Building Background – Benefits of Using Sentence Frames to Build Background Knowledge

Even as native English speakers we sometimes struggle with just the right word to explain, describe, clarify, or elucidate what we want to convey. We always understand more than we can speak. One of best ways to engage English language learners (ELL) in actively acquiring new material is to connect their background knowledge to the new topic. So, let's give them some brackets to help them use language.

We will be most successful if we remember to always start with the concept or theme.

# 1 When beginning a new topic, let pairs pretest one another. Write this sentence frame on a board, overhead, or PowerPoint, or make your own blackline master with the sentence frame repeated four to six times on a page so you can cut them into strips to hand out to the pairs.

A: "Do you know anything about (topic)?

B: "I'm not sure, but I do know _____."

Egypt "I think it could be _____ because I learned _____."

After students copy the sentence frame, or use the handy strips, erase the word 'topic' in the first sentence. Write in the topic for today. It may be a theme, or a characteristic, or an emotion.

  • Read the sentence frame aloud to the students.
  • Read it again, and this time the students should repeat after you.
  • Give them sixty seconds (yes, really time it, using the entire sixty seconds) to look at the word and think about everything they know about it. No talking. No writing. Just thinking.
  • Next, let students use another 60 seconds (yep, time it again) to write words and phrases to capture their thoughts about the topic.
  • Finally it is time to talk.

This is time well-spent. Your lesson will be stronger and more relevant. Your students will be engaged. You can continue to spiral the content, connecting it to what they already know or previously learned. The ELs will build confidence as they are encouraged to think, write, and talk about what they already know.

# 2 Plan more opportunities for pupil interaction. Here's another sentence starter than can be used with individuals, then shared in small groups.

This new theme of _____ reminds me of a time in my life when _____.

# 3 Make sentences frames with the word 'because' to have students explain connections between previous learning and the new topic.

"I think the next topic will be _____ because our last lesson was _____."

This kind of sentence frame encourages prediction according to prior learning. This is a good time to show the students how much they have learned and how it all links together.

# 4 After reading a story, a sentence frame can be used to let students speak with a partner. You can expand this speaking activity to include a second partner, like elbow- partners and across-the-aisle partners. Provide a sentence frame:

For example, "I think _____ is a hero, because _____."

# 5 Ask students to make comparisons to concrete objects in linguistic ways. Hand out objects to students and give them some time to think and write again, before speaking.

Try this sentence frame with a variety of objects:

I am like this _____ (Snickers bar), because I am _____ (nutty).

I am like this _____ (Matchbox Ferrari), because I am _____ (small and fast).

I am like this _____ (red pencil) because I am _____ (my face is red because I have to talk aloud).

The objects you use can be almost anything!

Now that your imagination is raising up, make up some brackets to use tomorrow.

  • Think about how you would want the smartest student in the school to speak.
  • Then use your target vocabulary and academic language to make a sentence frame.
  • Encourage your ELLs to speak in complete sentences in all conversations in the classroom. This will increase their academic vocabulary, which maximizes learning, and builds confidence.
  • Kids like to feel smart!

Special Education Acronyms – What Do All Those Letters Mean?

Do you sometimes wonder what some of the Acronyms in special education mean? Do the acronyms make your head spin? This article will discuss common special education acronyms and what they mean. This will make it easier for you to actively participate in your child with disabilities education.

1. FAPE: stands for Free Appropriate Public Education. Each child has the right under IDEA to receive a free appropriate public education.

2. IDEA: stands for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act; which is the federal law that applies to special education.

3. IDEA 2004: This is the federal law that was reauthorized in 2004. If you see this in an article, it usually means that something was changed in IDEA, by the reauthorization in 2004.

4. LEA: stands for the local educational agency, which is your local school district.

5. SEA: stands for the state educational agency, which is your states board of education.

6. IEP: stands for the Individual Educational Plan, which must be developed for every child that receives special education services.

7. LRE: stands for Least Restrictive Environment. LRE means that children with disabilities need to be educated in the least restrictive environment, in which they can learn. LRE starts at the regular classroom, and becomes more restrictive.

8. NCLB: stands for the No Child Left Behind Act.

9. IEE’s: stands for an Independent Educational Evaluation. These are initiated and paid for by parents, to help determine their child’s disability or educational needs.

