Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Are there jobs in heaven?

Have you ever wondered if we will still be discussing reading, writing, teaching and blogging in heaven? What would that conversation sound like? Would anyone even need teaching in heaven? Would people actually be separated into students and teachers? Would anyone need a second or foreign language teacher?
Hey, maybe I am onto something!
What language will we be speaking in heaven? Everyone speaks their own language and others will understand it no matter where they are from? Or is there going to be a different language in heaven that everyone will need to learn? Will this language include reading and writing or just speaking?
How about tests and assessments? Will there be item writers and test raters in heaven? If so, what will be assessed on those tests and exams?

I was having breakfast with a friend on Monday morning. We chatted about age, getting older (not me of course), changes in our lives, obstacles that we have overcome, hopes for the future, and then suddenly, she asked me, "do you think we will have jobs in heaven?" I did not know what to say! I had honestly never even thought about jobs and heaven in the same breath. Have you?

We started thinking about the whole concept of jobs and heaven. If we will eat in heaven, who will cook the food? Will we still be cleaning toilets in heaven? Will we even feel hunger in heaven? What about families? How big will be the extended families in heaven? Will we all live together? What will that look like? One house per family or a humongous palace for all to live together?

We did not really come up with any answers, but we had fun thinking about different scenarios. If we had a restaurant in heaven, would Jesus come for dinner? Would He leave a tip? What about teaching?  I hope (and believe) that by the time we get to heaven, we will have other, more important experiences to live for.
So, I am determined to be the best teacher I can be here on Earth. I will study the common core, I will attend professional development, I will practice reading and writing, I will learn new technology and collaborate with other educational professionals. At the same time, I want to prepare myself to do those "other things" when I get to heaven. Who knows, maybe I will get a chance to have dinner with Jesus

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

English Vinglish

English Vinglish poster.jpg
Worth Watching!

Last week I wrote about book recommendations for new writing teachers with an emphasis on books for teachers who have ELL students in their classrooms. I have been planning how I can be a better teacher next year; what do I need to or what should I do differently with my students to ensure their progress.
Well, it is vacation time and movies are part of that vacation fun! Like a good teacher on vacation I had visited my local library to peruse new books while eyeing the new movie selection as well. This movie title really caught my eye: ENGLISH VINGLISH!  I could not not take it home with me!

My daughter and I have for years been fans of Indian movies. There is just something special about them. Sometimes they are funny or even boisterous; other times they are touching and they make you tear up (at least me).
ENGLISH VINGLISH had all of those components! But most of all, it talked about how learning a language--being able to communicate--brings new respect and self-worth to a person's life. Learning a language empowers a person to be whatever they might want to be!

As I watched the movie, it made me think about me; how learning English has totally changed my life. I would not be where I am today if I had not persevered in learning English. I would not be part of this blogging community if I had not learned English. 
The movie also made me think about my students; am I a teacher that empowers them or one that points out their mistakes and shortcomings? How CAN I better empower my students? How can I make them fall in love with a language that can then in turn shape their lives and give them unlimited opportunities?  Could I find new ways to irrigate the souls of my students--not just correct and grade their papers? 
I have much to think and ponder this summer. Reading, re-reading, watching movies, reading blogs and learning from others. After all, when I irrigate my soul I prepare the soil that will help grow all those seedlings come September again. This coming year, there will be no drought in my classroom--or my soul!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Writing Books for Writing Teachers

Few days ago Stacey posted a question about the best books for new writing teachers. I have been thinking about the books that I have and use when teaching writing. Which ones would I recommend for new teachers (and for others as well)?
Here are my takes:

  • Learner English: A Teacher's Guide to Interference and other Problems  by Swan and Smith (2001) - This is my go to reference when teaching ELL students writing. I can look a language group see what are their typical challenges when it comes to learning English. Are there particular language functions or mechanics that I should focus on? Are some grammatical aspects so similar that I don't really need much time to spend on those but can focus on others?
  • Understanding ESL Writers by Leki (1992) - This book combines the cultural practical aspects of writing. As an ELL teacher, it is essential that I know where my students come from, what are their previous educational experiences, and their level of English proficiency when in my class. In addition, I must also understand how students from other countries might view personal writing. How about error correcting? Do I need to correct everything (or should I)? Leki answers these and many other questions in her book. If you are a mainstream teacher who occasionally has a few ELL students in your class, I would highly recommend this book.
  • Reading and Writing in More Than One Language by Franklin (1999) - Great resource for mainstream teachers who have ELL students in their classes. This book addresses both reading and writing challenges that teachers face when ELL students enter their classrooms. Full of practical tips.
  • iWrite by Wilber (2010); The Digital Writing Workshop by Hicks (2009); When Writing with Technology Matters by Bedard & Fuhrken (2013) - All these books address technology issues in the classroom. I believe that it is an essential component of today's writing teacher. As a blogger, I definitely want to incorporate blogging into my classroom practices as well.
  • Real Revision by Messner (2011) -  I have learned so much about revision from Kate Messner! She show with concrete examples both in the book and also on her blog. Here is one example from her blog, and here is another. Kate's examples can be applied to both fiction and non-fiction writing. And at least for me, revision is my biggest challenge with my students!
  • Write Beside Them by Kittle (2008) - From Penny Kittle I learned to write when my students are writing. How can I teach writing if my students never see me write? I think this book is essential for secondary teachers who want to make a difference in their students writing lives. We must teach writing by example just like we do reading.
  • Write Like This and Teaching Adolescent Writers by Gallagher (2011 & 2006) - both book are a MUST for secondary teachers! Full of examples, suggestions, student work samples and ways to push students to become more fluent writers (just like the common core challenges us to do). These books are on my table/shelf all the time. I am referencing them when writing my lesson plans, designing my handouts and assignments. My students see me use these. And again, modeling, using mentor texts, working with real life situations; this is what my students need.
  • Mechanically Inclined  by Anderson (2005) - As a writing teacher, I don't think that I could compose a list and not include at least one book that addresses the mechanics of writing in more detail. I have found Jeff Anderson's book to have a low stress level for the teacher and an easy to approach grammar attitude for the students. Definite keeper for ELL teachers!
  • PreK-12 English Language Proficiency Standards by TESOL (2006) - As an ELL teacher, I cannot be without this book! It is part of what I do. I believe that this book is an essential resource for anyone who has even one ELL student in his/her class. In order to make sure that ELL students are progressing on their journey to attain proficiency in English, teachers must educate themselves on ways to implement a program that assures improvement and eventually proficiency in all four domain of English language. 
Which books would you add? Have you read a new book that you believe would be an essential addition?