Wednesday, September 23, 2009

personally, drowning

Hey folks. Sorry for such delays. As you know, life gets in the way. I guess I'm not such a fantastic regular blogger; but I'm trying. Either way, as the title suggests, I'm personally drowning. I feel a little suffocated by my middle school class, to be honest. It's my own difficulties with timing, but other than that, I'm pretty ok in how I deal with things. There's lots of work that I'm lacking (how to guide my high schoolers and middle schoolers towards interpreting their own data as an interim assessment for that matter. Maybe I'll work on that soon?), and I'm feeling like I'm not quite sure what to do about it. Prepare, prepare, prepare, I suppose.

In general, my main concern is that I have ESL/ELL students who are having an eternal struggle with expressing their thoughts. So, I put it out to my educator folk: does any know any strategies for helping students put together sentences? It's just incredible how difficult it is--you try and use sentence starters, and they don't even know what those mean, for that matter!

So, again, the question: how much do you allow the student (how much lee-way), and how much do you allow them to try and figure out for themselves?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

my life is a little like this....

xkcd--a webcomic for the math and otherwise hilarious oriented.

finally, students

Sorry for such a delay. It's hard updating your blog when you're a new teacher and so much is on your plate. So, I'll be a bit brief.

After what seemed like an unending frustration, I finally have 9th graders. I've been struggling, however, with catching them up to things that I myself don't seem to have a complete grasp on. I've started them on their journey toward figuring out what Read 180 is, and have begun their study (read: boring video and some made-up activities that really are not very lively and make me feel quite unprepared...RtD needs to rev things up a bit!) of the different rotations (reading, small group, and computers). But, making those activities original is a bit of a difficult challenge sometimes.

Either way, the middle school class is moving, and I think tomorrow I need to take some time to go over certain things that I missed when I laid out the explanation of the rotations. It's difficult, because things keep popping up that I never really was told about. I should change my blog name to..."Things I've Never Been Told About, But Now Have to Include in My Teaching Routine..." or something.

Anyways, something that seemed to work today is my small group with the ELL/ESL students. I ran around and around because suddenly new students are being added to my roster (I went from 10 to 21 very quickly), and handed ownership on to an ESL student who's lower in English verbally, but I think knows very well how to pronounce words when they're laid out in front. Her translation comprehension is also pretty good, too. Anyways, I gave her the reigns--and the instructions: for her to read a sentence to her group together, and then have the other students sort of repeat it back. Her comprehension of the paragraph was great. The lesson was on main idea and details, and, though we only got to details, I feel that's fine--because we're going to revisit main idea and details the whole entire month; so it should be fine.

I scaffolded it this way:

1. Whole group -- model reading
2. Small group -- you do the reading
3. Had them find three important details in one part of the passage.
4. Name one by one IN ENGLISH the important facts, which was explained as important information
5. Explain that those important pieces of information are called details, and that those details lead to a central idea (cognates in Spanish), or the main idea.

I think the scaffolding seems to work. Does anyone have any ESL/ELL strategies for teaching main idea and details, or just strategies you use in general?