What was one of the most successful lessons that you have run with your students? What went well and what challenges were you able to overcome?
One of my most successful ELA lessons in my classroom was when I asked my students to freely explore their science or social studies textbooks for specific informational text features. I created a scavenger hunt and drew up a template for my students to record what they found (bold print, glossaries, captions, subheadings) and what page they found it on. Students were paired and were allowed to work collaboratively and share their work. This lesson went well because I had spent the week modeling each text feature, and how to use it. My students were familiar with each feature before setting off into their text books. Also, the kids were able to complete the assignment even if they couldn’t read everything in the text. Regardless of the words on the page or the language, they were able to find and record what they were looking for. My students were engaged because ELs are more confident working with real world topics to which they probably already have background knowledge, especially when the information comes with large zoomed-in pictures of ants carrying dead insects with their giant mandibles.
What is your single best technique for helping level 1 students?
A student just entering English can be daunting to have in your classroom. Firstly, make the student feel welcome and pair them with another student who speaks their language if possible, and who is friendly and helpful. This helper will be their anchor, and most likely their first friend in your classroom. If you have level 1 students, make a point of creating a language specific small group that you see at least 3 times a week. Using the WIDA standards, find appropriate language objectives for that group. Remember, simplicity and accessibility are key. A level 1 student will need to learn the very basics of social language, including greetings, manners, and physical needs like food, water, pain, and bathroom. Your classroom is likely their first bridge in between their world and the world of English.