Saturday, November 30, 2013

Make English Language Learners Full Partners in Learning Process With Their Peers

In this day and age of education, our first and foremost goal as educators is to motivate students to be innovative in their approach to problem solving.  Students must take on more responsibility for their own learning if they are to be fully prepared to enter the rapidly emerging global workforce.  For this major leap to occur, our roles as teachers will shift more to one of instructional coaches or facilitators where we inspire students to discover within the power to solve real world problems with limited feedback from us. 

Where will the major instructional shift occur?  It will move from projects to Project Based Learning.  It will shift from group activities to team ones.  There will be little in the way of random groupings of students anymore.  Instead, student teams will incorporate students of varying academic and language abilities and their sole purpose will be to pool their skills to think-outside-the-box to solve real world problems in any of their subjects-mathematics, science, English, etc.  Every team member will be involved in solving the problem.

So, how will this transformation in learning appear in a classroom?  Below are some possibilities, but by no means are the only approaches.  We teachers are very creative individuals so feel free to weave in personal classroom success stories.

1.  Teach concepts and not memorization-if students don't fully understand the "big idea", they can't apply it to studies.  The inability to make those vital connections will limit their career options in life.

2.  Apply equal importance to acquisition of key skills and to knowledge building. Teach big ideas and how to apply outside the classroom.  Common core focuses heavily in this area as well.  Teaching ideas and not test items is not longer the focus.

3.  Make reflection part of any lesson.  Learning logs or journals here are especially helpful to English language learners.  With detailed notes written in ways they understand, they will continue to build not only a deeper understanding of content, but a richer knowledge of English.

4.  Find approaches you have used in class that accomplished the same.  Continue to fine-tune them.  Improve on them every time you use them.  Share with colleagues and collect feedback.

Build student self-confidence through out-of-the-box approaches:)


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