Often times, ELLs approach physics with some fear. Why? The language and math components behind physics may pose a challenge since ELLs are trying to learn academically challenging material through a language that is not their home language. Unless the teacher uses techniques to turn the incomprehensible into the comprehensible, the ELL will struggle and fail.
One approach to scaffolding such content is by tying new knowledge to known experiences (aka prior knowledge). Amusement parks have many rides which depend on the laws of physics to keep the rides safe so everyone has a good time. Probably every student has been on a roller coaster for example. This common frame of reference is a natural lead-in to the lesson. A teacher might ask students to share with a partner WHY the construction of the tracks keeps the cars on the tracks and not flying off into the air. A background in science would not be needed in this opening activity. It is just an opportunity for students to start thinking. Corrections to their ideas will come as they progress through the lesson.
PHYSICS IN AMUSEMENT PARKS is an interactive site on this subject. Easy to follow descriptions on the topic are on every slide. Students click on a ride and are taken through all the steps in creating a roller coaster for example. Later one, students explore how to create one using physics. All the "work" is in a virtual work area so there is no risk of getting hurt:)
ELLs would also benefit here because they can revisit the site at home on their own time if they need additional time to fully grasp the key points of the lesson. Since many kids also have smart phones, they can also try the program there as well.
ELL TEACHER PROS
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