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Volume 4 Number 1

Corks are popping! January is awards month in the world of children's literature. Esme Codell writes about contenders for the Caldecott award for best illustration in American children's literature, the Newbery for best writing, the Coretta Scott King award, and others...
Teachers.Net Again Joins NEA in a Seussian Reading Celebration! by Kathleen Alape Carpenter, Editor
New Tax Law Provides $250 Deduction for Educators by Kathleen Alape Carpenter, Editor
Maslow's Theory of Hierarchical Needs -- Alive and Well in the Classroom by Chuck Brickman
December 14th update from Operation Deep Freeze by LT. Marshall Branch
Editor's e-Picks - January Resources by Kathleen Alape Carpenter, Editor
A Time for Change by Bill Page
If We Want… by Bill Page
H.O.T.S. Activities for Use With the Classroom Word Wall by Michelle Stankevicius
Mid-Year Mark: Closing the Curriculum Gap for ESL Teachers by Jen Cullerton Johnson
Writing Tips for Teachers by Joy Jones
Practice Doesn't Always Make Perfect - Even For "High Stakes" Testing by Dr. Dorothy Rich
Attention Teachers! Homogeneous is [not always] a bad word! by Janet Chapman
Dividing With a Difference by P R Guruprasad
A Primer for Teaching in the University by Bikika T. Laloo
Bits and Pieces - Various Small Articles by The Teachers.Net Community
  • Chatboard Wisdom
  • Dictionary Skills Activity
  • Understanding Voice Control
  • Person of the Year
  • Snowperson Glyph
  • 100th Day Activities
  • January Columns
    January Regular Features
    January Informational Items
    Gazette Home Delivery:

    Jen Cullerton Johnson...
    Jen Cullerton Johnson has a M.Ed. in Curriculum in Development for Secondary and Upper Elementary Schools and is pursuing an MFA in Non-Fiction from the University of New Orleans' low residency program. Before relocating to Japan, she was a multicultural writer and editor for Chicago Public Schools (K-12) where she worked on a publication series called Arab Heritage Resource Guide for Teachers and Students (K-12). Before that, Jen taught in the classroom: ESL, English literature, and teacher training seminars.

    She is currently employed by the Japanese Ministry of Education in the small village of Asahi Mura where she am the only English teacher for six elementary schools and one junior high school. Jen's short stories and poetry have been published in the States and in Argentina in such magazines as the Portland Review, Sierra Nevada Review, Coe Review, Owen Webster Review, The Pedestal Magazine,, the Amethyst Review, Onionhead, Another Sun, Celtic Review, George's Nexus and others.

    In addition, her articles on Japan and Japanese education can be found in Big Diakon, Freezerbox, Heights,, Daily Journal, and Feminina. She has translated Argentine poets such as Fernando Olszanski, into English, and co-authored an English-Italian grammar book, Verbi Inglesi. In 1997 Jen was invited to attend the Southern Women's Writer conference and spent a month at Bennington College's writer's workshop.

    Teacher Feature...

    Mid-Year Mark:
    Closing the Curriculum Gap for ESL Teachers

    by Jen Cullerton Johnson

    As the school year approaches the midway mark, many ESL teachers may grow more anxious as the countdown begins. One looming question may be on their minds: How do we fit everything in with less time? How do we determine what is essential?

    There are no magic formulas to add extra hours into the day. There are, however, some tried-and-true suggestions that may calm ESL teachers' nerves and help them refocus at the mid-year with higher aims that will inspire their students to study more.

    First, ESL teachers should be familiar with the curriculum guidelines, as well as State and Federal education goals. These objectives are paramount in organizing lessons, field trips, independent study, and end of the year evaluations.

    Review each point, carefully. Determine what is essential to daily plans, and what can be saved for freer times, such as days before national holidays. After ESL teachers have studied the curriculum they should establish which skill they want their students to master after one year of learning. If an ESL teacher believes that speaking English is the most valuable skill, than for each lesson reinforce the importance of speaking through activities and materials. If another teacher thinks that reading and writing is the essential skill, plan the lessons according to those objectives.

    Identifying and designing instruction with a particular skill in mind is an enormous advantage for the ESL teacher and by doing so, the teacher will establish a strong bond of trust with the students. When students enter the classroom, they will recognize what is expected of them and perform to that expectation. Students need consistency. They require practice to master a skill. Each opportunity to learn brings them closer to achieving success.

    Secondly, an essential key to closing the curriculum gap is trying to figure out what exactly are the students' "needs." A need is something that the student lacks---be it an academic skill or a social skill. To determine the "need," teachers must know their students. Even if a teacher has new students or last year's students, s/he should start all over again with a clean slate. Meet your students, like one would a stranger on the street, knowing nothing about them, then dig in and get to know them. What do they lack? What do they have? What could they have? Determine what they know about English. How well do they speak? How well can they write, read, and listen? Once a teacher has determined that, the next step is to find out which they are as individuals. What are they interested in? What are their dreams, goals, hobbies, and fears? What music do they like? What food do they prefer? How do they like to spend their free time? From those answers, teachers will know what is the best learning approach for their students. Teachers will also distinguish the individual strengths and weakness of each student in less time and this will contribute to successful learning and lesson planning.

    Finally, ESL teachers should consult their colleagues and outside sources for new ideas and theories. As the old saying goes, a student is only as smart as his or her teacher. Therefore, looking at new methods of learning, doing research on language acquisition on the web, and trying out new ideas with other English teachers will enhance the teacher's knowledge of English as well has his or her students.

    There are many ways to get a handle on curriculum and how to implement its principles in an ESL classroom. These are just some suggestions for what teachers can do before the year ends.

    Remember that teachers are in a unique position to close the gap between guidelines and real, successful learning. In order, to do that, they must know what they think is an essential learning skill, they must know their students, and they must consult with others in order to plan a lesson that motivates students to achieve their highest levels.

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