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.
As I did a couple of days ago with my “The Best…” list on World War I resources, I’m taking the lazy way out here and just copying and pasting my post on the Depression over at our United States History Class blog. I’m sure readers can figure out the context of the links. And I hope you’ll suggest additional ones.
Here are my choices for The Best Resources For Learning About The Great Depression:
This “The Best…” list is a little different from previous ones. All I’ve done is copy and paste my World War I post from our class’ United States History blog (by the way, a large part of my entire curriculum is available for use on that blog — for free). I realized I didn’t have a version here, and was too lazy to provide any additional context to the links. I’m sure readers can figure it out, though. NOTE: I’ve since made a number of new additions at the end of this post.
Here are my choices for The Best Resources For Learning About World War I:
The BBC has just launched an exhaustive interactive site on the War, which they call the first in a new way they say they plan to rebrand all their content. The new brand is called iWonder, and their World War One iWonder Guide has just about anything you want to know and is presented in an interactive and accessible format. It even appears that all the video can be seen by viewers in the U.S., which is a surprise since often BBC video is blocked here.
The interactive episode…. tells the story of the 1st South Staffordshire Battalion in one of the most deadly conflicts during the Battle of the Somme – the fight for control of High Wood on 14th July 1916.
Rather than passively watching the action unfold, the viewer is put in control of the choices that Corporal Arthur Foulkes must make to complete his mission. Like in a video game, on-screen buttons will appear when the viewer needs to make a decision to carry the story on.
Some of the situations will pose moral dilemmas and tricky tactical choices. For example, if the Corporal comes across a wounded enemy soldier on the battlefield, the viewer must decide whether to leave him, take him prisoner or shoot him.
Because of violent imagery, it requests that you verify that you’re over sixteen years old before you begin playing it.
I put out a request, as I do every year, to readers to share the best education-related books that they had read over the past year. The books could have been published earlier and the only requirement was that you had read them sometime this year.
You might also be interested in these posts from previous years:
From a school leadership perspective, one of the best books I’ve reviewed for the “not-quite-there” school administrator who wants an overview of educational technology, there is no better book than Lynne Schrum and Barbara Levin’s book Leading 21st Century Schools: Harnessing Technology for Engagement and Achievement. It is simple to read and well-organized. It would make an excellent gift for the administrator who wants or needs an overview of technology, especially Web 2.0. I posted on this book earlier in the year.
I have a few books on my list this year (and I look forward to the recommendations of your readers) but in terms of offering teachers a practical and interesting way into using technology in a meaningful way, I suggest Wesley Fryer’s ebook “Playing with Media.” Fryer not only shows how technology can impact learning, but also provides the tools and links and guidance for teachers who know they need to move in that direction, but are not sure where to begin. The ebook format also allows Fryer to embed all sorts of examples. And he is consistent with the message that I believe in: we teachers need to “play” and create with new media tools before we can envision the possibilities in the classroom for our students.
I Used to Think..and Now I Think..: Twenty Leading Educators Reflect on the Work of School Reform (Harvard Education Letter Impact Series) Richard F. Elmore (Author, Editor) Thought provoking essays on education policy that I keep near at hand – a lot of wisdom packed in a thin paperback!
The best education-related book that I read this year is “Focus: Elevating the Essentials to Radically Improve Student Learning” by Mike Schmoker. In a time full of so many new forms which are attempting to once again reform our educational system, Schmoker has the courage to suggest getting back to the essentials of deep reading and frequent writing. Our entire faculty read this book as part of our professional development plan this year and many are experiencing increased student engagement and achievement. I can’t recommend this book too highly.
An astonishing, rich feast of a book that finally puts left and right brain research in context. This is a book I read a few pages at a time in my Kindle where I highlighted and annotated it as well. This is a book that yields compound learning dividends.
Every chapter (55 of them, very short) has gems of disruptive beauty that are useful and clarifying. As usual we get our best advice on learning from those outside the field. Aldritch is a games and sims developer who is on the periphery of school.
This is the kind of book that provides brand new thrust for someone whose career is spluttering. New theory, new fuel, new power. I am still working my way through this one. I borrowed it via interlibrary loan via my university and have decided to get it to finish reading on my Kindle.
Good luck and maybe we will meet via highlights and notes in our respective Kindles.
Daniel W. Dyke:
I vote for Abe, as in “Learning from Lincoln – Leadership Practices for School Success,” by Harvey Alvy and Pam Robbins. Eleven well-written chapters are interspersed with leadership qualities from Lincoln’s life and culminate in 10 qualities, attributes, and skills for the 21st century school leader. The authors strive to show not only the need for each of these qualities to be present in our work today, but that they must be practiced as an interrelated whole if we, like Lincoln, are going to achieve success as leaders.
