In this podcast for MyEdExpert, Suzy Pepper Rollins interviews me about some basic ELL issues including questions about the stages of language acquisition, the difference between social and academic language, and ways that teachers can support ELLs at different stages in their classrooms. You can download this podcast onto your Smartphone and listen while you drive to work! Enjoy!
Finding the right balance between freedom and constraints is a challenge for all teachers. Deciding how much to model, what project elements to require, and what to leave open to student choice can be daunting for teachers. In my personal experience, some limitations really do lead to more freedom. Constraints can actually spur creativity.
In the past few years, I have had the opportunity to provide professional development for many English as a Second Language (ESL)1 teachers. These specialists are now expected to take on more and more roles and be skilled in areas well beyond the classroom.
Finding the focal point for language and content instruction requires teachers to conduct ongoing experiments and closely observe how students are using language. When students struggle to explain a concept, teachers have to discern if they actually understand the concept but need language support, or if they still need support with the concept itself.
Last week I participated in a marimba camp with David Alderdice and Arlyn Deva of Embodying Rhythm. What I learned during the week of afternoon marimba lessons was much broader than the melody and chord lines to each of the three songs we worked on; I learned the importance of listening, following the pulse, and playing within the musical framework or grid,
Sometimes when I walk into a classroom, students have such a sense of focus and purpose, that they don’t even look up or notice me. I recently had the opportunity to observe a second grade science class that epitomized that kind of classroom. Located in a small, rural school district in a Title One school with over 80% English Language Learners, this room buzzed with excitement and interest. Students were working at round tables asking each other questions, sharing information, or writing and reading independently. At first, I didn’t even notice the teacher in the room. When I found her, she was kneeling next to a student discussing his research and asking probing questions about his next steps.