The School Year is Coming to a Close - Portfolio Time

Officially as of today we have one month of school remaining, before we know it we will be saying goodbye to our students and hello to the summer. Now is the time of year for students to reflect on the things they have learned this year and to showcase the knowledge they have gained. The last month of school in my ESL class is devoted to developing portfolios. Portfolios need to be planned from the beginning with the end in mind. As I am planning for the each week, I always have in the back of mind "how will this skill/lesson be showcased in the portfolio"?

The purpose of the portfolio is to recap the learning of the student and give the teacher for next year a good baseline of the student's knowledge and skills. During the year I do four units with my students: fiction, non fiction, book clubs and poetry. In each unit there are standards that the students are held accountable for. For example in the book clubs unit, students need to have completed one book review and wrote an essay comparing and contrasting their book with someonelse's book in their group. These two things will go in their poetry section of the portfolio.

The portfolio is put together by the student. For each piece of work the student places in the portfolio the student also does a review of that work. This can be a short answer response, a checklist or an essay. The students highlight things they enjoyed, strengths, and weaknesses about the piece. This is a time for students to reflect on the things they learned during the unit.

Students also choose one piece that they want to improve (this is usually something from the beginning of the year). The student will they rework the piece they choose and write a rationale for why they chose that piece and how they improved it.

This is a good way to end the year because students get to see all the work they have done and how they have improved from the beginning of the year. However, it is best to plan do make a portfolio from the beginning of the year, so that students save their work to showcase it in their portfolio.

Recent Update: Testing Time

As you all can see I haven't written a blog in about a week. I have been crazy busy at school with testing. This is the time in NY when we have the NYSESLAT exam, the ESL exam. There are four parts: Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking. The exam is given over the course of three to five days. Personally, I think it is a pretty fair exam.

I have been inundated this week with testing the students at my school and tomorrow, I should be finished with testing. I plan to share more of my thoughts on the exam and how to prepare students in my upcoming blog tomorrow.

And again, thank you to all my readers who have read my students blogs and commented. They are very happy to be receiving comments on their writing from people they do not know. If you would like to keep tabs on their blogs I will spotlight them on my page soon.

Blogs with my ESL Students After School

I teach a supplemental ESL program after school. I have 8 students and my goal is to teach them English through relevant, cutting edge ways. I started them off with email accounts. I email them two to three times a week and they email me back. We have conversations about what they are interested in. Then we did a project on, a website where you can create your own comic and then publish it on the site for other people to see. And now we are moving onto to creating our own blogs.

Five of them have setup their blog and written their first entry. Hopefully by next week the other 3 students will have theirs started as well. All of my students are beginner level ESL in 6th and 7th grade (12 - 13 yrs old). Stay tuned I will be notating based on my experience with my students best practices for using blogs with ESL students.

Take a look at their blogs and comment if you would like to they would love to know that someone is reading their blog.


So What is Web 2.0 Anways?

Web 2.0 is the cutting edge is the technological world. Most websites as we know them are Web 1.0, this means that they are informational. Web 2.0 includes websites such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Basecamp, Buddy School, Schoopy, and many more. Web 2.0 is about delivering the information people need while creating a community. For example, I really enjoy cooking, so I can go to and find, create and share recipes with other people on the site.

We need to start taking advantage of this new wave of technology in our classroom. You can go to the Web 2.0 Index and you will be able to find all the Web 2.0 sites available. I encourage you to explore and find ways to incorporate these new sites into your classroom. Try out, it is a social network where you can communicate with your students and parents. You can have discussions, post homework, give assignments, etc.

In the next few blogs, I will be writing about how you can incorporate Web 2.0 websites into your classroom.

Review on Using Web 2.0 for Teaching

I ran across this blog a little while ago about using Twitter to teach. For those of you not familiar with Twitter, it is a website that you can update your status of things you are thinking or doing. You can follow people and get updated on their status as well. You can also receive and update Twitter on the website or through text messaging.

This is a very interesting blog on ways that you can incorporate Twitter into your classroom. I think it would be most successful with students who are in high school, college or adults.

Check out this blog and let me know your thoughts. Web 2.0 Teaching Tools: Twitter
1) Do you use Twitter?
2) Do you think it would be easy to incorporate into your classroom?
3) How could you use Twitter with your students?

Technology in the ESL Classroom ... what do you think?

There are many different uses for technology in the classroom. I have talked to teachers who use facebook, myspace, blogs, youtube, twitter, tumblr, achieve3000, email and the list goes on. What do you think?
I want to pose two questions today.

1) Should we use technology or is it too distracting?

2) What technology do you use in your class?

Let me know what you think I would love to hear your thoughts!