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Messages - Beth M. Hennes

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1
Vocabulary / Re: academic word list
« on: September 08, 2008, 04:12:57 PM »
I have just stumbled upon these lists in my search for how to get my students a little bit more adept at academic English.

...I teach 6-12 graders (mostly Latino) and my students often end up VERY orally proficient, but more or less not literate (ie BICS but not CALP)...

http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/~alzsh3/acvocab/index.htm

I am intrigued by the power of this website: eg. the GapMaker creates a cloze exercise for you using AWL words using a text YOU as a teacher provide. The Highlighter underlines all the academic words in the passage.

What do you think? Will this take students down the right path?

2
Beginning Readers / Descriptions: A Writing Unit (Middle School)
« on: May 07, 2007, 01:46:00 AM »
Unit Goals
The primary unit objective is to encourage students to write cohesive descriptive paragraphs, using more complex sentences and adjectives that are not ?boring?. This unit also focuses on initiating students to source-based writing, note-taking and research techniques. The final project will be a ?Who Am I?? riddle paragraph.

Lesson Topics
1.   Properties of Matter (2 days)
2.   Making Notes (2 days)
3.   Developing Sentences (1-2 days)
4.   ?What Am I?? Descriptions (4 days)

Student Profile
This unit is targeted for a middle school (grades 6-8) multi-leveled, multi-languages ESL class. Students meet with other ESL students in the same grade during a resource/enrichment FLEX period for 43 minutes. Lessons have to be somewhat ?stand-alone? because students may not come every day if they are finishing a test or working with another teacher.


see attached full unit plan and handouts...
*Thanks to the materials writers from whom I borrowed lesson ideas*

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Authentic v. Modified Materials / Re: Authentic Materials
« on: May 02, 2007, 01:11:36 AM »
Here's one more:

http://www.breakingnewsenglish.com/
This site provides international current events stories in "easier" and "harder" versions. Each lesson comes with activities for before, during, and after reading, as well as vocabulary and other support activities.

4
Vocabulary / Vocab to Go
« on: April 30, 2007, 07:39:41 PM »
Sometimes when I need a little rote vocabulary practice, I like to target words I need to learn on flashcards. However, here's a new spin: once while in a university bookstore, I spotted these blank flashcards that were on a metal ring that could be opened and closed. You easily make your own by cutting up index cards (who really needs them to be so big) and then punching a hole in a corner. The ones I bought were called "Mindbenders Study Cards" (the phone number on the back is 1-888-646-3246)

All the flashcards can be held together with a metal ring that you can buy at any stationary store; I believe they're called "loose leaf rings". I just through my little clip of them in a side packet of my backpack, and they are handy when I've got a minute AND they don't come apart and make a mess. A girl I met once with them says she likes to take them in her purse when she's out with native speakers of her L2 and take cards off the ring and pass them around to fill out. The native speakers would always share "interesting" tidbits with her.

5
Vocabulary / Reality Vocabulary
« on: April 30, 2007, 07:30:20 PM »
When I lived abroad I was a fan of Reality Television in my L2 (I can't stand it in my L1, at least on a regular basis). Like watching movies, the target language is spoken at a native pace and can usually be enhanced with subtitles (depends on the TV and the station). But what REALLY makes Reality TV great for FL learning is that it isn't scripted (not to say that it isn't selectively edited by producers, but we're not looking for quality of plot here)--the language is used as it REALLY is spoken, complete with everyday language.

I picked up SO many idioms and SO much vocabulary from sheer force of repetition. After all, in many cultures, language goes in trends and people tend to use the same types of expressions to express the same types of ideas.

And with the growth of internet programing, I'm willing to bet that many Reality Shows are available online for those who aren't 'fortunate' enough to be studying in the native country.

I also really liked listening to morning radio shows in my L2 while I was getting ready for the day. These radio personalities often talk about pop culture, stories of local interest and funny stuff. For a language learner, what a great way to get used to the language, because the shows typically have a routine and cover the same topics at the same times/days. Streaming radio is DEFINITELY available on the internet all over the world.

6
Here is my PowerPoint presentation discussing why choosing level-appropriate reading materials are important, and then some strategies for how to actually choose them. Once you determine what level your students are at, there are several strategies for finding texts that are accessible...

Other readability calculators include: (See the Wikipedia explanations)
Flesch-Kincaid http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flesch-Kincaid_Readability_Test
SMOG Index http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SMOG_Index

I have also attached the LEXILE benchmark map, which gives LEXILE scores as compared to L1 grade levels and gives examples of texts at these levels, as well as the reading levels targeted on tests like the TOEFL or GRE.

