Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Currently...halfway through October

I'm way behind the ball this month.  Actually I've been hiding from my blog for a while.  But first, I'll link up to Farley's October CURRENTLY.

Listening:  I've been suspicious of my fridge for a while.  I have it on the lowest cold setting right now, but I'm still not convinced that it is functioning properly.  Help!  Someone with fridge experience, advise me what to do or what to look for to know if it's working or if I need to tell landlord to replace it!

Loving:  Yay fall, my favorite season! :)

Thinking: Part of the reason I've kind of been avoiding my blog, and all teaching blogs lately.  I still feel like I'm so under water and drowning in everything that I have to know and do.  It's not just because I've switched schools - I've done that every year.  It's not just because I've switched grades - I've done that almost every year.  It's something more than that.  I'm just... tired.  I always feel like I'm never getting anything done, and I feel like I can never catch up.  Teaching just isn't FUN anymore.  It just feels like a lot of drudge work.  And I know I'm not alone in feeling this.  When I finally decided to look at teacher blogs again, one of the first posts I was greeted with was Farley's post echoing my own sentiments.  I don't know.  I feel so conflicted about everything. And...just lost.  Siiiiiigh.

Wanting: A break.  That's all.

Needing: same same.

Book: "The First Forest" - I'm not up on all my cutesy Halloween books, but this one does talk about the changing of the seasons in a pretty creative way, so we'll go with that.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

SIOP Saturday 9: Review and Assessment

The eighth component of the SIOP model is Review/Assessment.

We've reached the last step in the SIOP framework!

Lesson Preparation
Building Background
Comprehensible Input
Lesson Delivery

This final component reminds teachers that review and assessment should be present throughout any lesson plan framework.  Teachers need to take time to explicitly review key terms and concepts with their students. Feedback should be constructive and timely, and teachers should use information gained through assessment to further guide their instruction.  This component contains the last four features:

27. Comprehensive review of key vocabulary
Multiple exposures to new vocabulary terminology build familiarity, confidence, and language proficiency.  Terms can be reviewed through paraphrasing or in a more systematic manner.  The more exposure to these words that students have, the better they will be able to remember and learn them.

28. Comprehensive review of key concepts
Just as it is important for vocabulary to be reviewed, concepts also need to be reviewed, especially at the close of a lesson.  This review is often informal, but still needs to be planned with careful thought.  Stopping to summarize between paragraphs or sections in a text is a good example of this type of review.

29. Regular feedback provided to students on their output
Feedback needs to be supportive and validating.  Teachers can use feedback as a way to model correct English usage, and also to scaffold students to further proficiency.  Teachers can provide feedback through oral or written responses, or even through facial expressions and body language.

30. Assessment of student comprehension and learning of all objectives throughout the lesson
Review and assessment are an ongoing process.  However, it is important to note the distinction between the terms "assessment" and "evaluation" - assessment is gathering data about student learning, while evaluation is making judgments about student learning.  Assessment is periodic review throughout the lesson to determine student learning, as linked to content and language objectives.  This can be group-administered or individual, oral or written.

*Thumbs up/down - could be used for true/false or yes/no responses.
*Response boards - using individual dry-erase boards for an informal review of math equations, spelling words, etc, etc.
*Number 1 to 3 for self assessment - students can indicate how well they believe they met the objectives (1=I didn't/can't meet the objective; 2=I didn't/cant meet the objective, but I made progress; 3=I fully met the objective), or however the teacher decides to phrase it.

What are some other ways that you review and assess your students in your classroom?

Next Saturday's topic: Wrapping up the SIOP model

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Featured blogger!

I was featured today on Fun in 1st Grade!  Dana features new teachers every Tuesday, so head over there to check it out!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

SIOP Saturday 8: Lesson Delivery

Lesson delivery is the seventh component of the SIOP model.

