S: SLA course working with ELLs: John Becker
FC: EDGEWOOD COLLEGE FALL SLA CLASS WORKING WITH ELLs AT SAUK TRAIL
1: My name is John Becker, and I am an elementary general music teacher in a K through 5 elementary school, Sauk Trail, in Middleton, Wisconsin. This year I work with grades 1 through 5, seeing each classroom twice a week, for approximately a total of one hour a week. Our predominant (about 80%) ELL demographic is Spanish speakers from Mexico, but we also draw from countries in South and Central America, such as Chile, Columbia, Nicaragua. We also have or have had students from countries in Africa, such as Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, representing a variety of languages. We have a some Korean, Hmong, Egyptian (Arabic language), Turkish, Syrian, Chinese, Haitian, French/French Canadian, and have had students from Israel and India in the past. As you can see, we have a very rich diversity of world cultures, and we are socio economically diverse. Some students were born in their native countries, some have grown up here, and a smaller segment are international adoptions. We currently have 72 ELL students, 5 of whom have exited the ELL program. The remaining ACCESS score ranges are between 1.2 to 5.0. Our school population is a bit over 400 students, making our ELL students a strong percentage of our student body. We are also a SAGE funded school.
2: As you can see, we have a very rich diversity of world cultures, and we are socio economically diverse. Some students were born in their native countries, some have grown up here, and a smaller segment are international adoptions. We currently have 72 ELL students, 5 of whom have exited the ELL program. The remaining ACCESS score ranges are between 1.2 to 5.0. Our school population is a bit over 400 students, making our ELL students a strong percentage of our student body. We are also a SAGE funded school.
3: To give an example classroom, here are the 5 ELLs in one of my 4th grade classrooms. Since this is on the internet, I will not include names of students. Composite: one 2; one3; three 4s Listening: one 4, four 5s Speaking: four 2s, one 4 Reading: one 3, two 4s, one 5 Writing: two 3s, two 4s, one 5
4: There are 3 Main Early Language Develpment Perspectives: 1. Behaviorist: B.F. Skinner is the most famous proponent. We learn language through stimulus and response, with correct responses rewarded. Language acquisition is a process of habit formation. 2. Innatist/Nativist: Children are born with a natural capacity to learn language. The brain contains systems for recognizing patterns of sound, and children do not need formal teaching to learn to speak. These views come from linguist Noam Chomsky. 3. Cognitive: (Piaget) Children can use only linguistic structures until they understand the concepts and modify based on discrepancies between wht they already know and what they discover. (Vygotsky) Knowledge from external world is transformed and internalized, with advancement in a supportive interactive environment.
5: SECOND LANGUAGE ACQUISITION: 1. The Input Hypothesis: Content level should be a step beyond where they are so that they can progress. 2. The affective Filter Hypothesis: Students need to have their guard down to learn, in an emotionally safe environment. 3. The Monitor Hyphothesis: Speaking is inspected/monitored and corrected.
6: 4. The Acquisition Learning Hyphothesis: Teacher takes advantage of "teachable moments" while incorporating intentional academic language teaching/learning. 5. The Natural Order Hypothesis: Language grows in a systematic progression, from simpler to more complex.
7: First and second language acquisition understanding impacts my teaching by encouraging me to differentiate in more ways to reach all of the students and their learning styles. It also has tremendous implications for my MLLs, "music language learners," and these ideas have been influencing not only how I teach language literacy, but music literacy in my classroom.
8: WIDA CAN DO DESCRIPTORS: A COOL TOOL | Why are they useful? 1. They focus on what the students "can do," not their deficiencies in elevating their comprehension and production. 2. They give clear strategies in developing lessons based on knowledge of each students strengths and level. 3. The Can Do strategies help educators to differentiate tasks within a broad-based, thinking "outside the box" range of assignments based on what the students can do to bring them to the next level. 4. The WIDA website and pdfs have information and strategies for all of the different grade levels that I teach and beyond.