10. IEE’s at Public Expense: stands for an IEE where the school district pays for it. There are rules that apply to this, that you must learn before requesting an IEE at public expense. Many special education personnel try and do things that are not allowed under IDEA, so you need to educate yourself.

11. ASD: stands for Autism Spectrum Disorder, which some school districts use in their paperwork.

12. ADD: stands for Attention Deficit Disorder.

13. ADHD: stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

14. PWN: stands for Prior Written Notice. Parents must be given PWN when the school district wants to change things in the child’s IEP. (such as eligibility, change services, refuse to change services etc.).

15. ABA: stands for Applied Behavioral Analysis that is an educational treatment for Autism.

16. SID: stands for Sensory Integration Disorder. A lot of children with Autism have difficulty with sensory integration.

17. SPD: stands for Sensory Processing Disorder which is the same as above, but some people in the special education field, call it different names.

By understanding the acronyms used by special education personnel, you can be a better advocate for an appropriate education for your child.

Connotation and Denotation in Literature

As long as literary usage is concerned, the term "denotation" means primary significance or reference of a word; Whereas "connotation" of a word means a range of secondary or associated significations that the word implies. For instance; "Home" denotes the house in which one lives whereas it connotes intimacy and privacy.

In broader sense, the connotation of a word consist of a range of meanings or significations and which one the word really connotes that depends on the context in which the word is used. As far as poetry is concerned, the words share concepts with both denotative as well as connotative meanings. And it's up to the reader how to evaluate the words. In this respect, George Herbert's poem "Virtue" needs to be taken into consideration:

Sweet day, so cool, so calm, so bright,
The bridal of the earth and the sky …

The word "bridal" has both connotative as well as denotative meanings. The denotation of the word means that a union between human beings. The word stands for "ground" and functions as a metaphor to facilitate union of the earth and the sky. On the other hand, the connotation of the word "bridal" is sacred or ceremonial. Moreover, the meaning of the word is similar to "marriage".

The second example I wish to offer is a portion from John Keats's "Ode to a Nightingale" where the connotative meaning of the word gets changes according to the way it is spelled:

Charmed magic casements, opening on the foam
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn,

You will notice that the use of "faery" instead of "fairy" evokes the connotation of antiquity and wonderful world of Spenser's "The Faerie Queene" .

These are some of the examples to see how connotation and denotation overlaps! You can only distinguish the meaningings according to the content in which words are used. As far as the language of literature is concerned, you'll see the presence of both and it is up to the reader to appreciate the work of art considering the proper connotative or denotative meaning.

In short, denotation refers to the literal meaning of a word, or the dictionary definition. Connotation, on the other hand, refers to the associations that are attached to a particular word or the emotional suggestions associated with that word. The connotative meanings of a particular word exist in conjunction with the denotative meanings. So, both share distinct features as long as meanings of a word is concerned.

Lessons Learned From An E-Commerce Adventure

It is better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all; and even more important to learn from your mistakes.

That is what I keep telling myself after having invested the time and cash equivalent to a Harvard MBA in an e-commerce start-up that has stalled and is winding down. Not a happy prospect in light of all the media pre-occupation with e-commerce success stories and the young millionaires watching their IPOs rocket into cyberspace. But the headlines ignore the more frequent stories of new e-commerce businesses that do not hit the stock market jackpot. Many of them either settle into a low-key niche or exhaust their resources and fold.

This is the story of an Internet venture that did not make the headlines, but offers some useful insights for entrepreneurs evaluating their own initiatives. The lessons learned are applicable to your own new venture or to an investment in someone else’s.

In mid-1998 we launched a new company called nxtNet (www.nxtnet.com) with the slogan … “taking you to the next level on the Internet”.

My partner and I both had prior successful entrepreneurial experience in computer products and wanted to start a new venture together. We decided to develop a business that would catch the next wave of e-commerce services for mid-sized companies seeking to do business on the Internet. After long discussions, searches for a unique service offering, and many draft business plans, we developed a market strategy and then chose Intershop Communications as our software development platform. This product had the advantages of being suitable for single or multiple online storefronts, and offered a flexible, economic and comprehensive solution. We committed to the product, staffing, facilities and equipment to start training and development immediately. The two of us provided the time and cash required to get started.

