Monday, February 27, 2017

10 Useful Resources for Celebrating Women's History Month

"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal."
-- Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Did you know that International Women’s Day actually began in the U.S?  I sure didn’t!  The first time I ever heard of it was a few weeks after my arrival in China in the early 1990s, when the university I worked at took the female foreign teachers to dinner at a nice hotel on March 8th because it was International Working Women’s Day.  For many years, I thought it was holiday celebrated only in Communist countries.  But if you read about the history of the holiday (resource #1), you’ll learn that it started in New York City in 1909 and then spread to other countries around the world.

Because International Women’s Day was in March, some educational institutions began to celebrate Women’s History Week in the same month.  Then in 1980, President Jimmy Carter declared Women’s History Week, to occur in the same week of the holiday.  Eventually, in 1987, the U.S. Congress passed a law declaring the entire month of March as Women’s History Month.

I've rounded up some resources to help you celebrate Women’s History Month with your students.  A few of them provide background information that is more appropriate just for you but most of them include resources you can use with your students.  Just click on the pink titles to go to those resources' websites.
11 useful resources for celebrating Women's History Month | The ESL Connection
Women hold up half the sky; source: The ESL Nexus
2) Women’s History Month resources at the Library of Congress includes a teacher's section with links to resources about women's suffrage, relevant resources at the Library of Congress, the National Archives, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Gallery of Art, and the National Park Service (the Women's Rights National Park and the Eleanor Roosevelt National Park).

3) Women's History month on Infoplease includes info about the history of Women's History Month, biographies of famous women, a section of interesting facts for kids, quizzes and crossword puzzles, and statistics about women.

4) At Time for Kids, check out the section for free printables about women's history for students in Grades K – 6 and the slideshow about 10 famous American women; there are several other pages of info as well.

5)  From the National Education Association, find lessons grouped by grade levels K-5, 6-8, and 9-12 about Women’s History Month.

6) Education World has lesson plans, an internet scavenger hunt, and a webquest plus resources devoted to more focused aspects of women’s history.

7) Smithsonian Education’s Photo Gallery on Flickr contains 157 historic photographs of women -- use them as discussion starters and writing prompts.

8) Find numerous resources about female scientists at this website maintained by Science NetLinks and the American Association for the Advancement of Science; it's organized by grade level so you can easily find something to meet your needs.

9) Reading Rockets has curated an annotated list of 10 books in different genres for kids aged 0 – 9 that are appropriate for Women’s History Month.

10) And last but not least, these 15 free and paid resources from TpT store Art with Jenny K are a great way to help your ELLs with lower levels of language proficiency learn about famous women, and not just Americans, during women’s History Month.

If you have other Women’s History Month resources that work well with ELLs, please be sure to leave a Comments below.  I’d love to hear what else you recommend!

Monday, February 20, 2017

How to Quickly and Easily Introduce the Emancipation Proclamation to ELLs

"...I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, 
and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free..."
-- Abraham Lincoln

A new National Monument devoted to the Reconstruction period after the Civil War recently opened.  It’s located in the area surrounding Beaufort, South Carolina, and reading about it reminded me of the two months I spent at Penn Center on St. Helena Island as a Peace Corps trainer many years ago.  Penn Center was a school founded for freed slaves and it is part of this National Monument.  The Park Service manages it and you can read about it here.

That was the first time I’d ever been to the South and many of my stereotypes about the region were dispelled. I loved the time I was there: It was a gorgeous location, the food – I’d never had collards or grits or hush puppies before – was delicious, and the local people were wonderful.  And I only saw alligators from a distance.  :-)

Older English Language Learners who are immigrants have probably heard about the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln freeing the slaves but they probably don’t have much background knowledge about that era or about African-American history in general.  Here's a quick and easy activity you can do to introduce your students to this period.

