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 Thanks for visiting our on-line community. Visit Teacher2Teacher again at http://mathforum.org/t2t/

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