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Getting Back to School with English Language Learners

This school year we will be featuring blogs from industry experts who will share thoughts, ideas, and expertise around cross curriculum instruction in the  classroom which will include varied perspectives from teachers, researchers, curriculum specialists and literacy experts.

We will kick off this school year with Steven Rivera-Padilla,  a Bilingual Education Paraprofessional with Hillsborough County Public Schools. He has spent years working with students from various countries and cultural backgrounds to ensure both English language skills and curriculum content is being learned.

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End of Summer Blues

By Steven Rivera-Padilla – Guest Blogger

Like many of you, I am gearing up for the start of another amazing school year. With this, a plethora of feelings arise; I like to call this my “end of summer blues”. My emotions range from excited to sad (summer vacation is always difficult to part ways with!) to excited (a fresh start is always a good feeling) and scared (unknown challenges lie ahead tend to play tricks with your mind) to fearlessness (I can overcome any new challenge!). Although my brain entertains all of these emotions these last few days of summer, the one thing I want to ensure is that I start off on the right foot with my special group of students.

Unlike teachers who teach a specialized subject to a specific grade, I have the pleasure of working with ELL (English language learners) students from all three middle school grades. I educate my students throughout their three years of middle school, which allows me to see the growth they make. It is always very gratifying, and it’s also very rewarding to see all they’ve learned over one school year.

Our computer lab is ready to go!
Our computer lab is ready to go!

This group of students has two goals: learn English and learn the curriculum. This isn’t an easy task, folks! Their proficiency in the language directly affects how much of the curriculum they learn, therefore LEARNING English is at the top of the priority list. If we want these students to learn the language as fast as possible, reading is fundamental. We must have them work on gaining vocabulary through reading proficiency.

“If you’re failing to plan, you’re planning to fail.”  -Benjamin Franklin

This is where starting off on the right foot comes to play. By establishing a strong groundwork during pre-planning and the first week of school, I can provide personalized literacy and cross-curricular, individualized instruction through myON! I create a fun myON ELL group that meets three to five days a week. We meet during homeroom, study hall, and sometimes during their lunch time.

The first week of school, students learn how to navigate their dashboard, begin and complete project, and being that they’re ELL students, how to use the program’s dictionary tool to look up English words unknown to them in their native language. (As we like to say in the ESOL world, “vocabulary, vocabulary, vocabulary!”) I give students the liberty to choose books that interest them when they’re not working on a specific project. Heads up, sixth grade boys are especially attracted to the scary and gross book selections… whatever gets them reading!

I will then adjust the individual Lexile levels, create and look for already created projects that will work for each students’ particular needs, and see how some of these projects will work in other classes—yes, talk to your other subject teachers throughout the school year to see what they’re learning, and assign students a project that correlates. The process will become second nature after the initial week and this will allow you to witness the gains students make. This makes my end of the summer blues last just before the school year begins instead of all year long!

Here’s to a fantastic school year full of amazing growth with all your students!

 

Winter Reading Program – Winners Announced!

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January 30th marked a major milestone for myON  as we reached our 4 year birthday and earlier in 2015 eclipsed the 5 million student reading on myON. It goes without saying that myON has experienced incredible growth due in large part to amazing educators and students!

We are excited to announce the 2015 Winter Reading Program Winners! This year’s Winter Reading Program began on December 19th and concluded on January 9th! The top schools that spent the most time reading during that time will receive $500!

 CONGRATULATIONS!

The top three schools that spent the most time reading* will be awarded the 2015 Winter Reading Program Winners!  Combined, all students read over 12 years of reading in just 21 days! The top three schools receiving the awards:

 

  • Top School: Komensky Elementary School (Berwyn South School District 100, IL)
  • Runner–Up: Oakman Elementary (Dearborn Public Schools MI)
  • 3rd Place: PS 48 William Wordsworth – (NYC Network 535, NY)

We also created a new category for students to create a 1-2 minute video to explain why you like myON! We are excited to announce that 5th Grader, Lee from Komensky Elementary won the contest and will receive $100. Her video can be seen here!

Stay tuned to for more information on our Spring Reading and Summer Reading Programs!

*Time spent reading was based on enrollment of each school.

TCEA: Everything’s Bigger in Texas…

TCEA Partners Celebrate Reading!

Everything’s bigger in Texas—and so we’ve all heard.

Now, I don’t know whether this colloquialism was born in reference to hair or to a long-lost plate of Texan nachos that I never did manage to track down in Austin last week. I do know that one thing for sure is pretty big in Texas: the hearts of all of those Texan teachers with whom we communicated last week during the TCEA conference.

Our time at TCEA—the Texas Computer Education Association—in Austin from February 5-7 was big and it was brilliant. The teachers, librarians and administrators with whom we connected were motivated and motivating. We met people from Weslaco, Austin, McAllen, Dallas, San Antonio, Houston, and many other districts in Texas, and we enjoyed sharing the myON vision with them.

Perhaps what’s better is that they shared their myriad and diverse visions with us. We have so much to learn from these conversations with inspired teachers. We learned about what they truly need in their classrooms to meet all of their students’ needs; we learned about challenges they face on a day-to-day basis in teaching literacy to struggling readers, ELL students, special needs students—or simply teaching literacy to a whole class of unique personalities and reading levels. And we learned about their goals for meeting these challenges head on.

Perhaps the best thing we learned from these teachers is that, for many of them, myON has been and will be a means to those literary ends.

We are happy to furnish three lucky TCEA attendees with a free myON pilot subscription. Congratulations to:

  • Kathy C., Principal, Pasadena ISD
  • Joseph T., Director of Instructional Technology, San Antonio ISD
  • Careli G., Assistant Principal, Brownsville ISD

Thank you to TCEA for hosting us this year. We left with full hearts and big goals.