Category Archives: EAL

Multilingual environments promote (authentic) international-mindedness. – IN CONCLUSION

Wow! What a time we’ve had exploring the title of this post!
A big thank you to my inquiry group – @andymccallum, @chelseamwoods, @mclouter, @maudeboyer and @tinamoyale – for giving me another positive, group work and collaboration experience for the books! 🙂

Hard at work! :)
Hard at work in ‘our spot’! 🙂

We really pulled it together as a team to have a look at what ISPP is doing to cater to our multilingual population, why we think we should be promoting multilingualism in our teaching and learning spaces, where and how we see room for improvement as well as coming up with (using resources shared on SPELTAC/other PD @ ISPP) ideas and activities that can help you create a multilingual OR language neutral learning environment.  We shared one of these activities by having participants in our session complete it and the rest of our workshop showed a compilation video of our efforts. I will link this here soon, but for now, here’s the slideshow – including resources and links – that might be applicable to your classroom and promote multilingualism:

Screen Shot 2017-03-12 at 7.27.14 PMhttps://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9j6anD8uUzHRmxZanlKSS1IcDQ/view

And here’s the link to our full presentation video:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5q2nmrXicfsY2x5eGJWMHdCU2c/view

Staff participants took turns drawing body parts, not knowing what the bit above theirs looked like!
Staff participants took turns drawing body parts, not knowing what the bit above theirs looked like!

OH, I also learned what lingual meant and made some good connections so I’ll always think of other ways to be multilingual other than speaking!
LINGUAL DEFINITION

I also picked up a lot of new learning! From the text type activity I did with @mthoutermangmail-com and @tinamoyale and @catherinelaing, I gained a bigger picture, hands-on experience look at how I can be introducing ‘audience’ to my writers.

SPELTAC GROUP

I attended another session that challenged my group’s inquiry and ideas by suggesting maybe the multilingual bit doesn’t have to be so visual for it to be there. They even had some student support to back-it-up which challenged me to think of how we can find a balance and meet everyone’s needs and desires…if we can! I mean, that’s the goal! 🙂

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These guys started with a cool quiz and offered an alternative point of view on multilingualism.

I also enjoyed my other sessions, the TED talks and the conversation and interactions surrounding the success of day and complimenting Marcelle on a job well done! 🙂

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Rachel’s presentation got me in the zone…both of ’em!

 

 

 

 

 

I look forward to following through (or continuing to do so) with some of my group’s ideas and suggestions and I look forward to trying out some new ideas in my classroom tomorrow!

Thanks for the inspiration, everyone! AND thanks for the awesome feedback! 🙂
SPELTAC Feedback 1 SPELTAC Feedback 2

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#awesome #SPELTAC #thanks

 

Talk about engaging…a reflection on ‘Course 3’ :)

As a Kindergarten teacher, it’s essential that I am engaging…but I’m also talking a lot and expecting my students to talk a lot too. To help you understand the dynamics, I thought I’d draw a visual. 🙂

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My one, very beginner EAL student, has all the confidence in the world to speak…but he still struggles with the language and substitutes with actions OR drawings (something he did just yesterday) when he can’t find the words. The fact that he puts himself out there so willingly, to communicate verbally, has helped him to grow his vocabulary AND relationships with his classmates! How can I help him build his vocabulary to extend him beyond his passion for Lego, Star Wars and modes of transport?

I have another EAL student who is just a reluctant speaker. Just yesterday, he shared more than I think I’ve ever heard him share, but we were in an isolated situation with me and three other students in our reading tent. In whole class situations, he may say yes or no, but he is very disengaged in conversations. How do I determine if his reluctance is actually a lack of knowledge rather than lack of confidence without intimidating him? How do I up the ante on his comprehensible input…maybe he’s just not getting it?

