Spring is here. We are in the final quarter of the school year and the VESOL testing window will soon be closed. This is a great time to try a new resource or teaching strategy. Consider the following ideas and pick one or two to try with your students.
1) Content Teaching Academy
This June, James Madison University will host the annual Content Teaching Academy. Over 300 teachers from across Virginia will receive high-quality professional development in a number of content areas. The Instructional Practices for Teachers of Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities (IPT) is a two-day academy (June 26-27) designed to provide teachers with strategies and resources related to the Virginia Essentialized Standards of Learning (VESOL). TTAC ODU specialists and our colleagues from the other T-TAC offices will lead sessions on topics including assistive technology, whole group opportunities to respond, VESOL math instruction, and thematic teaching.
Registration is open and can be accessed here. Do not delay. This academy will fill up quickly.
2) T-TAC ODU Lending Library
This is a friendly reminder that our free T-TAC ODU lending library is well-stocked with great books and resources that can help you update your instructional practices. You can sign up for an account here. Select a few resources and we will ship them to you. You can easily search for library resources on any topic.
3) Thematic Instruction
Many educators who use the VESOLs are tasked with teaching multiple content areas. It can be challenging to find enough time for reading, writing, math, science, and social studies instruction in your daily lesson plans. Thematic instruction is an easy and engaging way to effectively fit it all in.
Start by picking a theme that appeals to your students. It can be a general theme like all about me, dinosaurs, or spring. You might select a content-based theme like rain forests, the Revolutionary War, or the Harlem Renaissance. Holidays and story books also make for great themes. Once you have selected your theme, the goal is to tie all of your content instruction to that central theme. This will keep your students engaged and make it much easier to provide instruction in all content areas each day.
Reading Rockets offers a number of ideas for content-based themes. Each theme offers suggestions for story books and hands-on classroom activities.
4) Free E-Books
Tarheel Reader offers thousands of free electronic books. Many of the books were created by teachers or students. You can search by topic and uncover high-interest texts for your students. The electronic books are also switch-accessible, allowing your students to use their assistive technology devices to turn pages.
5) Praising Student Effort
This idea is less of a resource and more of a mindset. No money or materials are needed. Invest 5 minutes in watching this video, which is based on the research of Carol Dweck, and commit to changing the way that you praise your students.
6) Project Core
Core vocabulary consists of a small number of frequently used words that students with disabilities can use to communicate in social and academic contexts. Project Core was developed to give students with complex cognitive disabilities access to core vocabulary throughout the day. Professionals at the UNC Center for Literacy and Disability Studies have developed 12 self-paced modules to help educators learn more about implementing Project Core in the classroom.
7) T-TAC Online VESOL Resources
Specialists from the TTAC offices and the Virginia Department of Education have compiled a wide range of resources to support your VESOL instruction. You will find sample activities, educator videos, crosswalks, and much more.