9: STUDENT PROFILES/TASK CARDS/RESPONSES TO TASKS Profile: Sayeed (not his real name) is a 4th grade boy from Egypt who has been in the U.S. for about a year. His composite ACCESS scores are listening, 4; speaking, 2; reading, 2, writing, 3, composite, 2. He is very outgoing. Task: Student will be able to identify and describe with language the four families of musical instruments (brass, woodwinds, percussion, strings) as well as the individual orchestral instruments within each family RESPONSES: Student will followed visually supported written directions in instrument identification. He drew a picture of each instrument.
10: Profile: Alma (not her real name) is a 4th grade girl from Mexico, who moved to my school from Texas. She is active in class, but has some difficulty expressing herself in front of the class. Scores: composite, 4; listening, 5; speaking, 2; reading, 3; writing, 4. Task: Student will identify and show comprehension of what the four families of musical instruments are, brass, strings, woodwinds, and percussion, and will identify and show comprehension of individual instruments within the categories. "Peter and the Wolf" by Sergei Prokofiev will be used as a resource piece of music/narrative. Responses: Student shared with peers their favorite family of instruments and favorite musical instrument. She restated content-based facts such as " a trumpet is played by buzzing your lips."
11: BUILDING BACKGROUND KNOWLEDGE FOR ELLS STRATEGIES FOR BUILDING BACKGROUND KNOWLEDGE Strategy 1: "Concept of ‘providing a bridge between everyday talk and the more explicit talk associated with academic literacy’, so when we were playing a review game in the music room (where each student had to provide some definitions or fill-in the blank answers) I was able to consciously guide the ELs in this particular class by demonstrating by gestures and re-stating some of their answers with a little more technical language." Strategy 2:"A game called ‘Mad Libs’—you know, where you have a text with key adjectives, adverbs, nouns, verbs, etc left out, and you ask a person, without them knowing anything about the text, to come up with an adjective. Then you fill in the blank in the story with that adjective and continue on to fill in all the blanks in the same way. Then you read the story out loud with all the silly, mismatched words and it turns out to be hilarious."
12: DESCRIBE WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE IN MY CLASSROOM 1: In my career, I've tended not to emphasize music academic language/vocabulary. I'd like to do a better job of that, so that students are more literate, and to give them a head start when they begin private study of an instrument or voice. I've always been focused on the overall concepts, but not as much the specific "musician's" language. This seems very logical and easy to add to my teaching. Initially using the student's background language and simpler language, and bridging to using more complex language paired with gestures/body language and musical examples is a good way to go about it. I also can used more visuals of words and pictures around my room and on my smartboard to amplify language. We dance and move a lot in my room, but I'd also like the students to do more with physically acting out the music academic language concepts. 2: This will be a fun way to write song lyrics within a structure and form, which will empower my young composers. I write a lot of music for my own artistic expression, and also for the kids and for the themes that we work with at school. I have not done a good enough job of giving the children the structure and tools to compose lyrics and music themselves, though. I'd encourage their creativity in that area. "Mad Libs" songwriting could be done in a large group setting by calling on/including the different kids' feedback, or individually. A song could tell a narrative, or it could express an idea or emotion.
13: FOUR WEBSITES FOR BUILDING BACKGROUND KNOWLEDGE http://lallison.wordpress.com/7th-grade-social-studies/building-background-knowledge-about-text/ This site is posted by an ESL teacher that has a section on building background knowledge. He has other links for other topics of interest for ESL teachers, which I think are helpful, reflecting a diverse teaching background and history. He starts by defining the concept of building background knowledge. http://publicschoolteachersodyssey.blogspot.com/2011/05/building-background-knowledge-prior-to.html This specific blog entry talks about the importance of activating and building on background knowledge. She provides a number of examples as to how a teacher can build background knowledge, which I have used most of them.
