Saturday, February 27, 2010

Some ESL quotes to live by...

Student: (writing couplet of family member) My dad is hiding every day so that he doesn't have to pay.
Me: Cool! What's he hiding from? (Note to self: Stupid question.)
Student: I can't tell you; it's private.

Me: Man, I have not been feeling well lately.
1st grader: I just went to the doctor. Sleep lots, and don't eat Chinese food.

1st grader 1: Landon's dad is Officer Light.
1st grader 2: Oh yeah? I've met a policeman before!
1st grader 3: Me too! My dad was arrested!
Awkward silence.

Roberto could not wrap his mind around mini-marshmallows. He knew about big marshmallows over campfires but had never heard of the minis in hot cocoa. As I was drawing a picture to show him how similar they are, he shook his head and said, "I just don't go out that much, Mrs. Steele."

Janely: When will we find out who won the poetry contest?
Me: I don't know. Soon...
Janely: What's the prize? I really hope it's money. *pause* My parents are having a hard time paying the bills. I want to give it to them when I win.

Cindy: Wanna know what I did for my mom for Mother's Day?
Me: Sure!
Cindy: I made her breakfast.
Me: Ohh...that's so sweet! What'd you make her?
Cindy: Well, I cook with my mom a lot, but I couldn 't remember how to make pancakes. I could only make spaghetti.

Student writing: I liked going to the Indiana polic zoo.
My thoughts: There's no such thing as a police zoo! *enlightenment* Oh! The Indianapolis Zoo!

Shri answered a question exceptionally well during our reading group. "You're on the ball, Shri!" I exlaimed, excited. Startled, she looked around, then under her. "No, I'm not!" she remarked. "I don't even see a ball!"

We played the Picnic Name Game one day. "My name is Mrs. Steele, and I'm bringing spaghetti." So it was Diana's turn: "My name is Diana, and I bring donuts." The next day...she brought donuts to class!

Ricardo: I just met another cousin that I didn't know was my cousin!
Me: Sometimes I think everyone here is cousins.
Jackie: Yeah, that's just 'cuz the world's so short.

Kindergartener: My birthday is March. April.
Me: Oh, your birthday is March April?
Kindergartener: Yes. My birthday is March April. Twenty-five. August.

Mrs. Winn: Mercedes, how old are you?
Mercedes: Good.
Mrs. Winn: No, Mercedes, how...oooold...aaaare...yooooou?
Mercedes: Good.
Mrs. Winn: Are you 4 or 5 or 6?
Mercedes: Yes.

Student writing: "I'm not embarrassed to say this. I know I'm a poor kid, but when we went to the World Cup to see Chivas versus Mexico, it was the best day of my life...I want to be famous so I can pay my mom and dad for all I owe them."

Boys near the girls restroom: They even wash their hands! (shock)

Kindergartener: (retelling a story for a placement test) They start to walk. They start to rain. They start to rainbow. They start to play!

5th grader asking a question: Ma'am, I have a doubt!

4th grader: Veruca is a spoiled rat.

4th grader: I like poemtry.

Me: What are some ways we greet people?
Danny: Handing shakes!

Me: What do you know about farming?
4th grade boy: This is gonna be gross, but I'm gonna say it anyway. The farmer semens the cow so it has a baby.

Me: What did you learn about farming today?
4th grade written response: They grow weed.
(Here's hoping they're growing wheat!)

We were reading this book about the first years of black people not being slaves. 6th grader: "Wait. I thoguht it was John McCain who freed the slaves!"

Our 4th grade vocab word one morning was "blurted." The following is how one student showed me he understood.
Me: Yes, Juan?
Juan: I just blurted. *grin*

Catherine: (in reference to a grape I was handing her) Oooh! Is that a jelly bean?!

Anthony: (before getting up in front of class) "Wait! I gotta look faaancy!" He then proceeded to put on his glasses. Fancified...check.

Me: smells like Bolivia in here!
Karyn: (in jest) Is it you, Jasmine?
Jasmine: Yeah, I put too much on this morning.

