Monday, October 22, 2012

Schooling ELs

As a former student who moved to a new country, had to learn a new language and then learn in that language, I can easily identify with the struggles English learners face in my classroom.  Not only do they face language barriers, but they deal with the stress of navigating in a new place, finding new friends, and trying to understand new structures and expectations in school.  These aspects of mixing into their new home can create a social injustice by creating barriers for them to achieve success in their education.  There are several ways I can address the needs of ELs.  In order to engage them in the class, it's important to incorporate their contributions, both linguistic and cultural, into classroom discussions so they feel they have something to offer the class.  Encouraging them to continue to pursue literacy in their own language also exposes them to complex ideas, concepts and vocabulary that will allow them to comprehend those ideas in English.  Finally, having high expectations of ELs while scaffolding their learning motivates them to strive for to do their best in coursework and in developing fluency.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Planning Lessons for Adolescents

The teenage brain functions quite differently than a fully developed adult brain.  Teachers have the perfect opportunity, and also a huge responsibility, to shape the adolescent brain because it is very malleable.  In planning lessons for the teenage brain and its unique characteristics, I need to use specific strategies to pique their interest, target their reward system, and make strong and lasting impressions, lest the information and connections get removed out during the synaptic pruning process.

In my lessons, I would like to incorporate the content into an area or subject that affects them so there is a personal connection and application.  I would also like to find exciting and active activities (after all, what is an activity if it is not active?) that get them physically moving, and encourage them to compete and take risks.  This point is a little more difficult given that I teach math and math is typically a quiet, stationary, reflective and repetitive study.  The excitement doesn’t need to occur every day, but targeting one day a week with a fun activity they can look forward to would probably be sufficient to maintain their interest and reinforce the content.  One easy adolescent brain strategy to use in math is repetition.  Pairing repetition with mnemonical devices (PEMDAS, Soh-Cah-Toa, etc.), music or poetry could also help them to recall the information.

Friday, October 5, 2012

SDAIE Rubric

As we've learned in our EDSS 555 course at CSUSM, English language learners need extra support in the classroom (thus the SDAIE strategies), however, they also need differentiated grading rubric designed to take into account their current level of English comprehension.

I designed this ELD grading rubric for a brief presentation on a multi-step word problem the students were to solve in pairs.  With two students at the Early Advanced level in one of the Geometry classes I teach, the rubric is geared toward students at the Advanced level (i + 1).