Thursday, September 6, 2012

History of U.S. in 8 Minutes--Great Support Material for ELL in US History Class

As ELD/ESL supports slowly disappears in many classrooms, content teachers need to find sources of comprehensible input to scaffold the attempts of those students to fully understand the content.  The more accessible the language of the lesson, the more likely the lesson will be understood by ELLs and other struggling students.

U.S. history is quite demanding for ELLs.  Unlike American students who have been learning about the U.S. in school since they were in kindergarten, ELLs for the most part are seeing it for the first time when they encounter it in school here as middle school or high school students.  What problems does this scenario pose?  A few.  One issue is that they may see some of the historical events in the textbook from a different perspective (ex. the Vietnam War from the viewpoint of a Vietnamese is quite different from that of an American).  Another potential problem is covering Manifest Destiny where the U.S. felt that it had a right to all the land between the Atlantic and the Pacific.  Students from Mexico have a different history here.  One must wonder what goes through their minds as they read about states with Spanish names-California, New Mexico, Colorado for example.

So, what can be done to smooth the pathway to the American history in the textbook?  How can teachers provide tools to assist ELLs in learning U.S. history from the American perspective?  In this day and age, the internet offers options.  Of course, this blog has many (just SEARCH WITHIN THIS BLOG section) as does my website ELL TEACHER PROS

For this posting, here is one site that offers a quick overview of American history which ELLs and others could follow with ease--from dinosaurs to President Obama in 8 minutes.  Will it ever take the place of the teacher and textbook?  Of course not.  What it will do is provide some powerful visuals.  Further, the language is not complicated so that students can focus on message without drowning in vocabulary.  The clip here can provide a small insight into America's past through the eyes of Americans.


Again, check out the website and this blog for many more history sites that will scaffold the attempts of ELLs to succeed in American history classes.



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