It's the end of the school year and the students, and arguably teachers too, are done. We have been through the wringer this year. We've learned so much in this short year about virtual learning, engagement, community outreach, and so much more. We attended countless webinars or courses (Check out My EL Mentor here!) to help us understand how to reach our students better and more effectively as we navigated the virtual classroom. And some of us did all of that with children at home!
Our students learned to do work at home with parents and siblings in their houses. They adapted to having to learn how to submit assignments online. Yes, our students are pretty advanced when it comes to smartphones and apps, but distance learning, especially while learning a new language, is a whole new level. Many have opened up about anxiety and depression issues.
Reflecting on all of this, I made the decision to abandon the curriculum for the rest of the year (sorry ESL office!). We wrapped up Romeo and Juliet and I am going to bypass the Odyssey and jump into some work with personal narratives and then a fun little class yearbook Google Slides activity. Engagement and keeping connections going for me and my students is key right now.
Here is a list of ways to keep you and your ESL students going until the end of the year:
Make a class yearbook
I came across this idea from Ditch That Textbook and couldn't wait to try it on my own. Since there has been so much work and changes this school year, I thought this was a great idea to showcase everything we've gone through. I plan on using this template and can't wait to see what students put. I think they'll enjoy being able to "sign" each other's yearbooks and I'm hoping we can take a virtual class photo in our meeting! If I can get everyone to turn on their cameras that is...
One assignment that I love doing at the beginning of the school year or if we get to read Enrique's Journey by Sonia Nazario is share stories about their own lives. It's a great way to get to know each other and to show them that their stories matter. Where they come from matters and I love to honor that with them. However, this year I did not teach ELD, I taught only ESL which means that in my district we follow the English curriculum. ELD has a little bit more freedom.
So at the end of this year, I am going to assign this after testing is over so they have a chance to tell their stories and share what they may not have been able to so far virtually in my class this year. I like to have students begin by reviewing some other student stories at Tenement Museum's website. Then, they will share theirs with me in this personal narrative Google Slides document this year. Let me know in the comments if you have any other favorites for sharing stories!
Have a movie day. Seriously!
I feel like it's a little taboo to just show a movie. If I ever do, I usually have a movie guide to go along with it and we stop and discuss. But this year...well this year is different! We actually have extra "flex" time this year in our schedules for students to catch up on distance learning and go to virtual tutoring, but I am planning on one day for it to be a virtual movie party and make it special. And of course, it will be about Romeo and Juliet that they worked so hard on with me!
Connect with another class
Maybe there is another class that read the same thing with you recently? A class in your district or a class across the US? Maybe there is another lucky bunch who got to read Romeo and Juliet and you want to have a discussion about it together? Maybe you want to discuss and then have a virtual watch party together! The options really are endless when you think of the virtual possibilities. This is just one way to spice up the end of the school year and keep them on their toes!
Have students start a blog/vlog
I did this one year with a blog and like so many other assignments, some really got into it and for some it was not their thing. Next time I do this, I may give them the option to do a vlog instead or to make a Pinterest board. The whole point of the blog was to summarize and show some work they did that year, and it can easily be talked about in a vlog or shown through photos and captions on a Pinterest board. It's a great way to personalize learning for your multilingual learners, especially with the ability to insert pictures in a blog or Pinterest for newcomer ESL students.
There's so many more ideas out there, I know! I'd love for you to share yours in the comments so we can make a nice running list to return to at the end of every school year. Happy testing and end of the school year, teacher friends!
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I teach high school ESL and peer coach high school ESL teachers in my district. I enjoy sharing my strategies and materials online and love learning new things from other teachers of Emergent Bilinguals! Let's learn together in my high school teacher membership just for Multilingual Learners!