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Technology and Teaching Reading & Writing / Virtual Space: Gather
« Last post by Stephanie_C on March 22, 2021, 09:57:04 PM »
Recently, some of my virtual meetings have been using Gather:
This application can be accessed with a browser, and it allows hosts to build their own maps for people to interact in.Participants log in with video and audio like Zoom, but in Gather they also get to choose an avatar that they can control using the arrow keys or WASD. As the avatar moves through the map, participants will be able to video chat with any other avatar(s) that is close enough, with the video fading out if they move too far apart. Pressing the "x" key next to a glowing object allows the participant to interact with it.
The space is highly customizable and includes many objects that allow various interactions. For example, I found that a "laptop" object gives the option of embedding links, videos, plain text, and a couple of other things.The page itself has a good tutorial, and I can see this being a fun option for communicative learning or even simulating a foreign language environment.
Extensive Reading / Extensive Reading Activities
« Last post by Mengjia Zeng on March 22, 2021, 09:00:45 PM »
This website provides some really good ideas about how to develop the extensive reading activities. I especially like the fifth activity. One student and his partner could read two books separately for the first chapter. After finishing the reading, students could summarize what they have read recently to their partner. Based on the summary, they should switch the books and continue reading the next section. This activity is very interesting and requires students to have good ability in summarizing. Also this could be a good assignment to check whether students understand the chapter clearly. If they don't, then their partner may encounter great difficulty in continuing reading the same book.
The sixth activity is also interesting. For extensive reading, the most common assignment might be writing a summary. Rewriting stories with a totally different ending or genres may be very fun, like writing "Harry Potter and Zombies". Also writing a letter to a character in the book with something students agree with or disagree with may also be a good activity for them to practice writing!
Our group lesson was geared towards Middle Schoolers in grades 6-8.

Our idea for a postreading activity was to engage students in a discussion using the new vocabulary and then have them each write about something they enjoyed learning about during the reading. The story would be required to use some of the vocabulary that we focused on in the prereading as well as during the reading.
Textbook, Website, etc. Reviews / [Good Website/ Textbook] Raz-Kids (reading)
« Last post by MorganLuo on March 15, 2021, 03:18:22 AM »
This can be a great website for teaching reading skills in elementary classrooms or when teaching beginners to intermediate learners. What I loved about this website is that it has a variety of reading books/novels that were separated into different reading levels. There are 29 total reading levels, and it ranges from aa( lowest level) to Z2 (highest level). Since students within one ESL class tend to have different reading levels, and in order to keep every student engaged, it’s very important for them to read developmentally appropriate books that fit their reading levels. Thus, this website can be a great tool to use while teaching/practicing reading in an ESL classroom.  Moreover, this website is also free and students can access it any time they want, so that they can easily practice their reading comprehension and fluency even if they do not have access to the school library.
For me, when using the website, I’ll first estimate students’ reading level based on their daily performance, then test it by asking the students to read a book at that level. If it seems to be too difficult to accomplish or too easy to accomplish, then I’ll adjust their reading level accordingly and ask them to read again in the new reading level until they find the right reading level for that student. Besides, after assigning the correct reading level to each student, I now can easily ask students to practice their reading and fluency during reading time.
This is an amazing website for ESL teachers who are looking for lesson plans or activities for their students. Indeed, this website not only provides very diverse teaching resources, but all of these teaching resources were also well organized and were written in high quality. What I loved about this website is that you can find a variety of lesson plans or activity plans on this website. For instance, it has 26 different categories and it ranges from Ice Breaker Activities to Business English, and within each category, you can view pages of detailed lesson plans/ activities guides that were written by ESL teachers all across the globe. Although some of the lesson plans/ activities guides might be shorter than you expected, however, there is no doubt that all of the activities were well structured and have been successfully practiced in many ESL classrooms. Indeed, within the well-organized website, you can find all the materials that you are looking for very easily. Besides, all of the lesson plans/activities guides also have a brief description of the lesson goals and information like the student level that the lesson plan/activity guide should be using. In fact, the website is also being constantly updated because every ESL teacher is free to post or add their lesson plan/activity guide on the site.
Further, like previously mentioned, every lesson plan or activity guide that you find on this website can be easily applied to your lesson. For instance, if I’m teaching business English, I could open the website and find the “business English” category, then choosing an activity that I think fits my instruction the best. For example, the activity guide that I find called “bulls and bears” provides the phone call activity for teachers to use in their classroom in order to help their students improve their skill on given numbers through the telephone.
Hope you’ll enjoy this website!
Post-reading activity for Sara, Mengjia, and Marianne

