I realized that I talk a lot about my younger students, but I haven't really talked about my 8th graders on the blog, so I'm going to share a little bit about what I do with them. Since we got back from Christmas Break, I picked up writing in a huge way, and we've completed two really big writing pieces that I'm pretty proud of. There are only three students in my 8th grade class, (I know!) so we can get a lot done in just a few weeks' time. However, if just one student is absent, it makes a marked difference and I feel like I'm pulling teeth to get anything done.
First we covered narrative writing, then moved on to speculative, and now we are moving on to Open Ended Questions. (More on that in a minute.) I do something pretty fun for their Do-Now- we do 5 Minute Writing from a Scholastic e-book I have. I project a prompt on the board, something like "A magic fairy gave you $1,000. Write a story about what you would do with it." Then, they have 5 minutes to write a paragraph with a topic sentence, three details, and a concluding sentence. We read our paragraphs aloud (I write one too) and we check each other's for the necessary components and mark them up with pens or highlighters. My students have a love/hate relationship with 5 Minute Writing, but we have had some great stories!
Moving on to Open Ended Questions. If you teach in NJ, you know all about OEQ's. They are the bane of an ELL existence, because they require very little imagination and a lot of background knowledge. I broke out a book of non-fiction reading comprehension passages and we began working. The passage we worked on was about earthquakes, and boy did we have our work cut out for us. We talked about the word "shift", we experimented with an earthquake on our desks, we
Finally, we moved on to the Open Ended Question at the end of the passage. I created an anchor chart to help them organize their ideas, and I'm sharing it with you. Because after all the trouble we had with reading, they shone in their writing! We aren't done yet, but I wanted to share my freebie with you in case any of you are working on OEQ's soon.
Click on either picture to download the freebie. Not only do we have the state test, but we have the ACCESS by WIDA test coming up in April, which measures ELL's on Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking. I want my students to be prepared, but I don't want to drown them in test prep- I think guided reading and writing is a good way to do that.
Let me know what you think about test prep for ESL students, and does your state take the ACCESS test? How do you prepare your kids?