Technology Integration to Support Language Development in the Primary Classroom

English Language Learners

One of the most challenging aspects for educators of English language learners (ELLs) is accurately assessing language development over time — oral language, in particular. Due to the conversational nature of language, it can be incredibly difficult to assess oral language while simultaneously engaging in conversation, not to mention recording the data as you go.

While the speaking and listening domains can be the hardest to objectively assess over time, reading and writing shouldn’t be overlooked. ELL educators are always looking through two lenses — content knowledge and English language development (ELD).

A few savvy strategies coupled with technology integration can enhance not only English language learning within the four domains (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) of ELD, but your assessment of language development over time as well.

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Diving into Classroom Culture

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As the school year comes to a close, you and your students may be taking time to reflect on the year, especially the culture of your classroom. What went well? What would you change? Perhaps you feel like you and your students built the bond of a lifetime! Or, maybe things felt a little off.

Since the building of class culture starts the very first day of school, summer can be a great time to plan how you want to build your culture next year. Since every educator’s summer plans are different, Teaching Channel has a variety of learning options for how you can deepen your understanding of building class culture, including a brand new course. You may even be able to do some of these options poolside, lakeside, or wherever your summer vacation takes you.

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Tch Tips: How to Deal with a Chatty Classroom

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Your students just won’t stop talking. You feel like you’re constantly talking over people just to be heard. We’ve all been there!

If your classroom has become too chatty, start by figuring out if the talk is productive or not. Sometimes talking is actually a good thing. If students are talking about the task at hand, you may want to encourage them to continue (just at a quieter volume!). But if students are off task and chatty, this requires a different approach.

Use these tips to help your classroom become more peaceful:

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Kicking off Teacher Appreciation Week with the Gift of Time

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Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

We’re kicking off our week of Tchers’ favorite things by gifting you with time. Well, sort of! Since we can’t literally give you more time in your day, or give you a longer prep period (though we wish we could!), we hope to cut back on your planning time by showing you a few easy strategies you can try right away.

Demonstrated by some of our long-time favorites, like Sarah Brown Wessling, to brand-new teachers like Marquis Colquitt, these four new videos will give you fresh tools for your teacher toolkit.

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How Many Days Are Left? 10 Tips to End the Year with Positivity and Purpose

Tchers' Voice Great ideas from passionate educators just like you

Inevitably, when educators get to April or May, the question of “How many days are left?” is uttered frequently, and with so many different variations in tone.

There is the Freaked Out — pure panic because “I still have so much material left to cover,” or “My kids are not ready for the AP test.”

Or the Exhausted, when this question is quietly mumbled with a tone of “I cannot do it; I won’t make it that long.

Don’t forget about the Angered, whereby one basically screams the question, with the certainty that the answer will be an unreasonable number.

At times, you might even get the Practical. This one is probably heard the least, but typically involves the initial question asked in a reflective tone and followed by a concrete plan to make it through.

And if you’re lucky, you might just get the To Hell With It. A personal favorite, this educator might not even finish asking the question because he or she has just reached a point where they don’t even care anymore. It’s not that they don’t care about their job or their students, but they just don’t care, for better or worse, how many days are left.

The educational reality is that we’ve reached the time of year when you probably can see yourself in one (or more, depending on the day) of these responses. And if the weather where you are is at all like it is in Chicago this “spring,” there are probably days when you don’t even have the disposition to ask the question, because you’re so annoyed by it all.

While I’m no psychological expert and certainly don’t have all the answers, I’d like to present to you ten things you can do to help make it through the rest of the year, bad weather and all, with positivity and purpose.

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Eliciting Engagement with Earth Day Every Day

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A couple of years ago, the FIRST LEGO League robotics theme was “Trash Trek.” That was the year that I decided to coach not one, but two teams of middle school students… by myself. After thinking long and hard about the challenge topic, the teams came up with two original solutions.

Team 1 joined efforts with a local trash company to recycle lunchroom milk cartons.

Team 2 had read that mealworm larva could eat styrofoam. They decided to grow mealworms, measure their consumption, and develop a plan for landfills. They grew mealworms in my classroom for six months. Did you know those little buggers grow wings? I didn’t.

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As Earth Day is quickly approaching, I’ve been thinking a lot about that robotics season and the initiative of those amazing students. They were motivated to make a change. They were obsessed with their efforts and even wrote songs about mealworms to quell the fears of the local elementary students — highlighting that while the worms could eat trash, they wouldn’t actually eat their house.
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Tch Tips: Is Peer Teaching on Your Classroom Menu?

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There’s no doubt that expectations for student achievement have increased exponentially over the past two decades. To help students meet these expectations, schools have shifted to more evidence-based strategies, like peer teaching.

Peer teaching isn’t a single strategy — it is a full menu of learning techniques that can enhance student achievement, content knowledge, and student engagement. However, peer teaching can also be problematic for teachers, because employing this particular method means that students will be teaching each other.

You might be thinking…

  • My students aren’t experts. How can they teach this content to one another?
  • What if they teach and learn the information incorrectly? Even if they do get it right, will the learning be superficial?
  • What if parents bristle at the idea of students learning from students when the stakes are so high for student assessment?
  • What about my professional responsibility? I’m the teacher, after all. Isn’t teaching my job?

All of these are valid concerns and worthy of some debate. But equally valid is the wealth of research that shows peer teaching works.

Are you ready to explore peer teaching in your classroom?

Whether you’re ready for just a taste or a full menu of strategies, we’ve got something for you to try!
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Tch March 2018 Rewind

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In case you missed any of the great ideas we explored this month on Tchers’ Voice, let’s recap our marvelous March lineup, filled with great ideas from passionate educators just like you!


Teaching Channel Courses
Improve Your Practice and Earn Credits with New Tch Courses!

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Seven New Videos

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Tch Talks Podcasts

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