Sunday, April 26, 2015

Finishing Strong

It's the day before we return to school after a week's vacation. Hopefully, my ESL students made the most of their break by resting, playing, getting lots of fresh air and exercise - and, ideally, having the opportunity to practice their English language skills. As their teacher, I'm thinking about how to finish the year strong. Typically, it can be challenging to maintain focus and a solid work ethic between the return from April break and the end of the school year. The weather is warmer, the days are longer, and summer beckons.

One of the strategies I use in my teaching to keep students focused and to maximize our remaining instructional time is a goal-setting exercise that I got from Larry Ferlazzo, a teacher and blogger of all things related to ESL. When my students walk in our classroom door tomorrow morning, they will see a piece of paper titled "End Of School Year Goals" at their seats. On this paper will be a series of sentence frames that include a goal and an action for Attitude, English, Behavior and Academic categories. Students will complete these goal setting sheets, and then read back what they have written to be sure 1) it makes sense and 2) they realize that they are holding themselves accountable for working to achieve these goals. Following this exercise, they will choose their top two goals and create a poster that reflects these goals. Lastly, we will use the Shadow Puppet app to record their goals. I like this last step as it not only engages ESL students using that great hook we call technology, but it also cements students' goals that much more. Plus, it combines all four domains of language (reading, writing, listening and speaking) in a kinesthetic activity that truly has meaning for each individual. 

For those readers who would like more information about goal setting and English language learners, as well as a wealth of ESL/ELL related information, please visit the website of Larry Ferlazzo, whose contributions to the world of teaching ESL/ELL are like gold to me.

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