Below is an 1864 print (retrieved from the Library of Congress) with the text of the Emancipation Proclamation surrounded by illustrations about slavery and freedom.  Display the image and ask students to describe what they see.  Or put students in pairs or small groups and then ask for volunteers to report out what they discussed.
Find a FREE Emancipation Proclamation activity & info about task card biographies of important African-Americans | The ESL Connection
Illustrated Emancipation Proclamation; grab your copy HERE
It should be pretty obvious that the illustrations on the left depict slave life and the illustrations on the right show what life could be like for freed African-Americans.  You can ask your students to describe what they see and how the pictures represent life before and after the Emancipation Proclamation was delivered.  You can also ask your students what the two large images in the center at the top represent.  The image on the left is clearly Justice because she is holding the scales normally associated with that character.  I’m not sure what the image on the right represents; perhaps it is Liberty.

Many primary sources are hard for ELLs to access because the language in them is too difficult to comprehend.  But if you focus on the images and not the text, all students can offer their ideas.  You can also ask your students to write about their reaction to the before and after illustrations or they can write a compare-and-contrast composition about life for African-Americans before and after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued.  After doing this introductory activity, your students will be ready to go deeper into what the Emancipation Proclamation was all about and how it impacted the South.

Of course, there is much more about African-American history that students should learn.  If you would like to teach your students about the accomplishments and pioneering firsts of African-Americans who were born in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, you might be interested in my newest resource.  It’s a collection of 80 task cards with biographies of famous and not-so-famous African-Americans that you can use to develop the writing, speaking, and listening skills of your students.
Click HERE for more info about this resource!
A list of 15 activity ideas is included and while it’s a great resource for Black History Month, you can actually use the task cards any time of the year to teach about African-American history.

Monday, February 13, 2017

February #ELLEdTech Twitter Chat: Listening

"If you make listening and observation your occupation
you will gain much more than you can by talk."
-- Robert Baden-Powell

The next #ELLEdTech Twitter chat will be on Sunday, February 19th. Laurah and I will be talking about Tools for Teaching Listening.  Listening and speaking are often taught together and when that happens, listening often gets short shrift.  It's not enough to just have ELLs hear what's being said -- they need to actively listen to the material.  I hope our chat will give you some new ideas for teaching the skill of listening to your students.
Join the February #ELLEdTech Twitter chat to discuss Tools for Teaching Listening | The ESL Connection
Join us Sunday, February 19th!
Schedule and Questions
7:00 = Introductions: Tell us your name, location, level and subject taught #ELLEdTech
7:05 = Q1: What tools do you recommend for teaching listening to ELLs? #ELLEdTech
7:13 = Q2: How are these tools useful for developing ELLs' listening skills? #ELLEdTech
7:21 = Q3: What are the pros or benefits to using these tools? #ELLEdTech
7:29 = Q4: Are there any cons or drawbacks teachers should be aware of with these tools? #ELLEdTech
7:37 = Q5: What advice do you have for teachers who are beginning to use technology with listening instruction? #ELLEdTech

Directions for Joining the Chat
1. Log into Twitter on Sunday; the chat runs from 7:00 - 7:45pm Eastern.

2. Search for tweets with the hashtag #ELLEdTech in the search bar.  Make sure to click “All tweets.”

3. The first five minutes will be spent introducing ourselves.

4. Starting at 7:05 @ESOL_Odyssey or @The_ESL_Nexus will post questions every 8 minutes using Q1, Q2, Q3, etc. to identify the questions and the hashtag #ELLEdTech.

5.  Answer the questions by prefacing them with A1, A2, A3, etc. and use the hashtag #ELLEdTech.

6.  Follow any teachers who respond and are also using #ELLEdTech.

7.  Like (click the heart icon) and post responses to other teachers' tweets.

You can schedule your answers to the questions in advance by using an online scheduler such as TweetDeck or HootSuite (and remember to use A1, A2, etc. and #ELLEdTech).  Links are encouraged, but use tinyurl, bitly, or to shorten your link so it can be included in your tweet.  Just click one of those links, paste the longer link in the app's box to shorten it for Twitter, then paste the shortened link into your tweet. If you have relevant images, we encourage you to post them, too.