Here's the whole framework:

Lesson Preparation
Building Background
Comprehensible Input
Lesson Delivery

The lesson delivery component reminds teachers to stay on track with their teaching, sticking to the objectives they have laid out for their students.  It also discusses student engagement.  This component contains the next four features:

23. Content objectives clearly supported by lesson delivery
Objectives should be both stated orally and displayed in writing, in student-friendly terms.  Many schools, my own included, choose to have these phrased as "I Can" statements.  Before the lesson, during the lesson, and after the lesson is finished, the teacher and students should refer to these objectives to see how well they are being met.

24. Language objectives clearly supported by lesson delivery
These language objectives can be related to ESL standards, or they may be related to a teachers' own scope and sequence of the language skills that their students may need to develop.  Just like the content standards, these should be stated orally and in writing, in student-friendly terms, and referred to throughout the lesson.

25. Students engaged approximately 90% to 100% of the period
Students should be paying attention and on task, following the lesson, and responding to teacher direction, as well as performing the activities that are expected of them.  The more that a student participates during a lesson, the more he or she will gain from the learning experience.

26. Pacing of the lesson is appropriate to students' ability levels
The pace depends upon the lesson's content, as well as the students' background knowledge.  Finding an appropriate pace is also a tricky element when working with ELLs of varying language skills.  It is also important to note that teachers should make full use of the time they are allotting to any given lesson.

*Think Pair Share - when the teacher poses a question, students should think of their answer, share with a partner, and then the teacher can call on a few students to share their answers with the whole class.  This way students have a greater chance of more time being actively involved.
*"Chunk and Chew" is a technique teachers can use that states for every ten minutes of input, students should be given a chance to discuss or reflect on the information they just learned.

What are some other lesson delivery techniques you use in your classroom?

Next Saturday's topic: Review/Assessment

Saturday, September 15, 2012

SIOP Saturday 7: Practice/Application

Oh man, another week flies by!  Still feel like I'm trying to get a handle on everything.  Most days I don't even know where my planning times disappear to, as I'm still bringing things home to plan and create and grade.  But I'm happy, SO much happier in this environment, than I was last year (even though I still think Angi needs to move out here so we can teach together again!) that it's a good busy.  Hence my lack of posts... but I will try to work on that!

Anyway, we are up to our next installment of my SIOP Saturdays series!  Today's topic on the menu is the sixth component of the SIOP model, which is practice/application.

Here's where we stand with the whole thing again:

Lesson Preparation
Building Background
Comprehensible Input
Lesson Delivery

The section on practice and application discusses ways to make learning hands-on and relevant to students.  Learning activities need to support and scaffold students' progress toward mastering content, while allowing students a context to practice the academic language skills they are acquiring.  This component contains the next three features:

20. Hands-on materials and/or manipulatives provided for students to practice using new content knowledge
Research has shown that students have a greater chance of mastering skills and concepts when they have multiple opportunities to practice in ways that are relevant and meaningful.  New material should be introduced in short amounts, with opportunities for students to practice their new knowledge right away.  Using manipulatives or other hands-on materials also allows students with lower language skills to still be able to demonstrate and practice the content concepts being addressed.

21. Activities provided for students to apply content and language knowledge
Opportunities for applying content concepts are great for helping students to make abstract knowledge concrete.  The activities should be related to the learning and should be meaningful, and allow students the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge through a variety of ways.  Especially through interactions and group discussions or projects, students are able to integrate their language skills with the task(s) at hand.

22. Activities integrate all language skills
Teachers should try to allow students to express their learning through reading, writing, speaking, and listening.  Because all of these practices are so intertwined, skills that may be further developed in one area may lend themselves to help strengthen another area.

