the document.  

If you create a class notebook through Office 365, you have the option to create a "handouts" space and a "collaboration" space.  Here's the difference: all students in that notebook can SEE and COPY from the "handouts" space, but can only edit in the collaboration space.  My classes mostly use the "handouts" space, which I call Student Work.  In Student Work, I have tabs for each subject I teach.  Along the right side are all the materials I've placed in that tab.

Once I copy and paste a worksheet into Student Work, I model for and tell my students which tab to go to.  I'll say, "Go to Student Work, Reading."  Once there, I show them the page they need to copy.  I try to always make it the one on the bottom of the scroll bar to make it easy. From there, students copy and paste the page into their own personal notebook, which only the student and I can see.

After copying the page into their notebook, students can use their finger, a stylus, or the keyboard to write and draw on their tablets.  We have Dell Pro tablets, but we have also used Surface RT's.  One Note is also accessible as an app for iPads.

To grade work, I simply access each student's notebook and find the page I need, then mark up as necessary.  This is quite tedious, as you have to go in and out of each notebook and find the tab and page you want.  Some teachers have their students email the page they've worked on, but I haven't tried that yet.

  • Pros of using One Note: 
    • we save lots of paper
    • it's extremely easy for modifications and organization
    • students are learning to use technology in the most efficient and effective way

  • Cons of using One Note: 
    • the grading process is not simple
    • it does take some getting used to for new students or faculty
    •  you are limited to printable-type resources (no interactive notebooks, flip books, or lap books)

If you'd like to learn more about using One Note in the classroom, send me an email! I'm happy to answer any questions you have.  Are you already using One Note? Let me know how you are using it in your own classroom!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Funniest English Teacher Video...Ever!

Do you teach English? Or English as a Second Language? Do you need a laugh?

I implore you to watch these hilarious videos of an "English teacher" in Thailand.  My ESL students shared them with me, and we spent quite a few minutes laughing our heads off.

The majority of the videos is in Thai, but you will understand a lot of it- do yourself a favor and watch, then tell me what you think!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Articulation Games for English Language Learners

In my position as an ESL teacher, I wear several hats: counselor, coach, social worker, and speech therapist.  I'm in no way certified in speech pathology (unless you count the one course I slept through took in linguistics) but we all know that when duty calls, teachers rise to the occasion.

Several of my lower-proficient ELL's have been really struggling to produce basic sounds, let alone full on words or sentences.  Some jumble through phrases, requiring multiple repetitions to be understood. Others get stuck in the middle of a sentence, not recalling what they've already said and therefore not knowing how to go on.  There are plenty of reasons for all of these examples: lack of first language (L1) proficiency, bilingual transfer (when words are forgotten in one language as the other gets stronger), or a speech disability which prevents the child from producing sounds in any language.

I decided to try to tackle these issues by mixing the bit I know about speech therapy with current trends in language acquisition theory.  I play a lot of conversational speaking games in my classes on a regular basis, but realized that I need a more targeted and intense focus for some of my Level 1 and 2 speakers, thus, my Articulation Games were born!

In these games, students can work on the goals and objectives that best suit their speaking needs.  For my lowest proficient students, I had them say/repeat the word, then identify it in the picture.  For my higher proficient students, I asked them to describe the word they landed on.  I included challenge cards (not pictured) which are great open-ended and higher level thinking questions.

Yes, we are using Christmas erasers. Yes, it's April.  #whateverworks
 Since my school is paperless, I simply printed the PDF into our file-sharing program called One Note, and my students were able to access it.  For a whole-group game, I displayed the game board on my white board, and each student had a different colored magnet to use as a marker.

 Our articulations and descriptive sentences started out low and slow, but soon gained momentum after plenty of modeling from me.

The current trends in ELL focus on learning language through the content area, and this is a great way to put that theory into practice. The language in these games all revolves around things we see in the spring, and touches on some science concepts.   

