Sunday, October 28, 2012

Nearing the END!!

Ok, it has been a long journey. I have learned more than I can put into words and I hope and pray that the learning continues! It has not all been easy but I can say it has been worth it. Even if I don't ever get a position as a technology coach, I feel I am more prepared than most to handle what is "coming down the pike" of education. We need to be willing to be taught, both by teachers and students. The role of the teacher is changing to more of a facilitator of learning,  than a giver of knowledge. When we recognize our strengths and weaknesses and use both to the best of our ability, that is when we become true educators for the future.
It has been a very fine line for me, as I have 2 children of my own now in college. They would not even think of taking a class without access to a computer or the internet. However, when I went to college, my first computer class was problem solving with FORTRAN, which dealt with writing code so that it could be punched on cards and then fed into another machine for the program to work. Boy, have we come a long way! Microsoft Office did not even exist, I had a typewriter and white-out for mistakes, and I only had one copy of the paper I wrote.
I don't think I will ever be able to keep up with the growing demands of technology or how quickly children of today catch on, but maybe I am the link between the past and the future. I am that teacher who has a foot in both worlds. I recognize where I came from and where today's generation is, and I am trying to find a way to merge the two worlds. I hope that people from my time will have the desire to learn what I have learned and that the up and coming generation will be patient enough to listen to those who learned a different way. Just because we learn differently does not mean we don't share the same knowledge. I do hope I can make a difference.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Wrap up of Dispositions Diary for INED 7783

Chapter 10 - Issues of Reading Development
This chapter was very interesting and made me think of quite a few of the students I have taught over the years. When you get a child that is new to the US, you expect some difficulties in language acquisition but for some of those students who have been here longer and have developed "conversational language", you wonder if there is another problem when their reading and writing don't seem to be "on par" with speaking. I know I will look much more closely now and find out what kind of support they have at home and also if there is any print development in the child's first language going on in the home. I want to make sure that I can give every opportunity possible and use multiple strategies to help aid in the learning of English and hopefully a transfer or connections to their first language before referring for testing for Special Education.

Overall I have learned a great deal from looking at the SIOP model. I think it is a great structure for writing lesson plans even if you don't teach second language learners. The structure and ideas within SIOP lend themselves to  bolstering the learning of all students not just ELLs. By highlighting certain components, really helps to remind you of what you want to teach and how you want to teach it. I still struggle some with the language objectives as they are a little more difficult to "pin down"and you can have a wide variance in language levels in one classroom. But it has really made me think when planning about making sure I tap into their background knowledge and culture to help build on something they already know. I have also tried to increase the amount of interaction in my classroom in small groups or with partners. Just in the past week I have seen students actively engaged discussing the content with one another and justifying their choices. Just providing them the time to talk has helped tremendously.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Even more for the Dispositions diary for INED 7783

Chapter 7 - Practice/ Application
This chapter talked about providing hands-on practice with new knowledge. this would be the output stage that shows that students actually received comprehensible input. Students need manipulatives and hands -on materials to aid in demonstrating understanding of new material. The manipulatives and/ or materials need to be used in conjunction with activities designed to apply both content and language knowledge. These activities need to touch all four of the language domains - reading, writing, listening, and speaking. The more students get to practice what they have learned, the deeper their understanding of both content and language will become. Practice, practice, practice. This does need to be done connected to the last chapter, whole group, small group, partner and individually.

Chapter 8 - Lesson Delivery
Teachers need to think not only about content objectives, but also about language objectives for students in the class. In today's schools, most students are grouped by grade levels and that is where the content objectives come from. However, not all students, even native speakers are going to be at the same level as far as language development is concerned. Teachers should make sure they are writing lessons that will maximize student based on current proficiency levels of those students. This can be done through grouping or modification of pace of input fore students so that all students can achieve success. Teachers also need to address the learning styles of students and try to plan activities that engage all learners. This is probably one of the toughest things to do, depending on the size of your class, as you could have lots of individual needs to try to meet within one class period.

Chapter 9 - Review/ Assessment
Review needs to be continuous and ongoing. Students need to use new vocabulary at least 20 times before it is committed to memory. But vocabulary should not be learned in isolation. This makes me think back to the chapter on building background. We need to link new learning to background experiences and bridge with previous learning. In doing this vocabulary is taught in a meaningful way. The more practice and application they get with that knowledge, allows them to continually review and challenge their thinking process and to use higher order thinking skills. Regular feedback both from the teacher and other students will aid children in understanding how well they are learning both language and content. Assessment should also be ongoing and include both formative and summative assessments.

