Volume 10 No 2 Spriing 2014
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Tips for the ESL Classroom



Four Free Web Tools to Boost Student Engagement

There is ample evidence that when meaningful instruction designed by the teacher is combined with motivational tool technologies, students' cognitive, emotional, and behavioral engagement can be significantly increased - more than technology could ever achieve alone. Motivational tool technologies, amongst others, possess certain key characteristics. This website lists some examples of free motivational tool technologies that meet these criteria.
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Teaching Informational Text to ELLs

The Common Core State Standards emphasize teaching “informational” or nonfiction text. This shift to using more informational text is tricky enough for all students, but it becomes especially challenging for ELLs due to its distinct features such as assumption of background knowledge and use of complex academic language.

The CCSS guiding documents lay out the balance of fiction to nonfiction text, and suggest the use of 50 percent informational text/50 percent fiction in the elementary school years. This percentage increases to 70 percent informational text/30 percent fiction for students by high school. The reason behind this shift to include more informational text at the K-12 level is because college students and individuals in careers are more likely to work with informational text such as research briefs and reports than fictional texts. Due in part to their emphasis on using complex, informational text, the CCSS are said to better prepare students to meet the demands of college and the modern workplace.

The two websites cited below provide valuable information about teaching informational text and increasing ELL student reading comprehension with non-fiction text.
Teaching Informational Text to ELLs   Part 1    Part 2
Increasing ELL Student Reading Comprehension with Non-fiction Text


Back to the Basics: Typing Practice

Tara Arntsen teaches in an intensive English program where students aspire to obtain a college degree. She says it makes sense for her students to improve their typing skills since very little of what they produce in writing will be done by hand and poor typing can really slow one down. She shares and easy-to-use web site where students can practive improving typing at their own speed.
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10 Social Media Tips for Reaching Language Learners

Droning on and on about grammatical structures is a surefire way to quickly lose student interest in the world language classroom. Instead, embrace something which truly interests the millennial student: social media. Utilizing it in the classroom will give your students practical, engaging ways to communicate in the language you teach. The 21st century learner is not wired to memorize; instead, her or she is inclined to create, connect and collaborate. Social media is the perfect medium for us, their teachers, to reach them.
Here are ten ideas to get you started on your journey toward not becoming the classroom dinosaur you may have feared becoming.
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English-Language Learners and Academic Language

Helping English-language learners develop proficiency in academic language has always been a priority for K-12 educators, and its importance has only been heightened with the advent of the Common Core. To better understand academic language, it is important to examine the distinction between two terms introduced by Jim Cummins: basic interpersonal communicative skills (BICS) and cognitive academic language proficiency (CALP). BICS are listening and speaking skills that students tend to acquire quickly in a new language (within the first couple of years) in order to communicate in social situations, such as asking someone for directions.

Acquiring CALP usually takes between five and seven years to develop -- longer for students with less native language proficiency. Lectures, class discussions, research projects and skills (summarizing, analyzing, extracting and interpreting meaning; evaluating evidence; composing; and editing) require CALP. This web site suggests various ways to help ELLs learn academic vocabulary.
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ELL Content Mastery through Best Practices of Learning

Lesson implementation for English language acquisition must use effective pedagogical practices for teaching ELLs. For learning and comprehension to unfold, it is imperative to understand best practices for instruction and learning.
Some best practices for the teaching and learning of ELLs includes: comprehensible input, modeling, guided instruction, collaborative learning and independent practice. Curriculum writer Beth Crumpler takes a closer look at those five areas.

She concludes that Mindset change and personal support
In this world of fast-changing and complex technology, there are many individuals who do not want to learn how to use technology. People of all ages can learn how to use technology for curriculum design. It involves a mindset from transformation from "I can't do it" to "I can." Beth Crumpler is an ESL freelance curriculum writer, e-learning content developer and instructor. Learning takes time and patience. Often individuals do not have the time to learn how to use technology tools for adaptive means. School districts, supervisors and the like should create professional development time and training to teach teachers how to use technology for creating curriculum, supplementing and/or modifying existing curriculum to use with ESL students.
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Co-constructing Knowledge: Ways to Give Your Students More Voice and Choice


UCLA Graduate School of Education instructor and literacy specialist Rebecca Alber says the idea of co-constructing knowledge with students can be a scary thing for many teachers. She continues: "The age-old role of teacher as orator, director, sage has been handed down for centuries and most of us grew up as students looking to teachers in this way. It's hard to shake.
Co-constructing knowledge means giving up the myself and them role of teacher and students and fully embracing the wonder and journey of us."

She proposes five ways to transform the learning space you share with students into a place where you serve often as facilitator and guide -- and when needed and necessary, as presenter or instructor. She adds: "Less teacher talk and more student-centered learning makes for a happy, healthy, and productive learning environment."
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