Common Sense Classroom

Putting Pedagogy in Practical Practice

ESL and MP3s

This was the 1st K-2 Session at the TATN Event at the TCEA @011 Conference in Austin, Texas.

Using the curriculum Teaching English Thru Action by Berertha Segal, DJ Sanders, from Fort Davis ISD works with ESL students to build their understanding of the  English Language.

Students take a picture of the vocabulary they have learned throught speak and do activities, as they have learned more English commands. Then they are put in a book, a little like a picture dictionary.  Students cut out printed lables of their pictures to put into their books.  These vocabulary books go home for reinforce vocabulary they are learning. Words are added to the pictures to add to their reading vocabulary.

Students also have downloaded songs about the content on their MP3 players for additional reinforcement. There are also stories that have been recorded on their MP3s to use as listening stations.

Students use Photo Story 3 to make a movie of their learned vocabulary, then it is installed on their MP3 player.  Student and teacher review the vocabulary and check for correct pronunciation.

The students have great success learning English vocabulary using this method. You can also observe students progress as they build English syntactical structures.

This was a great session with some very practical advice for helping second language learners acquire the English language.

You can see DJ’s complete lesson plan on the TATN Website.

Animal Adaptations Animation

Leslie Vazquez- Nieves, a 4th grade bilingual teacher in Georgetown ISD, uses powerpoint and clay animation with her students to demonstrate their understanding of animal environments and adaptations. She carefully monitors student progress throughout the project to insure that students are on the right track as they work through what they are learning.

All materials for the project with the exception of the clay, must be recycled.

She shares her view that students must be proficient in the use of productivity software, like Word, Power Point, digital cameras etc. that they will need for the project before they begin work.

At the end of the project all students in the school grades 3-5 as well as the faculty vote on who they think the winnners should be.

The lesson can be found on Mrs. Vazqez’s Website .

Puzzle Computing Assessment Tool

Karen North from Houston ISD is a 27 year veteran Computer Science teacher who moved down to the elementary level to teach tech apps to K-5 for one purpose: to figure out why students were not coming up to secondary with the skills they needed in order to be able to problem solve.


She is involved in research to develp a K-8 curriculum designed to prepare students for there future both in education and in the workplace.


She shared video of her 2.9 yr. old grandson developing a problem solving process in order to successfully complete the animal puzzles on the Smithsonian National Zoo website. As he worked out the problem solving process, he became more and more fluent with his problem solving.


North is using this same puzzle tool to monitor and evaluate the performance of her K-5 students.  She is monitoring whether there is a direct correllation between the increase in fluency of their problem solving skills and  there ability to perform on assessments of their application of core content learned in the classroom.


I found her premise compelling, and look forward to the outcome of her study.  In the meantime, I plan to use this site to assist my own apprentices with their fluency in problem solving. You will see it appear on my classroom blog very soon.