Back to Table of Contents for the On Course I Workshop

1. Strategy: Graduation Game (Ring Toss) and 32-Day Commitment

Application: ESL Composition Class

Educator: Mary Gross, Faculty, ESL, MiraCosta College, CA

Implementation: In my developmental ESL composition classes, I introduce the concept of “20/20,” my prescription for perfect vision: seeing your writing goals and reaching them. The 20/20 method asks students to commit to reading for 20 minutes per day and writing for 20 minutes per day in a journal. After introducing this concept, I have students participate in the Graduation Game with the goal of earning 30 points, which equates to the points of our final portfolio project. After the ring toss experience, I have students take out their journals and reflect on the lessons this activity can teach us about writing (e.g., small daily writings will snow ball into greater results than a once-in-a-while long writing session). I then provide the students with a 32-Day Commitment form and invite them to partake in our class’s 20/20 commitment for 32 days. As each student completes his or her 32-Day Commitment, we celebrate their success with a class “shout out” and I present them with a “Perfect Vision” certificate to post in our classroom. Our class goal is that by the end of the semester, every student has a certificate posted on our wall.

2. Strategy: Outcomes and Experiences, Success Teams, and Class Constitution

Application: Advanced ESL Reading and Writing – Success Foundation Week

Educator: Milcah Ochieng, Faculty, ESL, Madison Area Technical College, WI

Implementation: I decided to make the first week of class a success foundation week. I teach about personal responsibility and self/time management. After personal introductions, students work on the class constitution. I have them write down three outcomes they want out of the class (e.g., improve reading comprehension, increase reading speed, etc.), three desired experiences (e.g., fun, respect, etc.) and three observable actions they are going to take to realize those outcomes and desires. To model my expectations for the activity, I have a few volunteers read to the class their outcomes, experiences, and actions. Then, I have them get into the “success team groups.” Using the form from the On Course I Workshop, they record their outcomes, experiences, and actions.  Then they sign their contracts and give a copy to me. I then have each group read aloud their constitution (most of them turn out to be similar). Then I explain how the success groups are going to work, such as the groups’ keeping track of whether or not members are achieving their desired outcomes and experiences, and/or facing challenges–and offering suggestions on how they can meet or work around those challenges.

3. Strategy: DAPPS Rule

Application: ESL Reading and Writing

Educator: Marty Attiyeh, Faculty, ESL, College of DuPage, IL

Implementation: During the first week of class, have students write a DAPPS goal related to the course, their college careers and their professional/personal lives, with a target date of the end of the term/semester. At mid-term, have students review each of these goals and adapt them as needed. Then, during the last week of the term/semester, have students again revisit their three goals and write a reflection on what helped or didn’t help them achieve their goals. Have them write three more DAPPS goals for the following term.

4. Strategy: Affirmation Cards

Application: Noncredit ESL Class, Intermediate-Level Integrated Skills

Educator: Lee Chen, Faculty, ESL, Palomar College, CA

Implementation: In this class, we always start the semester with a grammar review, including parts of speech and basic sentence patterns. This semester, I integrated the affirmation card milling with a review of adjectives and simple present tense verbs. Instead of just random adjectives, I asked my students to come up with adjectives that describe successful students in particular and successful people in general. I listed their contributions on the board. Then, I asked them to…

  • pick three of the adjectives that represent the qualities they wish to have more of for themselves in order to be more successful
  • use the three adjectives to write their self-affirmation sentence on an index card I provided
  • engage in an affirmation card milling activity

The classroom was filled with uplifting energy and contagious excitement. In addition to understanding how adjectives and simple present tense work, my students learned something very important about themselves and each other. This and other On-Course-inspired activities have helped to make teaching and learning in my classroom more purposeful and always positive.

5. Strategy: 32-Day Commitment

Application: ESL Level 1 Class

Educator: Allan Orth, Adjunct Faculty, ESL, Palomar College, CA

Implementation: Conduct the normal class activity for covering the vocabulary associated with the subject being studied. Then provide each student with a 32-Day Commitment sheet. Explain to them that their commitment on the sheet will be to “learn each day X or more new English words of those being studied” (student chooses what X is). Each day that they keep their commitment, they give themselves a check on the sheet. This exercise requires some form of verification/assessment to monitor progress. At the beginning of each class have the students with desk cleared (no books, notes, etc.) write the words on a piece of paper with their name and turn it into their instructor. This presents an opportunity for the instructor to provide praise, encouragement, and correction of spelling errors. The instructor then returns the papers to the students.

6. Eagles and Hawks

Application: Any Foreign Language or ESL

Educator: Pamela C. Jones, Faculty, ESL and College Success, Polk State College, FL

Implementation: The goal is to improve vocabulary for students of a foreign language, including ESL students.  Rather than overwhelm a class of 25 students with 50 new vocabulary words, assign just two words per student. Each student becomes the expert on his/her two words. Ask students to come up with three learning strategies (visual, aural, kinesthetic) per word. After students work individually on their two words/six strategies for 30 minutes, initiate Eagles and Hawks. Students move around the classroom teaching each other the new words. Because it is necessary to repeat words on a regular basis (theories of second language acquisition), I recommend performing this same activity every 10 days in a 16 week semester. As a variation, after students teach each other two new words, they trade words so that in the next pairing they are teaching words they learned from their most recent partner.

7. Strategy: Jigsaw (variation)

Application: ESL Class

Educator: Bernadette Anayah, Faculty, ESL, Folsom Lake College, CA

Implementation: When teaching pronouns in an ESL classroom, break them into the following four groups: 1. Subject, 2. Object, 3. Possessive, and 4. Reflexive Pronouns. Introduce the Jigsaw Model to students. Put students in their home group and give each student a number 1-4. Number 1 will study and become experts on Subject Pronouns; Number 2 will do Object Pronouns; Number 3 Possessives; and Number 4 Reflexive Pronouns. Each group member moves to work with a partner of the same number – called the Expert Group or Pair. The partners discuss their topic. They do this with 2-3 different partners. They then return to their home group and take turns teaching each other what they have learned about their topic.

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