Friday, May 27, 2011

BrainPop ESL

It's always nice to find fun ways to reinforce learning! BrainPop ESL is a wonderful, interactive website for ESL students and teachers. It provides a well-structured, fun way to practice the language forms and functions being studied in a Lit-based ESL, ELD or GLAD unit. BrainPop is organized into fun and engaging lessons that teach English grammar and vocabulary according to English Language Proficiency levels. Each lesson consists of an animated video that, through a story, introduces new vocabulary and grammar. Following the video, there are eight features that help cement learning, including games and practice sheets.

*For a closer look at the eight features, click here

*For a tour of the whole site, click here.

BrainPop ESL has some great features:

-It is extremely well-organized, making it easy for teachers to navigate and find just the right lesson to supplement what they're studying at any time.
*Check out the site's "At a Glance" section to see grammar and vocab presented in each lesson.

-It provides linear instruction, building and previously learned concepts and allowing students to monitor their growth.

-Families can use the lessons at home to support classroom learning
(It's about $8 a month for family memberships.)
*Click here to sign up.

-There are several free lessons, games, and activities available, giving plenty of opportunity to see if the site is a good fit for you before buying a membership!

 Not-so-great aspects of BrainPop ESL:

-So far there are only units developed for levels 1 and 2 of ELP. (They are working on adding more, but in the meantime the scope of the lessons is limited)

-It costs money! As mentioned above, family memberships are about $8/month, or $75 for a year, and classroom memberships are $115 for a year.

Start taking advantage of BrainPop ESL now!


Friday, May 13, 2011

May Home Connection

Welcome families!

This month we are focusing on butterflies!  We have live caterpillars in our classroom from the Insect Lore Company. We are watching the stages of metamorphosis up close at school! By observing these insects in real life, we will grow to understand and be able to describe the life cycles of living things. To add depth and scientific vocabulary to our study, we will be studying several non-fiction texts. We will observe and learn to use non-fiction text features like a table of contents, glossary and index. To add some fun and imagination to our studies, we will enjoy a few fictional stories about caterpillars and butterflies. After reading these stories, we will work to retell them, including the most important information and sequencing words. Then, we will work as a class to create our own fictional story about butterflies. I will post a video of our class reading and showing off the finished version...stay tuned!

In the meantime, check out the recommended reading and suggested activities below. Also, if you have any fun facts or stories about butterflies that you would like to share, please feel free to post them below!

Recommended Reading:
Read the following texts and practice recognizing non-fiction text features like the table of contents, glossary, and index. Practice retelling the butterfly life cycle, including important details

  • The Very Hungary Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  • Monarch Butterflies by Helen Frost
  • Asi nace una mariposa by Claire Lewellyn and Simon Mendez
  • La mariposa monarca por David M. Schwartz
Try this!
Watch these videos of the life cylces of a buttefly and a frog. Talk with your child about how the life cycles are similar and different. Make a venn diagram  or T-chart to compare and contrast the two. Or, create a story that explains the life cycle of a butterfly, a frog, or both. Post your observations, conclusions, or stories here to share with the class! Have fun!