About rtown

My name is Miss Townsend. This is my fourth year as ESOL teacher for Goochland County High and Middle schools and for Goochland Elementary school. I received an undergraduate Bachelor of Arts degree (Foreign Languages) at James Madison University with a semester of abroad studies at the University of Salamanca, Spain. I earned an additional degree (M.Ed. Foreign Languages/ESOL endorsement) at University of Virginia. In addition to my ESOL endorsement, I am currently certified to teach English (K-12), Social Studies (K-12), and Foreign Languages (Spanish). I have been a teacher for close to 13 years. The first part of my teaching career began as a Spanish teacher at a private school in Albemarle County. I then taught adult ESOL in Charlottesville City schools for one year before becoming a full time public school ESOL teacher at Albemarle High School for nearly 5 years. Now I teach ESOL at Goochland High School, Goochland Middle school, and Goochland Elementary School. As teacher of English, I find my job extremely rewarding and exciting. In my classroom, my primary goal is to ensure the academic success of my students. However, I believe in allowing this goal to become a two way street. While I endeavor to impart the English language to my students, I also believe in allowing the classroom to become a venue for my own students to impart their knowledge of primary languages and cultures to others in the school and community abroad. We live in a global community, so why not share it with others? Bueños días a mis estudiantes que hablan Español! Hablo su lenguaje y estoy alegre ser su maestra nueva! Por favor, si necisites ayuda con cualquiera cosa, pídame!

G21 Raising Awareness of Child Labor

The Project Based Learning Activity entitled “Raising Awareness of Modern Day Slavery (Child Labor)” focuses on twenty-first century skills such as creativity, innovation, collaboration, problem solving and critical thinking, teaching others, ethical and emotional awareness, cultural competence, managing time and resources. My two middle school classes created the driving questions for their projects. My grade six’ class decided to create a driving question of “How can we create a commercial to raise awareness of child labor?” Grade seven’s driving question was  “How can we create a story to raise awareness of child labor?” (click on attached Renae Townsend G21 PBL Project)

My students followed three rubrics from Buck Institute, the creativity & innovation rubric, collaboration rubric, and presentation rubrics to help them understand and apply the project expectations. Throughout each class period, students had a project work report where they signed a group contract, created a project calendar, decided on task roles, coordinated a presentation day checklist, and completed a self-reflections on their project work (both daily and final project). You can access all of these handouts at following Digital Destinations wiki space, entitled the PBL St Kit Project Management Tools. During this project work report, my students reflected everyday in schoology under the class group that I created. The schooogy interface offered direction for my students so that they could see what each group was doing and could provide feedback to each other.

The reproducibility of the project by others was implemented when the GMS Language teachers asked my students to participate in the Language Fair. This amazing opportunity allowed for a public presentation of my student projects, even when the technological parts of their projects were not entirely finished. Fortunately, my students had done the majority of their research, so they were able to present their information in an oral presentation during the fair. They also supplemented their oral presentations with a “hands on” activity of having their audience create pinwheels and write down specific statistics related to child labor on the pinwheels. The impact of the learning for my students was emphasized when my one student, Cassidy, stepped to the front of the room and made a spontaneous and “improvised” presentation to her audience. What was remarkable about her presentation was the knowledge she demonstrated of the content and the enthusiasm she showed.

Finally, the impact technology had toward learning is demonstrated in the fact that my students were able to create multimedia presentations on an i-pad or the computer using several different apps in the workflow which incorporated planning, creation, and authoring or publishing on the one device. On the SAMR model, I believe that my students achieved the modification and possibly the redefinition level. They created i-movie commercials and a power point story, which they hope to display publically in the following ways. One, they will visit classrooms to present their projects to classmates. Second, they created QR codes that they will put up throughout the hallways of the school, to draw attention to their work and to spread the word about child labor. Finally, they will publish their stories on the Richmond Justice Initiative website, which will be displayed to the general public. The work will be sent (with parental consent) to RJI as soon as it is signed.