14: http://www.phschool.com/eteach/language_arts/2001_10/essay.html This site is by Pearson Prentice Hall. Its reference to the phases of a lesson and its preparation seem to be a very good starting place. To fast-forward to the topic of building background knowledge, look for the stages of pre-teaching & teaching. http://www.projectcriss.com/pdf_files/25_S02_QUICK-BK-CHECK.PDF Also, very cool Canadian website with a slick 58 page guide that has an in depth look at the ELL, instructional strategies for every subject ready for immediate use in the classroom, charts and graphs and examples of every concept introduced, a large section on communicating and connecting with family members and an annotated list of reference materials.
15: I learned and reaffirmed with this activity the importance of taking the time to find out what the students know about the content we are studying as a way to bridge new learning. Examples for me include collecting music from my students from around the world, and having students lead and teach us in performing the text, dance, and music of their culture. Another example is engaging the students in dialogue about their knowledge of shipwrecks before teaching "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald."
16: SUPPORTING ACADEMIC READING FOR ELLS Activity/Content : Students will be able to identify and describe with language the four families of musical instruments (brass, woodwinds, percussion, strings) as well as the individual orchestral instruments within each family. Students at the highest level will be able to analyze/describe identifying characteristics.
17: READING LEVEL ACTIVITIES 1. Students will match/sort icons of instruments into four groups, brass, woodwind, strings, percussion. 2. Students follow visually supported written directions in instrument identification. For example, "draw a clarinet, draw a brass mouthpiece." 3. Students identify terminology connected with each family and instrument, interpreting information from a chart. 4. Students compare/contrast instruments within families, and across families. For example, grouping "high sounding" istruments across families, e.g. grouping instruments by similar sound production, noticing differences in appearance between instruments in families (e.g. some "woodwinds" are made of wood and some metal).
18: 5. Students explain sound production/vibrating source for each family, as well as tonal quality and range (high/medium/low) for each instrument. Student will explain their choice for a favorite instrument.
19: I learned a variety of strategies for differentiating my teaching of this activity with reading. | For example, I expanded my bag of tricks to use iconic representations in the teaching of reading for lower levels. There are many different ways of reaching the reader through visuals that are not words, phrases, and sentences.
20: SUPPORTING ELLS WITHIN WRITING John Becker, SLA Fall 2011 class; graphic organizer assignment for 5th grade students. Assignment: You will be writing a story that fits the music you are about to hear. The story can be based on something that you have experienced in your life, or you can make up a brand new story. Think of the music as being in the background of the telling of your story, like a movie soundtrack. The changes in the music can be connected to changes and drama in your story. You will also be describing some of the musical things that you hear?
21: Title of your story The story is set in...?: The characters of the story are...?: The problem that the character/s has to solve is....? The problem is worked out at the end by....? ------------------------------------------------------ The musical instruments that you hear are...? The speed (tempo) of the music was...? A musical word, such as "allegro," that describe the tempo of this piece is...? The volume of the music was...? A musical word that describes the volume, such as "forte" was...?" The music made me feel....? I felt this way because...?
22: My graphic organizer is for a 5th grade general music class. The goal is to facilitate them writing a fiction or non-fiction story that fits the style of the music. It would be as if the music is background music for a movie of their story. The assignment is to foster them connecting writing a narrative with music, as well as connecting emotions that are expressed artistically and more abstractly in the instrumental music piece, with no sung or spoken lyric in the music. Also, students are listening and describing what they hear in the music, including timbre, dynamics, tempo, etc. I added the language features that I did to make connections between non-academic and academic music vocabulary. Also, I tried to help them structure a story with some drama that would work with the story with helping them to develop a story that has a problem and resolution. There are sentences for them to complete to help them in expressing their answers and my assessing their understanding.
23: I can support ELLs within their writing by doing more writing in my music classroom. This can lyric/song text writing, as I will be doing later this year with a guest artist from Mexico, or writing in describing music by sounds, style, narrative, adjectives, etc. Students can use their own journals or do writing on the whiteboards.
