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Q&A #11798


"One-room schoolhouse" in a classroom

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From: Jeanne (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: Jul 23, 2003 at 00:16:45
Subject: Re: "One-room schoolhouse" in a classroom

Hello Tom,

Up until recently, I taught in California at a school where English
Language Learners (ELL) were a part of every class I taught.  Yes, my
Latinos came to me and the other teachers in my department with extremely
different experiences in schooling, literacy in their own language as well
as in English, in addition to levels of Mathematics.  My experience is less
extreme than yours because of the support I had from the teacher who worked
with the ELL students as her main focus--she did what you are doing but in
English/English acquisition.  I usually had 3-4 primary languages
represented in my classroom--and I consider 3-4 languages other than
English rather low numbers as compared to schools with higher immigrant
populations.  (My school's immigrant population was only 20-25%.)

You are facing so many challenges that I am not sure what I have to say is
that helpful, but here goes.

The training I had as a part of my district's efforts to meet the needs of
a growing ELL population included reading some research.  What stands out
in my mind is the statement that "it takes 8 years for most ELL students to
achieve the level of 'academic English'" in reading, writing, listening and
speaking.  What this said to me is that I have to conduct my classes where
I made use of as many modalities as possible:  written instructions, oral
instructions, pictures, realia (3D samples/models), acting out processes and
instructions, both large and small group instruction.  Traditional lecture
formats were insufficient.

I took advantage of the expertise of my students to help each other--
sometimes they spoke a common language, sometimes not.  This last technique
was valuable but I found that I had to make sure that I didn't overuse any
one student to be my translator so that this student could have time to
concentrate on his or her own learning.

I had the assistance of the district's bilingual translators for Spanish
and Russian/Ukranian about once a week--depending upon whether or not the
needs were across the school.  District translators for the Korean,
Bosnian, Tagalog, Ilocano, Hmong, Cambodian and Laotian were not available
to me--either none of the translators spoke the language or they were
assigned to more needy groups of students.  Sometimes the translators
helped instruction sometimes not.  Their personal level of mathematics
understanding varied. I found I sometimes had to be very explicit about the
kind of explanations/translations I asked them to give.

Teacher friends of mine have made appeals to the community for volunteers
to help them.  Many of my Ukranian students attend the same church, for
example, if I were to try to recruit some assistance I'd go to a member of
the church leadership.

In my district, the high school age immigrant "newcomers," especially those
who are not literate in their native language benefited more from additional 
instruction in English language acquisition instead of mathematics for their 
first year.

The social science teachers began instituting a community service
requirement as a part of the curricula.  Before I left, I had begun trying
to set up a lunchtime tutoring center for the ELL students where the more
advanced bilingual math students could get community service credit for
their other class.

The curriculum being used at my school has a Spanish translation which
worked with those students who are literate in Spanish. The name of the
curriculum is College Preparatory Mathematics.  It has curriculum for
grades 6 - 12.  http://cpm.org .  I know there is a Spanish translation for
Alg 1, Geometry, and Alg 2.  You'll have to contact them directly to see if
the other courses have been translated.

Hope this helps.

Good luck!

 -Jeanne, for the T2T service


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