Classroom Talk: What the Research tells us” explains the importance of being a verbally confident individual in school and in society in many ways/by many people. What better way for a child to practice these skills, than through non-conforming play? Of course the research on this topic is extensive, but I took some time to read from these sites:

One mom’s take on and promotion of play including a break-down of play’s role language development with lots of links on the topic –  http://www.playingwithwords365.com/2013/06/the-importance-of-play-for-speech-and-language-development/

F.P. Hughes discusses finding meaning in play through verbal expression here – http://www.education.com/reference/article/language-play-development/

This Scholastic article lists strategies to promote language-rich play – http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/building-language-literacy-through-play

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This site is loaded with play ideas that will surely get any child talking – at home or in the classroom! A super useful new resource! –  http://www.sunscholars.com/p/100-days-of-play.html

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In an effort to get my students to be more open-minded, I created a ‘discussion map’ to show them a visual of their talking relationships during morning free play (thanks, Sandrine). I told them I’ll do it again on Monday; I wonder if the web will become more intertwined if students know what I’m doing!?

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Neil Mercer’s video really got me focused on all my past visits to museums/galleries. As I make my way around an exhibition, there’s so much that I’m taking in…so much information…and I can vividly remember dialogues I have in my head as I soak in the informational experience that surrounds me. I’m fully immersed in ‘inner speech’ (Vygotsky, 1986). Good museums should do that!

…And good reflection has me thinking about the talking points, jig-saws, exit cards, ‘Guess Who‘ game and other talk-promoting strategies can benefit my students and their talking!

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Thanks for the perspective, mindful reflection time and motivation to get me exploring ideas to enhance oral language in my classroom! 🙂

Empathy vs. Sympathy

I just stumbled across this video that discusses on sympathy vs. empathy.

Up until a very short time ago, I was under the impression that it was impossible to have empathy if you don’t have first-hand experience. I could have all the sympathy in the world, but not empathy. I eventually learned, as I did with ‘perspective’, there are other ways to experience the ‘unknown’ without doing it first hand. I really do find ways to connect and have empathy for all of my students so that I can better cater to their learning…and perhaps this is a good visual to share for teaching this learner attitude.

This video does a great job of showing this whilst tying in connectivism and real life scenarios with creative graphics. Thanks for this new #perspective, @BrenéBrown! 🙂

screen-shot-2016-11-06-at-9-07-17-pmhttps://youtu.be/1Evwgu369Jw

 

But how can we communicate #perspective?

I just watched a video that inspired me to want to write about a word – a topic – a state of being (or have been): perspective. I think about perspective a lot. I wonder is it possible to have perspective if you’ve not experienced something first hand? I mean, I can’t truly know what it’s like to be a learner of English as an additional language, so how can I have true perspective about what it’s like to be one of my students who is? I really ponder this a lot and tend to lean more towards that perspective IS linked to life experiences…

HOWEVER…

Every once in a while, I’ll see a video that just…gives me perspective. Somehow, seeing a special video that was made by someone (or involves someone/something) that has experienced something I’ve not,  can just give me a solid feeling of understanding; I feel like it shows me success in perspective-giving. And that’s a powerful thing.

http://www.upworthy.com/a-moving-short-film-explores-what-its-really-like-to-live-with-adhd?c=reccon3

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Now, while being an English as an additional language learner is not the same as having Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (or another learning ‘disability’), it is another thing I didn’t really feel I had ‘perspective’ of…until watching this video.

Now, the wheels are turning.

IF a video can portray such powerful perspective for me, what can I be doing to get that same powerful perspective of my students and what it’s like to be them?

If we could all have more perspective about what it’s like to be our students, wouldn’t we be better teachers?

Added as an after thought:
There’s an ABC television show called “Switched at Birth” that is based on just what the title states and it just so happens that one of the children switched at birth is deaf. A great deal of the show is done in silence with only ASL and subtitles to show communication. It’s a weird watch for someone, I suppose, but I appreciate the show because it gives me a perspective that I wouldn’t otherwise have into a world of silence.

How do our ‘environments’ support multilingualism?

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve spent some time thinking about how my classroom (learning environment) lends itself to or helps my students…no matter what their level of English understanding may be. On top of that, I’ve been having a bit of a creep on my students’ single subject lessons to see how these teaching and learning environments (“classrooms”…?) accommodate for our language learning student. Through doing all of this, I hope to gain a better understanding of:
A) what an ‘environment’ is.
B) what multilingualism looks like in different learning environments.