We were talking with 1st grader about how things grow. Words about our butterflies included "cocoon," "butterfly," and "caterpillar." We moved on to frogs next. "And a baby frog is called a tad..." I started. "Taderpillar!" exclaimed Carlos!

Question: What's one suggestion you could give the author?
Written response: he need bester spelling.
Wait. Who needs "bester" spelling?? ;)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Oh, Happiness.

Imelda Salyer, Sarah Steele, Paige Rudolph, Karyn Brumbaugh
A Dynamic Team

Friday, February 19, 2010

Word Walls Update

3rd-6th graders have added to these walls,
through our whole group lessons and our guided reading lessons.

Social Studies Word Wall
from a variety of social studies...studies :)

Writing Word Wall
parts of speech and writing techniques

Writing Word Wall
punctuation and mechanics

Reading Word Wall
different types of connections

Reading Word Wall
book parts & reading strategies

Math Word Wall

Math Word Wall

Caught'ya Vocab Wall
3rd grade

Caught'ya Vocab Wall
4th grade

Caught'ya Vocab Wall
6th grade

"We found it in the text!"

Sometimes inspiration comes from the strangest places--like reading comprehension texts, for example.

As we're preparing for ISTEP (yes, we're doing ISTEP prep :-/), one of our main foci is reading comprehension--understanding what you've read and what they're asking. This particular article was on Sammy Sosa's life in the Dominican Republic (before he signed his contract) and in the States (after he signed his contract). The prompt was to compare and contrast his life before and after. Here's what I got the first time around:

"He was poor. He was unlucky. He wasn't famous.
He was rich. He was lucky. He was famous."

Okay, all right, um...not good enough. In fact, downright BORING!

We went through the article again, this time equipped with a highlighter (the ISTEP-approved kind, of course). I asked them to read it to themselves and highlight any words or phrases that described Sammy's life before, and then after. What a different response I got! We ended up just listing them at first because there were so many!

"Hungry. Poor. One-bedroom apartment. Dirt floor. Sold oranges. Rocks=baseballs; sticks=bats; milk carton=glove......Lots of money. Generous (gave $ to mom). New bicycle. New house. Famous. Hero." Etc.

Every time they came up with a new one, I would ask them: "Did you just make that up??" And I forced them into this response: "No, Mrs. Steele. I found it in the text!" Then I let them autograph my Sammy Sosa paper. Everyone was able to find at least one thing. I took it home that night and framed it. It was too good to just throw away. It's on proud display in my classroom right now. And every time a child asks what it's about, one of my boys proudly explains their first step to comprehension fame. :)

Pick me! Pick me!!

One thing we try to notice with our ELLs is their level of participation in their classrooms. We try to stay rather connected to the mainstream classroom to make our time as meaningful to them as possible. For instance, one time, we pre-taught the concept of similies during ESL. The very next day, one of our teachers (Imelda) was helping in their classroom, where they just happened to be learning about similies. Sweet! Imelda was so excited to see which kid would pick it up first that they already knew the concept. Guess how many did. None. That's right. None. Zero. Not a one. Zippo. (You get the picture.) You can imagine the talking to we had with our students the next day. It went something like this:

Me: So I hear you talked about something in writing yesterday.
Kids: We did?
Me: Yeah, something that you already knew about. Something that starts with an "s."
Kids: blank stares
Me: Similies!
Kids: incredulously We did?!

You see, within the stream of consciousness that comes out of our (teachers') mouths, ELLs have a difficult time picking the most important words to catch along the way.

Back to the main point. Our kids are extremely quiet in their classrooms. It's as though they wish to remain invisible. After all, it's easier that way; you can't be wrong.

But this mind set is not one that we tolerate in our classroom. And because of this and because of giving students comprehensible input, this is what we get:

I promise these photos were not staged (Karyn and Imelda can vouch for me!). This is how they are every day! They want to answer, because they know the answer, because we give them input they can understand.

*Sigh* My heart gets so overwhelmed with happiness that I absolutely must capture these moments on camera. I love them!