Sunday, April 25, 2010

Postcard swap... What a great idea for educators!

There's postcard swap for families happening here this month. I was thinking that it'd be a really great idea for ELL kids. If you're interested, leave a comment and I'll see what I can do about putting one together.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

ESL Roundtable Synopsis

ESL Roundtable
Southern Indiana Education Center
Jasper, IN
April 12, 2010

Participants discussed challenges that they face at their schools.
  1. ELL teachers are searching for quick, easily incorporated modifications that they can recommend for mainstream teachers. Many ELL teachers are finding that mainstream teachers are not modifying / adapting content for ELL students.
  2. Some teachers note that there is a lack of space in the school to work with students.
  3. Grading ELL students is a challenge.  Teachers expressed dissatisfaction with grading scales (U / S) for ELL students.  Participants from one school said that their school no longer uses a grading scale; rather, they use standards. Students are evaluated on their ability to meet individual standards. It seems to be a better fit for their ELL students. Other teachers wondered how to grade with modifications.
  4. Retention is an on-going problem for all schools. Students drop out when they transition from the elementary / middle school to junior / senior high school. Some think that this is linked to feelings of isolation. Others attributed it, in part, to cultural differences.
  5. There is a need for on-going teacher training to reinforce language acquisition theory and ELL education. Mainstream teachers often need to be reminded of what ELL students need.
  6. Support at home is often lacking.
  7. Differentiating between language-related issues and special needs issues is an on-going problem for some schools.
  8. Schools need translation services for documentation going home.


Participants discussed the successes that they have had with their programs and students. Here is a list of accomplishments that participants were particularly proud of:
  1. On-going program development to meet changing needs of students and school.
  2. Grouping LEPs so that scheduling and placement facilitates student and program success.
  3. Partnering with local fire and police departments. Students taught officers Spanish; officers provided community support.
  4. College nights / college club: Meetings offered students information about colleges, food, and fun activities. Students participate in fundraisers to go on trips to visit campuses.)
  5. Improving ILP forms to make them useful documents for mainstream teachers.
  6. Using MClass and RTI with ELL populations to track progress.
  7.  The creation of parent advisory committee to encourage family involvement.
  8. Documents are sent home in Spanish; school’s phone system has outgoing messages in English and Spanish.
  9. A dedicated ESL classroom was established.
  10. A structured, academically-based ESL program that parallels and complements mainstream classrooms was established.
  11. The school runs adult ed in the evenings using Rosetta Stone to provide support for families and build community. The teachers mentioned that students join in when they see how hard their parents are working on learning English.

 Future Goals

Participants discussed items that still remain to be addressed and future goals (both personal and professional).
  1. Establish a Spanish club to encourage students to speak English and to teach both ELL students and Anglo students about their respective cultures.
  2. Create a mentor program for young women to work on retention in the middle and high schools.
  3. Re-learn Spanish to make communicating with students easier.
  4. Find ways to increase parent involvement.


There were a few questions raised during the discussion about the future of ELL funding:
  1. Will there be cuts in Title III funding?
  2. What’s going on with the application forms for the migrant program through IDOE?
o      Indiana Department of Education, English Language Learning & Migrant Education website:
o      Title III Migrant Education Grant Application Process:
o      2010 Migrant Education Program Application:

Games for Lower Grades

Free Technology for Teachers is one place that I consistently go to find out about "new stuff" for the classroom. He has an ongoing collection of games and game-related posts that you may find useful.

Here are the search results for "Games" at FreeTech4Teachers.

Resources from ESL Roundtable

Here are the websites and resources that were shared at the ESL Roundtable Monday, April 12, 2010.

Reading A to Z
  "...Reading A-Z offers thousands of printable teacher materials to teach leveled reading, phonemic awareness, reading comprehension, reading fluency, alphabet, and vocabulary. The teaching resources include professionally developed downloadable leveled books, lesson plans, worksheets, and reading assessments..."

*NOTE: Only some of these resources are available for free. A website maintained by The Internet TESL Journal ( that has grammar and vocabulary quizzes, crossword puzzles, links to ESL podcasts and YouTube videos. offers teachers educational quizzes, the ability to track students' scores, and a free subscription to their newsletters.

The Realty StoreSM is a "...simulation game in which students identify their career interests, research a specific career, and receive a mock checkbook with the monthly income entered for the specific career.  Students then visit booths manned by community members at which they pay their monthly bills.  At each booth, student make decisions concerning the standard of living they’ll assume..."

ESL@ Web English Teacher  "...At Web English Teacher educators can take advantage of online technology to share ideas and to benefit from the work of others. Beginning teachers can find guidance; experienced teachers can find inspiration. Think of it as the faculty library and faculty workroom on a global scale..."

Resources from Write Connections on ELL & Writing  "...With each spelling list, students can choose one of three options:
  • Test Me repeats each spelling word with a live voice and uses it in a sentence.
  • Teach Me spells and displays the word in ways that stimulate memory for visual and verbal learners.
  • Play a Game uses your spelling list in educational games that teach spelling, word meaning, vocabulary, and alphabetical order.
After taking an online spelling test, students can print out a report, retake the entire test, or get tested only on the spelling words they got wrong the first time..." A database of e-books. A free trial is available.

