I plan to teach new material in the final couple of months of my career as an ELL classroom teacher. To this end I ordered 2 books.
1. So much has been written lately on learning how to learn and how to revise: the myth of the ubiquitous yellow highlighter and simply rereading the texts. I will present my ELLs as well as my 9th grade Skills class with a compilation of revision suggestions. In order to create a list of all lists, I have begun reading make it stick: The Science of Successful Learning.
2. My ELL Writing Workshop includes assignments such as composing a rambling autobiography, a poem to a friend, the perfect focused paragraph, as well as creating a compelling P.S.A. I decided that both my students and I need a new challenge – to write an essay. To help me with this I bought The Journey is Everything – Teaching Essays that Students Want to Write for People who want to Read Them. I look forward to our journey.
I was always very proud of my hanging files of laminated images of clothing, climate, and food which I used when I taught French as a foreign language. Back in the day. I never thought twice about showing a print of a Matisse painting to practice creating dialogues on hobbies.
However, although I decorate my class room with various prints, postcards and original student art and photographs; I hardly ever use them as a springboard to discussion in my intermediate to advanced ELL courses.
Until I read the following:
By the way, over the years Jeff Wilhelm’s ideas have greatly inspired my teaching which, of course, benefit my students’ learning.
We are currently reading American Born Chinese by G.L.Yang, and Wilhelm’s lesson plan on visuals and identity seemed taylor-made for our discussions on growing up. The students completed a see, think, wonder chart, and I was surprised at how much guidance they needed in ‘close’ reading of an image even though we’d already practiced noticing detail in photographs.
My takeaway was obvious. There is a need for more analysis of visuals. I have chosen several images to promote thinking and writing on how culture shapes who we are. I am looking forward to a lively discussion. My students from countries such as France, Spain, Angola, Russia and South Korea are well aware of the small changes they have had to make in order to fit in to an American international school.
The final resource to help me upgrade my ELL Writer’s Workshop has arrived
The first quarter has been spent on short, personal narratives and poems. We will now focus on the more formal persuasive writing, and I noticed that Chapter 4 (p.97) is devoted to those writing moves.
I look forward to providing feedback other than “How can you develop this idea?”
Very often, some of my students are in ELL Reading and Writing for 3 semesters. This means that I must build a repertoire of engaging texts as well as writing assignments.
This year I have added a few exciting resources to help me upgrade my Writing Workshop: Texts and Lessons for Content-Area Writing by Nancy Steineke and Harvey Smokey Daniels, the latest edition of Nancy Atwell’s In The Middle and Linda Rief’s Read Write Teach. In addition, I am following a great new blog: Two Writing Teachers. There is one more resource on the way. But more of that when it arrives.
We always break open our new composition books with lists of topics the students are interested in exploring and writing about – Atwell’s writing territories. However, this year they wrote their first list on a territory map – a place that has become their own, personal space: bedroom, basketball court, beach and book shelves
For the first couple of assignments, to get the ideas flowing and build confidence, the students chose topics from their territories. I now call these assignments A Slice of Life which is a delightful idea I read about in Two Writing Teachers’ blog. We even display an anchor chart so the students can easily refer to the expectations of this assignment.
I then looked to Steineke and Daniels for ideas on first writing assignments.
A getting to know you interview (p.26). This was a timely assignment since we had just discussed how asking high level questions deepens thinking, discussion and understanding complex texts. This was a perfect assignment to begin generating interesting, high level questions.
Students charted their own identity maps (p.32) and even managed to surprise each other with some of their personality traits.
Finally, they wrote a random autobiography.
How do you awaken the writing muse?
I wrote 4 summer reading lists.
- PD Reads
Texts and Lessons f0r Content-Area Writing by N.Steineke and H.Daniels
Visible Learning for Literacy by D.Fisher, N.Frey and J.Hattie
as well as:
140 Twitter Tips for Educators which is on my kindle.
I have downloaded The teacher’s Guide to Tech by Jennifer Gonzalez and an e Book Jump In. Great teaching begins in the Pool by Ruth Ayres
2. YA Reads
I know that I must do more than just read reviews about trending YA books. In order to guide my ELLs to books they’ll enjoy; I will read the books first in order to create intriguing book talks. So here are my summer YA reads.
3. Personal Reads
I cleared my book shelves recently and am still left with 2 shelves (plus a list of crime/thriller, comfort reading books on my Kindle) that I want to curl up with in my armchair. What a choice!
Harry Potter is there because I’d like to reread the magic.
4. My read aloud list for my granddaughter
The greatest pleasure. Emily’s book shelves are filling up very quickly.