The advice I would provide for a colleague wanting to undertake this same project is to be willing to make changes or supplement materials while students are completing the project. Sometimes I had to tailor the scaffolding for specific groups with very short notice. For example, I noticed that students really struggled with was the creativity requirement of the project (especially my seventh grade boys). I had to provide scaffolding for them throughout the project. For example, I helped them create a story line diagram with plot/climax/etc, provide them handouts on power verbs/adjectives to insert into the story. While my sixth grade girls worked amazingly well together as collaborators, I noticed that my seventh grade boys had no knowledge of how to work together or collaborate. My solution was to create a separate activity for them where we focused on the language of collaboration. See Collaboration_Scaffolding_Worksheet. We also created a word wall so that the boys could refer to the language of collaboration while they were working. Both groups of students really struggled with sequence; or where to insert their research and authentic expert information into their projects. ***Remarkably, the authentic expert information for seventh grade was gleaned from the first hand experiences of one of my Mexican students who had first hand experience of crossing the border.

Additional advice for colleagues wanting to undertake this same project would relate to my own experiences as a teacher in implementing the PBL. When I actually decided to implement my lesson plan with my students, I experienced some anxiety. For the first time, I wasn’t in charge as a teacher and I had to force myself to “go with the flow.” My students decided the “driving questions” and they “set the calendar dates,” which was contrary to everything I’ve ever done as a teacher. Again, my biggest challenge was to know when I was required to step out and let my student’s take charge and when I was required to step in and provide scaffolding or additional exercises for my students.

What I might change about the experience, as documented in my plan is the following. First off, I would suggest that a teacher actually spend more time observing and understanding the ins and outs of a PBL before they implement it in the classroom setting. Perhaps they could visit other classes and collaborate with other teachers before they implement the project in their own class. I didn’t have this experience and it would have helped me in the implementation of the PBL in my classroom. Before implementing the PBL in my class, I spent a lot of time viewing videos of other schools that are implementing PBLs, researching Buck Institute lesson plans, gathering the rubrics, understanding what a driving question was, and understanding how to create a “Project Wall.”  The PBL course that Dr. Hendron offered this past winter made this experience possible. I spent a lot of time outlining the PBL lesson; but the learning curve for me was greater than I anticipated.

Here are two of the finished products:

Paul Fernandez Story


Annual ESOL Volunteer Luncheon

Yesterday, April 25th, I was pleased to host my 6th annual ESOL volunteer luncheon to recognize my volunteers for the hours they have spent to enrich and enhance the lives of my ESOL students. Many of my volunteers work either in-school or after school tutoring to help ESOL students with homework and preparation for SOL tests. Here is a tally I made of the hours in just the past year that my volunteers have spent so far in service to Goochland County’s ESOL students.

Following are pictures of the volunteers, former volunteers, cohorts, and friends who attended the luncheon yesterday.



Language Fair; Raising Awareness of Child Labor

This year, the middle school ESOL students have been busy completing a Project Based Learning activity in which they are raising awareness of child labor.

The primary goal of a PBL is to present the final project to a live audience. For this reason, we were delighted to be invited to participate and display our work at the World Language Fair hosted by Leona Barnes and Katy Jones. The language fair was school-wide, with each room partitioned off for different activities.

The GMS ESOL students presented their PBL to visitors, made pinwheels, and streamed a video on child labor, all in an attempt to raise awareness of child labor.

Following are some pictures of our visitors and their participation.

World Language Fair

This next week, the GMS ESOL students will be participating in the World Language Fair. We will be displaying our work from our project based learning activity, which involves raising awareness about child labor.

The activities of the day involve the following:

Streaming videos for the public, from “Made in a Free World

Encouraging visitors to start their own awareness campaigns and start their own fundraisers.

We will also be making pinwheels to raise awareness of child labor/abuse.


Ms. Geri

Following are some pictures of my volunteer, Ms. Geri, who meets with two of my ELLs each week, one in Kindergarten and one in third grade.

