Monthly Archives: May 2014

Literature Circle Dilemma

Picture this scenario:

A class of middle school students, grades 6 – 8, were given a choice of three books and were placed in a group of their first or second choice. There are three literature circle groups of seven students each. They are expected to read a chapter in preparation for each book group meeting, which happens twice per week. Although there are no worksheets to fill out, students assume a different literature circle “role” every time the group meets.

What do you do when, time after time, certain students in a book group are not prepared for the group discussion? They haven’t read the chapters agreed upon by the group so they are not ready to have a conversation with their peers.

In desperation, do you assign worksheets to these students while the rest of the group members discuss the book? Do you give them another chance the next day or during the group discussion to catch up? Do you investigate why they weren’t able to complete the assignment? Do you problem solve a solution with these students?? Or do you just ignore this behaviour and let the groups continue as is??

I look forward to reader comments.

Leave a comment

Filed under dilemma, literature circles

Proud

This will be a short post.

I just wanted to share how proud I am of my two newest ESL students.

They spent several periods over the last week researching about a “person of interest” in social studies.
The task was to find out their person’s contribution and why it’s still important to us today.
Then, they had to prepare a brief PPT presentation – three to four slides long – to share with their classmates.

My students researched Aesop and King Leonidas, respectively.

We practiced in class and then they were ready. In fact, they were more than ready. They were fantastic! They were both calm and very self-assured. I think their classmates were pleasantly surprised.

This was a milestone for both of them; they took a risk and were successful.

Did I already say how proud I am of them?

Cross posted to Tuesday Slice of Life at Two Writing Teachers.

Leave a comment

Filed under ESL, oral presentations, taking a risk

Read to Self

In my ESL pull-out class my students come in and find a comfortable spot for read to self, which lasts for 20 minutes. For the most part, and this is always interesting to me, they choose the same place day in and day out: sitting on a table, crouched under the sink, sprawled between two tables, sitting at tables or sitting in a chair near the window.

Read to self is a perfect time for one-on-one conferences. But I am often conflicted because I don’t want to interrupt my students’ reading. After all, I don’t like being interrupted when I’m reading a good book. Yet, I understand that time is precious, especially the one hour I have with my students, four days/week. Still, I wonder if I should let my students read without interrupting them? Or should I use this time to touch bases with them about their reading? For some of my students, this may be the only time that anyone talks to them about what they’re reading. So, I need to take advantage of this opportunity.

Today, I started conferring again, without any second guessing. I had two conferences during the 20 minutes, which actually became 25 minutes because I lost track of the time. Although that translates to two long conferences, it’s OK for now. I need to find my rhythm again. I hadn’t touched bases with any of my students for a few weeks, at least not in one-on-one conferences, and I needed to feel comfortable again. Find my groove, so to speak. I will create a format for these conferences that will give me the information I need to better teach my ESL students. I’m working on that now.

One possible format might look like this:

First, the student reads a little bit of his/her book aloud.
Then, we talk about what’s happening in the book, who the characters are, and what may happen next. Other topics will come up naturally depending on the book and the student.
Next, I may ask what kind of help s/he needs to read this book.
Finally, we make a plan for finishing the book (my students are non-finishers and reluctant readers, for the most part), and think about what s/he could read next.
What we discuss at the next conference will be determined, in part, by how the previous one went.

So, there you have it! A tentative plan for one-on-one conferences. I will come back to this topic at a later date to reflect on how it’s going.


Leave a comment

Filed under Daily5, ESL, one-on-one conferences, one-on-one conferring format, read to self

I’m Back!

It has been exactly 15 days since my last post. This, after writing every day for 6 weeks!

I had vowed to continue along the same lines but a nasty cold definitely put a dent in that plan.

Although I’m still not completely well, I am feeling well enough to resume writing – every day.
Today I just want to send a shout out to all of you out there – family, face-to-face friends, cyber friends, acquaintances, and my PLN – for being YOU. I know that in our busy lives we sometimes forget that what really matters are the relationships that sustain us every day.
I appreciate all of you and just want to say, thank you.

Leave a comment

Filed under appreciation