Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Some "Old School" EAL Resources

Here are some of the various books that I use to teach EAL.  I only referred to them as "old school" because they aren't digital although some come with audio/DVD supports.  I know teachers are curious what they can use to teach EAL and there's no magic all-inclusive program but there are tons of resources available out there.  These are a few that I've used ...some are from the resource lists for the locally-developed EAL courses.  If you want more info, let me know.

Oxford Bookworms and Penguin Readers - Both series are designed for EAL students and come in a variety of genres with different levels.  The penguin readers can be bought with audio CDs and both sets have glossaries and comprehension questions as well as activities to practice reading strategies.

More resources to teach comprehension strategies.  These are listed as resources in some of the locally developed courses such as EAL B10L.

Appropriately leveled readers for EAL high school students.  The one on the left has fantastic images and a great format.  The Reading Explorer books also come with several support materials including CD-Roms, DVDs, a teacher guide, and audio CD.  I haven't used it much as I just got it as a sample book but the topics are relevant and there are lots of vocabulary building activities, reading passages, reading comprehension,and the complementary digital media.

I teach a lot of EAL literacy classes so quite a few of my resources are subject-specific.  These Science resources are excellent and are at an upper elementary level but cover content-obligatory language and include relevant topics.

The Azar Grammar Books are kind of like the bible of grammar to me.  I love the way they present tenses and provide lots of opportunities for students to practice grammar forms.  There are three levels and they also include some CDs for sections on listening comprehension.  Writing Matters is a book I just discovered this year and it's fantastic.  My students are writing amazing paragraphs and my only complaint is that I don't have enough time to cover everything I'd like to as there are so many different writing forms and practice activities.

These come with a CD and are a fun way to practice conversational English and reading/speaking fluency.  The beginning book is great because you find students that are shy when it comes to speaking up will finally become a bit more confident with participating in an English conversation.

Again, more examples of reading comprehension practice books and high-interest, low readability.  Great for beginning readers.

More reading practice!
I have dozens more..there is simply not enough time and I often choose resources once I learn more about the students who I will be teaching in a particular semester.

I should also mention that I also teach an EAL math class and have been using the Math Makes Sense program with manipulatives quite successfully.  We focus on the vocabulary words in each unit and my students are quite successful now with the math vocabulary and the math concepts in general.

Of course, I also use quite a online resources and various programs and have posted a few in recent posts.  I'll try to get around to writing another post with more of those.

Friday, May 17, 2013

RCMP Royal Road Race - A great day!

Sawatzky Studios: 2013 Royal Road Race Portraits &emdash; Thorson-T-3Last Saturday, I participated in the Royal Road Race for the first time.  It's a 10 km race around the RCMP barracks in Regina and it was an awesome family experience.  As soon as we got there, we were greeted by the RCMP bagpipers and the kids had a chance to meet Safety Bear which they loved. 

I wasn't super excited for the running part because it's been a tough spring for training and I had just run a half marathon less than two weeks prior.  I was ready for the distance aspect but not so much for the speed.  I pushed myself and ended up with a painful side stitch which rarely happens to me.  I ran through it even though it felt like my appendix was going to explode.  There was no imagining it as I still felt sore for the next couple of days but it's all better now.  Yeah, I'm tough...or stupid.  In the end, I finished in 52:27...a solid time considering my limited outdoor running and the hours I substituted thesis writing for training.  Somehow, reading and researching in libraries doesn't provide quite the same training benefits as hitting the pavement (or snow and ice as was the case in Saskatchewan this "spring").

I really wanted to post about this race because it was fantastic and possibly the best brunch I've ever had post-race.  There was way too much food to choose from and the service was fantastic.  Also, where else do you have RCMP officers saluting you while finishing a race?  It was absolutely wonderful all around and even the weather co-operated for once.  Also, thanks to Sawatzky Studios for the lovely memories of a fun day!

  Sawatzky Studios: 2013 Royal Road Race Portraits &emdash; Thorson-T

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Notes from the IT Summit

Keynote: Ewan McIntosh

What kids love that helps them learn:
1.       Collaborate
2.       Challenge
3.       Responsibility
4.       Respect
5.       Real things

People like three to nineteen choices in life.

Checklist for good generative topics
·         Does it pass the “so what?” test?
·         Is it epic and big scale, not tiny and “fake”?
·         Does it cover more than just one curriculum subject or topic, or have four or more ways of solving it?
·         Does it spark natural curiosity?
·         Is there enough potential material in which learners can immerse themselves?
·         Can it be made accessible, feasible to access for every learner?
Think of as many titles as possible. 
Do not justify ideas. 
Keep going even after you think you have a great one.

Strategies used with students for them to reflect upon their learning:

Reflecting on learning as a community
Reflecting on individual learning
Thumbs up / Thumbs Down
One-on-one conversations
Three way conferences
Group Discussions
Sticky Notes
Silent Chatter
Exit Slips
Flexible Groups
Photo Timelines
Graphic Organizers
Graphic Organizers
Carousel Brainstorming

Monday, April 29, 2013

EAL Resources for #skteachers

Here are some helpful links for anyone looking for EAL resources. I have used most of them and would definitely recommend the Oxford website and the Penguin ESL readers. The first few resources were provided by the ministry and I added a few of my own afterward.  Be sure to check out the Oxford English File and Azar Grammar.