24: TIPS FOR COLLEAGUES INCLUDE: Encourage your students to be creative and utilize the arts by having students compose poetry/lyrics. When doing graphic organizers, give students starts of sentences to complete to give them a beginning point. Don't be afraid to use icons with lower level students and don't focus so much on complete, grammatically correct sentences but on overall content and communication.
25: CREATING A LANGUAGE LEARNING RICH ENVIRONMENT: CAN DO SPEAKING AND LISTENING Activity/Content : Students will identify and show comprehension of what the four families of musical instruments are, brass, strings, woodwinds, and percussion, and will identify and show comprehension of individual instruments within the categories. "Peter and the Wolf" by Sergei Prokofiev will be used as a resource piece of music/narrative.
26: Listening: 1. Students will point to picture of musical instruments as they hear their sound. They will identify the instruments from oral questions (e.g. "which one is the trumpet). 2. Students will arrange pictures of musical instruments by group and individually by listening to their sounds and listening to their names. 3. Sequence pictures of instruments from listening to the story and music of "Peter and the Wolf." by Prokofiev.
27: 4. Students will role play the characters in "Peter and the Wolf" based on listening to it. They will identify instruments featured in the Prokofiev piece in a different context, a different piece of music. 5. Students will carry out oral instructions containing grade-level language regarding identifying instruments individually and by family group. For example, "group the instruments by timbre that are shaken, struck, or rubbed with a percussive attack."
28: SPEAKING: 1. Students will say the names of the musical instruments as they hear their sounds. Students will speak the name of the instrument based on pictures 2. Students share with peers their favorite family of instruments and favorite musical instrument. They will restate content-based facts such as " a trumpet is played by buzzing your lips."
29: 3. Retell the story of "Peter and the Wolf," singing the instrumental parts with a voice copying the instrumental timbre, or playing the sound on a digital keyboard. 4. Students will verbally compare and contrast musical instruments by family, and within the family groups. For example, "both the violin and cello are played by plucking or bowing strings, but are different in that they are high and low pitched, treble/bass tessitura. 5. Students will describe and say their choices for orchestration/instrumentation in the performance of a song, describing why they made those artistic choices.
30: WAYS TO INCREASE ACADEMIC LANGUAGE AND STRATEGIES Especially since I have about 350 students, I make it a point to really build rapport so that the students do feel and know that you do care about them and respect them. Some of that has to do with using humor, often improvised which I've referred to before. I try to make the learning environment as fun as possible, and occasionally bring in an old hobby of mine, magic tricks, when I can find a tie in with a musical lesson. Sometimes I stick their names in songs when their's rhyme with other text, and try to notice and comment about things like new shoes or the like.
31: Also, doing much more small group activities in my classroom that would facilitate this goal. One thing that we do frequently in groups, though, is work with keyboards in playing a melody, coming up with an arrangement of some kind, or composing, discussing in "deliberations." They are using some academic language, but are tending to be more working out the details of determining and preparing a performance for the class. Also, with doing musicals, I do try to give everyone who is comfortable going up in front a part that fits their strengths and abilities, so I write and customize with the specific students in mind. I also try to make sure that I intentionally include everyone in discussions as much as possible (students can always pass, though, too), to make sure that I'm not overlooking the quieter students.
32: Several years ago I had a humbling and good learning experience where a quiet 4th grade child from Mexico came in with his ESL teacher at conferences, and he felt that he was getting called on infrequently when he raised his hand. I realized that he was right on that one, and that I was inadvertently allowing other kids that were very extroverted to dominate classroom discussions. We are currently doing a hand game unit, and it is fun watching the kids work out and negotiate the issues in working out the clapping patterns/rhythms/lyrics.
33: I HOPE THAT YOU ENJOYED THE IDEAS THAT I SHARED IN WHAT I HAVE LEARNED IN BETTER SERVING OUR ELL FAMILIES AND STUDENTS!