Case Study: At Sun High School about 70% of the students are EL. The school consistently misses its API and APY because the English Learner subgroup never performs at the levels expected. In response to this information the English department discussion focused on what methods they could use to teach EL students “Romeo and Juliet”.
Evaluate the situation and discuss the strengths and next steps of the English Dept.
Learning can only take place when the learning is embedded in a social and cultural context.
The culture and language of the students needs to be valued in a genuine and not superficial way. Superficial: Display pictures of writers, scientists, mathematicians who are representative of the school culture. Genuine: Compare and contrast the experience of a representative of the school culture with those experiences of someone from another cultural group.
Discuss and List Genuine ways to demonstrate that the home culture of students is valued. In what ways does creating a learning environment that values the culture of the student give the student the “right to speak” and that the knowledge of students is ‘legitimate’ not ‘peripheral’?
Learning precedes development Language is the main tool of thought Mediation is central to learning (making sense) Social interaction is the basis of learning and development Learning is takes place in the social context of apprenticeship when skills and information become part of the ‘filter of perception’ for the learner. Think of the skills you have learned. How have the skills and information you know influenced your ‘perception’?
Vygotsky: Learning is useful if it challenges the learners to think and act in ways that are beyond their actual level of development. Vygotsky: Thought and language arise separately When language develops, thinking and speech merge and change each other. The merger of language and thought change both.
The basic foundation of all language is conversation, not grammatical and mechanical patterns. Children make sense out of the world with their internal voice. For example: A student may think about directions to a math problem: “What was it she said about ‘operations’? What does it mean? Maybe I…. Oh, I don’t think that would work.” How might making the ‘inner voice’ part of collaborative discussion help students work with difficult tasks?
What conditions would be necessary for ‘inner speech’ to become part of collaborative discussion? Make a list of ‘class norms’ that would create the conditions that would enable students to ‘talk through’ difficult problems.
What connections are there between ‘valuing’ the cultural and social context of the student and the ‘right to speak’? What would be required for students to feel free to use their ‘inner voice ’?
Case Study: Teacher A begins class each day with a journal activity. Students are given the choice of writing about a specific topic or writing about a topic they choose. Teacher A gives students about fifteen minutes to write then asks students to close their journals. Teacher A then begins explaining the focus lesson for the day. What are the strengths of the lesson? What are the next steps?
If all understanding is ‘co – constructed’, what kind of practices would incompatible with students gaining understanding? If ‘co-construction’ is necessary for learning, why is the context crucial? What ‘rituals and routines’ help the context for learning? What would should context look like in a collaborative group if learning is going to be co-constructed?
ELEMENTS OF SCAFFOLDING Coherence Lesson tasks carry instructional threads from one task to the next. This is not repetition. Lessons tasks are designed to build on each other while they re-teach important skills or concepts in situations that demand transfer of knowledge.
Contextualization Lessons are embedded in ‘what the students know by heart’. Prior knowledge is celebrated and used as a foundation of both building background and accessing new information. Rapport It is essential to build personal relationships with and between the students. This requires the teacher to consciously build the assets of the students in contingent and non contingent ways. This includes communicating a positive presupposition about the students in every circumstance. When a student disrupts the class, consequences should be implemented, but the misbehavior must be viewed as a minor interruption in an otherwise successful relationship. It should be clear that building rapport relies on the genuine appreciation of the student culture.
Differentiation The teacher adjusts the lesson to the responses and comments of the students. The teacher is alert for any ‘teachable moments’ . If student discussion takes a turn that is unexpected but is rich in context for all the students, the teacher seizes on that moment to encourage social learning Independence The teacher creates resources that encourage student independence. Teachers give instructions and assistance but avoid becoming the single source of knowledge in the classroom. Students may have written instructions, models, and graphic representations of how to do an assignment in order to make the student independent of the teacher.
Fluency Teachers lead without dominating the class. Lessons prepare students before engaging them in tasks. The curricula is cyclical. The teacher sequences the instruction so that concepts are reintroduced at higher levels each time the concepts appear. Teachers explain the process of learning. The teacher supports the students when they experience frustration and misunderstandings