EAL Resources from the Ministry of Education

A Guide to Using the CFR with EAL Learners

EAL Middle Years Modules 1-5

Recommended Reading
Coelho, Elizabeth. 2004. Adding English. A guide to teaching in multilingual classrooms. Pippin Publishing. Don Mills, ON

Some Resources I Like...

Azar Grammar - Love these grammar books and just discovered a great website that complements the texts. I am excited to try out some of the songs with my students.

Dave's ESL Cafe - This website has it all...lots of ideas for lesson plans on every topic related to teaching English as an Additional Language.

Busy Teacher - This website has a variety of others listed that are useful for teaching EAL including many that encourage the integration of technology in learning.

ESLPoint - Has a number of activities available online at many different levels.

Learning English with CBC Manitoba - This website is fantastic. They discuss relevant newsworthy topics, provide audio, lesson plans, and lots of great ideas. It is well worth a look if you teach EAL at the high school level in particular.

Oxford University Press English File - This is possibly the best quality website for EAL learners to play all sorts of games online to practice English. Students can choose their level and do a variety of activities and games to practice English skills. I have used this a lot in the past especially at the elementary level.

Shakespeare in Bits - This is an Ipad App that I just discovered and absolutely love. They have taken Shakespeare plays, created cartoon animations along with dialogue, summaries, notes, definitions, character lists, etc. and made Shakespeare a lot easier for EAL students to understand. I downloaded a play for my students this semester and the app really helped them understand what was happening in the play and of course they were much more engaged because they got to use an IPad! The downloads are a bit pricey at $14.99 but worth it and likely not much more than the cost of a book.

Hope that was hopeful for someone out there in the blogosphere. Please feel free to add more great websites in the comments and I will edit the list.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Livin' La Vida Loca

University of Regina from the 5th floor of the library
No reason for the Ricky Martin lyrics except that I really do feel like I'm living a crazy life.  I wish I could report I've got some exciting vacation planned like my Facebook friends who all seemed to have made it to a beach somewhere in the Caribbean this winter.  It's okay..I think you're all great and I'm just really, really jealous.  I also must remember that I had a fantastic trip to Italy a few short months ago.  It just feels like forever since last summer after this extremely long, arduous winter.

I just spent the afternoon at the university working on my thesis...here was the view from the window.  At the very least, it's a nice view and it's not hot and sunny.  I am okay with working inside when it's freezing outside.  Of course, I made the mistake of calling home to ask Jeremy for a favour and Aleena had just tossed a couple rolls of toilet paper in the toilet.  I guess things could be worse.  She's hit the terrible twos times about a hundred lately.  I'm sure Connor went through this phase but it's certainly draining.  Speaking of her, she's currently in a "time out" for throwing toys...I should check on her to make sure she hasn't destroyed anything.

Okay...back.  No major damage!

I wish I had more time for blogging and am sorry my mommy blog has been non-existent as of late.  I guess that's just part of being a Mom though...especially a full-time working Mom with way too many things on my plate.  I do have a few things I REALLY want to share soon though..like my half marathon training and my new obsesssion with all things Banana Republic and my new bestie MyFitnessPal.com.  Future posts might include some education-based rants about increased school hours or standardized testing.  I've got all sorts of things to write about!

I'm going to end this for today and read some books to the kiddos before bed.

Things that make me smile:

- Connor's knock knock jokes...here's one:

Connor: Knock! Knock!
Dad: Who's there?
Connor: Donut!
Dad: Donut who?
Connor: Donut let me go outside in the backyard by myself!

- Aleena waving into the toilet after she flushes it.  

- Connor saying: "I had a lucky pee" after a successful trip to the bathroom.

Thanks for reading! 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

#ETMOOC | Digital Literacies for EALs

Welcome to my blog!  This is my first post contributing to the #ETMOOC community.  I had meant to join in the fun earlier but life is busy and time has passed me by.  However, I saw the topic for the next couple of weeks and knew I had to jump in head first because the topic was perfect.  I wrote a paper for a Masters class a couple years ago on digital literacy for EAL (English as an Additional Language) students so this is an apt time to share what I researched and documented.

Here is the paper...I had hoped to revise and make it less academic and more reader-friendly but it wasn't happening so this is better than not participating at all:  Downloading Multiliteracies into the EAL Classroom

As a follow up, I haven't used Fan Fiction with my students.  I am not too worried about making it "uncool" by presenting it to students.  I am certainly a cool enough person to get them excited enough to participate.  In fact, I might give it a try this semester with the students in my higher level literacy class.  Up to this point, my struggle with trying something like Fan Fiction has been the students' lack of fluency in writing and in computer skills.  Attempting simple blog posts have literally taken a couple of class periods and constructing a written piece let alone typing it out on the computer is extremely time consuming for students new to the language.  As a result, I concluded that a reasonable amount of technological literacy was a pre-requisite to attempting such a task and have kept it in the back of mind as something that I would still like to try someday.

I realize there were some thought provoking questions to ponder on the #ETMOOC blog and I may get around to a couple of those yet but I've got a thesis to work on and it's calling my name...and that voice is becoming increasingly louder as each day passes.  Hence, I will contribute as I can to this community and you can be sure that no blog post from this day forward will be as thorough as today's. :-)  Enjoy.

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