Monday, January 23, 2017

Teaching Social Studies Using Hamilton

A quick review of my most recent bank statement confirmed that I will most likely not be taking the train to New York City to see Hamilton, the hottest show on Broadway any time soon.  However, several months ago the administration decided to pull me from my math assignment and asked me to co-teach a social studies class.  This is a United States history class and we are currently learning about the founding of our country.  This presents the perfect opportunity to use material from Hamilton in a classroom setting.

For those of you unfamiliar with Hamilton, it is a musical about the life of Alexander Hamilton, an immigrant who became one of our nation's founding fathers.  This Tony Award winner is set to hip-hop music and can be an extremely engaging avenue into the virtues of the Federalist and anti-Federalists.  The full soundtrack is in the YouTube clip below.  Here are some links to teaching materials:

Hamilton vs. Jefferson: Using Hamilton the Musical in the Classroom
Larry Ferlazzo's Hamilton Resources
Resources from The New York Times' Learning Network
Resources from Mount Vernon (these resources coincide with the soundtrack)

Monday, January 9, 2017

Preparing Students for WIDA ACCESS 2.0

The WIDA ACCESS 2017 season will be upon us in a few short weeks.  My state adopted WIDA ACCESS 2.0 last year.  While I cannot complain about the results of the test, after administering it to several hundred students, I did notice that many struggled with basic typing as well as speaking into a microphone.

In order to better prepare our students, my department created reading and writing exercises via Google Forms and uploaded them to a Google site that we created. We hyper-linked listening exercises from Randall's Cyber ESL Lab to this website as well.

Finding speaking exercises proved to be a little more challenging.  Finally, after discovering Lingt Classroom, I created my own speaking exercises.  This website has some premium features, but offers a free version as well.  I opted for the free version and was able to make up to six speaking exercises available at a time. Please note that this website is not iPad friendly.

In order to better prepare the students as well as kill two birds with one stone and ensure that all audio functions were working, we accessed our website using the testing computers.  This allowed the students to become comfortable with the equipment and allowed the teachers to make note of which computers to ask the IT coordinator to take a second look at before testing begins.  As we count down to this year's round of testing. the students have indicated that they feel more confident and are prepared to do their best.  I'll continue to keep my fingers crossed.