Student group: 15 freshmen in an ESL college writing class

After the students have revisited and revised their lists of words, the class will debrief and discuss how they were able to distinguish between words that were absolutely necessary to know and words that they felt ok just guessing the meaning of.

Once they have finished with this debrief, the students will complete a creative writing assignment imagining that they landed on Proxima b. To assess students' comprehension of the article, they should include a description of and details about the planet from the article. For example, they might mention a sun, as the article suggests that some of the stars near Proxima b are "sun-like." They might also encounter aliens or exotic plants, as of course, the article says it could be habitable.

During reading:

This activity would be preceded by Mengjia's (pre-reading).Student group: 15 students, Freshmen at college
Because this is a complex text, it is possible that students feel overwhelmed by the number of words that may feel unfamiliar to them. An important reading skill is drawing inferences of the meaning of words from the context. In this activity, our goal is to practice that skill together with the strategy of skimming the text for a general idea.
1. Students are asked to do a first, superficial, reading of the text while highlighting any words that they do not know the meaning of or that are unfamiliar to them.
2. Students have to do a second, more paused, reading and try to get a general idea of the text.
3. We provide students with a table with three columns and ask them to divide the words that they initially highlighted into 1. Words they did not know at first but could infer their meaning from the context, 2. Words they did not know, but whose meaning they did not need to understand the text, and 3. Words they did not know and they definitely needed to look-up to understand the text.

The objective of this activity is that students use their inference skills to find the general idea of a text and learn how to not be blocked by unknown vocabulary.

Marianne will post the following post-reading activity.
Group: Zaima (Pre-reading), Stephanie (During-reading), Morgan (Post-reading)
Age range of students: around 7-8th grade
Annotation: students should get into groups and try to figure out the main facts of each paragraph as well as noting down unknown vocabulary items or phrases.

Depending on time, a possible additional activity to have students single out phrases or vocabulary that seem to be impeding the majority of their understanding and look them up in order to fill out a worksheet on the main "figures" in the article, for example (hand-illustrated):
The blank boxes are flexible and can contain either lists of observations or even questions such as:

What do we know about this object?
Who are these people? What did they do?
What does "VLT" stand for?
Is this planet inhabitable?

Our lesson is made for middle school grades 7-8. For our pre-reading activity we will start off with displaying the star system Alpha Centauri through the app Stellarium. Using this application students will be able to see what is surrounding the star system. The title of the article will also be shown to the class and from there students will work in groups to create a chart displaying what they already know about space and any observations/predictions they have based on the title of the article and the image displayed. Students will write this information on a sheet of poster paper that will be hung up in order to have the class compare and share what they have written.

Stephanie will be posting the during-reading part and Morgan will be posting the post-reading part.
Our group has designed several pre-reading activities.
1. Question: When it comes to Astronomy, which words will you come up with?
In this part, students could do a jamboard activity to share their initial understanding and prior knowledge of Astronomy. Teachers could also have a good idea about students' understanding of Astronomy.
2. Teacher would present the first picture of the article and ask students' first impression of this picture.
3. Students will watch the two introductory videos from the article and jump into reading the article.

The following is not related to pre-reading activities, but the two videos that I found might be helpful to reading comprehension.
Here is another video I find to be interesting about Alpha Centauri System:
And there is another video made by Science of Space, which covered a lot of information form the article.

Sara will post the during-reading activities.
Marianne will post the post-reading activities.
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