BC: Stovall Publishing 2011
FC: Second Language Acquisition An Online Toolbox By Dawn Stovall November 2011
1: Table of Contents My Online Toolbox p. 2 & 3 Instructional Environment and the ELLs I Serve p. 4 &5 First and Second Language Acquisition Theories p. 6-9 WIDA CAN DO Descriptors: A Cool Tool p. 10 Differentiating for Brandon p. 11-13 Building Background Knowledge for ELLs p. 14-16 Graphic Organizers p.16-18 Supporting Academic Reading for ELLs p. 19-23 Supporting ELLs Within Writing p. 24 &25 Creating a Language Rich Learning Environment p. 26-29
2: My Online Toolbox I am very grateful to have taken this Second Language Acquisition Class while I am serving my first Level 1 English Language Learner in my classroom. I’ve collected a multitude of strategies to use this year and into the future. I plan on sharing this project with my long-term substitute while I am out on maternity leave. I also hope that my 5th Grade team can view and discuss my online toolbox at some point as well, as we have or will all continue to work with English Language Learners in our school. I also plan to implement the tools and tips myself when I return in the spring. The strategies outlined will provide for improved support for English Language Learners in the classroom.
3: “A student doesn’t care how much a teacher knows until they know how much they care.”
4: My Instructional Environment and ELLs I Serve I have one English Language Learner in my classroom. He is from Mexico and just got here in May. He is a delightful student who has been very content thus far in our classroom. When I asked him more about his family, he shared that he does not speak to his biological father, as he left his family when he was four years old. His father was born in the U.S., and that is where his mother met him. His mother was born in Mexico, as was he, and they’ve lived there until last year when his mother first brought his sister to Columbus and enrolled her in school. After his sister was here a few months, his mother went back to get him. His sister is eight and he lives with her, his mom, and his mom’s boyfriend. He shared his mother does speak English (I haven’t met her yet myself), but they speak Spanish while at home. The easiest way for me to communicate with him right now is through two other bilingual children in my classroom.
5: I am in a unique situation as I am in my 11th year of teaching in Columbus and this is the first year I will be working with an English Language Learner. Although I’ve had a couple of students who’ve “graduated” from the program before reaching fifth grade, I’ve never until this year had a student that has come to our room knowing so little English. Because our district serves so few English Language Learners, we don’t have the coordinators or ESL teachers that most districts do. I was given the name and number of a person to contact at my CESA if I needed resources and was told that the student would only be working with me, although the school guidance counselor would be administering the necessary testing in the spring. Luckily, I was able to take these classes starting this summer so I could better serve his, and future students’ needs. I felt a little bit like I was on my own, but learned this summer how to seek out additional resources. Our Title 1 Coordinator and District Librarian have helped to pull necessary books for him and I thus far, and I am in contact with a newly-hired Special Ed. Teacher at the elementary school who also has an ESL licensure.
6: First and Second Language Acquisition Theories There are three main theories about first language acquisition. They are Behaviorist, Innatist or Nativist, and Cognitive. In the behaviorist theory, Skinner believes that we learn language through a process of stimulus and response, where correct responses are rewarded. He believes language is habit formation. In the Innatist (Nativist) theory, Chomsky believes that children are born with the natural ability to learn language, and they don’t need any formal teaching to learn to speak. In the Cognitive theory, Vygotsky believes that in a supportive, intetractive environment children are able to advance more quickly, and each child should be working in their “zone of proximal development.” Piaget believes that children can only use linguistic structures when they fully understand the concepts surrounding them.
7: Krahsen’s theory of second language acquisition consists of five main theories. They are the Acquisition-Learning Hypothesis, the Monitor Hypothesis, the Natural Order Hypothesis, the Input Hypothesis, and the Affective Filter Hypothesis. The Acquisition/Learning Hypothesis states that adults have two distinctive ways of developing competences in second languages ... acquisition, that is by using language for real communication and learning "knowing about" language (Krashen &Terrell 1983). The Monitor Hypothesis states that conscious learning can only be used as a monitor or an editor. Speaking is inspected, or corrected, for errors. (Krashen & Terrell 1983). The Natural Order Hypothesis states that we acquire the rules of language in a predictable order. The Input Hypothesis states that humans acquire language in only one way - by understanding messages or by receiving comprehensible input. It is suggested that input should be ahead of what the learner can actually produce, since language comprehension is always ahead of language production (Krashen, 1982). The Affective Filter Hypothesis states that a mental block, caused by affective factors, is what prevents input from reaching the language acquisition device. Students need to feel they are in a safe environment in order to learn (Krashen, 1985).
