I’ve previously shared the three-day lesson I usually do with my English Language Learner History classes, and this past week did it again. I made some changes, however, and thought readers might find it useful for me lay-out exactly what I did (and if readers don’t find it useful it will at least be helpful to me next year when I do it again!).
First, I had students create a K-W-L chart titled 9/11 and had them write what they thought they knew about it. Students then broke into groups of three to share and add anything they might have heard from their group members. Most knew very little, if anything – “people died,” “terrorists attacked America,” “bin Laden did it” were the comments from the few who had heard anything about it prior to Wednesday. I had people share to the entire class and added to a class K-W-L chart on the document camera.
Next, I asked students to write down at least two questions to which they wanted to learn the answers about 9/11. We repeated the sharing process and added to the class K-W-L chart.
I then told the class we were going to watch a few videos and I wanted them to write at least ten new pieces of information they learned from them – particularly the answers to the questions they listed. I showed these videos, stopping often to highlight pieces of information for them to add to their chart:
I then gave students homework which was a list of questions they had to ask their parents/guardians. I’ve uploaded it here if you want use it or make changes, and will also share it in this post:
Please ask your parents or grandparents these two questions:
1. What do you remember about the terrorist attack in New York City ten years ago on September 11th?
2. What major acts of political and/or criminal violence do you remember in your native country? Please describe what happened.
How did it affect you and your family? How did it make you and them feel?
How did it affect our native country?
Lastly, I asked students to think for a moment how they think 9/11 might have affected their life in any way, had them share with a partner, and then with the class. All the Muslim students (Afghani refugees) said basically the same two things – “Now people think all of us Muslims are terrorists” and “We probably wouldn’t be here in the United States” – and all the non-Muslim students couldn’t think of anyway it affected them. We had a brief discussion of how the attack disrupted potential immigration reform. This last part went okay, but was clearly the weakest part of the lesson. I need to think more about it, and am open to hearing suggestions — about this and all part of the whole thing!
I asked students to take out their K-W-L charts and reminded them about the last video we had seen — about the 9/11 museum. I explained we were going to watch another video about it, and asked that they add new information they learned to their chart.
Why do you think we try to remember the people who died on 9/11?
I modeled the “Who are they?” section and listed my father, first wife and Muhammed Ali, and encouraged students to pick people who they are close to and people who might be more well-known.
Then, I modeled a response to “How do you remember them?” (think about them, look at pictures), and then students wrote down their answers.
Next, I modeled a response to “When do you remember them?” (family events), and then students wrote their own.
Then, I had students write answers to “Why do you remember them?” without modeling an answer, and did the same with the last question, “Why do you think we try to remember the people who died on 9/11?”
Students then shared in groups of four, and I called on different ones to share with the class. There were several many moving responses, though the answers to the last question were all fairly vague – “They were important” or “We want to honor them.” I shared my response, which was two-fold: One, to honor people who help others – all those firefighters and police who sacrificed their lives to save people. Before I gave my second response, I asked one of the Afghani students to share her comment from the day before about how 9/11 affected her and she shared that people think all Muslims are terrorists. I then said another important reason to remember 9/11 was because there were only nineteen Muslim terrorists and asked students how many Muslims they thought were in the world. They answers millions, and we talked about how nineteen is a small number compared to that large number.
I then had students take out their homework and we did a “speed-dating” sharing with students lined up across from each other recounting the responses they received from their parents.
Students converted the answers they received from their parents and their K-W-L chart into a Venn Diagram comparing and contrasting 9/11 with violent events in their own country (I used print-outs from Read Write Think – Venn Diagram and Compare/Contrast Planning, along with this model Compare/Contrast essay.
Please leave comments with suggestions on how I can make this a better lesson next year!
Even though I’m a big believer in intrinsic motivation, I am not above both offering extra credit for the following year’s classes (either in my classes if they are having me again, or in other classes where I make arrangements with their teachers) and by telling them that they will function as “teaching assistants” in next year’s classes if they complete all the assignments.
Here are the updated sites I’ll be having my students use over the summer (we always spend a couple of classes at the end of the school year familiarizing them with the sites):
My Beginning/Intermediate ELL English Class Students
USA Learns is for Beginners, Low-Intermediate and 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.
My ELL Geography Students Who Will Be Taking World History Next Year
I’m creating free virtual World History classrooms on these sites:
Though I have fifteen students who will be entering U.S. History next year, unfortunately, I think only about six or seven of them will actually do online work over the summer. Part of that small number is due to the fact that some are going to Mexico over the summer and don’t expect to have Internet access.
Because I have such a small number who I think will use the summer sites, however, it means that just having three log-ins to Brainpop should be workable. I’m having them view all the U.S. History videos there and complete the quizzes. They will print-out each quiz they complete and give me a packet at the beginning of next year (I also gave them the option of taking pictures of the quizzes to send me, but they all seem more interesting in the print-out versions).
So that’s my list, and I’d love to hear more suggestions!
(FYI, my Beginner and Intermediate ELL students will also be taking my Geography class next year. If they do anything over the summer, though, I want them to work on their English through Duolingo and USA Learns. If I wanted them to get a head-start on Geography, though, I’d pay $100 for a classroom in IKnowThat.)
