Celebrating Successes in Communication

Sometimes, it’s easy to let the little wins be clouded by the (‘what-you-think are’) fails so I needed to celebrate two communication successes by two of my students these past two weeks.

Just before the Pchum Ben break, we started our new unit all about ‘Communities’. The unit was provocated (or provoked I guess) with a few rounds of charades where students blindly chose community action figures out of a mystery box and then acted like that person – like charades! One student was acting out ‘businessman’ and after some incorrect guesses, another student (a beginner EAL student) put up his hand for a second time and thought hard about how to explain the role of his father – who is a businessman! The student’s actions in the video below show you how he feels about his communication success! 🙂

On Friday, I had a student who speaks two languages at home and additionally English at school,  wanting to have an item that she couldn’t name. I asked her what the item was in French but she was unable to say after a lot of thought. She was asked to draw the item and this is what she gave to Ms. Nearÿ and I.

Pretty abstract, eh? Becoming somewhat frustrated, she then looked at us and mimed the shape and purpose of the item and we were able to determine it was a serving tray; we had three new ones given to us from Ms. Helen just the day before!

How obvious does this drawing look before and after you know it’s a tray? Persistence paid off in the case of this student as she got the item she wanted. Does this lend itself to a lesson on ensuring we keep pushing for information? And what would have happened if we just disregarded this one child’s want because she couldn’t say a word? What does this say about a child’s ability to communicate verbally? About the importance of noticing the important non-verbal cues when language is absent?

Both of these situations, of course, made me wish I could speak these students’ mother tongue languages, as per my previous post, but they’ve shown examples of communication success without ‘the right words’ 🙂

3 thoughts on “Celebrating Successes in Communication”

  1. I think you hit the nail on the head Melinda when you wrote: “Does this lend itself to a lesson on ensuring we keep pushing for information?” I think as effective inquiry teachers that is what we do, we ask questions, then we ask more and deeper questions to get to the root of what a child is thinking and understands. With our ELL it may not be deeper questions, but wider questions to allow them the scope to show their understanding.

    1. I agree, Paula, but I bet we all have one student who cracks under the pressure of too many questions/language overload – I know I have one – but I guess that just shows that it’s important to also know your students and know when they’ve had enough of you prying for information…depending on what information you’re digging for! 🙂

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