8: Though these theories may be very different, I believe all have truth to them. There is no right theory, and taking a bit from each can help teachers have a balanced perspective when working with English Language Learners. Less successful bilingual readers view their two languages as separate and unrelated, and they often see their non-English language backgrounds as detrimental. Ideally, teachers should be aware of what their students know and can do in their primary language so that they can help them apply it to tasks in English. Teaching English Language Learners to use cognates (words that look similar in both languages and mean the same thing) can be very beneficial. I also feel letting the student know what an extraordinary skill it is to be bilingual can help them to realize that both languages are important, and one is not better than the other.
9: “If you find yourself saying “But I can’t speak English,” try adding the word ‘yet’.”
10: Why are the WIDA CAN DO Descriptors a Cool Tool? -They apply to all five English language proficiency standards, which means they can help to link language development across all academic content areas -Hence the title, they tell what students CAN DO. They focus on the positive. -They can be used as a tool to advocate for English Language Learners. -They can be used for all kids, i.e., to set language goals for students with IEPs. -They give you a starting point at which the student can be successful
11: Brandon is considered a Level 1 in all four domains of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. By using the CAN DO descriptors, it’s easy to figure out how to modify a lesson in order for him to be successful. I’ve included two of the four language domains to show what he can do at this point in fifth grade. The CAN DO Descriptors are broken down by grade level. This comes from the grade 3-5 cluster. | Brandon
12: When Brandon is writing, this is what he can do: Label objects, pictures, or diagrams from word or phrase banks Communicate ideas by drawing Copy words, phrases, and short sentences Answer oral questions with single words. When Brandon is listening, this is what he can do: Point to stated pictures, words, or phrases Follow one-step oral directions (physically or through drawings) Identify objects, figures, and people from oral statements or questions (e.g., “Which one is a rock?”) Match classroom oral language to daily routines
13: So what can we do to differentiate for Brandon knowing he can do these tasks when writing and listening? Use cloze sentences and word banks as much as possible. Make sure the words are academic vocabulary you have reviewed with him beforehand if it’s a test. Encourage writing in Spanish, but start the transition to English by allowing him to use a combination of pictures and words to write a story. Brandon does a nice job copying notes from the board or Smartboard, but it takes a lot of brain energy to both copy and listen to the lesson simultaneously. Whenever possible, give Brandon a copy of the lesson’s notes that he can follow and add to. Develop questions that require single-word answers when checking in with him for understanding. Focus on one step at a time when doing a multi-step project. Check for comprehension often orally, and at the start of a task. Provide multiple visuals around the room to aid in language development. Label everyday objects that may not come up as academic language, but are needed to know in order to be successful in school. Try to find visuals for academic language introduced as much as possible. Clipart and google images should become your friend.
14: Building Background Knowledge for English Language Learners Building background knowledge, or front-loading, has been a huge focus in education in the past few years. A number of our readings and discussions centered around why this is so important for students. Pauline Gibbons refers to the phrase “hooks (or pegs) in my head in which to hang information”. I like this analogy, as it really drives home the point that if the learner doesn’t have a connection from the get-go, it makes it harder to conceptualize. Memorization versus true understanding seems to have made a shift in education lately- one of course that we gladly welcome as educators. Gibbons states “Therefore the learning of new concepts must start with classroom talk around what students already know in terms of the content, drawing on everyday language with which they are likely to be familiar, and with concrete examples related to student’s everyday lives.” The key point is using everyday language in order to make academic language easier to comprehend.
15: It is essential for teachers to also see/know the thinking of their students throughout the learning process. Visual tools can be helpful in this area. Building background knowledge helps to engage students in what they will be learning about. It also preps students beforehand for a new idea, vocabulary word, etc., that they may encounter in their learning. Whether working with English Language Learners or any student, it is important that we don’t assume what students previously know before starting a unit or lesson. A number of useful websites I came across that explain the importance of this educational piece and also activities to do with students are listed below. http://www.wjcc.k12.va.us/content/programs/staffdevelopment/CITW/PDFs/051508-BUIDLING%20BACKGROUND%20KNOWLEDGE.pdf http://publicschoolteachersodyssey.blogspot.com/2011/05/building-background-knowledge-prior-to.html http://www.sdesa6.org/content/docs/StrategiesVocabulary-080808.pdf http://www.colorincolorado.org/educators/content/lessonplan/
16: Visual tools, or graphic organizers can be very helpful for student learning. I used a variety of graphic organizers when reflecting on my learning in this class. My students can find them beneficial as well to organize their thoughts.