Is this your first Twitter chat?  Here are our rules:

1. Please stay on topic.

2. Please do not post about paid products unless explicitly asked. 

3. If you arrive after the chat has started, please try to read the previous tweets before joining in.

4. Feel free to just read, like, and/or retweet if you prefer -- we know the first time can be a little overwhelming!

5. Always use the hashtag #ELLEdTech when tweeting.

6. Make sure your twitter feed is set to "public." (And do remember that Twitter is completely public; that means anyone--students, parents, administrators--may see what you tweet.) 

You are welcome to let any of your teacher friends who might be interested in joining us as well know about it. We look forward to chatting with you on Sunday evening!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Education Around the World: New Zealand

"I think it all comes down to motivation.  If you really want to
do something, you will work hard for it."
-- Sir Edmund Hillary, 1919 - 2008
Learn about the education system in New Zealand in this guest blog post & grab a freebie, too! | The ESL Connection
Sir Edmund Hillary, 1st person to reach the summit of Mt. Everest; source: Wikimedia Commons

Staying in the Southern hemisphere this month, I am delighted to present Olivia, from TpT store Olivia Walker, as January’s guest blogger in my Education Around the World series. Olivia is a teacher at a public school in a semi-rural area of New Zealand.
Learn about the education system in New Zealand in this guest blog post & grab a freebie, too! | The ESL Connection
Map of New Zealand; source: CIA World Factbook
Since I know nothing about the educational system in New Zealand, I am very happy that Olivia can fill me in.  In her own words:
Structure of Schools
New Zealand goes from Year 1 (5 year olds) to Year 13.  Most children attend public schools but there are three main types of schools in New Zealand: public, integrated, and private. Public schools are 100% free. In integrated schools, which are usually Catholic or religious schools, the government pay teacher salaries and the parents pay for buildings and maintenance, so it is mostly subsidized. With private schools, 100% is paid for by parents.

School begins within the first week of February and ends 15th - 20th December. School is split into four 10-week terms, with 2 weeks between each term.  There is a longer break for Christmas. The school day starts at 9:00am and finishes at 3:00pm most schools run with a 20 minute break for morning tea and a 1 hour break for lunch.  Students all bring their own packed lunches from home.  Schools in lower income areas can apply to get free fruit and most schools can get free milk delivered daily as well.
Learn about the education system in New Zealand in this guest blog post & grab a freebie, too! | The ESL Connection
Olivia's school; source: Olivia Walker
I teach Year 1 -- children in New Zealand start school on their 5th birthday. In February, I'll be starting a new class with 4 children in it. Every week, more children will be turning 5 and joining my classroom. After 6 months, my room will be deemed full.  Another class will start with 1 or 2 children and fill up. 

In Year 1 students start learning the day they begin school.  Students in New Zealand can legally start school any time between their 5th and 6th birthday, but most parents choose to start them either on their 5th birthday or the day after.  A Year 1 class will typically be deemed full when it has 18-25 students. Further up in the school, classes will be larger with 27-32 students being more common.
Olivia's students; source: Olivia Walker
For reading, students are grouped by ability, and I will have a guided reading lesson with each group of students. Students will read a little book in class, and will then take that same book home to read to their parents that night, returning the book the next day so it can be given to other students. Students will often take home 4-5 different books a week.

When students start school they often can write their own name and maybe a couple of letters. During writing time we usually write a story as a whole class on a whiteboard and then students will go and write their own stories (drawing a picture as well of course!). By the time a student is 6, they are expected to be able to write 3 - 4 sentences without support.

To teach maths (we call it maths rather than math), students are usually split into 3-4 groups based on ability. When working with me they will be learning maths strategies, and when they are working independently they will be practicing skills through independent worksheets, games and using computers and iPads.

I have found when students are working independently they like cut and paste activities, as they are hands on and fun!  Cut and Paste Numbers to 10 is a favourite as it reinforces counting and matching numbers as well as encouraging young students to use scissors and glue!
Click HERE for more info
In a week students will also do many subjects and activities that are not as highly assessed like handwriting, news, fitness, sport, art, Kapa Haka (Maori Dance), Maori, music, attend assemblies, go to the library, inquiry learning (usually linked to social studies or science) and discovery time (structured free play).

