Taking the PYP Forward - English as a Second Language

This is a topic that is very relevant to my day to day life.  I appreciated this because it wasn't philosophical but was based on day to day life in the classroom.  There are aspects to teaching ESL that I do well, and those that I need to work on.  This made me feel good about both of those, and put into perspective some of the changes I need to make.  As I am currently working through the ESL in the Mainstream Course, this is all very relevant to me.

High Challenge High Support (pg 76)

Focusing on integrating ESL students into the UOI may seem like a simple idea, but it is harder than it looks.  I admit I have had students working on other projects (never alone) because I felt what we were doing was too difficult. This is something that I will stop doing (though I have not done it this year) in the future. It creates a sense of other, and limits the opportunities for meaningful interaction with the teacher and more importantly, their peers.  If I want to follow a Vygotsky approach, they need that time to harmonize with the collective.  I need to change my approach to how I set up those interactions.

Recasting the last sentence (pg 80)

This is a such a simple and profoundly powerful way of being with ESL students.  I first heard about this when I was a pre-service teacher at OISE and it has been part of practice ever since.  Instead of correcting grammar mistakes, rephrase them in the proper form.

S- I go to the library
T- oh, you went to the library?  What did you get?

My wife and I do this with our son in both languages of our house.  We try to never correct his mistakes only give him opportunities to hear the proper form, over and over again.  You do this once in a while and it has no meaning, but you do this 20 times a day and it starts to stick.

Playing the role of someone who doesn't understand (pg 81)

I love this.  Instead of explaining how to do something, have the kids teach you. It gives meaningful practice, they realize their mistakes as they rebuild their understanding on how it is done, and it is fun.  Break into small groups and do it with friends is also a great strategy as it takes the voice away from the more vocal students.  My advisor at OISE gave me the best advice ever at watching a lesson of mine.  On my feedback sheet he wrote TTT, shut up, and don't talk unless you have to.  My Teacher Talk Time was way to high, and I was explaining things that they should have been doing themselves.  That stuck with me ever since.

This may seem like spoon feeding... (pg 82)

Everybody needs to be spoonfed when learning to eat.  Why not speaking?  Interesting thought.

Non-threatening environment (pg 83)

For me, this is key.  If the students feel safe and that their mistakes will not be belittled but rather supported by the entire collective, then they will work more efficiently in the upper right High Challenge High Support quadrant.


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