18: Here is an example of a graphic organizer that helps to see if the student has enough background knowledge before starting a persuasive paper. O.R.E.O.S when persuasive writing O-opinion(s) R-reasons (at least 3) E-examples O-opinion restated S-State the action O- R- 1. 2. 3. E- O- S- Helpful words/phrases for reasons and examples: one reason, another reason, I believe this because, an example of this is, first, next, last of all Helpful words and phrases for opinions: -In my opinion, I believe, everybody knows that Wrapping your paper up: -In conclusion, the evidence shows, it is clear that
19: Supporting Academic Reading for ELLs Here is an example of the use of the WIDA CAN DO Descriptors chart. This chart is focusing on reading, within the context of Science class. It also incorporates the use of technology by using a Smartboard. It reads Level 1 on the far left up to Level 5 on the far right.
22: One of the most interesting things I learned about reading in this course is that good readers do a number of things in order to be successful. The 4 category names given to each part of the puzzle help me to break down whether students are doing this or not. Code Breaker: Student has an alphabetic awareness- knows the relationship between letters and sounds, left-to-right directionality, etc. Text Participant: Student connects with the text with prior experience and knowledge. Text User: Student participates in social activities in which the text plays a major part. Book groups are popular in Western countries. Text Analyst: Student understands that the text can show what’s assumed, implied, omitted, etc. Language can be used to deliberately manipulate and shows one particular view of the world.
23: Tips When Developing or Using Graphic Organizers With Your Students: Adding pictures or color-coding makes it more usable Don’t get too complicated- chaotic organizers can distract more than they can help Try to stick to the same graphic organizer over an entire unit so students get comfortable using it Be flexible with it- some may need modifications that can be made by you or the student
24: Supporting ELL’s Within Writing One of the books I read for class and that I’d highly recommend is a book entitled English Learners Academic Literacy and Thinking by Pauline Gibbons. In chapter 6 she described the key organizational pattern that most Western narratives follow when writing. She shared a graphic organizer on p. 110 that used the key words “Orientation, Events, Complications, and Resolution.” One of our reading units is Character in 5th grade, and while reading a character-focused book we have the students fill out the following graphic organizer to keep track of each character’s motives in the story. They end up writing a summary of the book when they finish filling the chart in and reading the story. Very similar to what’s on p. 110, we use the terms “Character, Goal, Attempts, Problem, and Resolution.” We also print the graphic organizer outline on 14X11 inch paper to allow students to fill in complete sentences in each box.
26: Creating a Language Rich Learning Environment In order for students to become comfortable using academic language, use a variety of pairings or small group work for students to have a chance to talk in class. I think the more opportunities we give kids to share their thoughts and opinions, the easier it is for them when they have to write a written response asking this of them. I love that my school follows the Responsive Classroom model and does Morning Meeting each day. For English Language Learners, this gives them the chance to greet someone each day, and also gives them the choice to share out further if they feel comfortable. For my English Language Learner this year, I observed that he enjoys hearing others stories and follow-up questions. Even though he hasn’t volunteered to participate in 4 Share yet, I’m willing to bet he will be by the end of the year. It’s a great way for kids to learn that they have connections with each other through traditions, hobbies, etc.
27: I have been working on "wait time" in my room. Giving students the opportunity to develop an answer before calling on those with their hands raised first has shown to include more students raising their hands to participate. It also shows kids that taking time to reflect is positive. I've also been giving a direction one time, and trying not to repeat it. The movie clip we watched this summer of the student re-trying and re-trying to decipher what the teacher was saying because she kept repeating the directions in different ways has made me reflective of if I do this in class. Kids who don't catch the direction can then ask a partner or me for assistance once the activity starts.
28: Here is an example of the use of the WIDA CAN DO Descriptors chart. This chart is focusing on listening and speaking, within the context of Science class. It also incorporates the use of technology by using a Smartboard. It reads Level 1 on the far left up to Level 5 on the far right.
29: A language rich classroom has: -visuals for all academic classes, such as posters and charts with academic language. These charts should be continually referenced throughout the unit -many opportunities for small group work and role plays Students become more comfortable using language when they have the opportunity to speak -word walls or collections of key academic vocabulary These high frequency words are necessary for organizing ideas and making connections to the unit or topic -modeled conversations with the ability for students to practice Students know what is expected during the conversation if they see it modeled beforehand