7
(Also see posts on Pre-Reading and During-Reading for this story...there is some overlap.)
by Beth, Hongli and Ika

Film ?To Build a Fire?
There is a 1969 film narrated by Orson Wells based on this novel. This could be a nice way for students to connect other language skills, such as summary writing, as there is no conversation in the movie, only a narrator. Students can use their own words (oral or written) to narrate the story after watching the movie. http://www.amazon.com/Build-Fire-David-Cobham/dp/6301302907

Write from the perspective of the dog
Students can also rewrite the story from the perspective of the dog, as the dog has been watching the whole story.

Create alternate endings
The ending of this story is very sad. Students may start to write different endings and justify their choices. This could invoke interesting group discussion on conflict and story exposition.

?How-to? Process-Writing
Describing processes is an important language function. Here student can describe how to build a fire or how to do something else (e.g. how to make a sandwich, how to do a cartwheel) verbally or in written form.

Obituary
Students will imagine that they are the best friend of the main character and have been asked to write the man?s obituary for the newspaper, The Yukon Times. They should research obituaries in a newspaper, making a list of the characteristics of obituary writing, then write their own based on their knowledge of the story.

Frozen Hands
For some ESL students, extreme cold is a very foreign concept, so we can try to help them understand through an experiential activity. For example, give students mittens as ask them to pick up matches or coins/to tie their shoes/or use one hand to do something to experience the difficulty of building a fire in cold. This could also be a pre-reading activity.

8
(Also see posts on Pre-Reading and Post-Reading for this story...there is some overlap.)
by Beth, Hongli and Ika

Sheltered English Read-Along
There is an audio read-along of the story, adapted for ESL learners at http://www.manythings.org/listen/ckmp3-fire1.html. If the teacher intends to use the original text, this may even be useful as a pre-reading activity so that students can familiarize themselves with the plot before diving into the full text.

American Literary Classics (Level 1) The Ladder Series ?To Build a Fire?
http://users.aber.ac.uk/jpm/ellsa/ellsa_buildfire1.html
This is a really cool ESL lesson with a synopsis, pre-reading, in-reading, exercises and post-reading sections. See attached .pdf for a printable version

?To Build a Fire? vocab by Advanced Placement Strategies (a NS high school resource)
http://www.apstrategies.org/download/vocab/novels/To%20Build%20a%20Fire.pdf
This 7-page document addresses 11 vocabulary words drawn from the story. See attached .pdf for a printable version

Knowledge or Instinct? Jack London's ?To Build a Fire? (another NS high school resource)
http://edsitement.neh.gov/view_lesson_plan.asp?id=648
Students examine the relationship of man and nature, discuss London's juxtaposition of knowledge and instinct, understand third person omniscient point of view, and conduct in-depth character analysis.

Wilderness Survival Opinionaire
http://www.thewritingtutor.biz/articles/MI-appendixJ.php
Students complete the opinionnaire before reading the short story, then again after reading and discussing it. The second opinionnaire is followed up with an essay assignment that asks students to identify three statements from the opinionnaire for which their answers changed as a result of reading and discussing the story. This assignment requires students to consider the reasons for their answers on the first opinionnaire and then to consider what about the story and the class discussions made them change their opinions when completing the second opinionnaire. Students are also required to use textual evidence in support of their reasoning. See attached .pdf for a printable version

9
Motivation / Making Reading "Easier to Swallow" with a Jigsaw
« on: February 28, 2007, 10:16:36 AM »
When I was learning my L2, my biggest qualm about reading was that it wasn't enjoyable (even though I like to read in my native language) because it was too much like studying. Anything that made the task less demanding was welcome, because they I wouldn't have to spend so much time concentrating.

An idea for this is to structure a reading text as a jigsaw, giving small groups of students small chunks of text, no mater how disjunct and decontextualized, and tell them to just try to understand "what happened" during their chunk. When they meet back up with the other students that have the other pieces to their story, they get to talk about the whole text (and therefore gain an understanding of the whole text--inductively) and only had to do a fraction of the work.

It's not appropriate for every situation, but it's a nice technique for some students.

10
Using Literature / Re: Using Literature in a Grammar Class: Aesop's Fables
« on: February 12, 2007, 01:37:01 PM »
Here is a book that has a section that examines fables before they've gotten watered down. Amazon lets you read the first few pages, which seem to be the relevant ones. The original Sleeping Beauty is quite the story...she gets raped and knocked up with twins while asleep and one of the babies sucks the sliver out of her finger!  :o  Pretty different today!