Ms. Geri supplements the grade level content my students are currently working on (i.e. Math or Reading). She does this by following our teacher’s blog postings and lesson plans. She also communicates with the teachers. I’m so thankful for her intervention!!! The ELLs always tell me “Ms. Geri” updates whenever I see them:) She makes her tutoring times special and exciting…But, she also ensures that my students receive plenty of one-on-one review in areas in which they need extra instruction. Thanks Ms. Geri for all you do!!!!

Visit to the Kindergarten

On April 2nd, my two High School ELL level 1 students made a trip to read story books to Ms. DeLong’s Kindergarten class. In class, we had been practicing these children books for pronunciation and fluency. What better idea to give my student’s confidence! I was so proud of my teen-aged ELL’s, who read their books confidently and fluently to this small group of Kindergartners, some of which are ELL 1′s too. They also were prepared to answer the K’s questions-as we also practiced potential questions that the students might ask. Surprisingly, we were right on target with some of their questions…


“I Have a Dream”; Way to Decipher Poetic Elements and to Build Fluency

In ESOL resource classes, grades 6-8, we have been studying Martin Luther King’s speech as part of Black History Month and also as a precursor to my G21 lesson, which begins in the month of March and will touch on issues related to human rights and human justice.

Here are the activities we have done this far with the “I Have a Dream Speech”

1). We read the speech, stopped at each paragraph and deciphered poetic elements that Martin Luther King uses. For example, in the first paragraph of his speech, MLK states,

“This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice.”

For this activity, we looked up words such as “beacon” or “seared.” Then, we drew pictures of these images in the columns, as a means of deciphering this figurative language.

i.e. For “Beacon of Light” we drew a lighthouse shining light on a person. For “seared in the flames” we drew a symbol for fire and then wrote the word “justice” and put an X across it. We then shared our pictures, discussed the poetic elements (i.e. metaphors and similes”) and then used the key vocabulary words in own own sentences as a means to familiarize students with the usage.

2). We summarized paragraph’s 4 and 8 of “I Have a Dream” speech. Students filled out graphic organizers in which they recorded the main ideas of these paragraphs. Then, they summarized the paragraphs in their own words and orally shared with classmates what they thought the paragraph said.

3). We listened to the speech “I Have a Dream” on our Promethean Board so that the video was life size and we could hear MLK clearly. We read the speech along with MLK as a means to practice fluency. My hope is to show the same speech again next class, this time using the Winchester’s Public School’s version of “I Have a Dream” speech. I will ask student to again read along out loud as a means of practicing fluency.

This entire activity fulfilled the ELL language domains of Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing. In addition, it tied into the VA SOL standards related to reading comprehension, deciphering poetic elements, and history SOL’s re: to the civil rights era. Most importantly, this activity provided students a larger picture of the character traits of a true hero. It also provided students a picture of those in the past who fought for something greater than ourselves, and who fought through the use of passive resistance. This subject ties in nicely to my G21 activity, in which I hope to focus on issues re: to human justice and equality.

New Volunteer for the High School

I want to welcome a new ESOL volunteer to the Goochland High School volunteer program. Rebecca, a talented local architect, has offered to tutor a high school ESOL student once a week in Geometry.

Rebecca boasts of a three year experience of teaching English as a Foreign Language in Mexico. In addition this this experience, she already has made personal connections to ESOL families in the Goochland community. Recently, she has organized a “Coffee and Conversation” event in which she meets with several Hispanic mothers in the Goochland Community who need to improve their English speaking skills.

Thank you so very much Rebecca for your time and consideration toward ensuring that my Goochland ESOL student meets her academic goals.  Also, thank you for also devoting your time to working with Hispanic families so that we can bridge language barriers, thus helping these individuals to become contributing members of our community!


