Thursday, May 26, 2011

Websites for ESL Instruction

I was going through some files and found a great resource put out by ProLiteracy that I thought I would share. This information was produced by ProLiteracy Worldwide for use on, which is an educational platform supported by the Verizon Foundation.

Wonderful Websites for ESL Instruction

For Beginning Level Students crossword puzzle
REEP World
Educational Opportunity Center, Buffalo, NY
Cynthia Ingersoll’s class page

For Intermediate/Advanced Level Students

News for You Online
(Subscription info can be found here.)
Takako’s Great Adventure
Medline Plus Interactive Tutorials

For Multilevel Classrooms
Instant Poetry
U.S. Map Puzzle

Free Technology Tools for the ESL Classroom

I just listened to a great webinar presented by Deborah Healey and Robert Elliott of the University of Oregon, hosted by They provided some great ideas for how to integrate free technology tools in the classroom, including the use of Google docs, Google forms, Google sites, Voxopop (an online listening forum), and Visuwords (an online graphic dictionary), to name a few. The link to their presentation can be found here, which is loaded with useful links to the tools they shared. They've also prepared a great wiki for these tools that can be found here. I'm particularly interested in trying the Google Sites tool that I just learned about.

I'm continually grateful for professionals who are willing to share their expertise!

(See also my post on Five Free Technology Tools.)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Teaching Literacy Strategies to Homeless Children and Individuals in Secure Care Facilities

This has been the year of travel! My job has taken me to various places around the nation and the world to present, train, and observe literacy instruction. This year, I have traveled to New York City twice, India, the Middle East, New Orleans, and Washington, D.C. Last week, I traveled to Phoenix, Arizona. The purpose of my trip to Arizona was two-fold: 1) to present literacy strategies at the Arizona Correctional Educators Conference in Tempe; and 2) to make site visits to locations where literacy training is being implemented. 
I had the privilege of visiting the Children First Academy in Phoenix, the largest school for homeless kids in the nation, which is part of the Sequoia School District. Sequoia Schools are non-profit, K-12 public charter schools. I had heard about Children First Academy in January, and I was very intrigued by it. I had visited their website and read the speech that one of the students gave at a fundraiser. (It's amazing, by the way, as it provides a glimpse into the realities of life as a kid who comes from a homeless background. You can read Janet's speech here.) When I arrived at the school, I was greeted by Dina Gerdon, Community Development Director, and warmly welcomed by the principal and superintendent. This school has been using Reading Horizons since the beginning of January, and they have grown to love the program. There is a new principal at the school, and he said the first thing the teachers said to him when he arrived at the school was, "Don't take our Reading Horizons away!" The superintendent and I then had an engaging conversation about the importance of reading and literacy, and we discussed implementing a program for parents to learn to read English along with their children at Children First Academy. I'm very impressed with the support the principal and superintendent offer the school, including professional development, technology, and other resources.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Helpful Online Resources to Stay Informed in Education

I value opportunities to stay "in the know" about educational issues and policies, as well as current events in the news relating to my field. But if you're like me, the challenge of staying on top of such things amid a demanding schedule is ever-present. A great solution I've found to remove this impediment is using free online resources. Some of the resources I use include twitter where I can read tweets that introduce me to links to online articles and headline news in education. An additional online resource I use is listserves where colleagues within similar fields share thoughts, experiences, expertise, and resources. Finally, I have benefited from subscribing to online newsletters, including SmartBriefs via email, where the top relevant stories of the day are sent to my email inbox. These online newsletters include top stories that have been sought out and summarized with links to the full online articles provided. Someone else does all the work for me! A few of the online resources mentioned above, including newsletters and listserves I've subscribed to, are included below:

ASCD SmartBrief (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) provides a daily briefing on the top stories in K-12 education. Subscribe here.

CEC SmartBrief (Council for Exceptional Children) provides a daily briefing on top stories in special education. Subscribe here.  

TESOL Connections (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) is a semi-monthly newsletter for TESOL members. It is posted on the first and third Friday of each month. It features articles, interviews, job postings, and other resources for teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language.

I am also part of a listserve moderated by LINCS (Literacy Information and Communication System), specifically, the Adult English Language Acquisition Discussion List. Subscribe here.

Twitter, of course, is another way to stay on top of current events. In case you didn't know, @ESLtrail is on twitter. If you tweet, be sure to follow @ESLtrail!