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Sunday, June 10, 2012

SCIENCE in the COMMON CORE CLASSROOM

As with the other COMMON CORE STANDARDS, students will be interacting with the text at a level not done before.  Teachers will be there to encourage them to learn to make decisions based on what is actually in the text. 

Initially, in SCIENCE IN THE COMMON CORE CLASSROOM, students are reading the assigned text independently.  Now, not evident in the class is what was being done with ELLs to set them up to experience success with the independent reading.  Since mainstream classes will potentially have students from BEGINNING level and beyond, teachers will have to make many accommodations to ensure that no student is left behind.  These adjustments don't have to be overwhelming ones, BUT they must be planned for ahead of time.  For such students, visuals would provide vital context to make the text accessible.  If students have high literacy skills in their home languages, glossaries might help (Spanish, French, Italian, Romanian, Portuguese).  Another possibility might be sitting a struggler (in language) with a proficient bilingual student.

Once students have a basic grasp of the key vocabulary, a teacher can move on to other strategies to set ELLs up to do the assignment.  One way this could probably be done is to have them collaborate with partners first (Think-Pair-Share).  TPS is especially effective with ELLs since it gives them time to navigate the page with a partner and that lowers their anxiety levels.  Once the ELL feels that s/he has a general overall grasp of the message from the page, s/he is ready to confidently take part in small cooperative learning groups where teams of students work together to complete the assigned tasks. 

Next, ELLs especially need to hear the text read to build up their listening skills.  Since students have read the text individually, with a partner, and then with their groups, the material is already familiar to them though correct pronunciation may still be an issue.  Remember this is a science text with a heavy load of content specific vocabulary.  The correct pronunciation might also be alien to English only students as well so everyone benefits from hearing the teacher read it aloud.

Students will then move on to answering text dependent questions.  How will they do here?  Based on what students have done prior to this activity (i.e. students interact with the text individually, with a partner, and then within a small group), they are in a position to successfully tackle the such questions because they know how to locate answers now.   The clip demonstrates how this activity can be handled in a class setting.  Notice how the teacher addresses the questions that they are to answer and then sends them to their groups to answer them.  This type of supportive risk free environment is one where any struggling students would feel confidence in being able to demonstrate their understanding of the assigned tasks. Note also that EVERY student must turn in her/his individual worksheet at the end of the assignment.

TIERED VOCABULARY also is addressed.   Teachers need to move students up from everyday language to academic vocabulary (the language of the content classes that they are studying).  In a science class, students need to move beyond "like, stuff, thing, ya know, etc." to "mitosis, genetics, DNA, reproduction, etc.".  Unless this is done regularly, ELLs will fail to have the life options their English speakers have.  Use word walls and mind maps (SEE EARLIER POSTS in "search within this blog") to scaffold the efforts of the ELLs in mastering such words.

This is such an exciting time to be a teacher.  We are witnessing a revolution in teaching:)

Denise

ELL TEACHER PROS








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