Refurbished Computers for Schools

The Indiana Department of Education's Office of Learning Technologies has a program that provides schools with refurbished computers. Schools that are interested should submit a completed Request for Re-purposed Computers for Schools.

Note: There are also a handful of grants that are being offered... Find more information on the OLT website.


Storybird is a website dedicated to cultivating storytelling and collaboration.

I love that this site allows users (students) to create beautiful narratives without having to worry about formatting.

Educational applications:

ESL students could use a storybird to illustrate idioms, create visual dictionaries, elaborate on content learned in class, supplement personal narratives, and create visual aids for speeches. Since storybirds aren't printable, students would need to create a storybird and present them using a projector (or take screen shots and a slideshow application).

Jasper Presentation

Technology, Entertainment, Design

TED is an organization that makes its material available to the world at no cost. Many of the talks are available in other languages...

Classroom applications:

Use these talks as supplemental materials, starting points, or conversation pieces. For students who struggle with English, check to see if the talk is available in their native language(s).

Google's Gmail & Student Accounts

Since students may not have access to email at home and because some schools do not issue school email accounts, one solution may be to create sub accounts.

How it works:

You sign up for a Gmail account. This is your teacher account, not a personal email account.

Add new other email addresses to the account in the settings menu.

Each student should be assigned a sub account linked to your teacher account. To create these sub-accounts, add a plus sign and the student's name after your name and before the

krajiceks @


krajiceks+stephanie @

For better instructions, check out this link.

* Remember to check your school's Acceptable Use Policy and to review Google's Terms of Service before jumping in. Sending home a letter of intent / permission slip isn't a bad idea, either.

Latino Mix Club

If anyone is interested in learning more about my colleague's experience with founding and running the Latino Mix club, please contact me or leave a comment.

Adaptations Chart for IEPs

I mentioned that Susan Fitzell provided her workshop participants with a form that could be used to keep track of adaptations during planning... She has made a PDF version available on her website. (Find it under the "Differentiating Instruction, IEP Adaptations and Gifted Strategies" category.) I will work on a modified version specifically for ELL classrooms and post that here by next week.

Online Translators

I found a list of online translators (scroll down, the list is on the left in a baby blue field), but I can't vouch for their worth. If you have documents that you need translated and are loathe to use one of these, I would suggest:

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

CALLA Handbook: Implementing the Cognitive Academic Language Learning Approach

The other text that I used in the ICP program through IUPUI was the CALLA handbook.

Anna Uhl Chamot and J. Michael O'Malley (1994)
Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company
Pp. x + 340
ISBN 0-201-53963-2 (paper)

 Here is a review of the CALLA Handbook by TESL-EJ

Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP)

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to participate in an interdisciplinary collaborative program through IUPUI. We were introduced to the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP). I *really* learned a lot about ELLs and how to be a better ELL teacher because of this program.

I am not sure that you can purchase the handbook without attending the training... but there are many resources based on this framework that are available and worth your time.


“Audacity® is free, open source software for recording and editing sounds.”

On-line Tutorials & Resources 

Accommodations, Adaptations & Modifications

Some definitions that might help you as you consider what you can do for ELL students:

Accommodations are supports and services that help students be successful. Accommodations for ELL students might include:
  • supplemental materials (i.e., diagrams, illustrations, charts, definitions, articles in L1)
  • tutors, advocates, after-school programs, translators
  • pull-out programs / sheltered programs / ELL study halls
  • equipment (i.e. hearing aid, wheel chairs)

Adaptations are instructional tools and approaches that bolster a student's ability to learn or demonstrate learning. Adaptations for ELL students might include:
  • using a bilingual dictionary during tests
  • using audio recorders or word processors
  • adapted texts / materials (i.e., materials written in simplified language) or translated texts
  • modified assessment procedures / materials (i.e., directions written in L1)
  • notes / materials (i.e., pre-teach vocabulary, concepts, background)
  • Consultation with teachers, family, agencies, and other advocates (i.e., ESL teacher, conferences with family and translators)
Modifications are significant changes that are made to the content so that a student may be successful
  • reducing objectives
  • reducing content, process, and product
  • alternative texts and tests (The key here is that the content is different, not the way it is presented.)
  • assistance for majority of learning
Susan Fitzell, a special education teacher and educational consultant, makes the distinction that modifications are significant changes (> 33 percent) to the content of a class / curriculum. Fitzell has resources available to teachers on her website. Of interest to teachers of ELL students are:

Grading in the Diverse Classroom: What's Fair?
Grading Special Needs Students In The General Classroom

ISTE National Educational Technology Standards

Monday, during the workshop on technology integration for ELL classrooms, I mentioned that the ISTE NETS are available online. In addition, ISTE has published booklets that for each set of standards that includes profiles of students who embody each standards, scenarios illustrating how standards can be met, and for teachers, a rubric for self-evaluation. While you can get the standards online for free, these publications are worth purchasing. (Well, they were for me, in any case.) And if there is someone in your building or corporation who is a member of ISTE, you can get them at a discounted rate.

*They are available on If you aren't a member, I think that's the cheaper route. However, if you are a member, go to the ISTE bookstore.

If you've never heard of ISTE, there is a conference this summer in Denver that is going to be pretty fantastic judging from the program. I'll be there... If you go, look me up!