I met Dr. Bill Morgan through a shared interest in keyboarding for youngers (see this article on A Conversation About Keyboarding and this article on Preparing Young Students for Home Row Keyboarding: An Unplugged Approach). In each other, we found kindred spirits, both passionate about better ways to teach today’s learners.
When Bill offered an article on a new class he started that helps English Language Learners, I was excited. It’s an important issue with not enough solutions. His approach is innovative, original, easy to implement (with some effort), and effective. Read on and see if this would work in your district. He’s included contact information so you can reach him with questions:
Computer Literacy for English Language Learners
“Typing by the Numbers”
Dr. Bill Morgan, Ph.D.
Over the decades I have added both Educational Technology and TESOL (Teaching English as a Second Language) endorsements to my elementary teaching certificate. My graduate studies focused on integrating technology across the curriculum.
Along the way I began volunteering with various organizations, working with immigrants from other countries. One evening a man from another culture asked me how to spell a specific word. As I spelled the word out loud we both realized that the sound I was using to name a vowel was not the same sound that he was familiar with. It must have been Spanish, where letter A “always says ah,” letter E “always says ay,” etc. When I used the letter A in the spelling of a word, he heard the letter E. When I used the letter E he heard the letter I. It was nearly impossible for him to take dictation from me.
He then asked me to write words for him to copy in his notebook. He laughed out loud and then said, “You write like a doctor!” I took that to mean that he could read my handwriting no better than that of a doctor who had given him handwritten notes to read.
From then on I brought my laptop computer to class. When an adult English learner asked me to spell a word I would type the word then enlarge the font that could be read by all in the room. I didn’t need a projector nor a large screen TV, I only needed a laptop sized monitor.
Thinking of how I might integrate technology with instruction, I gathered a group of bilingual community members and started, “Computer Literacy for English Language Learners, NFP.” Find us on Facebook!
Netherlands-based Digipuzzle is an online educational resource that offers hundreds of G-rated learning games for younger audiences, many in both Spanish and English. Topics include math, animals, typing, geography, spelling, letter recognition, holidays, seasons, dinosaurs, USA, other games, and more. Many of these are divided into subcategories — for example: Math includes games and counting, fractions, addition, subtraction, and multiplication. Digipuzzle even offers holiday games. The site is easy to navigate, fun to use, and completely free. It is the labor of love from Marcel van de Wouw. It includes not only lots of themed puzzles, but Sudoku, line puzzles, search puzzles, dot-to-dot, tangrams, mosaics, and more.
You can use Digipuzzle on the web or as a mobile app.
Each game includes a sidebar with easy-to-understand icons that answer questions, access settings, and click you through available games.
Each game can be played at the level a student is comfortable — easy, normal, or hard — and can include audio or silent.
Mindsnacks is a series of education apps on topics like geography, vocabulary, languages, and SAT. With colorful graphics and cute characters, it’s a cross between flashcards and multiple choice with lots of visual thrown in. Though these are game-based learning, there’s no plot as you might find simulated games. Think Number Munchers rather than Minecraft. Each app includes personalized learning, an enhanced review mode, and additional challenges to keep students motivated.
To start, download the app and log in. If you have several Mindsnacks apps, you can log into a central profile and track your progress on all of them. Here are three of my favorites:
Mindsnacks’ U.S. Geography includes eight games for beginner and intermediate students with over 40 hours of interactive content, more than 600 hand-drawn graphics, and 1,000-plus questions on borders, shapes, landmarks, history, state culture, flags, mottos, capitals, and major cities. Initially, only four of the eight games are available; users unlock others by successfully navigating a virtual road trip across the country. A tutorial is provided for each state so kids can review basic information prior to beginning play. To keep learning interactive, the app includes features such as a dart players use to mark the spot on the map where a certain U.S. landform or landmark exists. Post-quiz reports show how close users are to mastering each state’s information and what skills they developed during the game.
Here’s a long list of Language Arts and Word Study websites for 3rd grade. I’m sure they’re fine for 4th and 5th, also. You decide, depending upon what your students are working on (check for updates).
- BBC Phonics
- BiteSize—Reading, Writing, Grammar
- Common/Proper Noun Basketball
- Contraction Games
- Contraction Crossword
- Contraction Practice
- Create a picture with words
- Feast of Homonyms
- Flamingo Suffixes
- Funny Poetry
- Glossary of Poetry Terms
- Grammar Gorillas
- Instant Poetry—fill in the blanks
- Jelly Fish
- Katie’s Clubhouse
- Opposites Train Game
- Parts of speech poetry
- The Patchworker
- Pick a Word
- Plural Nouns
- Poetry with a Porpoise
- Poetry Engine
- Prefix Catch
- Prefix Match
- Prefix Suffix Balloon Game
- Punctuation and Capitalization
- Punctuation Games
- Sam’s Lab
- Shaped Poems–fun
- Short Vowels
- Suffix Match
- Synonym or Antonym?
- Third Grade Poems
- Vocabulary Flood
- Vocabulary Pinball
- Web-based Mad Libs
- Word Balloons
- Word Family Sort
- Word Magnets
- Word Play
- Word Pond
This is my list of websites students can use when we’re studying story-telling, fables and myths. This list includes sites[caption id="attachment_4872" align="alignright" width="222"] Create a story[/caption]
where students can read stories, have stories read to them and create their own. I pick 3-4, post them on our internet start page for a week or two, and then change the list. If you click that link, it takes you to kindergarten. You can select the red first grade tab or the blue second grade for more choices. If you don’t see any there, it’s because we’re not discussing stories right now.
See which work best for your students:
Every Friday I’ll send you a wonderful website that my classes and my parents love. I think you’ll find they’ll be a favorite of your students as they are of mine.[caption id="attachment_4806" align="aligncenter" width="614"] Visuwords–makes words exciting[/caption]
Create a ten-sentence story, using characters, setting, plot, rising action, climax and resolution. One sentence per page with a picture to communicate the idea. Include a cover, About the Author. Use this lesson to teach students how to use Publisher’s design gallery
Click on lessons for a full size alternative. (more…)