My class absolutely LOVES read aloud time. (They can’t sit still through it, but they love it.) So, I thought I would post to let you know what we’re reading every once in awhile, and maybe some of you could post a list of what your class is reading, to share the love of books around to all of our classes.
Here’s what my class just finished reading:
The Muslim Child by Rukshana Khan is a great book for talking about the Muslim faith and Muslim holidays, which is part of my social studies curriculum. (We use AERO standards for social studies, which allow you to tailor your standards to the country you teach in.) This book has great stories about Ramdan, Hajj, and Eid al Fitr that are written from a kid’s point of view. It was a great supplement to our Muslim Holidays unit. (Get a FREE center packet on Muslim Holidays here.)
Here’s what my class is currently reading:
The Fantastic Flying Journey by Gerald Durell is our newest book (we’re still in the first chapter.) This is one of my personal FAVORITE books! It’s a story about a girl and her two brothers who get to spend the year traveling the world in a hot air balloon with their uncle. While they are traveling (searching for another uncle who has gone “missing”), they use “science magic” to be able to talk to the animals they meet along the way. It’s a great way to talk about maps and the places around the world, as well as different animals. My class just finished learning about animal characteristics, (you can find my animal characteristics center packet here), and so it’s a great follow up for us. Plus, it has some of the best illustrations I’ve ever seen, which is perfect for my English Language Learners (see my post on using graphics with ELL Leaners for more details).
Here’s what’s I’m reading to my class next:
I have promised my kids to start the Magic Tree House series with them when we finish The Fantastic Flying Journey. We will start with Magic Tree House book # 1 – Dinosaurs Before Dark. I have 13 boys in my class – and a book about going to the time of the dinosaurs has already captured their imagination. I plan to do the first 4 Magic Tree House books, including: Knight before Dawn, Mummies in the Morning and Pirates Past Noon. I started the idea of reading the Magic Tree House books because we learn about Ancient Egypt in our Social Studies curriculum, and Mummies in the Morning takes place during Ancient Egypt, but now that I’ve talked about it with my students, the kids are my motivating factor. Any book that gets kids’ interested in learning is a good book in my mind.
So, what is your class reading these days?
My class consists of 19 students, of which only 1 speaks English only in his household, and even he began his life in a bilingual environment. The other 18 speak at least one, if not two other languages in their homes. Most of my students speak Arabic, but many also speak French. I have 3 who speak French and not Arabic, 1 who speaks Spanish, and 1 who speaks a Philippine dialect. All of my students speak SOME English, but to varying degrees. My job is to teach them English, while also teaching them everything we normally teach in school (reading, writing, math, science, social studies etc.) Fortunately, I am certified to teach ESL and have some experience with English Language Learners. Due to my unique teaching position, I have had some readers ask for tips on teaching English Language Learners. So, from now on, I will now be doing a Teaching Tip Tuesday geared especially towards teaching English Language Learners. Here’s this week’s Tuesday TESOL Teaching Tip:
ELL Teaching Tip #3: Let Them Talk
This week’s teaching tip is a hard one for me, because my classroom is SOOOO loud these days! There are times that I really can’t hear myself think, and I wish so badly that my students would just be quiet! However, when I get to that point, I try to step back and ask myself – are my students speaking in English? If they are, than even if they aren’t talking about what we should be learning, they are practicing their spoken English vocabulary, and for a class of English Language Leaners, that’s important. (With my class, there are days that the noise is in Arabic or French – and we really talk about how we are in class to learn English, so we must use our English to practice it.) Now, this isn’t to say you need to let your English Langue Learners talk all day about whatever they want, but do appreciate that when they are having those sidebar conversations, they are at least using their English.
