Thursday, October 28, 2010

Teacher Spotlight

We've shared with our teachers the importance of allowing students the opportunity to use their native language to better understand new concepts. Here are some quotes we shared with them:

Why Native Language Support Works
“Learning most effectively occurs in the language that the learner knows best. The skills and understanding acquired in the first language are accessible to a learner in the second language.”
When Should They Use Each Language?
“If your focus is higher order thinking skills or prior knowledge connections, EL students should probably work together in their native languages. If you want EL students to practice using some of their new English language structures and vocabulary, you should pair them with native English speakers.”
Brooks, Kathryn, & Karathanos, Katya. (2009). Building on the cultural and linguistic capital of English learner (EL) students. Multicultural Education, 46-50.

One 3rd grade teacher (Sara Hawblitzel) really took it to heart.

 Her students were learning about classifying creatures according to whatever different features they could come up with. Then they would be learning about specific classifications within the animal kingdom. Here's the list that some of our shared students came up with:

Needless to say, I was so proud, as were the students to be allowed to use their strength (Spanish) to understand something new! Thanks, Mrs. Hawblitzel!

Always Good for a Laugh

MELISSA: My mom just started laughing last night on the way home.
ME: *strange conversation starter* Why's that?
MELISSA: She said she just kept thinking about how big your belly is!

Glad somebody somewhere's getting joy from this... :-P

Friday, October 22, 2010

Translating Blooper

TEACHER: Have you seen this paper before?
ME: ¿Ha visto este papel?
PARENT: No, nunca.
ME: No.
TEACHER: He should bring it home every day in his backpack.
ME: Lo debe traer cada dia en su cuchillo.
PARENT: incredulous look ¿Que?
ME: ¡O! ¡En su mochila!
un cuchillo

una mochila

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Quote of the Day

Student reading from textbook: "Protein builds muscle, skin, and international organs."

Only in the ESL room do students have "international organs!"


In the world of ESL, we talk about L1 and L2, first language and second language, but for our newest Husky, we're using the term L4. (Preface: His dad is a consultant for the orthopedic industry; very smart guy!) Born in India, he learned to speak Hindi, but because he left during first grade, he can't read much in that language. Next came Switzerland, where (if I'm understanding correctly) he learned to speak/read German in school and Swiss-German on the streets. Now he's here as a third grader in the USA catching up on his English (although he's studied it in every country he's lived in). L4, my friends, will soon become L5 for him as their next planned move is this summer for Brazil.

Friday, October 8, 2010

My New Favorite Zero

Top left: He drew (and yes, I do mean drew--beautifully!) his Chinese name. Note to self: Asking if that spells "Levi" in Chinese is a dumb question; the name "Levi" doesn't exist in Chinese! I practiced saying his former name, but...don't ask me to say it now w/o his help!

Middle: We practiced saying and writing his letters.

Top right: His face after he heard himself saying "My name is Levi" on the digital audio recorder. It wasn't perfect like he heard me saying it. I crossed off that face and drew the silly big smiley face.

Bottom left: He felt better by the end and drew his own face. I pointed to his face, said "This is Levi," and pushed his little lips into a smile. Then I pointed to my face, said "This is Mrs. Steele," and gave myself a big grin. He then decided to add the nose and proudly declared "nose!"

Can't wait to work with this motivated little kindergartner again! :)

Quote of the Day

Miss Keers was discussing the Holocaust with her 5th graders. Apparently, the whole "blond hair, blue eyes" thing really hit home with some of the ELLs, who do NOT have such physical features. A nervous Brayan asked, "Miss Keers, am I a Jew?"

Oh dear. How to explain that one to Mom and Dad!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

ESL Family Literacy Nights: Round 1

While I was at Butler University for a class on writing this summer, I decided to drop in on a graduate student's presentation on Family Literacy Nights. She totally sold me on the idea, and last night, several months (and tears) later, we held our very first one! Three Wednesdays this month, we will be hosting these classes for parents AND kids to come together, learn a new technique, and take home some tools AND books! We have classroom teachers leading the first two lessons to help make that connection between ESL and the mainstream classroom. Below is the outline for the month.

 Oct 6: Making Connections (Aynsley Small: 1st grade teacher)
    - send home magnets with the 3 types of connections and illustrations of them all
    - one culturally-relevant bilingual book per child
Oct 13: Asking Questions (Sarah Ashton: 5th grade teacher)
    - send home bookmarks with brief notes on when/how to ask questions
    - one bilingual English classic per child
Oct 27: Reading in a Foreign Language (Sarah Steele: ESL teacher)
    - send home something with elements of a story on it
    - one English-only book per child
    - give each family photo of them happily reading together

Here's what each night looks like within itself:
  1. Explain focus literacy skill and procedures.
  2. Have parents observe a teacher modeling that skill to their children.
  3. Split into family groups and practice the skill.
  4. Regroup to review the process and discuss any remaining questions.
  5. Pass out tool.
  6. Give one book per child to practice this skill at home (each of the 3 nights!).
  7. (The following week, we would start with a recap of the previous skill and what parents noticed as they practiced that skill with their children.)
Now that I've bored you to tears with all the gory details, how about some photos (almost 50 ppl last night!)?

One of our middle schoolers joined her family for this night!
Somehow, I think one of these kids is not an actual member of this family!

Aynsley Small and Imelda Salyer made a dynamic presentation team!
(P.S. Can you see the screen? Hurray for doc cams!)


Practicing making connections

Choosing free books--provided by
the Warsaw Education Foundation!

The magnets they got to take home