Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Retelling Stories using Nonlinguistic Representations in a Dual Language Classroom - day 2


Last week I wrote about a lesson I taught in my 4th grade Dual Immersion classroom on retelling stories.  This was a two part lesson and on day one, the class listened to a read aloud of a chapter of The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White in Spanish.  In order for my language learners to understand the text and use key vocabulary, I had them use non-linguistic representations, or drawings to sequence key story events.  I then discussed my plan for the next lesson which would entail students working in collaborative teams to retell the chapter with their best Spanish vocabulary and grammar, along with a presentation to other class members to practice speaking and listening skills.  I left the readers of the blog post with a cliffhanger... would the second part of the lesson work out as planned...

It actually basically did go as planned.  I knew that there would be some issues.  If there weren't, then the lesson would have been too easy.  I had taught this lesson three times before, so the students knew the routine and expectations pretty well.  The only difference was the chapter, content, and vocabulary.  For this reason I chose this class session to step back and play the facilitator role.  I walked around and observed how the students interacted with each other.  I wanted to ensure that everyone was participating and on task.  They were, for the most part.  The cooperative learning structure that I used which ensured that every student was responsible for one sentence gave every student the leadership role and ownership for a fourth of the paragraph.  Most team members listened, evaluated, and improved upon the leader's content, grammar and vocabulary.   Teammates were kind when telling another that their sentence didn't make sense or that better vocabulary could be used, and the leaders took suggestion humbly.

One problem did arise.  The first time I walked by a group I heard "Michael" give his sentence to his teammates.  I knew it was incorrect, really incorrect.  I nonchalantly looked at his teammates.  Everyone was quiet and looking down.  I walked away, so to give them some private time to discuss the sentence without teacher intervention so they could help Michael out.  I circled around the classroom, and when I made my way back to Michael's table, there the team was, all writing Michael's sentence.  I stopped them and asked them if they were all happy with the sentence.  All except Michael said no.  I asked them why they were writing a sentence that did not have a consensus by all members.  Why didn't they give Michael suggestions to make it better?  They said they were nervous about being wrong.  I stopped right there and gave a mini lesson about expression your point of view.  I then listened to the advice they gave to Michael to make it better.  After some explaining, and some persuasion, the group was able to write a good sentence that was appropriate for the topic and standard.

Overall, the lesson was a success.  Students were able to retell the chapter in their own words with good academic vocabulary and grammar.   They were able to work collaboratively, for the most part, and everyone learned from each other.  As I watched this lesson unfold, I was happy that I had successfully taught this lesson and that the students had one more Common Core Standard under their belts.  They could engage in collaborative conversations, with diverse partners, building on others' ideas, and expressing their own clearly.  They could retell stories safely within a group setting.  After taking on the facilitator role in this lesson, I saw that it was time to move on.  The next lesson would have to be more challenging and more rigorous.  For the next chapter, we will continue to work on the CCSS of retelling a story, but instead of reading with partners, students will read and draw non-linguistic representations independently.  And instead of working in groups to retell the story, students will be able to rely on only one partner to check their content, grammar, and vocabulary.  Baby steps to slowly but surely move these brilliant students from dependence to independence, always moving forward.   I can't wait to see what they do next!


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