I was so pleased with the progress my students made in their speaking after just one class period!  We went from "Grass green." to, "The grass is green.  We walk on it."  If you're interested in trying these games out with your own ELL's or speech therapy students, click on any picture to head to my TPT store! 

 I'd love to give one away! Just leave me some love in the comments and I'll choose a winner on Thursday. Make sure to leave your email!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Currently April

Hooray for April! I'm starting off the month with Spring Break, so I know it will be a great month.  Here's what's up for this month's currently.

First of all, how cute are those chicks? I love the way they're all lined up.

1. I like to start off my morning with some "mood" music.  Not that kind of mood! I choose my Pandora station based on what the day will bring.  If we're doing presentations, I put on Broadway.  If we're working on a project, I put on Top Hits so we can move and groove.  If we're taking a test, I put on classical.  Today is the last day before Spring Break, so I put on some good old Jimmy Buffett and the Beach Boys to get us in the mood for warmer weather.

2. Spring Break.  Starts today.  Hallelujah.

3. Next week I'll be taking the exam (kind of like a Praxis) to become a Principal.  Next week I will also start studying.  I have terrible-awful study skills and prefer to take tests cold.  But this test cost $425 so you bet your bottom dollar that I will be studying. 

4. I have plans here and there for Spring Break, but thankfully my week isn't too packed.  I already have Sunday night blues and it hasn't even started yet!

5. I keep saying, "I'll just paint my own toes."  Never happens.  And really, they do such a much better job than I do!

6.  Although I currently teach ESL, I won't be a teacher forever, and I think my blog name will suit my career as an administrator as well.

That's it for me!  Link up with Fabulous Farley for your Currently!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Spring Resource Roundup and Giveaway!

Happy Spring!

I'm hopping by to share some of my favorite resources for the spring, and to do a little giveaway because my birthday is coming up and, well, why not?!

Read through the descriptions and then enter the giveaway at the bottom.  Click any picture to see the preview at TPT.

1. Many of my ELL's are unfamiliar with major US sporting events.  This set of reading passages covers the major events throughout the year, including March Madness and the Stanley Cup,

2. I usually teach about hibernation during the fall, but I like to teach about habitats during the spring.  I find the forest habitat easiest to teach about, since we can go take a nature walk in the trees right near our school.  Do you desert-dwellers feel the same about your own habitat?

3. Spring fever- it is contagious.  Scientifically proven by teachers around the world.  If your classroom is in need of a little mid-year management, check these out! They are completely editable!

4.  I love teaching about seasons, months, and weather.  My littles often come to me with no sense of  the chronological passing of time, so this unit can get pretty in depth! I find myself referencing some of these pages every time the seasons change.  

5.  I love doing author studies at the end of the year, especially after testing.  It's so comforting to kick back with a bunch of books and do some research, knowing that the testing is behind us and we can focus on the good stuff!

6. March is Women's History Month, and if your learners are on the older/more proficient side, this diary is just the ticket.  It chronicles three American female spies.  

7. This pack came out of desperation, and the realization that Main Idea, Theme, and Cause & Effect were skills that were sorely lacking from my ELLs' reading skills.  So I spent one spring break working day and night on passages, stories, and posters that would put them on the reading trinity fast track.  I pull from this unit all the time! 

There you have it! My spring must-haves.  Now it's your turn- tell me what your spring must haves are (they can be products, clothes, food, anything) and then enter the giveaway below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

5 Speaking Activities for English Language Learners

English Language Learners are assessed in the 4 language domains: reading, writing, listening, and speaking.  They get great exposure to reading, writing, and listening in their content classes, but speaking practice is usually regulated to social conversations with peers or a simple answer given to a teacher. Many times, ELL's trick their teachers into believing they are more proficient than they are with a high level of social language, but falter when it comes to speaking academically.  Think: can your student hold an extended conversation with his peers beyond playground talk?  More importantly, can he hold an extended conversation with a teacher?  How can we encourage our ELL's to speak at a higher academic level?  Practice.  Lots and lots of practice.