Following is a picture of my high school ESOL student who is proudly part of the Goochland High School JROTC program. I want to give a special thanks to Major Michael Petruzziello and Staff Sergeant Daniel Strong, who both have a background working with ESOL students in their prior school system. Both JROTC staff have already helped me, as ESOL teacher, and were instrumental in helping this ESOL student to adapt to school culture and understand appropriate social skills and interactions during his first year in a U.S. High School. They have also been instrumental in helping me meet the learning goals on my student’s Individual Instruction Plan (IIP) under the category of “Social Instruction” which involves the listening skill of following simple commands pertaining to classroom routines using illustrations (e.g., “Close your book.”)

Thanks to the JROTC program at Goochland Highschool, which serves not only one ESOL student, but many other former English Language Proficient students, several of which have shared with me their hopes to join the U.S. military when they graduate.

ACCESS Testing; Prueba de ACCESS

GES, GMS, and GHS will be starting ACCESS for ELLs Summative Assessment testing from February 2nd to February 20th, 2015. For more information on the ACCESS test, please click this following link to WIDA.com

GES, GMS, y GHS tendrán las pruebas de evaluación sumativa de los estudiantes ELL a 2 de febrero hasta el 20 de febrero, 2015. Para obtener más información sobre la prueba de acceso, por favor haga clic en el siguiente enlace para WIDA.com

SMART Goals and Reading Comprehension

Our school has been tying our SMART Goals into our student data which is connected to MAP scores (Northwest Evaluation Association). Each of my students take a Fall pretest and create a projected RIT goal based on their own progress. The Reading data has goals performances which focus on the three categories:

1). Word Origins, Expand Vocabulary, Semantics.

2) Comprehension of a Variety of Fictional Texts.

3). Comprehension of a Variety of Nonfiction texts.

Goal performance #1 is connected to goals 2 and 3. Without knowledge of word origins, vocabulary and the semantics, students will not be able to comprehend what they read.

Following are some of the activities that I’ve chosen to do to enrich reading skills with my ESOL students in the Middle School and High School. Vocabulary comprehension is key for my students, and for this reason, here the following activities we have completed throughout this past semester.

1). Focus on Cognates. We have a word wall in my classroom in which we have compiled as we read through texts and passages. All my students are Spanish speaking, so we are constantly referring back to their L1 to make analogies to the Latin words and how they compare to the English words.

2). Focus on Parts of Speech. Earlier in the year, all my students created a Parts of Speech handbook delineating and writing examples of parts of speech (nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and prepositions). When we talk about vocabulary in a text, we always refer back to our handbook to decide which part of speech the word belongs to. We record the words on a word wall-in categories by their part of speech.

3). Focus on Prefixes, Suffixes, Roots. I have printed off DOE handouts which are taped to my student’s tables and are in the back of their ESOL folders. We constantly break apart the words we learn (after deciding what part of speech they are). We will change a word around and decided how the suffix changes the part of speech. For example, to oppress is a verb, oppression is a noun, and he is oppressed is an adjective. Here is an example of the sheets my students refer to from scholastic.com

4). Focus on Reading Comprehension strategies. Many of the activities come from the Virginia Department of Education English Enhanced Scope and Sequence Sample Lesson Plans. I’ve tweaked some of the activities to make them my own. For example, finding context clues in a story, we use sticky notes as we read. Students record the following on their sticky notes:

  • Difficult Word
  • Context clue(s)
  • ? (what do I think it means)
  • Definition: I provide the definition or we look the word up in their dictionary.

5). Focus on Dictionary Skills. My ESOL students must learn dictionary skills if they are going to conquer the SOL tests (paper-back dictionaries are only permitted). When we are participating in reading activities, I daily remind students to look up words in their dictionary. Using the paper-back dictionary requires numerous amount of skills (analytical skills are required to find the word, identifying prefixes/suffixes of the word, and decide which parts of speech we are looking for).

6). Focus on Applying Vocabulary to Sentences. I truly believe that vocabulary is best learned in context of a passage/text. In the same vein of thought, vocabulary must be used and written in a sentence. I can truly evaluate if a student understands the vocabulary word when they can use it correctly in a sentence. They demonstrate that they understand the semantics and the syntax.

Understanding vocabulary holistically and it’s complexities is directly tied into reading comprehension. For this reason, these are just a few of the strategies I have utilized to help my ESOL students this semester.