As a school librarian, my top picks for this year are:
Curriculum 21: Essential education for a changing world. This book really got me thinking about how we present information to our students. Are we doing them a dis-service by the methods we use in the classroom. Really turned my thinking upside down. My second choice was Beyond Cut and Paste by Jamie McKenzie. This little book is jammed full of information on multiple literacies and how we best prepare ours students to face all that information.
John Medina’s Brain Rules topped my list. With its emphasis on ALL the things our students’ brains require to succeed, including a low stress environment and exercise, this book makes clear, science-based arguments for schools that consider the needs of the whole child.
I liked How the ELL Brain Works by David A. Sousa. It’s thorough, starting with L1 and L2 acquisition, then has chapters devoted to teaching listening, speaking, reading, writing, and content areas, with lots of strategies, guidelines, and tips for teaching ELLs. It’s a well-put together book on a topic that we always want to learn more about.
My pick is Dealing With Difficult Teachers. It’s a great book for getting some perspective on the system for teachers. An epiphany for me was a passage about us as teachers having to deal with a challenging student for one year while their peers have to deal with them for up to twelve. Lots of good insights into the ‘mechanism’.
Steve Perry When Push Comes to Shove-I’ve read the stack of required ed-reform/anti-ed-reform books this year, who hasn’t? But Perry’s book definitely struck more of a chord-perhaps because I’m a parent and advocate on a daily basis for more family engagement in education I was ready to hear a message of it’s time to step up and do more, rather than read another book that listed all the things in the past that went wrong with education reform/transform. I recognize it is important to know the history in order to not repeat it, but it is also important to recognize that for parents, it is the NOW that matters most to them, and what role they have as partners in the NOW and the TOMORROW because far too often they have been neglected in the past.
The Book Whisperer – Donalyn Miller
This book made me question, revise, or ditch some of the long-standing things we’ve done regarding reading instruction and practice. She drove home the point of self-selection by students of reading material and giving students time to read – without test, quizzes, journals, etc attached to it. I can say it has made a tremendous difference in my students ability (and desire) to read.
Yong Zhao, Catching Up or Leading The Way. Made me realize how much of what we do is based on myth and fear.
Unmistakable Impact by Jim Knight
This book is extremely helpful to me as an instructional coach. We are working to be become an impact school. We are partnering within our building and with other schools in order to design a school that focuses on instruction and collaboration. This book is a model to go by!
I am currently reading the book, ‘The Purpose of Boys’ by Michael Gurian. It is a good read so far. Although it is not technically a book on education, some of the features can be applied to teaching. A good read so far.
Teaching Digital Natives—Partnering for Real Learning (Corwin 2010)
This book has became my “teaching bible” for the school year. The idea of partnering is central to my hopes for creating a student-centered, 21st century thinker supporting, community classroom where teachers are learners, and learners are teachers.
Maybe someone would like to read my new book I co-authored with Lani. We feel like it is a must read:
The Connected Educator:Learning and Leading in a Digital Age
It guides an individual toward becoming a connected educator as well as how to design DIY PD in addition to providing a path to PLCs Next Generation.
Drumming to the Beat of Different Marchers by Debbie Silver
It is a great read for us secondary instructional coaches and teachers who are interested in improving their instructional skills in a differentiated classroom. The book is full of practical strategies.
Teach Like a Champion by Doug Lemov; It’s a resource filled with tools that you can put into action right away. You don’t have to make anything, change your schedule or buy anything to implement. You just do it!
Last week, my classes all of a sudden became more challenging.
Instead of teaching two separate classes of United States History to Intermediate English Language Learners, one double-block period of Beginning ELL’s, and one period of IB Theory of Knowledge, my schedule now looks like this:
First Period: U.S. History to Intermediate ELL’s
Second Period: Prep
Third and Fourth Period: Combined class of Beginners and Intermediates
Fifth Period: U.S. History to Intermediate and Beginning ELL’s
Sixth Period: Theory of Knowledge
It’s all going to work out fine, and I’ll certainly get some new good ideas out of it to add to my upcoming book on teaching ELL’s (Katie Hull, my co-author and colleague, and I just submitted our 90,000 word manuscript to editors over the weekend — it will be published next July, and I’ll have time to make additions in December).
But it did force me to make some changes to my new English class blog. It now includes a list of accessible links to what, in my opinion, are the Best Sites For Beginners, Intermediates, and Advanced English Language Learners (Katie’s class of advanced students will now also use the site).
I just copied the sidebar from the class blog and pasted it here. You can find more specific reviews for all of them if you search this blog. I also included a section from the sidebar where I’ll be adding music and video sites that I’ll be using in the classroom via computer project — those sites are blocked to students, but not to teachers.
Let me know what you think — am I missing something?
Feel free to add suggestions in the comments, and also feel free to visit the class blog, which will be continually updated with new assignments and sites.