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Keywords: ESOL, twitter, weebly, malala yousafzai, google docs, blog, current events
Subject(s): Information Skills, Social Studies, Spelling, Technology, Grammar, Journalism, Writing, Reading, English/Language Arts
Grades 6 through 8
NETS-S Standard:
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Research and Information Fluency
  • Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Technology Operations and Concepts
View Full Text of Standards
School: Argyle Middle School, Silver Spring, MD
Planned By: Hannah Turner
Original Author: Hannah Turner, Silver Spring
Prior Knowledge:

I teach ESOL level 1 and 2 students - students who have very recently entered the United States and need English-language instruction. In addition, many are refugees and come from severely economically disadvantaged nations or homes. Far in advance to this lesson, I would need to introduce basic computer skills. Having access to internet-capable devices allows ESOL students to learn at least twice as much as they would ordinarily. In addition to learning computer skills that are highly necessary in the 21st century (and which they are less likely to have any experience in compared to their American-born peers), they have greater access to English-learning resources in real-time: translators, dictionaries, image searches, text-to-speech, speech-to-text, etc.

In addition, this lesson focuses on blogs associated with Malala Yousafzai. The class will be viewing these blogs for the first time, but will already be familiar with her and her work. Malala is essential to this lesson plan because she is not American, her age when she began blogging, the plethora of information that is available about her, and for the turmoil that exists in her native country (all points that my ESOL students can relate to).

Lesson Plan (80 minutes):

Activator (5 min): Based on last night's homework, in which you reviewed current events in your native country, tweet about something you read that either bothered you or impressed you. Include at least three hashtags.

Class discussion (10 min): Students are called upon to read their tweets. The class may comment on or inquire about the tweets, and the tweeter is expected to respond in order to demonstrate comprehension of their chosen current event. This verbal back-and-forth is meant to prepare students for written questions/comments/responses on their blogs.

At this point, students have used a variety of resources to complete the homework and activator. Twitter was mandatory for the activator, but students could have familiarized themselves with current events through a variety of means - youtube, facebook, twitter, newspaper, news sites online, TV news channels, etc.

Class discussion (10 min): The pros and cons of these sources (for example - Tweeting is either “too brief” or “short and sweet”, newspapers are either “vocabulary-dense” or “well-organized.”).

Introduce blogs (15 min): “a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style.” Create a KWL chart in a google doc and give classroom editing capabilities. Students contribute what they know and what they want to know.

Review these blogs (25 min):

Use these questions to guide discovery: What are these blogs about? Why do you think Malala chose these topics? Would you have chosen different topics? Why or why not? What are the benefits of blogging? Cons? How often should blogs be updated? Why do you think that? What happens if blogs are not updated? Who benefits from blogging? What would you blog about? Who would read your blog? Why? How would you benefit? How do these pros/cons of blogging differ from pro/cons of other news sources?

Create blogs (15 minutes): Go to http://www.weebly.com/. Students create a weebly account. Students are given the remainder of class to customize their blogs.

Homework: Write your first blog entry! Choose any topic you’d like, but be prepared to defend your choice to your classmates tomorrow.
Microphones and headsets are for text-to-speech and speech-to-text. Speech-to-text is essential for ESOL students as speaking English tends to be their forte (compared to reading, writing, and listening-to English). Text-to-speech is vital because listening-to English tends to be second strongest. Eliminating the barriers that reading and writing arbitrarily represent increases participation and motivation.
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
Civics/social studies/history: Bringing in Malala and her story can easily tie to these three subject areas. Journalism: Showing students how to blog and asking them to defend their blog posts opens the door to journalism.
Blogging about current events in native country and US (on a federal/state/local/school level); Linking blogs to official school website for more wide-spread viewing and feedback; Responding to well-established bloggers on their blogs.
Links: Link to weebly
Malala Blog 1
Malala Blog 2
Malala Blog 3
Why Blog?
Materials: Short Throw Projectors, Projector Screens, Microphones, Wacom Tablets, Pen Readers, Keyboards, Headsets, Internet Services
Other Items: 30 Google Drive accounts for students and teacher, $0 each, total of $0.00
30 Weebly account for students and teacher, $0 each, total of $0.00