United States Department of Education Fact Sheets

Following are links to the US Department of Education Fact Sheets regard English Language services and requirements.

Ensuring English Learner Students Can Participate Meaningfully and Equally in Educational Programs

Asegurar que los estudiantes aprendices del inglés participen de forma significativa y equitativa en programas educativos

Information for Limited English Proficient (LEP) Parents and Guardians and for Schools and School Districts that Communicate with Them


Enabling Future Generations; Spotlighting Mr. Rohrer

Currently, I teach ESOL students K-12 in Goochland County, in addition to working with non-English students at our Prep Academy. ESOL students at our Prep Academy work on GED coursework, an Edgenuity course which provides tutorials and GED coursework in their first language -Spanish.

How do I do this? Frankly, I couldn’t address all the needs of my ESOL students without the help of ESOL volunteers and tutors. Many of these individuals receive very small compensation for the hours they tutor ESOL students. Above is a picture of Mr. Rohrer, a retired Math teacher from GMS, who works with my Prep (GED student) three times a week. He tutors this young man in Math/Science. Without Mr. Rohrer’s additional instruction, which fills this student’s academic gap of 4-5 years of non-schooling, this student would be unable to successfully pass his GED coursework. Mr. Rohrer doesn’t speak much Spanish and my student doesn’t speak much English. So, do they communicate? As you can see in the background, Mr. Rohrer has a laptop and my student has a laptop. They both communicate through Google Translate, by typing into the tool what they want to say. So far, this tool has provided sufficient enough services to allow both Mr. Rohrer and student to understand each other.

Thank you Mr. Rohrer for all that you do for my ESOL student at the Prep Academy! Your dedication and volunteer hours have enabled my student to successfully pass a large part of his GED coursework.


Adversity; Use of Schoology for Dialogue and Demonstrating Empathy

We are starting a new unit for both Grade 6 and 7 ESOL, which involves learning about Martin Luther King’s contribution to Civil Rights in the U.S. during the 1960′s. I have divided the unit into two parts.

Part 1: Introduce Unit with theme song, “Lean on Me.” Discuss the theme/central unit idea, which is “how adversity or difficult situation provide us life-building experiences.” Review key vocabulary, journal and writing activities (apply theme to their lives).

Part 2: Read Reading A-Z book “Martin Luther King Jr.” Use the reading strategy of summarizing to understand text, understand and identify cause-and-effect relationships, identify and recognize prefixes/suffixes/base form through the use of sticky note strategies (leaving marks in our book).

We have just wrapped up with Part 1 of this unit, and I would like to share one the journal activities my ESOL students completed. Students completed their journal entries on Schoology, which is an online collaborative interface where students can access lessons, share journals, make comments to each other, etc.

Students were asked to reflect on the song “Lean on Me” in which Bill Withers sings “Sometimes in our lives we all have pain. We all have sorrow, but if we are wise, we know that there’s always tomorrow.” Based on this message, I asked students to hone in on the topic of adversity in their writing, which was the key word for the unit. I asked students to journal about a time when they had adversity, pain, or sorrow in their own lives.  Students were asked to share what they did to be “wise” or to fix the problem.

Student’s journal responses were written on Schoology. Their stories were powerful and very personal. Schoology interface allows the entire class to access the writing/journaling of other classmates, they can read what each other say and respond (just as you would on FaceBook). A couple of my students shared stories related to immigrating to the United States; stories which involved poignant examples of adversity. In addition, several students shared stories about death and how they felt.

Using this topic of “adversity” was a wonderful way to share about painful experiences and to hear student’s voices. This provided a venue which allowed me to teach my students how they can demonstrate “empathy.” I believe that empathy is a learned behavior, an unknown skill set if students do not learn it at home. For this reason, I felt it important to directly teach students on how they can be empathetic. Following were some of the pointers I provided students in order to create empathetic responses.

