Wednesday, February 10, 2016

How to Use Video Mini Lessons

Teaching has been my passion for the past 12 years. In order to share my passion with others I've started creating video mini lessons which are available on my YouTube channel for your use. I am currently building two series - Math Mini Lessons and Reading Comprehension Strategies with new videos released regularly.

Of course my videos aren't the only video mini lesson out there. I have always used teaching videos in my classroom in different ways. Some of my favorite videos are created by Khan Academy, Crash Course and TED Ed. In fact I put together a table math videos for my students on Google Docs and you can download that list of videos for free using THIS LINK.

Five ways to use video mini lessons in your classroom - suggestions from Raki's Rad Resources, Flipped Classroom

Video mini lessons can be used in lots of different ways. Here are my five favorite ways to use video mini lessons in the classroom:

1.) Flipped Classroom Homework Assignments - The flipped classroom model allows students to have their "lecture time" at home and learning activities at school. Assign students to watch videos at home instead of doing worksheets. I used this system for two years and it has many benefits including allowing parents to see how the strategies you are teaching, which stops the "But my teacher does it this way." conversations. You can read more about the system I used for the flipped classroom in the blog post: My Flipped Classroom.

2.) Guided Center Activities - Your review center can be replaced by video mini lessons. Instead of having students work on an activity that they aren't sure of, give them a chance to review the concept you have already taught by watching a video mini lesson. In addition to spending extra time on the concept, the students get to see the concept presented in a different way by a different person. 

3.) Substitute Lesson Plans - When I took time off to have my youngest son, I left video mini lessons for the supply teacher to show my students at the beginning of each project. (I was a technology specialist at the time.) Videos can make be a great way for substitute teachers to "teach" just like you would! No more wasted time!

4.) Virtual Co-Teacher - Wouldn't it be lovely to have a co-teacher who could pull small groups and teach them mini lessons based on their needs? Video mini lessons can become that co-teacher for you. Create a Google document or Edmodo note with differentiated videos seperated out by groups. While you are teaching one group, the other groups are being taught by the video mini lesson.

5.) Models for Student Created Videos - Letting your students create their own video mini lessons is taking this completely to the next level. Students get the chance to deepen their understandings and show what they know. After two years of having students create their own videos, I learned that having students watch video mini lessons created by others helps students understand the format and creativity needed. My students planned their videos with this Student Created Tutorial Videos Planning Sheet

Do you have another interesting way to use video mini lessons? Leave us a comment so we can learn from you too.

Happy teaching and collaborating!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

A Collection of Knowledge About Teaching ESL - 55 TESOL Teaching Tips

Fifty five tips for teaching ell (or esl or esol) students. These tips were accumulated over years fo teaching in American and overseas in Morocco at international schools. Tips from Raki's Rad Resources.

When I started out my undergraduate work in education, I did not plan to focus my energies on English Language Learners. I actually started in a dual major program at New Mexico State University in an attempt to be certified in Elementary Education and Special Education. After two years I moved to Kennesaw State University, which did not have Bachelor's program in Special Education. So I decided to get my Bachelor's in Elementary Education with the plan of returning and getting a Master's in Special Education. However, as often happens in life, things went in a slightly different direction. 

My first year of teaching I had a student who changed the way I looked at life. He had come from Argentina by way of China. He had moved around a lot and had not always been in school. He came to me as a third grader with about one year of total school experience and an incomplete grasp of both Mandarin and Spanish. For two months all I ever heard from him was "Teacher, bathroom?" He hid in the bathroom to get away from the stress that was my classroom. But by the end of the year he talked non stop to all of his friends, in English. Watching him learn English was amazingly inspirational. It changed the way I looked at teaching.

Teaching this student also allowed me to understand my husband in a new and different way. My husband (who blogs at Raki's Rad Language Resources) speaks five languages. English is the last language he learned and when we got married he had only been speaking English for a little over a year. I knew that he was learning the language, but I didin't really appreciate what that meant until I had the opportunity to really work with someone who had no English. It was then that I realized how amazing language learning is. 

From this point forward, I started doing research on my own about language learning. I participated in a Sheltered Instruction for Other Programs (SIOP) training to learn about how to teaching ESL students while still teaching your standards. I studied and took the test to add the ESOL endorsement to my teaching certificate. But most importantly I taught ESL students. 

Because of my growing interest in ESL, my school "cluster grouped" the ESL students into my room. Working with these students taught me more than any article or book I read. I learned to differentiate between which students could and couldn't read in their home language, and what differences that made in how they learned. I learned that they mimicked my own accent as they were learning to pronounce words. I learned that students needed to know how to say "I need a pencil." before we could think about working on content.

Then of course we made the infamous move to Morocco. When I moved to Morocco I thought I was really good at teaching ESL, and I had a good base. But the needs of my students in Morocco were so much more intense because I was literally the ONLY English many of my students got. In the US my students had exposure to t.v. shows, movies, store clerks and bus drivers who spoke English. In Morocco when my kids walked out of the door they often didn't hear another word of English until they walked back in it. This teaching experience is when I really started to refine my instructional strategies. Three years of watching my students go from "I need pencil." to talking my ear off and reading on level taught me so much.

While I was teaching in Morocco, I blogged about the process in an effort to share the strategies I was learning with other teachers. Since I have been back in the US homeschooling I haven't blogged about these strategies, but I have used them. My sons complete school work every day in English, French and Arabic. Since French and Arabic are not their home language, they need the same kinds of strategies that I used for teaching my English Language Learners. Realistically the strategies I learned are Language Acquisition Strategies, not English Language strategies.

It's been awhile since I blogged about language learning, but I have a ton of TESOL Teaching Tips here on the blog. Here are the 55 tips that I think are the most important for teaching someone who is learning the language. Each of these strategies have been explained further with the blog post that is linked here.

1.) Use images

2.) Speak slowly

3.) Let students talk!

4.) Correct their mistakes - sometimes!

5.) Teach vocabulary every day

6.) Repeat yourself often

7.) Teach kids HOW to listen

8.) Find what your students' literacy level is

9.) Know a few key words in their home languages

10.) Understand cultural effects of language

11.) Teach inferencing

12.) Teach body language

13.) Utilize background knowledge

14.) Find a way to communicate with families

15.) Use technology

16.) Teach social expectations

17.) Teach a lot of grammar

18.) Understand the silent period

19.) Appreciate the differences of how students learn

20.) Use peer tutors - sometimes

21.) Teach non language learners about language learning

22.) Use best practices

23.) Explore culture shock

24.) Expect language growth to cycle

25.) Learn a language yourself

26.) Teach cognates

27.) Know how long your students have been learning English

28.) Give context clues

29.) Know your kids

30.) Explain the connections

31.) Let them count in their home language

32.) Graph out student understandings

33.) Allow transition time after breaks

34.) Use teachable moments

35.) Know why they're learning English

36.) Understand how listening happens

37.) Use the media

38.) Find the gaps

39.) Teach common culture

40.) Practice writing a lot

41.) Teach prepositions and positional words

42.) Teach verb conjugation

43.) Put yourself in their shoes

44.) Appreciate how dialect changes languages

45.) Teach taboo words

46.) Explain your read alouds

47.) Let students create videos

48.) Some students need alphabet help

49.) Use regalia and videos

50.) Talk about home life with your students

51.) Remember that summer limits English exposure

52.) Encourage students to maintain their home language

53.) Include ESL students in whole class discussions

54.) Give students alternatives to presenting in front of class

55.) Create procedures for using translation apps

Do you have any tips for teaching TESOL?