The single subject lessons that my students attend are very movement oriented and provide kinesthetic outlets for students to express their understandings from the lessons/units; I consider this a pretty big positive for a student who may not be able to communicate confidently verbally. Art, Music, PE and Swimming lessons are all pretty active and the students always seem enthusiastic about attending…with the exception of a child who all of a sudden hates swimming now.

In my wanderings, I wondered how these photos might elicit conversation about multilingualism in our teaching and learning environments…
I think these photos say a LOT and I still want to know more so I made a point of asking my students about them and what they mean. What might they mean to you, multi-linguistically speaking?

art music peThanks to @msdana, @leigh, @andymunn and @annenewman for letting me observe you, for welcoming my feedback and most of all, for engaging all of the Rainbow Fish in your lessons! 🙂

“What do we mean by environment?” -@mclouter

How many times have you wished, in a moment, that you could speak the same language to (better) communicate with someone? Me? Probably about a million times…

A number of things can help or hinder our ability to effectively communicate with another person/people and my inquiry group will dive into the exploration of how multilingualism environments promote international mindedness. Before delving too deep, though, we’ll first be answering the question – “What do we mean by ‘environment’?” -M. Clouter

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll each look at different learning environments and then report back at our next meeting as well as each writing a blog post that shares our discoveries… stay tuned!

I will be taking a closer look at what single subject learning environments look like in the elementary school. I’ll be furthering my thinking whilst making observations and wondering what multilingualism looks like in these environments and comparably to my own teaching environment. In terms of what I’ve been observing elsewhere so far, I’ve been impressed with what I’ve seen and appreciate the open doors! 🙂

Interested? Want to learn more about multilingualism and its impact on the learning environment? This is a good supporting document for our central idea:
Multilingual environments promote (authentic) international mindedness.

Until next time…

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https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201505/multilingual-environments-enrich-our-understanding-others

What about the Z’s?!

Ok, this is something I’ve been concerned about for a while. And it boils down to this…

images-1HOW DOES THE LETTER ‘Z’ FEEL?

So, you’re in the alphabet. Wayyyyyyyyy back at the end. Like the kid with the ‘z’ last name always being called last, Z hangs out waiting for everyone else to come first…it really is no wonder we use it to show ‘snoring’! “Zzzzzzzz” says Z.  To make matters worse, we go and create this incredible vocabulary across multiple languages that just doesn’t showcase many begins with ‘z’ words. It’s an alphabetic tragedy. …or maybe it’s what makes Z so special.

When I grew up, I obviously learned Canadian English. To me at that time, that meant British English because we spelled things colour, favourite, neighbour, grey and centre as opposed to American English (color, favorite, neighbor, gray, center). However, as I interact with (and operate within) British English systems, I realize Canadian English is just somewhere inbetween British and American English. The reason? Our relationship with ‘z’!….though we do say it ‘zed’ and not ‘zee’.
We spell organize, realize, accessorize and characterize with ‘z’s. British English uses ‘s’ in place of ‘z’ in these instances. This minimizes the use of ‘z’ even further in the entirety of the English language…but…is it worth it for the ‘z’? Would it make you feel special? Would you feel unique in only being used every so often?

Aside from these guilty feelings I have about ‘z’ being left out, phonetically, ‘z’ vs. ‘s’ poses a tricky problem! When I investigated further into the ‘z’ and ‘s’ usage, this video came up:
(I’ve tried to embed it but it won’t work so click on the photo below to be redirected! 🙂

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If you’re still reading, did you practice making the ‘s’ and ‘z’ sound?
Now, using this rule, say, “This is ridiculous.”
Now, say, “This iz ridiculous.”
Hrmmmmm. I see a contradiction to the rules here.
I’m a native (Canadian) English speaker and I am stumped. I definitely don’t ever say “is” without activating my vocal chords!