  • Repeat something that someone has said or shared or ask a question. This shows empathy because it shows that we were truly listening.
  • Give a compliment to the person or say thank you for sharing. This shows empathy because we are reinforcing the fact that we appreciate that the person shared.
  • Give advise. This show empathy because it shows that you truly care about this person and that we want to help.
  • Say something nice and reassuring. This shows empathy because we are trying to comfort someone, again showing that we care.

I was so impressed by several of my students responses to each other on Schoology. Here are a couple student responses to a journal entry in which one of my students shared about her dog dying.

  • “Awwww so sad because your dog was everything for you :( :( Did you get another dog after Monkey died? What kind of dog was it?
  • “How did your dog got stuck in your door? Did your dog want to get inside of your house. I’ll find a way to help you.”

Here’s a student working on her “empathetic response” to a student entry. Overall, Part 1 of our “Martin Luther King; Civil Rights” unit has been a wonderful way for students to make personal connections to the subject of adversity. I found that Schoology was a wonderful platform and way in which students could share and empathize with each other!!!

Santa’s Christmas Miracle Field Trip

Our ESOL volunteer/tutor, Ms. Liz, organized a field trip for two of the GES ESOL families today to the Children’s Theater at Willow Lawn, where we all watched “Santa’s Christmas Miracle.” Ms. Liz’s insisted on covering all expenses of this outing as a Christmas present for all of us!!! This was also an opportunity to expose our ESOL families to the arts and culture. The outing was chaperoned by myself and the two ESOL mothers, along with their respective children (ESOL students).

What a blast we all had!!! Thanks Ms. Liz for an amazing holiday present!!! The event was topped off with a visit to see Santa, pictures with the cast of the play, along with lunch at Dairy Queen. Following are some pictures of our day!


ESOL Resource

Part of ESOL resource classes at GHS and GMS focus on study and test taking skills. In addition to this, these classes focus on organizational skills.

This past Friday, the last 15 minutes of class were devoted to organizational skills. I was delighted to watch one of my sixth grade students take over and help her classmate with organizing her backpack and binder. This student’s organization capabilities are definitely a strength. She proactively took over and cheerfully helped her classmate to organize all the materials from MP1.

What a delight both of these two young ladies students are:) Here is a picture of them hard at work.

Here’s a happy sixth grader-who now has a very organized binder and backpack, thanks to her classmate:)

Just Can’t Believe It!!!!

This fifth grade ESL student is reading all by himself!!! This picture was taken by our very pleased and devoted ESL tutor, Ms. Liz. What an amazing sight to see for all of those who have been involved with this student’s education. This student has had a long row to how for the first 5 years of his elementary education experience (preK-4). Studies show that students usually show that they can bridge two languages by grades 4 , especially if they receive the support they need in order to acquire a second language. This student has made us all proud this year, as reflected in his MP1 report card where he nearly reached A/B honor roll.

I attribute this student’s success to the following factors.

1). Devoted teachers and tutors who ensured that this student’s academic needs were attended to. This student is reading “Geronimo Stilton,” a high interest book that has many graphic clues and pictures to scaffold. This book was recommended to him by teachers and tutors who kept on encouraging him to find high interest reading.  They also focused on fluency and vocabulary comprehension.

2). Emphasizing leadership. I thank the tutor and certain teachers for believing in this student and emphasizing that he is capable of leadership, despite the fact that he struggles (ed) academically in the past. Currently, this student has been given “safety patrol” position at his school. We have seen so much positive behavior from this student, such as caring about other’s safety and following through to the end (respect and proactivity). This is reflected in the fact that this student is independently reading, as is required every day per homework requirements.


TPCAST in Song Lyrics

Currently, I am using TPCAST in both my Middle School and High School students to reinforce deeper level reading skills and scaffold for the interpretation of poetry . The poems/song lyrics we are analyzing are “Someday Never Comes” by Creedence Clearwater (Middle School) and “I Set Fire to the Rain” by Adele (High School).


Title. Without reading the poem, what do you think it will be about?

Paraphrase. Next to each stanza, write the poem in your own, every day language.

