Friday, October 19, 2012

Grab Bag

Here is a fun and easy activity to help your language learning students practice using describing words or adjectives.
  1. Gather several bags of many sizes. The bags should be opaque so students cannot see through them. I usually can find fun bags in the dollar section of Target or you might check at your local dollar store.
  2. Gather items from around your classroom, school, or home. Be sure the items can fit comfortably inside a bag. You will need one item per bag. Try to find items that have interesting textures.
    Here are the items I used: teddy bear, keys, plastic fork, roll of toliet paper, toy car
  3. Label each bag with a number for easy identification.
  4. Prepare a simple T chart. I like to create a digital version like this one or you can use an online version like this one. One side should be labeled "It is" and the other side should be labeled "It has."
  5. I like to lay some basic ground rules for this activity because students get excited and can get silly. Here are my rules that we go over before starting.
  6. Now it is time for the fun! Pick a bag to start with. One at a time, students will reach their hand into the bag to feel the object inside. They will think of one adjective to describe the object. Students will need to decide which side of the T chart their adjectives belongs. You could do this part several ways. I like to have students come up to the computer and type their adjectives in the appropriate box. You could also have them write their adjectives on sticky notes and add to a paper chart or digital chart projected on a screen. The student then has to read their sentence. Examples: It is furry. It has a tail. I also like to have students make the T chart on paper or on white boards to help keep track of ideas.
  7. After all students have had a turn, as a group you should review all the adjectives. Tell students that these are all clues to help them figure out what is inside. Students will then write a sentence telling what they think is inside the bag. Ex: I think there is a bear inside the bag.
  8. Finally, we open the bag and see who guessed correctly! The class goes wild and we have a good five minute chat about what we thought it was and why, if we were wrong or right and why, and the importance of adjectives to give us information.
  9. If time, repeat with a new bag!
The students always have a great time with this lesson and it takes hardly any time at all to put together. This is one of my most requested activities. It is so simple to switch out the bags for new items. I thought for next time to have students bring in a secret object to share. How fun would that be! :D

Friday, October 12, 2012

Can You? Yes, I Can!

Person #1:   ______, can you ____________________?
(Insert the student's name and some kind of activity that the student can do. Here are some ideas: hop, skip, do jumping jacks, growl like a bear, find the letter T, point to your ear, crawl, etc. You get the point!)
Person #2: Yes, I can ____________________!
(This person should answer and repeat what was requested of them. Then they will do the activity.

#1: Juan, can you touch your toes?
#2: Yes, I can touch my toes! (and then he shows me)

This is a great simple activity to use with language learning students. With this activity we practice a lot of different communication skills. One of the hardest things for kids, especially young ones and language learners, is answering a question in a complete sentence. I bet you have heard this before. How are you? Good. We should really be encouraging our students to speak in full sentences even to answer a question. I like to write the sentence frame on a sentence strip and then laminate it so we can reuse it. We can then write the name and activity on the sentence strip, and then read what we wrote. Then we can erase and think of another activity. Be sure that students get the opportunity to ask and answer questions during this activity. Also, it is a good idea to have a list of actions or activities for students to choose from in case they get stuck. Sometimes it is hard to come up with ideas off the top of your head!

Here are the skills we practice with this simple activity:
  • Orally asking questions
  • Orally answering questions in complete sentences
  • Exchange of dialogue between two people
  • Sentence structure and grammar
  • Listening comprehension
  • Speaking with expression

Friday, October 05, 2012

Tech Week & Leaves!

This week I introduced a few cool tech learning tools to my students. Third, fourth, and fifth graders worked on Pirate Pad. If you have ever used EtherPad or Titan Pad, Pirate Pad is pretty much the same. Here is the link to one of the 4th grade pads. It is an online collaborative writing platform. We were fortunate enough to have 3 laptops available for student use this week. The students thought it was so cool that we could write to each other and see what others were writing instantly. They thought we were "chatting" which made it even more fun. I am not sure how reliable Pirate Pad will be. We did have a few connection issues. I know Google Docs has a collaborative element, so I may try using that next time. With this one tech tool students were spelling, forming sentences, asking questions, rereading their own writing, reading others' writing, using capitalization/punctuation, practicing their typing skills, AND working together as a group. All that in one thirty minute session! That makes this teacher happy! :D

First and second graders experienced Sound Cloud this week. On this site, you can record any sound and have it available immediately for playback. The possibilities are endless with this kind of application. Since it was their first time using this program, students simply introduced themselves. They got such a kick out of hearing their own voices! There was a lot of  giggling! I will be using this tool to record student oral reading, discussions, even sound effects for books and stories. 

My intensive groups that I meet with several times a week created books this week. Each group had a different poem about Autumn. We worked on visualizing the words in the poem, and then illustrated the different lines of the poem. We will turn these into our first homemade books of the year! I love making books with my students! It is so personal and meaningful to them AND it gives me an opportunity to use my creative juices! We then used Sound Cloud to record our voices saying each line from the poem. I put their pictures together with their narration to make a movie. I have the Kindergarten movie done and am still working on First and Third Grades. I am so happy with how it turned out! I can't wait to show the kids on Monday! :D  ( YouTube link: Leaves by Kindergarten )

Note: I used iMovie to create the videos. Apparently when putting a title slide at the end or beginning of a movie, you cannot change the background color. I wanted a white title slide at the beginning of the movie, but it would not let me change it from black. Hmmm....I like my customization iMovie! I could also create slideshows with SlideRocket or find another program that lets me do what I want! Anyway, it is all good! :D

Monday, October 01, 2012

Third Type of Student Response: Question

Last Monday, we had a professional development day at Lakeland High School. We worked in teams to create SLOs and worked on self-evaluations. It was great to have a day to catch up on all the paperwork. Wednesday we had an ENL meeting after school. I am excited about some upcoming ENL conferences. The first one is next Saturday, October 6th. I will be driving down to Indy for the INTESOL conference. It will be great to collaborate with other ENL educators! It was a short week, but it was very full!

This week, I introduced the third and final (as of right now :P) structured student response: question. By far, this response was the most challenging for students. Students are very often brimming with questions, but when requesting questions about a certain topic or about what we just heard, students were not sure where to start. I am going to reteach this student response and give students more practice with it next week. The whole point of question is to get students to think about where their prior knowledge and experiences END. We have finite knowledge and question helps us to find out more.

Question - I want to know more.
Left hand pointer finger points to the top middle of your head. Right hand pointer finger points to your belly button. When I look at you, I should "see" a question mark.There are several types of questions; factual, clarifying, opinion. Factual questions can be found right in the text or by asking a person directly. What color is Greg's hat? We can find that answer by looking at his hat. The answer is right there. Clarifying questions are asked when we heard or read something, but don't understand it. Where does my homework go? Opinion questions are asked when we want to know what someone thinks. Do you like spinach? There is no right or wrong answer here, but just a personal viewpoint.

For this first introduction, we mostly focused on factual and opinion questions. We looked at different question words that can start a sentence; who, what, where, when, why, how, do, did, does, can, may, are, etc. Click here for my question word cards. Students practiced asking each other questions and forming answers for those questions. We also worked on follow-up questions if we want even more information. We looked at different ending marks used for question and statement sentences.

Up next: Technoloy Week - I will be using computers in my lessons all week next week. Stay tuned for cool tech tool links!