It takes time, patience, and persistence, but getting your ELL students to speak academically can be done! Here are some ways we practice social and academic language;

 1. 10 Finger Sentences: I ask a social question like, "What did you do last weekend," or an academic question like, "Explain how a frog is different than a toad." Students use their fingers to count out their words and revise their sentence.  5 fingers works, too- it can be a challenge or a modification.

2. Picture prompts: I use these for speaking and writing.  Most often, I will project an image and have students discuss it, then write about it.  We use sentence frames (below) and the 10 fingers strategy to structure our speaking.

3. Headbandz: We LOVE this game!  In my room, students use a picture dictionary open to the category page to help narrow down the possibilities.  This game is great for answering and asking questions.  Students ask things like, "Am I a mammal?" or "Can I swim?"  Other students answer in a complete sentence: "No, you are not a mammal."

4. Guess Who: Another game that's great for answering and asking questions.  It's mostly for facial features and accessories, but I stress asking and answering in complete sentences.

Hasbro 05801 Guess Who

5. Would You Rather: These quick questions are great for warm-ups, closures, and those extra minutes before the bell rings.  Questions can be related to holidays, current events, school subjects, basically anything!   If the question is, "Would you rather be a hippopotamus or a rhinoceros,"  my students must answer like this: "I would rather be a hippo because....".  This opens up the floor to discussion, especially when there are differing opinions.  I usually ask a question off the top of my head, but there are PLENTY of ideas floating around pinterest- just search Would You Rather Questions.

Young Teacher Love: Beginning of the Year Team Building Updates!
Source: Young Teacher Love
These are just some of the tricks I have up my sleeve: we do a lot of fun speaking activities to practice, and I'm always adding to my arsenal. I want my students to learn to speak naturally, rather than Plus, if I'm not having fun, they're not having fun!  What are some ways you encourage your students to use social and academic language?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Higher Level Question Stems for ELL's

We all want to ask higher level thinking questions in class, but sometimes we find ourselves hesitant to call on our ELL's.  Or, we find ourselves simply asking basic questions in order to include the whole class.  I bet you're used to thinking about how to differentiate the activities in your lesson, but have you spent time thinking about how to differentiate your direct instruction? Small group or whole group, teachers spend a lot of time asking questions- but are your questions reaching all your learners?

Making higher level questions applicable for all learners IS possible!  As noted in this article, there's no need for teachers to shy away from higher level questioning, as long as there is an understanding of student proficiency levels.  That sounds very nice, but how are busy classroom teachers to understand proficiency levels in the first place?  The answer? Use a map.

I have a student who is a solid Level 1.5, another student who is spot-on Level 3, and one who fluctuates between Level 1 and Level 3, depending on the day.  This is just a guide, so don't worry if yours don't match up perfectly!  

How can I use this to drive my higher level questioning? For starters, keep this map handy when planning lessons or activities.  Stick it in your teacher binder or save it to your desktop.  When planning, you can even group your students by color or level, which will make differentiating your questions easier.  Do you have any observations coming up? If you are using the Danielson model of evaluation, you'll be familiar with Domain 3b: Questioning and Discussion Techniques.  If you are using the Marzano framework for evaluation, you're probably thinking about Domain 1, Element 40: Asking questions of low-expectancy students.  Use these charts to show your administrators how you're designing effective questioning!

Once you are familiar with your students' proficiency levels, the questioning will come easily.  You'll be able to quickly see who needs to move up or down a level as the year progresses.  Having my questions broken up into groups will allow me to differentiate my activities by proficiency as well.  

I'll be sharing this with the teachers in my district, and I hope you can use it with yours! Free to pin, save, and share!  If you have questions about using the chart, send me an email or leave them in the comments.  

What strategies do you use to differentiate your questions? I'd love to know!