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0385483767/ref=wl_it_dp/103-2593854-4153434?ie=UTF8&coliid=I3357CBN2NKOKW&colid=PAQKD77W3MMM

11
Harry Potter are pretty challenging children's books, even for native speakers. The first few volumes have some pretty dense, heavy descriptions that can be hard to maneuver, while the last few are just plain thick!

Mary Ellen Web, an English and journalism teacher from Virginia wrote the poem "Harrypotterfakeritis," which I am attaching for the sake of illustrating just how "hard" this book can be--especially for struggling readers.

For an ESL reader, one of the most challenging aspects of these books will be vocabulary, pure and simple. As a second language learner of French, it was quite awhile before I was at a level where I could comfortably handle the text--and I'd say I was definitely advanced by then. I found myself wallowing in words that I had never seen before, without a clue what they meant. It was too cumbersome to hit the dictionary every other sentence, so I relied on having read them in my L1 and having seen the movies so that I could vaguely follow the plot.

So... to tackle this challenge, here is an idea. Being that Harry Potter is full of "nonsense words" created by J.K. Rowling to describe things in the magic world and that there are equally as many words that will appear to be nonsense words to ESL students because they are low-frequency "GRE words" (not kidding!), use some exercises to develop vocabulary interpretation strategies.

Here is a great one from Jennifer Altman of the University of Washington:
http://www.jalt-publications.org/tlt/articles/2002/01/altman

Essentially, her procedure is this:
1.  Group the students in threes and fours, and ask a volunteer to read the directions aloud.
2. Tell the students to underline the italicized words in Set A (to ensure that they know which words to guess) and explain that these words will not be found in English-Japanese dictionaries because they are Yiddish. I use Yiddish because most students have never encountered this language so there is minimal risk of students' prior knowledge conflicting with the purpose of the exercise. Nonsense words, like zep or alkdsu, may be substituted.
3. Direct the students to use the context and their imaginations to guess the meanings.
4. When the students finish (after five minutes or so), ask them to present their guesses to the class.

See the link for sample sentences.

I would then take the activity a step further and pull challenging sentences with magic or low-frequency words from HP and do the same thing.

Altman's conclusion was this:
After practicing this technique, students respond with "Guessing meanings go to near the really meaning. It is very useful to study in America" and "I used my brain and imaginations!" They may not be able to understand every word they read, but they can feel confident in guessing the meanings because they know how close their own guesses are to the dictionary definitions. This gives them self-assurance in their comprehension abilities and increases their vocabulary.



An additional, teaching vocabulary from context activity is here:
http://www.learnnc.org/lessons/BettyDeluca5232002364

This was one is written for 4-8 Grade Language Arts (native speakers), but I like the activity and the strategies it guides students through. As adult readers, we were probably taught these strategies when we are very young and then forget how we learned them in the first place. The strategy may need to be retaught when learning to read in your L2.

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I agree. Sotith, this a nice study guide. I really like your attention to the different types of questions. There are probably some chapters in a book like HP that will have more of one type than another (or some classes you will teach who will need more of one type!).

I disagree with Ika though in that on a student worksheet, defining what type of question you're asking is probably not that helpful to the student either way. However, to a teacher-planner, it is, because you want to make sure your assessment is balanced and you are appropriately activating schemata.

For a different teacher using this material, yes, a key might be useful, but that would probably be best in a different document.

13
I just realized that I forgot to write about my worsts... Here they are:

The Worst of Reading...
When I was finishing up my bachelor's in French Education, I was required to take a proficiency test to prove that I was indeed worthy of teaching French to young, impressionable minds. At the time (they now use an Oral Proficiency Interview and maybe something else), it was left to the university's discretion which language test they would use, and mine had really not bothered with anything new or innovative for quite some time because it was such a small department. So I had to take the MLA (Modern Languages Association) French Test, which I could still rant about because it was so ridiculously artificial and trivial. The reading section had a series of short literary passages after which there were 4 or 5 questions that mainly focused on vocabulary. The worst part for me was that even if I didn't know the word, I still understood it through the context, but then could not answer the question successfully anyway. The choices were also low-frequency synonyms so I didn't know those words either, but this time had no context to help me. Long story short, I passed the Reading section of the test, but the professors pretty much told me it was a "pity" pass because I had scored nearly perfectly on the listening and did very well on the writing. (They failed me on the Speaking section though, so I still had to do some remedial work...I'm okay now though.)

