I am like a grandma when it comes to technology. When I finally decided to get a smartphone I didn’t even know how to download an app or text through a touch screen. I know, it’s embarrassing! So my sister basically took the phone from me, downloaded and updated everything for me, and handed it back expecting that I would magically know how to work that thing. Well, of course I couldn’t. I told her that she needed to show me and then see me do all of those things by myself before I could handle my new toy independently. Most people actually learn new things through a step-by-step process similar to the one I went through with my phone. Implementing this process in the classroom has been interesting and effective.
In the field of education, this process is known as The purpose of this teaching technique is for students to have all the previous experiences and supports they need before they must master a skill on their own. This strategy is particularly important for ELLs (English Language Learners) because these students not only have to learn a new skill, but they also learn it in a second language. It requires extra effort and more steps in between before they can become proficient at a new skill or task.
I implemented this strategy last week by having students work on a sample activity with me. We read a story together and I showed them how to identify its plot elements. After that, students practiced the skill of “dissecting” a different story. I thought that they would be ready to do this independently by the third lesson, but they still needed more guided practice. Sometimes they need to read the same paragraph at least three times before they can understand it. Therefore, they definitely need a gradual release of responsibility with all the steps in between, which takes more than one day. Because everything takes longer, getting through the content is also a slower process compared to the other two fourth-grade classrooms I teach.
At first, I was getting very impatient and a bit frustrated because my lessons were not going as planned. They were good lessons, but they were not tailored to the specific needs of my students. After talking to my cooperating teacher and getting to know my students better, I have now accepted the fact that these students have their own pace… and it is OK. Their bilingualism is an asset and not a hindrance!
|At the Roosevelt Theater for a performance of|
Swan Lake by the Joffrey Ballet
It took me awhile to remember how challenging it was for me to learn English (not that I have stopped). As I watched a ballet performance last week, I was also reminded of how much practice I needed with dancing in order to feel comfortable and do it independently. I still can’t dance ballet, but I can dance salsa now! One of the art events planned by the Chicago Semester was the classic Swan Lake performed by the prestigious Joffrey Ballet. It was long but definitely worth it! It was amazing to see what humans’ bodies can do with so much practice and dedication. It was very fun to dress up for such an occasion and to enjoy this unique show with other Chicago Semester students.