There is a national curriculum that covers English, Maths, Science, P.E./ Health, Social Studies, the Arts, Technology, and Te Reo Maori.  They are about to introduce languages other than Maori to the primary curriculum.

Secondary school will offer subjects covering the full curriculum by Year 11. English, Maths and usually a Science subject are compulsory, and students will normally be able to choose 3 additional subjects; for example: Geography, History, Economics, French, Electronics, Technology and many, many more depending on the school.  In Year 12, English credits are required for University entrance.  You can find out more HERE.
Playground at Olivia's school; source: Olivia Walker
Learning English
The school I was at last year had many ESL students. If students are not born in New Zealand, they are eligible for extra teacher funding. These students would go to a separate teacher for English lessons a few times a week. Every 6 months they would be tested and if they scored well they would be taken off the programme. Children get up to 3 years of funding from the Government. Schools were able to choose how to use the funding, some will get the students to have one on one lessons while others would have their funding combined and taught in small groups.

One of the things that can be challenging for students moving to a new country is the currency system. This is one of the reasons I made the New Zealand Currency Clip Art freebie. This means that teachers can easily create resources that are tailor made for their students and where they are at.
Click HERE to download this freebie!

Requirements for Becoming a Teacher
To be a teacher, you need at least 3 years training.  You can earn either a 3 year teaching degree or a 3 year degree in something else and a one year graduate teaching diploma.  To become an English language teacher, I suspect it is extra courses and support after you have become a teacher but, honestly, I am not sure.

New Zealand have introduced National standards where they are assessed and ranked against the standard at the end when they have completed one, two and three years of school.  As students start on their birthdays, they are assessed on the anniversary of their starting school. This results in a lot of testing for the teacher throughout the year.  Students are tested in Maths, Reading and Writing, a report is then written and parents will be informed if the students are working at, above or below the standard. Then it swaps to the end of Year 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 (that is, the class years). Find out more about National Standards HERE.

Official internal and external examinations called the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) are administered in Years 11, 12 and 13. To get NCEA Level 1, 2 or 3 you need to get 80 Credits. Each assessment the student does is worth a number of credits (usually 2 - 5), and students can mix and match credits from multiple subjects to make up the 80 credits, with the only constraint being students need to pass a number of Literacy and Numeracy Credits. Generally students will sit assessments from Mathematics, English and 4 other subjects of their choice. For each assessment students are given a Not Achieved, Achieved, Merit or Excellence grade, with only the Achieved, Merit and Excellence grades counting towards the 80 credits.
Learn about the education system in New Zealand in this guest blog post & grab a freebie, too! | The ESL Connection
Queenstown, South Island; source: CIA World Factbook
There is no official testing in Years 9/10, but most schools will run their own testing program.  Generally students in Year 11 will sit NCEA Level 1, students in Year 12 will sit NCEA Level 2, and students in Year 13 will sit NCEA Level 3.  However, there are often times where students will finish the qualification over two years, or be working towards more than one of them at once. A student can pass NCEA Level 1, 2, or 3 without sitting any external exams, if they gain the 80 credits from internal assessments. Find out more about NCEA HERE.

Final Thoughts

The New Zealand system definitely has its unique aspects…. some I would change, but now have I recently become a mother, as mad as the starting school on the 5th birthday, I look forward to my little daughter having the excitement of the 5th birthday present of going to school!!!
Learn about the education system in New Zealand in this guest blog post & grab a freebie, too! | The ESL Connection
Flag of New Zealand; source: CIA World Factbook
Thank you so much, Olivia, for describing the education system in New Zealand for us.  It’s quite different from what I’m used to!  Please be sure to visit her TpT store to find more great resources for teaching young learners.

And you can read the previous posts in this series here: You can check out previous blog posts in this series here: South Africa, Canada (Quebec), Scotland, United Arab Emirates, England, Sweden, Morocco, and Australia.