Connotations: What meaning goes with (con) the language that is being used? Keep a close eye out for: Alliteration, allusion, diction, imagery, metaphors, onomatopoeia, rhyme, rhythm, simile, and the speaker. Make notes in the margin about the meaning of the language.

Attitude: What is the author’s tone? Make notes in the margin about this.

Shift: Look for shifts in tone, action, rhythm. Identify the shifts by highlighting them and make a note in the margin.

Theme: What does the poem mean? What is it saying about life?


Título. Sin leer el poema, ¿qué crees que va a ser?

Paráfrasis. Al lado de cada estrofa, escribir el poema en su propio lenguaje cotidiano.

Connotaciones: ¿Qué significado va con (con) el idioma que se está utilizando? Mantenga una estrecha vigilancia en cuenta: aliteración, la alusión, la dicción, las imágenes, las metáforas, la onomatopeya, la rima, el ritmo, el símil, y el orador. Tome notas en el margen sobre el significado de la lengua.

Actitud: ¿Cuál es el tono del autor? Tome notas en el margen de esto.

Shift: Busque cambios de tono, acción, ritmo. Identificar los cambios marcándolos y hacer una nota en el margen.

Tema: ¿Qué hace el poema significa? ¿Qué dice acerca de la vida?


Ms. Sally

I want to recognize Ms. Sally-a tutor and volunteer-who works tirelessly with two of my ESOL elementary students at GES. Here are a few of the things that Ms. Sally has done over the last year to help me with these ESOL students.

1). Reading buddies. Ms. Sally reads with my ESOL student during lunch as a reading buddy.

2). After school tutoring. Ms. Sally currently works one to two days a week after school to assist my ESOL students with their homework tasks and home projects. She helps my ESOL students complete projects that their non-English speaking parents are unable to help them with because of the language barrier.

3). At home tutoring. Last year, Ms. Sally traveled to my ESOL student’s home two times a week and then during the summer months in order to provide at home tutoring. Her summer tutoring extended to other ESOL students in the community-as my student’s home was a gathering place for other ESOL students/parents.

4). Ms. Sally acts as a liaison with parents, teachers, administration. Many times, important letters are not effectively delivered or understood by our non-English speaking parents. Ms. Sally takes the time to ensure my ESOL parents receive important messages/communication or deliver translated letters.

Ms. Sally has saved the day for me on several occasions when I’m not at GES. She fills in the gap or calls me when extra assistance is needed. I couldn’t do without Ms. Sally and her tireless devotion to making sure that the needs of all students are met. Thank you Ms. Sally for all that you do!!!!

Ms. DeLong’s Dual Language Kindergarten

This year, I have the privilege of collaborating with Ms. DeLong, a Kindergarten teacher at GES. Currently, we are serving two ESOL students in this classroom. We have very little sheltered language training at GES as our ELL population has only begun to increase at a more rapid rate only in the last two years. We rely on resources that we glean on our own and share with each other. Recently, I shared with Ms. DeLong the following article “WIDA Focus on The Early Years: Dual Language Learners.” I am so proud to see that Ms. DeLong is proactively doing so many things this article talks about to make her Kindergarten classroom dual language friendly.

1). Ms. DeLong constantly refers to her non-English speaking student to say things in their language and to spotlight the things they already know. Ms. DeLong uses Google Translate on a regular basis to help her translate words/phrases into Spanish. For example, when Ms. DeLong teaches numbers in English, she also teaches them in Spanish. I recently participated with Ms. DeLong as she was teaching her Kindergartner’s the Letter “O” through the activity entitled “O is for Owl.” On the board, she wrote “I see the owl” and alongside she wrote “Veo el búho.”  She had one of our Spanish speaking students repeat this Spanish phrase and teach the rest of the class.

