Monday, October 31, 2016

The Perfect English Language Learners Lesson - Part 2

In The Perfect English Language Learners Lesson - Part 1 I discussed how being observed by your peers motivates you to plan and teach the best lesson possible for your students.  In Part 1 I was only able to describe the motivational piece of the lesson.  Now I will discuss the teaching component.  I began my lesson on electrical circuits and collaborative conversations with a GLAD pictorials.  If you're not familiar with GLAD it is a superb strategy that helps English Language Learners obtain content, vocabulary,  and grammar in a fun and engaging manner.  The pictorial is used to download information quickly by illustrations and academic words or phrases.  As the teacher tells the class about a certain topic, she draws and writes to make the lesson meaningful for the students.  The students interact with hand gestures and choral repetition as well as 10:2 conversations.  10:2 conversations means that after 10 minutes of lecture, students discuss with their partners what they have heard/saw/gestured/repeated.  The idea is that all short term memory is transferred to long term memory through these conversations.  In addition, studies show that when students grapple with newly learned information and vocabulary, they get their brain working, thus making them more intelligent and better able to handle the information given.

Well for this model "Perfect English Language Learner Lesson" I wanted to take it a step further.  I had noticed in past lessons that usually the students who were confident in the language were the ones doing most of the talking.  I thought that this was a waste of time actually because the ones who weren't confident were the ones who needed the practice speaking and wrestling with the concept.  So I decided to apply a Kagan student engagement strategy called Think, Pair, Share.  I pair the students up strategically so there is one language learner with one confident language speaker.  I ask the question and give think time.  Then I tell the pairs that partner A, or the partner with the longest hair, or whatever determining factor you can think of, speaks first.  This partner has 15 seconds to answer the question.  The question I gave was a fairly easy one, DOK level 1.  I just asked students to regurgitate back what they knew about electric circuits.  After 15 seconds the other partner got their turn to share.  In this manner each partner got equal time to both listen and speak, with 100% equal participation.

The next step in this "Perfect English Learners Lesson" was vocabulary practice.  This Science unit was a hard one with a lot of technical Tier 3 level vocabulary.  I decided to let my students play Quiz, Quiz, Trade, yet another Kagan student engagement strategy. Here are the directions.

 The students each get a vocabulary card with a question and answer on each side.  Students all stand up, put their hands up, and give the person who will be their partner a high 5, thus cementing the team.  Teammates greet each other and handshake, a social skill students need to learn for their future, and begin quizzing each other.  Partner A begins and if partner B doesn't get the answer right it is not a big deal.  Remember that this activity is to develop vocabulary.  You want to create opportunities for discussion and when students get the answers wrong, its the perfect time for vocabulary practice in a real world setting.  So when Partner B gets the answer wrong Partner A gives them a "tip'.  It could be anything, and since they have the answer on the back of their card it can be fairly easy.  After three "tips" partner A just tells Partner B the answer.  Partner A praises partner B for his perseverance, and then they switch roles.  After both have gone through steps 1-7, the partners switch cards and look for another partner by beginning at step 1 again.  This is a classic Kagan engagement strategy that is fun for the students and functional for giving vocabulary practice in a creative way.  Here is an example of one of the cards the students used.
As you can see, its not a very high Depth of Knowledge question because the focus here is vocabulary for English Language Learners.  We are building up to higher comprehension skills with every lesson we do.

Again, I am explaining so much that I have run out of space to continue the lesson today.  Like I realized yesterday, when you have visitors come to your classroom you plan a bit more than usual.  Truthfully for this lesson, I would not have searched for the pictures I found on the vocabulary card you see above.  I really think the picture helps make the lesson more meaningful, especially for an English Language Learner.  Having the visiting team come through my room was a blessing to the students as much as it was to me.  Having a peer observe you teach holds you accountable to give the best lesson for your students, and that's why we got into education, right?  I will be back tomorrow to explain the remainder of the lesson.  Until then, I'd love to hear about any "perfect" English Learner Development lessons you've seen or given in your class.  Until tomorrow.

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