The Worst of Writing...
This is ironically tied to my Worst of Reading story. After I failed the Speaking part of that ridiculous exam, I decided to go live with a private tutor in Bordeaux, France, for some intensive and expensive lessons. I stayed with her for 4 weeks, and did 3 hours of lessons with her a day, plus meal conversations, etc. Overall, a really good experience, especially since I was really looking to improve fast--nothing like immersion for that! Anyway, before I left to stay with Brigitte, the contracting language school, Bordeaux School of Languages, asked me to give a writing sample. The prompt was to write a cover letter to apply for some job opening as a secretary or something. Essentially, I later found out that I did not possess the cultural currency to successfully complete this task. The American style and language of business letter-writing is rather different from that of the French, so I approached it all wrong. I didn't know the correct collocations and sequencing or even what to include by French standards. When Brigitte got her hands on it, not only did she jump all over my grammar, but her reaction was "No, no, this is all wrong. This is just not said. This is unacceptable. Why don't you know how to write? You must be at a very low level." I immediately got defensive, because when translated into English, it was definitely what is expected of a good American cover letter (I told her so). We worked on improving it for awhile and even consulted the reference section of a bilingual dictionary to look at form, but honestly, it was the biggest waste of my time as a language learner. I was not looking to learn business French, nor did I have any use for learning how to apply for a job in French (since I was planning on working in the United States). I think that she realized this too, but a little later, after I had become nice and frustrated and hostile. The happy ending... eventually Brigitte and I figured each other out and she really helped me get where I needed to be in French--orally proficient and specifically prepared to pass the same speaking test that they had given to me before.

14
The Best of Reading...
When I was learning French, I had a lit teacher in Quebec who broke us up into groups to read short stories. This was my first experience with a class Jigsaw activity that actually worked, and worked well. There were 3 of us in each group and each of us had a different part of the story to read. When we came back together, we were able to ask questions and really piece together the story. There were a lot of "Oh! That's what that meant!" or "Oh, now I understand why he did that!" moments in the discussion. This was really the first time for me that the group work seemed really valuable. I depended on my classmates to help me understand, and in being part of this group, I saved myself from reading 30 pages because my part was maybe only about 10. After the groups figured out their stories, we then retold all of the stories to the class, so we got to hear what the other groups had read too. It was a "maximized" experience, with minimal effort.

The Best of Writing...
I've been taking lower level Spanish courses here at the University of Illinois, which are "technology-enhanced", meaning that in exchange for not having to be in class for 2 of the 4 credit hours, we have to workbook and quiz activities on our own on the computer. French has given me a receptive knowledge of Spanish, so online practice isn't as effective to me memory-wise since I'm not really putting pen to paper and doing much more than copy-paste. Well, in an attempt to compensate for this phenomena, the course designers also require a message board posting, where we have to write journals. For me, this has been the best opportunity for written practice (in this context), in combination with the small amount of partner work we do in class. I also like to take my Discussion postings in to my instructor's office hours for some quick diagnostic common-error correction.

15
Feedback--Peer Review / Peer Review for IMRD Research Paper
« on: May 28, 2006, 10:28:52 PM »
This is still a little rough, but I wanted to have something for Peer Reviews that fit the formal research paper format more than our Peer Review worksheets that are meant for 5-paragraph essays. I only got one test-run of this form, so I'm not sure if it's complete. Let me know if you think there is something missing or unnecessary!

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Pedagogy Issues / Instructor Conference Evaluation Rubric
« on: May 28, 2006, 10:16:54 PM »
This is something that I developed to use with students who meet with me to talk about their compositions. It essentially takes my "ESL Composition Rubric" and breaks it down a little more, highlighting common "problem spots". It's a bit like a check-list so that students have a bit more guidance when revising their papers.

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Pedagogy Issues / Re: Composition Grading Rubric
« on: May 28, 2006, 10:10:42 PM »
Usually, I just place "X"s over the boxes that best describe the student's work. Think of it as a continuum. You have the choice of assigning a numeric value to each category (Task, Organization, Expression, etc), and you can place that number on the side where it says "Teacher Score" and adding up the numbers like that. I usually just eye up when my "X"s fell, with the top categories being more important and decide what the avarage grade of the "X"s is (the top 2 "X"s in the 4 column and the bottom 2 "X"s in the 3 column, would most likely be an A-, for example, with a score of 9/10. Something like that. Hope that helps.

18
Unity & Coherence / Coherence In-class Writing
« on: May 28, 2006, 09:35:37 PM »
Here is an in-class writing exercise for coherence from Ann Spear, aimed at undergrads. I adapted the same exercise for our ESL Service graduate students so that it would be a little more "academic". I attached the word doc as well.

