Sunday, February 21, 2016

10 Things You May Not Know

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I love to teach because I love to learn. And it's that love of learning that anchors me in my role. In every unit I teach, there's always something new for me. It's not uncommon for me to plan a lesson or unit, only for it prompt a blog post or a presentation idea - which is precisely what I'm sharing today.
Some of my high school ELLs recently read a passage from titled "Ten Things You May Not Know About Martin Luther King Jr."  The passage jumpstarted a unit that helped my students develop not only reading skills but also listening, speaking and writing as it culminated with an oral presentation.  And for me, it sparked my own  "10 Things You May Not Know" presentation idea about ELLs.
Here's how it went. First, students read the passage in small groups. The more proficient learners engaged in academic conversations as they reviewed a few multiple choice and short answer questions while I worked directly with emergent readers. Reading comprehension was assessed with a 3-2-1 summary. Students were asked to write three things they learned, two things they found especially interesting, and one thing they didn't understand or had a question about.  I have used that simple summarizing strategy often and find it very effective in assessing comprehension, simple enough for even a beginner to complete. They also used Quizlet for learning and reviewing new vocabulary.
For the "10 Things You May Not Know" project, students were asked to present on the topic of their choice, using the presentation tool of their choice. Most of them used, as I had recently introduced the tool in class. One of them created a Kahoot and another used Keynote. Topics ranged from themselves to their native country and other random topics, but they all tied in nicely with the reading passage about Dr. King.

As I graded their work, I was prompted to create my own "10 Things You May Not Know" project on commonly held myths and stereotypes about ELLs, and created the Emaze presentation embedded below. The points are based on frequent comments and questions from fellow educators as well as the community at large.

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I invite you to share this presentation if you feel so inclined and encourage you to join me in debunking widely held beliefs about English Language Learners, particularly if you are privileged to have them in your classroom.

Whether working with ELLs or any other student population, we must avoid making stereotypical assumptions at all cost.  In order to meet our students' needs, we must ask questions and listen closely in order to learn about their individual needs.  Not only does one size not fit all, in many cases one size does not fit most.

Bottom line...keep an open mind and an open heart. Those ELLs in your care are precious gems. Some may be diamonds in the rough right now, yet with a little support and understanding, they will soon shine brightly.


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