By October 1998, we had an initial product with application as an online storefront for an associated computer business. At the same time, we realized that the application had wide appeal to other computer dealers and could be sold as a multi-user database service and e-commerce resource. We had developed a consolidated catalogue of 85,000 computer products from multiple distributor product databases that allowed rapid search and comparison for product information, pricing, and current sources. Users could access the catalogue from the Internet and find a product by manufacturer, category, and part number, key word or price range and immediately see the alternate sources and prices with links to more technical information, preferred dealer pricing and actual stock levels. Additional features allowed the catalogue to be customized so that any computer reseller could present the database as his own online storefront. This option offered all the search and product information features to his customers, but showed only retail pricing and enabled the online ordering process.

The product offering quickly received positive feedback and strong indications of support from all the participants – resellers, distributors, and manufacturers. It was a comprehensive, powerful, and effective tool for buying and selling at all levels within the Canadian computer distribution channel. Resellers recognized the value in an online resource to save time and effort. Distributors and manufacturers saw the opportunity to promote their products, and major publishers in the industry wanted to offer complementary online services to their subscribers and advertisers. How could we fail with all this enthusiasm and support?

While the potential for success clearly existed, everybody had the same questions and reservations – “Who is there now?” “How many are using it?” and “I don’t want to pay until it’s bigger”.

Reasonable objections we thought, so we added features and content for free. We promoted the product with free trials and low cost subscriptions for reseller access. Then we coaxed, persuaded, sold hard, and made deals. The “contra” became the standard for obtaining press coverage, free ads, mailing lists and promotion in exchange for free participation and future consideration. Activity on the Web site and catalogue grew to 3000 visitors per month with over 800 subscribers and the distributor list increased from three to twelve.

But revenue remained near zero as most reseller subscribers declined to pay for the service. Reasons were “it should be free – let the advertisers pay”, “I don’t use it enough”, “there are lower cost options”, or “we built our own solution”. The audience did not grow fast enough even after we offered it for free, to satisfy the advertisers and content providers. Without persistent and conspicuous sales and marketing efforts, all the participants quickly lost interest. Meanwhile the costs of database maintenance, ongoing development, site hosting, Internet access, sales, marketing, and administration were increasing.

Clearly the old entrepreneurial model of controlling costs and growing revenue was not going to apply. We had to realign our profile to show how zero revenue and high initial costs could still lead to significant investment returns like other well-known Internet ventures. So from early 1999 we started an aggressive search for financing, estimating our requirements at $500,000 to $1,500,000 over the next two years before achieving positive cash flow. More business plans, spreadsheets, and glossy presentations to demonstrate future valuations up to $20 million, even $40 million.

We knocked on many doors, from banks to government agencies, from angel investors to venture capital, from stock promoters to business consultants, and again received lots of encouragement, but no financing. So the founding partners were faced with a continuing cash drain, no relief in sight, and the limits of their own resources rapidly approaching. It was time to put the project on hold. Strategic partners or investors might still be developed to proceed with the project, but the ongoing expenditures were stopped in late 1999.

So what are the lessons learned? We already knew that nothing ventured, nothing gained. We now also knew that big successes in the new economy require big investments. Entrepreneurs may start small, but large investments will be required from new sources to achieve significant success. And no one will put significant money into a venture unless it is the only remaining requirement.

The concept, product, development, marketing and staffing all have to be in place before an investor will provide the final ingredient – his cash. Exceptions are likely only where the management team has already succeeded in the same arena, or the investor himself can deliver the missing elements, such as customers or management skills. No investor is going to take the chance that the entrepreneur with a good concept or product will also be able to deliver the required management and marketing skills to succeed, after he has the cash.

Next time we will know better. And there are side benefits from this expensive learning experience. I can now admit that with the knowledge gained through our association with Intershop Communications, I was confident enough to make an investment in their stock on the German Neue Markt at 65 Euros last year. It went over 400 Euros last month and is still rising with their rapid growth and the prospect of a NASDAQ listing this year. Almost enough to recover my investment in nxtNet.

So the most important lesson is that education in the new economy is essential, and not free, but it can lead to success outside the original plan. Learn, be aware, and be aggressively opportunistic.