Monday, December 16, 2013

Can You Repeat That? Strategies for working with ESOL students in Kindergarten

I teach in Springfield, Virginia. 

16 of my 26 students speak another language at home.  6 of the 16 have limited English skills. 

This is pretty typical of the schools in Fairfax County. 

As our population changed of course I had to change the strategies I used to work with these children.  

One area I found challenging was Math. 

You would think that Math would be easy, numbers and counting are pretty concrete (and typically a higher performing subject than reading or writing).  But in our school system we ask the children to do a lot of talking about math

As you can imagine my ESOL students struggle with this!  They don't have the English vocabulary knowledge to be able to explain their thinking.  Often they can do the computation but can't explain how they got their answer, and on our assessment this makes them below grade level. 

I really struggled with how to help them.

Then at a meeting a colleague shared a technique I like to call, Repeat that.  Where a student will explain their thinking (correctly!  We don't want our ESOL students repeating mis-information!) and the teacher will call on an ESOL student to repeat what was said. 

It looks like this:

Teacher:  Who can explain how they knew the number was 10?
Aidan:  Well, I know that 10 dots filled on a ten-frame is 10.
Teacher:  Carlos, can you repeat what Aidan just said?
Carlos:  Ten dots on a ten-frame is 10. 

This allows the student to participate without the struggle of finding the words themselves.  It also helps model the math thinking so that at some point the ESOL students can do it independently. 

I also use that strategy to hi-lite the students who are not paying adequate attention in class!

This strategy has worked wonders for my group of ESOL students.  Not only do they hear the good thinking, but they practice explaining their thinking as well.  They get a sense of accomplishment that comes from participation in class conversation, and the confidence to try to share their own thinking next time. 

Now, who can repeat what I just said? :)

Friday, December 13, 2013

Easy Kindergarten Thanksgiving Holiday Activities!

I love Thanksgiving!  Not only is it my favorite holiday in my own personal life, it is my favorite to teach about too!  In my Kingergarten class we do a ton of really cute Thanksgiving activities the weeks before the holiday.  I really try to incorporate our Thanksgiving activities with Language Arts for add some fun to reading and writing!  Here are some of my favorites!

I am Thankful Turkeys

This cheerful turkey decorates our hallway.  Every student writes on a feather, sharing what they are thankful for.  It always surprises me what my students are thankful for!  They are always so sweet and giving.  Check out the FREE feather outline HERE and the writing page HERE!

Hand and Foot Turkeys

These Hand and Foot turkeys are always so funny!  Students trace their shoe onto brown paper to make the head, and then trace their hands on the red, orange, and yellow to make feathers.  You really see who has good fine motor skills! Haha. 

Torn Paper Indian Corn

This is great activity we do after we learn about Squanto.  We talk about how Squanto taught the pilgrims to plant corn and how the corn they had back then was called Indian Corn. They use crayons to color the corn like Indian corn. To help with their fine motor skills we have them tear up green paper to glue on for the stalk.  This takes a while!  HERE is the free template!

Thanksgiving Food Graph

This is an easy way to introduce data and graphing to your Kindergarten class.  I printed out some quick clip art pictures of some Thanksgiving foods.  They chose the picture that represented their favorite thanksgiving food and we made a pictograph using the pictures.  Keep in mind the purpose of graphing in Kindergarten is for them to INTERPRET a graph, not create the graph.  So the questions you ask at the end are key.  How many more people liked turkey than pie?  etc.

Pilgrim Hats and Bonnets

These are a great accessory for all of our other Thanksgiving fun!  The kids love wearing the hats and bonnets around the school!


Thanksgiving Picture Frame

Take a cute picture of your little pilgrims and then print it out 4x6.  Print THIS template onto cardstock or contstruction paper and glue the picture in the middle!  This is a great Thanksgiving gift!

I hope you enjoy some of my favorite Thanksgiving school activities!  I'd love to hear about your favorites too! :)


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Holiday Teacher Gift Wish list - What Gifts Do Teachers Really Want?

But seriously...

Every year my room parents ask for my holiday wish list. Every year I feel as awkward responding to that email as I do as a 30 year old being asked, "what do you want for Christmas?" by my grandmother. 

So I know what Teachers DON'T want: 
  • anything smelly (candles, lotions, etc,)
  • Pretty much anything apple or teacher related (how many World's Best Teacher mugs does one need??).  
  • Ok, and this sounds bad.  But we really don't love the crafty things made out of crayons.  Sorry!


Teachers love:

  • cards with meaningful notes. LOVE. I have kept many over the years to re-read.
  •  homemade/store bought goodies (just be wary of allergies and preferences)
  • chocolate. LOVE chocolate!
  • coffee, travel mugs, etc.

                                                    I love this one from Starbucks!

  • Gift cards (Starbucks, restaurants, Target, etc.). 
  • Acrylic cups with straws (who doesn't love those!!)

                                                    This Starbucks cup is really cool.

My best advice is to find out about the Teacher's hobbies. Does she love to read? Is he really into music? And then you can find a meaningful, but still economical, gift. 

                                       Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

My gripe of the week - Why, yes. Your child IS a genius. Feel free to have him attend elsewhere. I hear private school is great.