In addition to that natural conversation that fills your classroom (and can give you a serious headache), it is important to give your English Language Learners plenty of time to use their English. There are many ways to do this, including collaborative learning teams, peer tutoring, partner work, read and repeat, tell a friend what I said, etc. Below, I will talk about my favorite way to encourage spoken vocabulary, but please know that this isn’t the only way for students to use their spoken English vocabulary. Any place in your lesson that you can encourage your English Language Learners to talk is important! Also, remember to talk slowly and give them ample response time while you are including talking into your lesson, but please include it wherever possible. (See Tip #2 about rate of speed and pause time, and Tip # 21 about teaching your non-ELL’s about English Language Learning.) When at all possible, try teaming up your English Language Learners with native English speakers for best results in language learning.
My favorite strategy for encouraging spoken English in a general classroom is to tell the students to “Turn to a Friend”. When I do anything that requires my kids to come up with an answer to an oral question, I try to use the turn to a friend strategy. (This is not my strategy – I learned it in a workshop somewhere, don’t quite remember where – probably SIOP). With this strategy, I ask the question, give a 2 minute thinking time and then let them turn to a friend near them and tell their friend the answer. After their friend has told them the answer, they switch roles and listen to their friends answer. Then, I repeat the process with at least one (generally two) more partners. Once they have shared with their partners, I will choose 2 or 3 students to share the answer with the whole class. After a class is well trained in this strategy, I have even asked students to tell me what one of their partners told them, instead of their own answer.
This strategy gives your students the opportunity to talk about their answer with another student before they are called on. Since it is easier to talk to just one partner than the entire class, this allows students to build up the confidence to answer in front of the entire class, a skill that can be hard for many English Language Learners. Additionally, this strategy builds in wait time, so that your English Language Learners have more time to process the words they want to use. Plus, they have heard other people’s responses, so they may pick up new vocabulary or concepts from their peers.
Turn to a friend works best when using with open-ended questions. One place I use it most is in coordination with my Reading Journals (works with Primary and Intermediate). Before a read aloud, I will ask a thinking question. After a read aloud, I will have kids write down the answer to the question in their Reading Journal. Then, I will have kids use the Turn to a Friend strategy before we all share our ideas about the answer to the thinking question.
How do you encourage English Language Learners to talk in your classroom?
As we approach the Holiday season, I started thinking about all of the books I like to read to my students this time of year. So, I decided to do this week’s Top 10 post on the Holiday Books I like to use for Read Aloud.
10. The Shortest Day: Celebrating the Winter Solstice by Wendy Pfeffer – This is a great non-denominational book, that links science to the holidays.
9. The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore – The classic holiday book! I love to talk about the images created in your head while reading this book – great for visualization!
8. Hanukah Moon by Deborah da Costa – We’re familiar with books about how Christmas is celebrated around the world, but this is the first book I’ve read that talks about how Hanukah is celebrated outside of the US. This cute story about how a girl celebrates Hanukah with her aunt in Mexico. Great story for diversity!
7. Home for Christmas by Jan Brett – I love Jan Brett any time of the year, but this cute Christmas story about Rollo the troll who learns that home is the most important place to be is always a favorite of my kids.
6. Li’l Rabbit’s Kwanza by Donna L. Washington – Love, love the character lesson here about helping others. It also connects to Bre’r Rabbit, which connects in with folktales.
5. The Legend of the Poinsetta by Tomie dePaola – Another folktale link, this “legend” stresses that it’s not the gift you give but the thought behind the gift that’s important – a fact too often left out of Christmas celebrations.
4. Light the Lights! A Story About Celebrating Hanukah and Christmas by Margaret Moorman – Candles are a way that so many Winter Holidays are celebrated. This book talks about how both holidays celebrated by the little girl include candles. As a mom of bi-cultural children, I love books that talk about how it is okay to celebrate many holidays.
3. The Little Christmas Elf by Nikki Shannon Smith – Great holiday story about not giving up. I actually have fond memories of reading this story when I was a little girl!
2. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss – I’m a big Dr. Seuss fan, and this is one of his best. I love the message behind this book and the message that community is more important than material things.
1. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg – The quintessential Christmas story! I love to read this book and hand out bells on ribbons to each child, proving that each child believes!
What holiday books do you use for read aloud? Post us a comment to let us know!