Not only am I teaching ESOL classes throughout the day, but I am also helping my international students manage their other course work, navigate teacher relationships, and acclimate to the social structure of an American high school. In order to help them I took a trip to the hardware store.
For $14 I bought a large sheet of marker board material and had them cut it into three sections. These I mounted on my classroom wall with indoor-outdoor mounting tape. I used a little blue painter's tape to divide up sections and...ta da! I have a visual organizer for my students that they refer to hourly throughout the day.
1. This Month
Board number 1 is our monthly calendar. An American school year has events that are definately foreign. For instance, in the month of December we have our exam schedule, special concerts for band and choir, not to mention Ugly Christmas Sweater day (that one took a lot of explaining.) By posting all the events, schedule changes, and fun activities the international kids at school know what to expect and how to plan. It also gives them the time to ask questions about things they may not culturally understand.
2. This Week
Board number 2 helps the kids keep track of homework, upcoming tests and projects that require planning. These kids have so many things to keep track of, it helps to have a big planner they can refer to on a regular basis. Often they will take a phone pic of the board to help them remember.
Board number 3 gives the students the game plan for today's class. If they know what my goals are for the lesson, they stay better focused and work with me to get the list done (the less we get done the more homework they have!)
The three boards in my room quickly become a life line to my international students. They know what to expect in regards to the student body, their classes, and their work load. It relieves a lot of anxiety when students have a chance to prepare.