I can see clearer now the mist is lifting

I have retired from the classic classroom but not from teaching.  So I am in the process of reinventing myself as an online and social media ELL teacher.

I use different resources to help me kick-start into my new role.   But more about that in future posts.

Over the years, Michael, one of our school’s tech experts, has helped me with my social media projects.  The first one was this blog, Teach Well Tomorrow.    After retiring, he suggested I morph the blog.

Finally, after a year and a half of searching for purpose and relevance, the ‘ah ha’ moment came to me this morning.   I finished reading Pamela Paul’s wonderful article in the New York Times about allowing kids to be boredRaising my eyes to the top of the page, I noticed Roger Cohen’s opinion piece: The harm in hustle culture  on the homogenization of our lives.  In Carol Jago’s teaching terminology, these articles would be ‘paired’ texts. I smiled.

As my grandson would say: “I got it!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Final Lesson: What’s The Big Idea for Romeo and Juliet?

It was fitting that my final ELL Reading lesson should be taken from What’s the Big Idea by  my long distance mentor, Jim Burke.

I followed Burke’s discussion plan.  We held a lively ‘Conversational Roundtable’ on the relationships in Romeo and Juliet as a review for the final exam.  The students could easily relate to the relationships: parent-child, romantic, friends and mentor-child.  We looked for what rules were common to all the relationships. We discussed  the differences.  However, the harder question was how these relationships shape our identity.  By then the students were getting a little tired, looking forward to their summer break.

I also used question prompts such as:

Does X have a right to …?

Why did Y behave as she/he did?

 

 

 

Romeo and Juliet – the final unit

I decided to end my final year of teaching with a challenge for me as well as my ELLs.  I hoped Shakespeare’s  play with its eternal themes of relationships would act as a bridge for entering regular English 10.

It was fun.  I taught out of my comfort zone, knowing the students would have to spend most of the time acting.  The students rapped one of Juliet’s soliloquies, mimed cooking , ironing and folding laundry while acting.  They certainly got into the rhythm of the play.

 

Romeo and Juliet – a review before final

I invited Gadi for our second drama workshop to help my ELLs review the big ideas of the play for their final.

Students made a list of their favorite scenes,  got into  groups , rehearsed their scenes using the original text,  and finally acted them out.

The directions were that  when the students acted the scenes in chronological order, they would create a summary of the big ideas of the play.  They had only 20 minutes to prepare.

Gadi asked them one guiding question:

What do the characters want?

 

Using ‘Guernica’ to Promote Visible Thinking and Discussion

As we were finishing Ishmael Beah’s powerful memoir A Long Way Gone; I remembered Picasso’s Guernica.

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So I decided to guide our discussion of one of the final chapters (2nd draft reading (Kelly Gallagher) by using visible thinking prompts in order to analyze the painting:

What do you see, think and wonder?

Students worked in groups as they thoughtfully studied the painting, and responded to each other’s comments.

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This was a different, rich pairing of texts.

I wish I’d had this Ted lesson to enrich and deepen the students’ understanding of the painting.

 

 

Your One Word and One Sentence

During an ELL Writers’ Workshop, we answered the following questions:

Who are we and what do we believe in?

I followed Larry Ferlazzo’s lesson plan and the results were revealing.

Some students found it frustrating to ‘arrive’ at their word by completing the 3 part Venn diagram.  However, those who persevered were surprised that ‘visible thinking’ helped them identify their word.

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The students then went on to come up with a sentence that encapsulates what they’d like people to say about them.  Once again, I followed Ferlazzo’s lesson design.  Students commented that they are too young, don’t yet know what they want to do, and don’t see themselves as having accomplished much in their lives. After a discussion, gentle prodding and encouragement; they realized that they have passions and beliefs.

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One student came to her ‘ah ha’ moment only after her friends reminded her that, although she is now in 9th grade,  she still regales them with stories from 6th grade. She laughed and willingly agreed to their/her one sentence:

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I find it amusing that her one word is ‘journey’.