Activities for an ELA intervention class?
September 12, 2016 3:59 PM   Subscribe

Hey teacherfilter! Thanks for helping me get a public school job. Now I need your advice more than ever...

I have experience as an ESL teacher and my classes in that subject are fine. BUT I have also been stuck with three ELA Intervention classes that are a disaster so far. No one has really told me what I should be teaching and I have a huge variety of levels--some students don't speak any English and some don't seem to have any issues with reading/writing at all. The classes are all pretty big so I can't provide the individual attention that would actually be most useful and I have very few students who don't have behavioral issues, so classroom management is challenging to say the least.

Since the students don't remotely have the same needs I am liking the idea of mostly independent work on the things that they have trouble with. I've had some success with a packet that contains an article, questions to answer about the article, and a writing exercise based on the article, so I'm going to have several of those on different topics and at different levels that they can choose from. We also have a small class library so they can read. But what else can I have them do to work on spelling, grammar, etc.?

(If you're thinking "wow, this sounds like a horrible teaching situation," well, you are not wrong, but I am getting paid a fair amount and I do enjoy a challenge, so.)
posted by chaiminda to Work & Money (4 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Look at the SIOP model.
This is the book that I am most familiar with and that has a number of strategies which may be helpful to you.
If you do not already know about ReadWriteThink, here it is.
ColorĂ­n, Colorado may have some suggestions or resources for you.
posted by oflinkey at 4:12 PM on September 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

Newslea is a great free resource- it has current event articles, at many different lexile levels, that you can print out. If you have computers available to you, there is an online function to have students write or take a quiz.
posted by momochan at 4:19 PM on September 12, 2016

Yeah, "Intervention" classes are a great idea in theory, but are often a total waste of time in the way they are implemented. It sounds like you have the latter. That really sucks, and I'm sorry.

I have taught dozens of those classes, and I have a few suggestions:

1) Have a routine every day that is something they can do independently, but that's different every day.
-Monday, do something with etymology or academic vocabulary. You can google for worksheets, or if you're interested, I have a year-long etymology curriculum that you can have.
-Tuesday, do "Tuesday Newsday" - articles from Newsela (according to the guys who run it, it's said as "nooz-ella" in case that matters to you) with the quiz/writing prompt.
-Wednesday have them design something, or even take some of their notes and turn it into something prettier. Even if it's just drawing pictures to go alongside their notes. Alternately, do Writing Wednesday and use prompts from Write Brain Workbook or this amazing tumblr, or one of these apps.
-Thursday: I like to do "Random Video Thursday" where I pick a video (anything from a Kids React to Vlogbrothers videos about world events, or some [edited] Ze Frank videos) and we talk about it. If that's not your thing, do Thursday Art Day and have them analyse pictures or famous artwork.
-Friday, for me, is Finishing Friday, where students focus on finishing work or revision. You could also have it be Reading Strategy/Study Strategy Friday where you teach them one helpful study strategy. Or Fun Friday where you play icebreaker/bonding games.

Those routines should take about 20 minutes a day, and when they finish those, have them move to the next tip...

2) Skills Practice time. Keep this fun by using Simon's Cat. Show a video, then ask students to do something with it. I start with summary (using Somebody Wanted But So Then), then have students make metaphors and similes (Simon's cat is as curious as a three-year old, or Simon's cat's singing is an amazing rainbow of sounds...those are actual 7th grade student examples). Next, I'll have them make claims and support them with evidence. And so on - almost any skill in ELA can be broken down into skills practice. After the video, I have students share with a partner, then use the Wheel of Destiny (a random number generator) to choose students to share with the class.

3) Require them to keep a weekly list of assignments and activities that are due or need to be finished/revised. They should have them out all the time when they are have "work time." I would allow them to listen to music as long as they have their own (no sharing) and they bring headphones - that often helps students stay more focused.

4) For work time, give students a red, yellow and green card (I make them out of construction or butcher paper). If they need help and absolutely can't move on without me, they have the red card face up. If they are a little stuck but are sort of working through it, they put yellow up, and if they're totally fine they put green face up. Prioritise, and if it's possible without destroying your classroom management, have them work in partners if they're doing the same thing.

5) Use positive behaviour management. I used Class Dojo with some success, and this year, I use ClassCraft. The kids LOVE it and it's working pretty well with a huge class of squirrely 7th grade boys with ADHD. Then build in all-class rewards or team rewards for reaching milestones. I have brought in cookies for students before, but check with your school to make sure that's okay. My last school didn't allow it, but every other school I taught in did.

Honestly, I used to also do little reward cards (they said THIS on them and were different colours based on the amount they were worth) and they had to cash those in to eat in class, to go to the bathroom, or to turn in an assignment late.

I think having a 20 minute routine, a 10 minute skills practice lesson, and the rest of class for "work time." I would also have a "help 10 students a day" strategy. In a class of 30, that means almost every kid gets your help twice per week. You don't have to announce that strategy, but having it in your mind that you are only responsible for getting to 10 students a day will help you not feel as stressed.

If your school teaches literature (which, yeah, UGH) and assigns reading homework (double UGH), give them time to read. If it's feasible, read it to them. Or see if you can get some devices/headphones to allow students to listen to the audiobook (hint: most can be found for free on YouTube). I also encourage my students to draw, and I model that (you can find some examples on my ShowMe site) so they can see what it looks like.

More than anything, please work on building relationships. I would rather waste 30 minutes and make a connection with one student than have perfect control and have my students feel ignored or shut down by me. Try not to accuse them - asking "What's going on?" is a more effective question when they are being irritating or acting badly.

Good luck - this is really freaking hard. Be kind to yourself. Keep asking for help. Email me if you want (my email address is in my profile). This is year 13, and I have figured at least a few things out by now...
posted by guster4lovers at 5:33 PM on September 12, 2016 [11 favorites]

I'm impressed guster4lovers! I considered taking a job in my building where I'd be doing intervention but decided against it. Your experience and ideas are excellent.
posted by OkTwigs at 6:29 PM on September 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

« Older Kitchen sink: sink drain thing is broken - help me...   |   Talking to myself won't help my GPA, and all of my... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.