What Tech is in Your Pocket?


This week I was invited to do a remote professional development on “Easy Tech for Language Learners” for Westboro Academy in Ontario Canada.  We used YouTube Live & it was AWESOME!

One of the “easy tech” ideas I would suggest is the tech you have in your pocket or your purse.  Do you by chance own a phone that takes video?

Here is an example of a 2 min video I made when I was recently in Austin, Texas.

I used to show these in class.  I still do but now I am asking students to check the class Facebook page to see if I’ve made any videos for them to think about.

This opens the class with a lot of questions! Many of the students have been thinking critically about topics before they come to class.

One more example of a video I made for my ESL students when I was in Galveston recently.

I work with language learners so an added benefit here is that some of the students have begun making their own “pocket videos” and sharing them with the class.  Here is Sonbul who was making a video DURING class.  I wasn’t upset because his video was for another student at a different school who had sent a video to us for inspiration.

The digital communication has been fun!  Recording video messages seems to work better for my ESL students than live video chats.  They are much less nervous and lots of payoff from the practice.

There are, of course, many other things you can do with the record feature on an ipad or phone.  Authentic messages of communication for ESL students are just one that is working for us.

Hope that is useful!

Happy Teaching!

Helping ELLs Feel the Love

We wish it were not so, but many of our ELLs are feeling negativity right now.  More than ever, we need to share ideas to help our students feel welcomed, safe and loved.  They need to see examples of the people that are on their side.  Today’s post is my example.  It is a simple lesson but an effective one.

Content Objective: I will determine the theme of a text by summarizing the central message into one sentence.

Language Objective: I will write using newly acquired vocabulary.


So today we made Valentines.  (This could be done as a Random Acts of Kindness lesson any time of year.) We first went over a few more paragraphs in Michelle Obama’s Farewell speech for theme.

Thanks to Ms. McHale, awesome Eng III teacher, we had the text version of this so we could adapt her lesson for my newcomers.  We are just chorally reading the speach and discussing meaning/theme of each paragraph.  More on her speech & where I got the above photo here: http://www.npr.org/2017/01/06/508546111/michelle-obamas-emotional-farewell-the-power-of-hope-has-allowed-us-to-rise

For paragraph 2 & 3, we decided that Ms. Obama wanted us to know that diversity is what makes our country great and that we all have a place here.

Then we reviewed a bit about Martin Luther King, Jr.  He had some great quotes about love so we made some connections to current events and history.  These are the ones we used:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness.  Only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate.  Only love can do that.”

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.”  

“I have decided to stick with love.  Hate is too great a burden to bear.”  

We then looked for examples of love and kindness around us.  1) The school newspaper did a very positive article on our class.   2) Parent Teacher Student Assn just named Ms. Salva their nominee for the School Bell award because “she makes our ESL program so welcoming.”  We all felt like that was very kind. 3) We also have volunteers coming a lot now.  Everyone agreed that they make us feel loved.

So we made a huge valentine for our school & community.

I was amazed at how the students worked on these and other valentines to deliver to people.  They used the English phrases we practiced.  Many used the MLK quotes.  But most importantly, they smiled and laughed and they felt good.

I love this comment on my Facebook page I just saw from one of the students.

“Today is a great day.”   Yes. Yes it is.

Thank you for reading through to the end.  And thank you for sharing love for ELLs and with ELLs.