This “Best” list is going to a very popular one that’s starting off short, but it’s going to be getting longer as time goes on.
I thought it would be useful to me, and to others, to gather links to the best free downloadable student hand-outs that are simple and useful.
Here is my criteria. They need to be:
* Fairly generic. By “generic,” I mean that they can be used more than one time during the year and, ideally, be applicable in a number of different lessons. I think you’ll get a clearer idea of what I mean after you see the ones I start off with in this post.
* Promote some degree of higher-order thinking. You won’t find downloads to a basic reading comprehension sheet on this list.
* Free-of-charge, and not requiring even site registration in order to access it.
This is just a beginning list I wanted to put out there. I have previously shared many free downloadable forms that I and others have created, but it will take me a while to revisit all of them to see which are appropriate for this post. Please leave additional suggestions that meet the criteria and, if I agree that they do, I’ll add them to the list and, of course, give you credit for suggesting it.
My colleague and co-author Katie Hull Sypnieski (with whom I’m writing a sequel to our surprisingly popular book, The ESL/ELL Teacher’s Survival Guide) are teaching a lesson on climate change to our Intermediate and Advanced English Language Learners on Friday. I’ll be combining my Intermediate class with her Advanced one.
I thought readers might be interested in hearing what we will be doing…
First, we’ll show students two short videos on climate change after providing a short introduction to it. There are surprisingly few accessible videos out there, and I think these are the two best ones — Brainpop’s animation on Global Warming (happily, they make this video available free) and this one from the Australian government:
We’ll then give students a copy of the poem, read it to them, and then show one of the videos that accompanies the poem that is embedded in my post about it. Then we’ll have students work in pairs to write in their own words what they think the different stanzas of the poem mean, and discuss it in class.
Next, we’ll show a video of the poet reciting the poem at the United Nations.
Then, depending on how much time we have left, we’ll bring students to the library to do research so they can write an “ABC” paragraph in response to this question: Answer the question, Back it up with evidence like a quotation, make a Comment or Connection. You can read more about this strategy here.
As I mentioned earlier this week, because of an unexpected substantial increase in our student enrollment and the resulting scheduling challenges, I volunteered to convert one period of my Beginning and Intermediate English Language Learner class into a Geography class. I think Geography is a great tool for language acquisition.
There’s no question in my mind that the National Mock Election Game is the best site for English Language Learners. It has a fair amount of audio support for text. Intermediate ELL’s should be able to play it. (Unfortunately, it appears that they have taken it off-line. The site still has some useful materials, but I wouldn’t rate them that highly. I’ll contact them to see if they are going to put the game back on the site at some point).
After students develop some background knowledge about how the Presidential elections work, it might be useful to spend a little time on the electoral college. 270 To Win has a lot of information displayed graphically about previous Presidential elections and what polls are saying now about the upcoming election.
I should at least mention an excellent online game developed by Cable In The Classroom called eElections. However, it’s probably only accessible to very advanced English Language Learners.
The site’s purpose is to show you which presidential candidate’s views most align with yours by running you through a short quiz that asks your stance on various policy issues, then determines which candidate most agrees with you.
It’s not a new idea — similar quizzes popped up the past few election cycles. But what sets this one apart is the social-media angle: The site allows you to share your results with your friends or to comment via Facebook, and it shows you the states where candidates best match up with the quiz takers.
Vote Night lets you use a Google Map to predict the election results. It’s similar to several other sites I’ve previously described. However, Vote Night gives you an embed code for your creation so you can add it to your blog or website. Thanks to Google Maps Mania for the tip.
Here are some new additions that are specifically related to campaign ads:
The Patterns of Deception page identifies recurrent deceptive techniques in the 2012 campaign season, provides illustrations of each and links to FlackCheck.org videos that debunk the deceptive content. These materials are designed to help viewers identify flaws in arguments in general and political ads in particular.
Students are encouraged to ask people in the community about the election and post their video to YouTube by the site Engage2012. You can read more about it in an article by educator Esther Wojcicki.
Here is a neat interactive I learned about from Go Kicker. It’s particularly timely for my Theory of Knowledge class, since we’re learning about Language right now and I just had students do research on their own names. They’re answering the question: “How might your name and the story behind it affect how you see yourself and how others see you?”
The PBS News Hour has a good lesson plan, along with an interactive, where students create their own Presidential ad. However, they require Facebook login to use the interactive. I don’t know what in the world they were thinking — with Facebook being blocked in most schools, how do they expect students to use it?
Here are two resources about the second Presidential Debate:
The Words They Used is a pretty interesting Word Cloud from the Wall Street Journal.
Here’s an interactive from The Guardian that lets you copy and paste words of the transcript and create your own “quotation” that you can share online.
Build Your Own Election Map is an interactive from The Wall Street Journal. I’ve got several somewhat similar tools on this list, but this one appears to be the best of the bunch. It shows the electoral maps from the last two elections, important current data from each state, and new poll information. In addition, you can get a direct link to the map as you predict it to turn out.
I’m doing a unit on writing a story with my Beginning English Language Learners, and, since I’m taking them to the computer lab tomorrow, I wanted to see if I could pull together some useful online interactives for them.
I’m sure I’ll be adding to this list, and I welcome your suggestions.