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Waiting for my groove

Man, this has been a tough year. And we’re not even halfway through.395513826

Teachers in my district voted to go on strike. It lasted for four days. And that created a huge work stoppage in my class.

We hadn’t even finished a full week of school when this hit. And I’ve been struggling ever since.

My students are primarily former refugees, who now are trying to make their way in the U.S. school system. The problem is that most were not fully literate in their own languages when they came here. The theory of transfer has a tough time taking hold in our school.

So the secret disguised goal of my introduction to computers class–which I’m teaching for the first time ever to offset the great inequity of a lack of training for late arrivers subjected to a 1:1 program (what Alan November refers to as a “$1000 pencil” initiative)–is to teach what the my department lovingly calls “schooliness.”

Schooliness is the package of behaviors that help students succeed. These skills include:

  • showing up on time and attending regularly.
  • taking notes.
  • using English when possible while still taking risks to expand academic capabilities.
  • relying on first languages to negotiate meaning, then returning to the target language.
  • advocating for themselves in social and academic situations.
  • understanding how to find meanings of unknown words.
  • doing homework.
  • being self-sufficient and self-driven.

And I’ve been working with my little group to do this. Yet when I had to go home sick yesterday, I could tell they, for the most part, had done little to nothing relating to classwork.

So it’s time to put on my hard hat (heart hat) and start handing out invitations to stay after school, because I love them so much and don’t want them to fall behind.

At the end of last year, my colleagues and I talked about handing out heart-shaped detention slips. Not because we want to be punitive, but because we want them to succeed.

I’m to present on my experiment at #TESOL18, on an intersection panel. I wish I had great things to report about upending student apathy. I feel as though I have learned a lot from this experience of taking on this new class and new challenge, I also feel like I’m not quite there…

 

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This time really food for thought

Who knew?

talking with kids about racism is an act of kindness and an act of freedom.

Food for thought as we move into the summer…

i wore a bra to get a job

A digital zine (meant to be read on the computer) for you if you live in Northern Vermont! how to talk to kids about racism_digital_vermont

A printable zine (meant to be printed double sided and folded) for you in you live in Northern Vermont! how to talk to kids about racism_to print_vermont

A digital zine for you if you live anywhere else! how to talk to kids about racism_digital_general

A printable zine for you if you live anywhere else! how to talk to kids about racism_to print_general

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YES Day 10: Looking Back

On the last day of Year End Studies, students get the opportunity to check out what happened in other programs. People who went on trips have to make presentations. Most of the cooking classes serve up tastes of what they made. And we went back to our pictures.

Through the generosity of Burlington School District, I was granted 20 iPads a couple of years ago for my EXCEL program, which serves the newest students in our district with the lowest English proficiency levels. Pictures are worth a thousand words, particularly when you don’t have the words yet to say what you want to say.

Sadly, one of our iPads was retired after this YES program. I usually make students carry them with their case covers, but the covers get lost. So this year, I went without, and one of my iPads paid the price.

But giving students the opportunity to document their learning in this way crosses language barriers and gives them a voice.

We used a program called Animoto, which is a simple online program that takes video and photos and throws them into templates.

I’d like to once more thank all the organizations that helped us out during this Year End Studies class: The Teddy Bear Factory; BCA Firehouse Gallery and Fletcher Free Library; Pomerleau Y and Pine Island Community Farm; Burlington Parks and Recreation for providing our beautiful parks and bike path; Shelburne Museum; Spirit of Ethan Allen, ECHO Leahy Center of Lake Champlain; Shelburne Farms; CHILL, my lovely colleagues at BHS for sharing your classes and Sara Crothers for showing us another beautiful part of Vermont; and the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts educational programs.

It’s been a lovely two weeks. Next year, maybe we’ll do it again.

#YES@BHS #SoGrateful

YES Day 4: Yet another non-beach day :(

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So Monday was the one day where I had difficulties getting anything scheduled. So we were holding out again for good weather. Maybe today would be the day to play at the beach.

Um, no. No such luck…

So we decided that today we would again visit other classes to see what offerings might be on the menu for next year. And then try for outside later.

We walked down to the bike path to see one of the exercise stations. It was newly refurbished last winter. And now there’s new reasons to bike down to the waterfront. We got to talk about camping and point at the beach, but we didn’t get much farther than that. No sandy toes for me.

After that, we checked out the gardening group with Brian Williams. They are doing some work up at Rock Point. Mosquitos were thick! Brian took a few minutes to talk to us about the farm to school program and about working in different gardens around the community. They were working at putting in raised beds and had beautified the school’s gardens a few days earlier.

In the afternoon, we went to my neck of the woods, stopping in at Salmon Run, where we took the path down to the water, despite the sprinkles of rain. Then we walked across the river and saw Winooski’s nature path.

Because mosquitos were not our friends, we didn’t venture in too much. But we were there long enough to see a couple of places that might be nice for a picnic later in the season.

My thanks to Brian for letting us come see your class, and to Rock Point, for letting us use your restrooms and play on the swing.

#BHS_YES #SoGrateful

Strategies for Helping Students Motivate Themselves

I came across this blog post by Larry Ferlazzo. I just love his work.

This topic is quite timely, as motivation is always what we hope our students will develop.

Take a gander and see if any of this rings true to you. I know that all educators dealing with SLIFE (Students with Limited or Interrupted Formal Education) focus on Relatedness and Relevance to make a difference in students’ lives.

Consider using autonomy, competence, relatedness, and relevance as practical classroom strategies to reinforce the intrinsic motivation students need for making the most of their learning.

Source: Strategies for Helping Students Motivate Themselves

Support Peace Corps Funding in the Senate

Many teachers of English learners took a tour in Peace Corps.

Help keep this program robust. It’s only through outreach that we can eventually move closer to peace.

Urge your senators to support full funding of the Peace Corps for fiscal year 2018. #ProtectPeaceCorps Note: Messages will not be sent to senate offices who have already signed onto the letter or are unable to.

Source: Support Peace Corps Funding in the Senate

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