HOW DOES AN EAL LEARNER FEEL?

Now, I’m an EAL learner that has to try and write English for the first time. I’d imagine I’d be hella confused! I’d probably be busting out ‘z’s more often than I’m supposed to.

My investigation into ‘z’ really has been something I’ve always thought about and I don’t know what possessed me to inquire more into it today. I have given it a lot of thought – how might this letter pertain to differentiation that happens in my classroom? – And I’ve come to this conclusion…

THOSE EAL LEARNERS IN OUR CLASSES ARE THE ‘Z’S!

They’re important, even though they don’t speak up/out much.
They might be dead last finishing a task AND they might be used to waiting until dead last for you to be able to give them the attention they need/deserve.
They pop up with words (and insights/knowledge/ideas) when you least expect it (is should totally be iz!).
They’re so much more obvious when there’s two of ’em (so good for them!).
We must NOT let them fall asleep resulting from boredom…we need to make school especially fun and accessible for these students!

How do YOU think our EAL learners are ‘z’s in our classroom alphabets?


Credits:

To the zany and everyday ‘z’ user, Ms. Liz and Ms. ‘Z Activist’ Paula for their British insights/interviews
To my Canadian/Khmer Team for entertaining my inquiry
http://mentalfloss.com/article/62639/why-it-zed-britain-and-zee-america – Why is it “Zed” in Britain, and “Zee” in America?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5iL_pu5CNs How to Pronounce “S” vs. “Z” Sounds | English Lessons
http://cliparts.co/clipart/358267 – Letter ‘Z’ download

It’s not just our students we’ve got to differentiate for!

…We’ve also got to differentiate for our parents!

One of my favourite blogs that I subscribe to, “Making Good Humans”, shed light on the subject of differentiating for our parents this week. Thank you! 🙂

Immediately when I think about differentiation for our parents, I think about it in terms of language – which is totally tricky when you have eight non-English languages being spoken amongst your parent community! But this article talks about differentiating our expectations for parents. What do we expect from them? Are our ISPP guidelines for communication adequate? Existent and consistent across the board? How do we moderate how much is the right amount of communication?

Check out this article for some perspective on this less-thought about audience for differentiation! 🙂

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https://makinggoodhumans.wordpress.com/2016/08/25/differentiation-not-just-for-students/

I sense a pattern here…

And that pattern is this…
Teaching patterns as a first mathematics concept, is brilliant…
oR… bRiLlIaNt!
WhY? wElL, iT iS aCcOmMoDaTiNg To ThE eAl LeArNeR(s) BeCaUsE iT iS sO vIsUaL aNd NoT sO rElIaNt On VeRbAl (Or EvEn WrItTeN) CoMmUnIcAtIoN sKiLlS lIkE oThEr CoNcEpTs MaY bE!

Ok, so I had to give it a rest…but you get my point! 🙂

My non-English speaker, while learning and communicating in English more and more everyday, has been able to show me their understanding of patterns since the get-go!

Teaching patterns also allows me to give feedback to all of my students in a visual way. I’ve been able to sit down and talk with them one on one about why and how things are a patterns and while some may not be able to articulate themselves verbally, like a native speaker might, students are able to show me their understandings…on paper, using manipulatives, taking photos, pointing to patterns, etc… I want to kick off my year giving the students so many opportunities to be successful and this has been an excellent math concept to be able to kick-start a year with the past two years for me…and of course my students! 🙂

Speltac patterns
Some patterns we were creating this week
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Some of our patterns from last week
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Our pattern inspired rainbow fish 🙂

I think Mathematics in general, is a subject that lends itself better to ESL learners because it is (and should be) a visual learning opportunity.

How do you prefer to kick-off your Mathematic explorations for the school year?

Next up, I’ll check out these games listed on this site – I’ll see how friendly they are for the EAL learner AND if they even exist 9 years later in 2016! For now, I’m onto Pinterest to help plan my introductory lesson to “number” on Monday! 🙂

http://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/2007/12/25/the-best-math-sites-for-english-language-learners-2007/
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Who we are

I really enjoy kicking off my school year with learners by investigating “Who we are” as our first unit of inquiry. Regardless of the central idea for the unit (which can have totally different, broadened focuses), it gives me a chance to explore who my students are as learners.

