Every week my aspiring teacher candidates matriculated in the GSE, Touro College contribute to their online course in discussion forums. I am struck by the depth and breadth of their analysis, thought processes and connections to their professional teaching practice. Here Nicole Pappas, one of my students and her contribution to session 5.
Nicole Pappas graduated from SUNY Old Westbury in May of 2018 with a bachelors degree in general and special education grades 1-6. She is certified to teach both special and general education grades 1-6. Currently, she serves as a permanent substitute teacher in the Levittown Public School District. She started the TESOL graduate program at Touro College as a teacher candidate for the TESOL Masters Degree.
The Common Core State Standards include initiatives for shifts regarding the teaching of literacy to ELLs. Discuss these shifts.
There Common Core State Standards are grounded by three shifts in ELA. According to Overview of the Common Core State Standards Initiatives for ELL’s the first shift is building knowledge through content-rich notification. To address this shift, teachers of ELL must assess and build ELLs prior knowledge about the content and structure of the nonfiction text. The teacher then must integrate the students’ background knowledge into the instruction. The teacher has to teach the ELLs the differences between the structure of informational and literacy text. The teacher must also design appropriate assessments in order for the students to demonstrate what they know and can do. The second shift is reading, writing, and speaking grounded in evidence from both literary and informational text. Teachers of ELLs must be able to build on the students’ background knowledge while using evidence from different types of texts. The teacher must also create appropriate text-dependent questions for students at different levels of the English language. By teaching the ELLs the academic language necessary so that they can use evidence from the text in reading, speaking, listening, and writing. This is important because the students need to gather information from the text to answer or understand the text. The last shift is regular practice with complex text and its academic language. Teachers must analyze complex texts and make ELLs aware of the academic language found in the complex tests. Also, the teachers must be able to teach ELLs strategies to guess words that are unknown to them. Examples of these words are cognates, prefixes, roots, and suffixes. The teacher also has to teach the meanings of words that have multiple definitions. This can be difficult for some students because one word can mean many different things. The student has to use context clues in order to figure out the correct meaning of the word (p.5).
2. 2. How can we, as educators, incorporate these standards into our lessons for our ELL students?
We can incorporate these standards into our lessons for our ELL students by differentiating and scaffolding instruction. One way to scaffold instruction is to use visuals, synonyms, and examples to clarify the meaning of words. The teacher can also use sentence starters and guided questions. Also, the teacher can have the student preview the text in their home language. These techniques help the ELL student understand the Common Core State Standards. By pre-teaching the meanings of key vocabulary words, the ELL student already has a knowledge on what the topic is that the Common Core State Standard is addressing.
3. Discuss several instructional strategies that would be beneficial in teaching writing to ELL students.
One strategy that would be beneficial in teaching writing to ELL students’ is by providing feedback to the students. According to the article, “Second Language Writing and Research: The Writing Process and Error Analysis in Student Texts” by Johanne Myles, if the teacher doesn’t provide proper feedback on errors, the improvement of the students writing will not happen. The teacher needs to teach the students self-corrections and regulation. The students also need to be motivated to want to write. If a student is not motivated or interested in writing, the student is not going to want to try and write. The teacher should also have the students talk out loud with one another more. By having students verbally discuss the answers, and then writing it down, it can help the students process the information and then correctly write it down on paper. The ELL students should first brainstorm ideas by using an outline. The student then writes these ideas out and has the teacher revise them and look over them. The writer translates their plans into a representation of their goals. Teaching writing to ELL students can be beneficial and help students write to the best of their ability.
4. How can we encourage our students at all levels to become proficient in writing arguments?
We can encourage our students at all levels to become proficient in writing arguments by reminding students that argument skills are used in their everyday life. According to the article “Teaching Argument Writing to ELLs” by Larry Ferlazzo and Katie Hull-Sypnieski, teachers can create a word chart and include words like problem, cause, effect, and solution. Students would then translate these words into their home language, and develop a list of common English synonyms. The teacher should also give the student’s sentence starters to help them start a sentence. For example, when given the question: what is the problem? The sentence starter would be, the problem is ___. The students first verbally address the problem, and then they write down the answer on paper. If the students are writing a persuasive essay, it is essential to pre-teach the vocabulary that the students might need in their writing. The students will need to research the material that is necessary for the persuasive essay. The teacher should put examples on the board with correct grammar and spelling in a sentence and also the incorrect way to write a sentence in English. For example, under the yes column, the teacher could write: The boy is tall. Under the no column, the teacher could write: The boy are all. This is teaching the students the correct and incorrect form of are and is. The teacher should help the student connect their prior knowledge to make inferences to the material they are learning.
5. Analyze (not describe) briefly Vygotsky Scaffolding and the Zone of Proximal Development with an eye to implications to YOUR professional teaching practice.
According to Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development: Instructional Implications and Teachers’ Professional Development by Karim Shabani, Mohamad Khaib, and Saman Ebadi (2010), Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development was used to describe the current level of development of the learner and the next level that is attainable through the use of environmental tools and adult or peer facilitation. Individuals learn best when working together with others during collaboration. I use this implication in my professional teaching practices because I ask my students to do turn-and-talks often. This helps students bounce ideas off of each other and students may feel comfortable to share and express their ideas with one another. Vygotsky perspective is to provide students with meaningful learning and problem-solving tasks that are slightly more difficult than what they do alone. I incorporated this into my teaching practice by creating STEM projects that are difficult for a student to solve alone, but easier when with a partner. One of the STEM activities I had my students do was to create a car using a water bottle, balloon, CD’s, string, and tape. The students had to draw their design of the car and had to think of ways to make it go as fast as it could. The students were able to bounce ideas off of each other and think of ways to make the car go as fast as it could. The students then raced the cars to see which car went the fastest. All of the students were familiar with what the purpose of a car is, they just had to use the recourses and tools to create the fastest car.
- What fun activities do you do with your students that incorporate the CCSS into your lessons?
- How do you help your students organize their writing? What types of graphic organizers do you use?
Ferlazzo, L., & Hull-Sypnieski, K. (2014, April). Teaching Argument Writing to ELLs. Retrieved October 12, 2018
Myles, J. (2002, September). Second Language Writing and Research: The Writing Process and Error Analysis in Student Texts. Retrieved October 12, 2018.
Shabani, K., Khatib, M., & Ebadi, S. (2010). Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development: Instructional Implications and Teachers’ Professional Development. English Language Teaching.
TESOL International Association. (2013). Overview of the Common Core State Standards Initiatives for ELLs. 1-13. Retrieved October 12, 2018.