Thursday, August 16, 2012

Specifics on Creating a SAFE Learning Classroom Environment for ELLs and Other Struggling Students

As more English language learners enter mainstream classrooms, teachers will need to be even more aware of the need to create a safe learning environment where English language learners will not feel embarrassed when they make those expected language errors which come with learning a language. 

So, teachers will should be prepared to scaffold their students' language attempts as much as possible.  ELLs and other struggling students will benefit greatly from positive statements of encouragement with a focus on what they did that the teacher liked  (GREAT JOB!  I ESPECIALLY LIKED THE WAY YOU...........).  When comments have a clear message, students know what to repeat in other assignments.  Further, when students feel that their comments will be respected and valued, they participate more. 

Credit students (all students) with arriving at solutions to problems using unique reasoning skills.  Ask those probing questions to assist them in retracing their steps in arriving at a solution.  This approach will help them remember not just how to solve the problem but also recall those key academic words they used correctly in the process.  Regular repetition with prompt feedback leads to moving the material to long-term memory:)

Use graphic organizers to help them organize information.  Provide clues to finding answers.  Giving them answers will not give the skills to do work on their own.  They won't retain it.  Provide them with the process, context clues, reasoning skills, graphic organizers, etc. and they will hold on to that content far beyond the class period in which the content was delivered.

Encourage them to "think outside the box" and reward their creativity.  Common core focuses a great deal on this through, among other things, project based learning.  Build language and content in ways that will stay with students long after they finish K-12 schooling.




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