Immediately, and not even intentionally, I pick up on students who are unable to speak English or if they can, it’s in the very beginning stages of acquisition. Once I’ve identified my EAL students, I’ve also tagged them as #brave #risk-takers #survivors
If I’m really honest, I don’t know if I could survive being in the shoes of one of my five year old non-English speaking students. I really don’t think I could. Having never faced language barrier challenges until I was in my 20s, I can’t even imagine what it must feel like to be immersed in such an environment. I can’t tell you enough how much respect and admiration I have for the students that are put in these situations.

My last post listed a couple of activities that I’m doing in my classroom that are centred around language. I posted before reading the course work so did not explicitly refer to my EAL learners and how I accommodate for their specifically. Only about five of my students use English as a mother tongue language at home and I was sure to comment on the importance of fostering a child’s mother tongue language at home during my recent ‘Hopes & Concerns’ meetings. Some students speak more than one mother tongue as well; our international students really are immersed in a world of language along with other cultural challenges.

Here are some things I’ve been trying out along with links to more information:

In Mathematics, we’ve been exploring patterns. The great thing about patterns, is that they’re visual. They don’t require verbal or written communication to assess student understanding and they’re totally hands on. A student is able to look at examples, watch a classmate and interpret this information by creating her/his own patterns. On a side note, I’m pretty ecstatic that every one of the KG Rainbow Fish seems to have a solid grasp on patterns!

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This Kindergarten teacher covers most of the pattern activities we’ve been doing in class but we’ve also been creating paper chain patterns (to work on cooperation skills too) and have been on the hunt for patterns that exist around us!
http://www.kindergartenkindergarten.com/patterns/

During Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop, I’ve been trying my best to be animated in giving instructions and in ensuring I’m reading books that have some great visuals to engage my EAL learners.

For Reader’s Workshop, thus far, we’ve discussed and practised how to treat books, identifying positive reading behaviours and starting to establish routines. All of these things have been communicated with demonstrations and even in having students help me role play situations that help us identify the importance of reading. As most of my students can’t read yet anyway, I don’t deal with the struggle of having a student feel ‘behind’ because everyone else is reading…and it’s great to sometimes see those EAL beginners come flying out of the gate and catch on faster than the native speakers sometimes!

Readers
We’ve had two really successful Writer’s Workshops sessions over the past two weeks and again, have just been working on finding our groove as writers. We discussed how drawing is actually writing – it’s not just words – and how labels and colours can help us better communicate. Our first writing activity had us drawing what we’re enjoying most about Kindergarten (and then scribed by Neary, Thon or me). For our EAL learners, this just involved having them draw a picture with admiration and acknowledgements by us for their efforts.
Our second activity was our first story writing activity that kind of made my heart swell. After having the students help me to write a story, students went away having had a laugh and they were all engaged in creating their own stories. While a lot of the stories may have been a bit silly and about poop or pee, I was just pumped to see them all engaged and ENJOYING writing! EVEN my EAL students who again, joined in to draw pictures that told a story even if only she/he knew exactly what that was.* To top it all off, at the sharing part of the session, ALL of the students were keen to share or at the very least participate by yelling, “action” to help me out!
*To further accommodate my students, I’ve been using Google translate to help clarify instructions for writing tasks.

PHOTOS COMING SOON

I’ve been using Lucy Calkin’s Guides to Reader’s and Writer’s Workshops to help guide my teaching but have also used some of these sites straight off my ‘Bookmarks Bar’ as a resource to help me understand my EAL learners better:
http://www.readingrockets.org/article/childrens-writing-esl/
http://www.cws.illinois.edu/workshop/writers/esl/
https://writersworkshopk6.wikispaces.com/Minilessons?responseToken=2eb6e67f5e24faaa199e9fec348d098c
http://www.teachersfirst.com/lessons/writers/writer-k.cfm