ELL240: Linguistically & Culturally Diverse Learners (ACV1417A) Instructor: Ashley Simpson
Classroom Scenario Analysis
May 26, 2014
Many students were transitioning from a classroom with Spanish instruction into my classroom with instruction provided in English. I had students ranging from monolingual English speakers to students who had just recently moved to the U.S. from a Spanish-speaking country. The range of language proficiency levels crossed the entire spectrum. Having minimal experience with this range of diverse students and needs, I began reading, researching, and implementing new instructional ideas into my classroom. With each challenge I encountered, I gained new information about my students and their parents. I also began learning more about my own methods of instruction, and I learned a great deal each year about new challenges and successes. Educators, like scaffolds used in the process of constructing a building, are crucial, albeit temporary supports that assist students as they develop knowledge, strategies, and skills. With construction and educational scaffolds, levels of support move from outwardly visible or external to abstract or internal. That is, the support that is originally provided by external supports are replaced by the internal structural supports of the building. In educational settings, teachers as external scaffolds enable students to accomplish tasks with assistance which they eventually will do independently. After students have sufficiently internalized the knowledge and strategies, these become part of students' schemas and accessible to use in future learning. In other words, scaffolds are temporary supports, provided by more capable individuals that permit learners to participate in complex processes before they are able to do so unassisted (Peregoy & Boyle, 1997). Mr. O’Malley initial reaction may be, "What do I do?" he may be wondering how to handle the tasks of helping these students learn basic English language skills while completing your already packed list of objectives The first step in answering the question "What do I do?", then, is to learn the answer to another question: "Who are they?" As for any of your students, understanding the skills, needs, resources the students bring will help you to plan instructional goals and to build a classroom environment that will enhance learning for all of your students. Although ELL students come from diverse backgrounds, they have several common needs. Certainly they need to build their oral English skills. They also need to acquire reading and writing skills in English. And they must attempt to maintain a learning continuum in the content areas (e.g., mathematics, science, and social studies). Some ELL students will have other needs that will make the task of learning much more difficult. Some come from countries where schooling is very different. Some may have large gaps in their schooling while others may not have had any formal schooling and may lack important native language literacy skills that one would normally expect for students of their age. ELL students are also diverse in their economic backgrounds. Some may come from backgrounds where there are financial difficulties or health problems. These students may need support from health and social service agencies. Or, they may simply need your understanding about some of the special circumstances that they face. It may be that both their parents work long hours and cannot help with homework, or they may be required to babysit brothers and sisters until late each evening, making it difficult to complete all of the assigned homework. Often, we may hear a student conversing easily in English on the playground with other students. This, however, does not mean that s/he has become fluent in English; although social conversational skills are important, they are not sufficient for classroom-based academic learning. Yet, it is easy to...
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