Undergrad

WRITE: a coherent paragraph of at least 5 sentences using the following nouns. Choose one from each group and make it the subject of its own sentence:

a.   singer/dancer/musician
b.   mountain/beach/desert/riverbank
c.   horse/elephant
d.   dollar/key/cell phone/roses/ticket/backpack


Graduate

WRITE: a coherent paragraph of at least 5 sentences using the following nouns. Choose one from each group and make it the subject of its own sentence:
a.   researcher/professor/analyst
b.   laboratory/auditorium/museum/hallway
c.   mother/neighbor
d.   key/shoes/computer/briefcase/test tube

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This is a list that my class and I compiled for things they can proactively do to improve their English. If you have additional suggestions, please reply and I'll update the Word .doc

20
Plagiarism / Plagiarism quiz
« on: October 31, 2005, 08:54:36 AM »
Isabel also sent out this Plagiarism quiz in an email. It comes from San Jose State University. I used it in class as a pretest and then led into a discussion on what is and isn't plagiarism.

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Pedagogy Issues / Composition Grading Rubric
« on: October 09, 2005, 05:14:21 PM »
This rubric is to be used for written compositions, papers, critiques, etc. It is still a work in progress, so feedback is welcome.

Criteria include: Task/Content, Organization, Expression, Format, and Creativity (optional)

The highest expectation is on the left to be read first, indicating that it is the most important, and visually "sets the bar" for your students. If students are from a culture where reading goes right to left, etc, it may be worth pointing out the priority difference. Students should have a copy of the rubric when a project is assigned, so that they know what level they should be working for.

There are columns for Self-Grade and Teacher Grade, which is a useful tool for student reflection. It also gives the teacher a good idea of what the student has earned, because students tend to be surprisingly honest when they have to justify themselves. The +/- columns allow you to rate a performance as "somewhere in between"--even decimals are good here!

I recommend considering each point column as a letter grade and not necessarily assign give the actual points for each criteria. 4=A or 90% and above, 3=B or 80%, 2=C or 70%, 1=D or 60%, and 0=F or below 60%. This gives the teacher some leeway to decide on what the student deserves. You could calculate it like a Grade Point Average, or even visually say, "this looks like a B, because the scores tend to center around the 3 column". I also like to take scores out of 10 points, like 8.8, which translates to 88%, and I can think of them as letter grades that way too (B+). Whole number mathematics don't allow for students to make "small progress".

For an example on why I don't like "mathematical rubrics", look at the example I gave in my "Project Grading Rubric" post.

Furthermore, not all criteria should be considered equal, sometimes you may want to focus on one area, and mathematically it is difficult to get your scores to equal what you would like them to. Also, students may make up for a weighted area through other strengths and it is difficult to reward this mathematically.

Remember, rubrics help put something as subjective as grading an essay into a concrete form, however grading remains subjective so the device needs to maintain plasticity.

22
Pedagogy Issues / Project Grading Rubric
« on: October 09, 2005, 04:57:17 PM »
This rubric is to be used for oral presentations, visual projects, etc. It is set up in a general "foreign language" format (because I used to use this with my French students), so for ESL, "target language" = English.

Criteria include: Task, Presentation/Delivery, Visual Quality/Organization, Language Use, Creativity

There are columns for Self-Grade and Teacher Grade, which is a useful tool for student reflection. It also gives the teacher a good idea of what the student has earned, because students tend to be surprisingly honest when they have to justify themselves. The +/- columns allow you to rate a performance as "somewhere in between".

The highest expectation is on the left to be read first, indicating that it is the most important, and visually "sets the bar" for your students. If students are from a culture where reading goes right to left, etc, it may be worth pointing out the priority difference. Students should have a copy of the rubric when a project is assigned, so that they know what level they should be working for.

I generally do not like to mathematically assign points to rubrics. To give an example why: a student could in theory sufficiently complete a task, but do very poorly on their delivery and language use. If this rubric were taken out of 20 points (4 points per criteria) and they earned 3 points on Task and 1 on Presentation, Organization and Language, and 2 for Creativity, they would receive 8 points total, which is a 40% and far below failing.

I recommend considering each point column as a letter grade. 4=A or 90% and above, 3=B or 80%, 2=C or 70%, 1=D or 60%, and 0=F or below 60%. In this case, the above student might earn a C- or D. This gives the teacher some leeway to decide on what the student deserves. You could calculate it like a Grade Point Average, or even visually say, "this looks like a B, because the scores tend to center around the 3 column". I also like to take scores out of 10 points, like 8.8, which translates to 88%, and I can think of them as letter grades that way too (B+). Whole number mathematics don't allow for students to make "small progress".

Furthermore, not all criteria should be considered equal, sometimes you may want to focus on one area, and mathematically it is difficult to get your overall scores to equal the grade they deserve.

Remember, rubrics help put something as subjective as grading an essay into a concrete form, however grading remains subjective so the device needs to maintain plasticity.

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