2). Ms. DeLong uses Google Translate to write daily messages to one Spanish-speaking parent (who speaks no English) in the agenda to communicate how the student’s daily progress in class or to communicate upcoming events or needs. She also just wrote the student’s entire interim report in Spanish by using this translating engine. This was an enormous help to me as collaborating ELL teacher-as I currently work K-12 and the job of translation for each and every parent is becoming an increasing task. Ms. DeLong also encourages our non-English speaking parent to participate in classroom and PTA events-with the help of Spanish speaking volunteers and myself.

3). Ms. DeLong utilizes dual language story books and other resources in class to help the second language student understand and feel accepted. She independently seeks out dual language story books from our library and also utilizes dual language story books from Reading A-Z.

4). Ms. DeLong constantly communicates with me-the ELL teacher-to make sure the needs of our dual language students are met. Her concern and care for my ESOL students is equal to that of each and every one of the students in her class. I’m SO appreciative of her openness, flexibility, and patience. Thank you Ms. DeLong for going the extra mile to ensure our Kindergarten ESOL students have a wonderful kindergarten experience!!

Following is a picture of a class activity in which all students created dual language posters re: to colors and the letter “c.”

Measuring Up Live

Every year, I have asked our ESOL program to purchase and online program called Measuring Up Live.

I have found that this program is a great resource for yearly, on-line SOL preparation. The standards on MUL correspond to Virginia Standards. In addition, I can select which standards I want my students to work on, which correspond to standards they are working on in their general Math, Science and Language Arts classes. For example, for Life Science and Physical Science, I can select the first category of “Scientific Investigation, Reasoning, and Logic.” I am able to monitor the progress of my student understanding and retention in this category via the administrative program. MUL provides a performance key of three levels “Below Proficient, Proficient, Advanced Proficient.” My student’s proficiency level is currently set at 70%, which then allows me to move them onto a new standard when they have shown me that they have obtained the measured goal for comprehension.

My students enjoy this program because it provides instantaneous feedback for students after every question is answered. If the student answers the questions incorrectly, an explanation of the incorrect answer is provided. Students are required to continue until they select the correct answer. Finally, students enjoy a small game after they answer 5 questions correctly.

Parts of Speech Books

For my Middle School students, grades 6-8, I plan on having them create “Parts of Speech” books.

1). Mini-Lesson: We will start with a small review of each part of speech at the following site: Grammaropolis

2) Creation of Parts of Speech Book. Students will create a book, either on their iPads using the app “Book Creator” or with regular paper. The books will contain the following: Definitions of parts of speech (i.e. noun, verb, adj), definitions and examples of the types of nouns, pictures to correspond, and finally sentences combining and identifying as many different types of nouns as possible.

Music in the Classroom

This year I have decided to use song activities for bell ringers. I plan on starting every class with a song during our ESOL resource period. Here are the many ways I chose to use song bell ringer activities.

  1. Establishing positive theme every day. There is nothing like a positive start to a class period. I love using music in the classroom as a bell ringer in my class for this reason. I also used the lyrics of songs to create a class theme. This year, I started off the year by introducing the song “Nothing More” by Alternate Routes. We established our class theme which is “We are Love, We are One.” I placed a poster with this theme at the front of our class where we review it and are reminded of it on a regular basis.

  2. Encompassing all four performance definitions of Listening, Reading, Speaking, Writing through various activities. We listen to a song every single class period. We follow along by reading and recording key words on our word wall. Then, we follow up by speaking and talking about our interpretations of the song (i.e. What are the dangers that this song speaks of?) Finally, we complete many different writing assignments to follow up with the song. For example, I asked my students to journal about a time when they took an alternate route in their life and made a good decision. After completing their assignments, each student shared their writing/stories with each other.  I had my high school students complete their writing assignments and contribute to class discussions in Edmodo.

  3. Focusing on fluency. All my middle school and high school students have either an iPod or an iPad. Because of this, we are able to use the song lyrics to complete fluency activities using their voice memo apps. I found that fluency practice is perfect for song activities because students are listening/speaking/reading this song every day in my class. They can focus on pronunciation and reading fluency through reading song lyrics. My students completed fluency exercises using this attached iTouch Fluency Station checklist.