Language Teacher in Focus: Julie Mendoza
7th Grade Humanities Teacher
Roosevelt Middle School
How has your instruction has shifted as we've moved into distance learning?
Transitioning to distance learning has pushed me to completely restructure my classroom systems. When we first closed in March, I quickly realized that lecturing on Zoom using text-filled slides only yielded results for a handful of students. In order to create an equitable learning experience for all of my students, I needed to find online tools that would minimize overloading students with text-based instruction and amplify student voice. I attended an OEA PD on how to create a Bitmoji Classroom and loved it. It allows me to put all of the resources for my class in one place using symbols that students can click on. Each day I change my Bitmoji and update the class to-do list. During live Zoom classes, I use Nearpod to engage students. I’ve learned that the systems that support my ELL students are beneficial to all of my students in a distance learning setting.
What are some practices or strategies you have used in your distance learning classroom (specifically that support ELL access to rigorous instruction)?
In my virtual classroom I have a link to our class Word Wall, where students can find all of the definitions for key vocabulary words we learn in class, along with pictures and Spanish translations. There is also a link to a YouTube playlist of both audio and text of every chapter of our anchor text that I pre-recorded so they can listen and follow along with asynchronous readings.
In our live Nearpod lessons, students can respond to questions by posting their responses to a collaborative board via virtual Post-it notes. This is great for allowing students to see each other’s ideas and for giving immediate feedback. Our school paid for our Nearpod subscription, so I can embed Flocabulary music videos to help teach concepts like setting, theme, or context clues. I can also use Nearpod to have students draw what they imagine a specific setting in the text looks like. For quick writes or summaries, Nearpod allows me to highlight strong examples on everyone’s screen.
How are these practices/strategies impacting your ELL students?
I think that my ELL students are still adjusting to the structure of my virtual classroom. Like in any setting, new systems take time to become accustomed to. So far, I’ve observed high student attendance and engagement in our live lessons, which makes me hopeful. Every ELL student is different. Some are comfortable taking risks, while others are more timid. Fortunately, there are multiple avenues for students to reach out.
Read the full interview to learn how her virtual classroom supports mastery-based grading, checks for understanding and formative assessments. Check out her virtual classroom set-up below and feel free to e-mail her if you want to learn more.