Continuation of Dispositions Diary for INED 7783

Chapter 4 - Comprehensible Input
Krashen stated that the only way we really learn anything is by receiving a message that we can understand. When working with ELLs teachers need to try a variety of things to make messages understandable to those students. One of the easiest and most often overlooked is rate and complexity of speech. Just slowing down what you say can really help second language learners. Then based on their level of development of the target language, look at the complexity of the sentence structure you are using. Next teachers need to make sure that instructions are clear for tasks or activities. If a student does not understand the directions, there is little chance of them completing the task. Finally, make sure you are using all available resources to help in the understanding of the concepts or ideas. Preview vocabulary needed before content is taught. Use visuals (pictures, videos, realia, labels) and model when appropriate. Provide repeated exposure to newly acquired vocabulary, preferably in context. Graphic organizers are another great way to gather new information in a format to help in the understanding of that information.

Chapter 5 - Strategies
This chapter discusses the use of strategies to help recall and retain information. This can be used with all learners but is especially helpful for ELLs. We need to make sure students have plenty of opportunities to use strategies both in and out of class. But before they can do this we have to make sure they know "What is a strategy?", "How do I use it?", and "When and why would I use it?". We need to explicitly teach strategies and model when they can be used. After strategies have been taught, we are still going to need to scaffold the work. Students learn in different ways and at different speeds so we need to recognize this when planning. Providing repetition and reinforcement are ways to help students process what is being taught. Think-alouds are another way of modeling that allows students to see others actively using strategies. As you scaffold you want to make sure you are promoting higher order thinking skills. Not only do we want students to learn new vocabulary and concepts, but we also want them to make connections to previously learned information and to real world experiences. We want them to move from just recalling and remembering to being able to apply, analyze and evaluate what they have learned.

Chapter 6 - Interaction
Children learn better when they can actually apply what they have learned. For ELLs, this means they need to have lots of opportunities to use the language they are learning. Providing time for students not only to hear what is being taught but to discuss it with the teacher and others will allow for elaboration of concepts and will encourage those higher order thinking skills. The grouping you provide within the classroom can support this process. After teaching something whole group, you may want to reteach the same material in a small group to provide more exposure and opportunity to process the new material. Students could then move to partner work to continue to explore the material and process and analyze what they are learning. During both whole group and small group instruction, teachers need to make sure they provide "wait time" for student responses. Because of individual differences, all children should be given time to process and think before being required to provide and answer. Students need to interact with the language across all four modes of learning - reading, writing, speaking, and listening.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

This is my dispositions diary for INED 7783, which deals with methods and materials for instruction of ESL students. I will try to do a breakdown by chapters of the book but there will also be some class insights as well as ah-ha moments.

Chapter 1 -  introduced the SIOP model, which stands for Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol. This protocol seems to be just good instruction but especially useful for students who are learning English as a second language. I think that other countries could adapt this format to help with instruction of any student whose first language is not the language of instruction. This process helps to scaffold the content being taught so it will be comprehensible to the learner while also promoting English learning. This leads into

Chapter2 - which is Lesson Preparation. The biggest ah-ha for me was that you should have both a content objective and a language objective for every lesson. When reading through this chapter, this could seem to be a daunting task but one with benefits for all. The focus is not only on students learning the content but also how they can show that in English. There are four main areas with which to process language - listening, speaking, reading and writing. When one specifically plans for one of these domains, there is a connection being made to the content and how the student is going to process that content. Objectives should be verbalized and in written form in the classroom. In writing both content and language objectives - remember to make sure the concepts are appropriate for age and ability and take into consideration background knowledge. Use supplementary materials such as graphic organizers, pictures and realia, and provide diverse and multiple opportunities for students to interact with the material they are learning.

Chapter 3 - Building Background.  Through this chapter we learned that there are three things you need to do with all learners, but especially ESL learners. First, you need to link concepts to students' background experiences. Next, you need to bridge past learning to current learning. Third, you need to emphasize key vocabulary. By doing these three you are building on background knowledge and experiences to make learning relevant. This will help make the learning meaningful and in turn hopefully allow them to retain more of what they learn.

I work in a school with a large ESOL population. The readings and class discussions have made me so much more aware of the specific needs of this population, but also how many of these same strategies and techniques can benefit English speakers who have limited experiences and vocabulary primarily as a result of socio-economic status. Most of the children in my school do not have many, if any, books at home.