*Using manipulatives to make a math lesson more concrete
*Incorporating kinesthetic activities (for example, instead of doing a worksheet about ordering numbers, give each student a number and have them order themselves in a line)
*Using a scaffolded listening cloze dictation: the teacher provides a copy of a text with words or phrases omitted; the teacher then reads the text and the students record the words that they hear that are missing from their page
*Students could engage in discussion circles after reading a text to practice listening and speaking about the concepts, and then write a response to questions posed by the teacher after discussing the questions in their groups

What other ways do you have students practice and apply new concepts and language skills in your classroom?

Next Saturday's topic: Lesson Delivery

Saturday, September 8, 2012

SIOP Saturday 6: Interaction

Today I'm highlighting the fifth component of the SIOP model, which is student interaction!

As always, here is where we stand within the entire SIOP framework:

Lesson Preparation
Building Background
Comprehensible Input
Lesson Delivery

This section on interaction describes the importance of allowing students to have opportunities to talk about and engage with the content they are learning.  Some of the benefits of this include brain stimulation and higher engagement, increased motivation, more processing time for students, and increased attention to the subject material.  This component contains the next four features:

16. Frequent opportunities for interaction and discussion
This feature emphasizes the importance of balancing teacher-talk and student-talk.  Students should also be asked to elaborate on their responses, instead of just giving yes/no answers.  Researchers have found a high correlation between students' oral proficiency levels in English and their reading comprehension and writing skills.  In other words, students who are more proficient orally in English will also be more proficient in reading and writing.  Therefore, by giving students more opportunities for dialogue and interaction in class, teachers can help students to develop their language in more than one area.

17. Grouping configurations support language and content objectives of the lesson
By using a variety of grouping configurations in the classroom (whole-group, small-groups, partners, individual work), teachers can provide students with a variety of ways to learn new information, discuss it, and process it.  Teachers should also be mindful of providing students the opportunity to interact with a variety of peers - groupings should not always be homogeneous, but should be flexible and change according to the purpose of the activity.  It is also recommended that at least two different grouping structures be used during a lesson, depending on the activities and objectives.

18. Sufficient wait time for student responses consistently provided
In US classrooms, teachers do not often provide enough wait time for their students to sufficiently process questions, answers, and understanding of concepts.  By providing longer wait time, researchers have found that student discourse increases, as well as student-to-student interaction.  Students should be given the opportunity to express their thoughts fully without being rushed.  One way to accommodate this, but without letting classroom learning time lag too much, is by having students write down their answers first.

19. Ample opportunity for students to clarify key concepts in L1 (native language)
While this may not always be necessary in ELL classrooms or in regular classrooms, students who can make connections between concepts and ideas they may have learned in their first language and the new vocabulary and concepts they are learning, the link will be that much stronger, which will lend itself to deeper connection to the material.

*using interactive dialogue journals to share ideas and learning
*"Stay or Stray": students work on an assignment in a small group; the teacher randomly chooses one group member to rotate around to another group to teach the new group the information that was worked on in the first group; the teacher randomly calls a different student in that second group to take the information that was just introduced and go teach it to a third group, etc.  That way, all students are held accountable for learning new information because they never know who will be chosen to be the next presenter on what they just learned!
*Start the day in pairs and have each pair discuss the content objective for the class period
*Using "50/50" or "phone a friend" help lines for students who don't know how to articulate an answer.  However, that original student must be the one to give the "final" answer, to ensure practice with the language.

What other ways do you promote student interaction within your classroom?

Next Saturday's topic: Practice/Application

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Open house night...already?!

That's right...tonight was my school's open house!  Kind of crazy and exhausting having it the day we come back to school after Labor Day weekend, but at least now it's over!

The best moment of tonight (besides meeting my students' families and such) was definitely one of my boys.  He brought his dad into our classroom and proceeded to give him THE most comprehensive explanation of how everything in our class works, and all our procedures (including all our hand signals and the Whole-Brain Teaching elements that I have started incorporating).  I told him I would have to have him come back next year to explain to my new fourth graders how everything works, and he just beamed.

Moments like that are what remind me how much fun this job can be... to see students take ownership like that.