Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

How I’m Helping My Students Try To Avoid The “Summer Slide”

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I’ve previously posted The Best Resources On The “Summer Slide” and how I’m going to make that information into a lesson for my students.

I’m also doing more than that — at least with students in my Beginning/Intermediate ESL class.

Our inner city school of nearly 2,000 students used to regularly have 1,300 students attending summer school each year. The vast majority of those students were not there to make-up for failed classes. They were there for advancement and enrichment and, to be honest, because they didn’t have anything else to do. Obviously, many of our students don’t have the summer options that middle-and-upper-income families have.

Because of budget cuts, this year and for the past few years we’ve had closer to between 60 and 100 students in summer school, and most were juniors or seniors there to make up a failed grade so they could graduate — plus, they were from multiple schools.

Many of my ESL students are disappointed, to say the least.

So I’ve created virtual classrooms in many of the sites listed in The Best Sites That Students Can Use Independently And Let Teachers Check On Progress and told students that if I have them next year I’ll give them extra credit for whatever work they do and, if they have another teacher next year, I’ll make arrangements that they’ll receive extra credit there.

Since I told them that two weeks ago they’ve been asking me each day when I was going to set-up the classes for them, and I finally got around to doing it tonight. Over the next few days I’ll show students how to use them and let them try the sites out — our school year ends in two-and-a-half weeks.

I suspect some enthusiasm will wane as the summer progresses, but I’m optimistic that a number of students will spend a fair amount of time on the sites, and have invited some of my colleagues to off similar invitations to participate in “my” classes.

I’ve used sites like this before in our family literacy project where we provided computers and home internet access, but not for summer school.

Here are the sites I’m having my students use (and which seemed very easy to create a class — I set them all up in about an hour-and-a-half):

USA Learns
is for Beginners and Low-Intermediate ELL’s, and has reading, speaking and listening activities. Teachers set up the class, and students enroll themselves after you set up the class.

Virtual Grammar Lab
is all about….grammar, though it has a fair amount of engaging exercises. It’s for all ranges of students, including native English speakers. Students enroll themselves here, too, once you set-up the class.

Zondle has a ton of learning games. It’s easy to set-up the class and have student enroll on their own. The only negative to it is that you have to either create or identify the learning activities you want them to use. It’s not that big of a deal — I just searched for things like “EFL,” “vocabulary,” etc. and found a bunch. I definitely wasn’t isn’t in creating anything new, though.

English Central is great, of course. You set up the class and students enroll themselves. You can assign videos or, as I did, just let students pick any and you can track their progress.

Study Ladder is great, and offers activities in multiple other subjects, too. The only negative is that you have to register students and give them their passwords. I just uploaded the sheet to our class blog in case they forget them.

ZooWhiz
has Math and English activities for students up to fifteen. Like Study Ladder, the only negative is that you have register students yourself.

I wanted to set up a class in My Testbook, but never received the required verification email from them. I’ve contacted them directly, though, and expect a response soon. If I end up using the site, I’ll update this post.

Let me know if you think I’m missing a site I should use and/or if you’ve ever tried anything like this. Any advice would be appreciated!

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

3 Comments

  1. Great list of resources! There are a couple of sites that I use that you might want to include (they are both websites for playing online educational games, and they are both totally FREE!). They are Vocabulary Fun (www.vocabulary.co.il) and Learning Games for Kids (www.learninggamesforkids.com). There’s no login needed to play, or account to set up. Hope those are helpful! :)

    Again, great list of resources. Thanks so much for sharing!
    Katie

  2. Thanks for these great ideas! I’m so worried about my students backsliding this summer. Unfortunately, most of them lack Internet access, so I’m about to check out that family literacy project you speak of!!

  3. Pingback: Middle School Matters » Blog Archive » MSM 208 Pushing the Button

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