Saturday, September 24, 2011

I Love Powerpoint!

I love powerpoint!  It’s an exceptionally useful tool for teachers.  I use it for all sorts of presentations (including the Phonics Dance alphabet and the Phonics Dance Hunks and Chunks I wrote about in an earlier post), but as an English as a Second Language teacher I find it great for creating take-home study helps for my students. 

Recently, one of my second grade students was struggling to learn sight words.  Her teacher, Ms. Writer, requires all of the students in her class to work on increasing the number of sight words they can read.  As a good educator should do, Ms. Writer assessed her students at the beginning of the school year and set an individual goal for each second grader.  My student, Happy Girl, was working hard, but was progressing slowly. 

Ms. Writer expects the students to study their sight words at home for homework.  That’s fine for most students, but it’s more problematic for parents who do not speak or read English.  Happy Girl’s parents are wonderful and caring folks who will do anything they can to help their children succeed in school.  However, they can’t help Happy Girl with most homework.  Happy Girl could “study” her sight words at home, but if she wasn’t practicing them correctly, it wouldn’t do her any good.   

I thought about it for a while and talked it over with Ms. Writer.  She agreed with me and we came up with some ways to help Happy Girl.  We found a kind fifth grade girl willing to come to the second grade classroom for ten minutes each day to review sight words with Happy Girl.  Ms. Writer also has some parent helpers who review with Happy Girl a few days a week.

Finally, I came home and created a powerpoint with audio for Happy Girl.  I found a powerpoint of the Fry first 100 words online and then added my own voice reading each word.  Through a district interpreter, I made an appointment to make a home visit to Happy Girl’s house.  I knew she had a computer at home, so I was hoping to figure out a way to get the sight word powerpoint to work on her computer.  The interpreter and I went to Happy Girl’s home, met with her parents and I finally got the powerpoint to work on the computer.  Father and Mother were thrilled to be able to help Happy Girl!

Two days ago, I asked Happy Girl to read through the sight word list with me.  She zoomed through the list with lots of confidence.  The number of sight words she knows increased dramatically in just a few weeks.  She and I looked at each other when she finished and then I gave her a jubilant “high five”!!  I asked her, “Have you been practicing your sight words at home with Mom and Dad?”.  She flashed me a huge grin and said, “Yes!”

It’s times like this when I know why I love teaching English Language Learners.  Every day is a new challenge, but the rewards are great.  Now, I’m off to work on adding audio to the next powerpoint for the Fry second hundred words.   Happy Girl is almost ready for a new set of words!  

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