I am a candidate for a Master of Science degree in Elementary Education from University of Nebraska - Omaha in Spring 2014. I have been the school librarian at Liberty Elementary School in the Omaha Public Schools (OPS) for the past two years. My prior education experience in Illinois spanned 15 years of teaching a range of grades through middle school. Liberty Elementary School is located in the heart of downtown Omaha, Nebraska. Liberty serves 655 students in grades Pre-Kindergarten through sixth grade. The student population is 63% Hispanic, 16% Caucasian, 15% African American, 1% Native American, 4% multi-racial and .2% Asian. 50.77% of our students are part of the English Language Learners (ELLs) program. The Free and Reduced Lunch rate is 94.5%. My student is a male, twelve year old, 5th grader, from Nepal. His native language is Nepali in which he is a proficient reader. He has limited skill in speaking and reading English. Bimal receives 25 minutes of newcomer instruction a day. The ELL department provides Saturday school for refugee students that he attends. As a migrant ELL student Bimal qualifies for tutoring outside of the home. At this time he is not receiving tutoring but he is getting signed up. The ESL department also provides a second session summer school in July for refugee students that he qualifies for. During small group instruction for newcomers, emphasis is placed on American culture, sentence building, vocabulary and guided reading. Bimal is an energetic and very personable student that likes books about science, culture, world maps and flags. He’s always anxious to point out where his country of origin is on the map. Despite his motivation and good disposition, Bimal continues to struggle with the concepts of reading, writing and speaking English. Strategies and interventions continue to be targeted toward addressing his deficits. Bimal represents the 4th largest refugee population in OPS. Refugees represent 3.8% of the overall student population. According to the 2013 -14 District English Language Learner/Refugee Report, 15,800 students in OPS speak 109 different native languages in their homes. The overall refugee population is up by 84%. With this trend continuing, it impacts the services and programs needed by students in OPS.
School Mission Statement
Liberty school’s overall mission is aligned with that of OPS in the commitment to educational equity for all students, staff and patrons of the school system. In all places and in all activities of OPS, it is expected that every individual will be treated in a fair and equitable manner. All conduct will reflect a belief in the dignity and value of each person regardless of the individual’s race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, age, marital status, citizenship status, or economic status.
As for (ELLs) , the mission of OPS is to provide specialized instruction that develops the students’ abilities to read, write, speak and understand English. OPS respond to the needs of the ELL by providing support for the maintenance of the students’ first language and pride in their cultural heritage.
Reading and Critical Thinking There are approximately 5.5 million students attending U.S. public schools whose native or first language is not English. School achievement is lower for English Language Learners (ELLs) and many are likely to have reading difficulties with English word identification and comprehension. These issues underscore the need for better tools and methods for teaching and assessing reading skills in ELLs. Swanson, Orosco and Lussier (2012) conducted a study to explore the cognitive processes that underlie reading disabilities (RDs) in Spanish-speaking children who are ELLs . They cited considerable evidence that phonological (speech sounds) processing and vocabulary are major cognitive determinants of word reading skills. They concluded that there is a direct correlation between phonological awareness and vocabulary development with the acquisition of second language reading skills. An alternative to assessing reading comprehension was suggested by Holdren (2012) where visual art was used to engage students in critical thinking skills. Students were allowed to use varied mediums and formats to present artistic impressions that represented their comprehension of the text. The findings of the study suggested that using art projects to assess higher level reading comprehension was enjoyable for students and accommodated differences in learning styles. Teaching reading to second language learners is a multi-tiered and faceted process. Accessing background knowledge and connecting unknown vocabulary to known knowledge are done in the early phase of instruction. When ELLs bring their background knowledge to the surface and are provided opportunities to share their initial connections, the teacher can assess their understanding and plan a route for instruction to clarify and enrich the students’ vocabulary knowledge. In subsequent phases, two characteristics are emphasized: ensuring opportunities for meaningful use of the vocabulary words and providing multiple exposures. Students read and determine how their background knowledge can be linked to the text and the target vocabulary. A student’s ability to learn a new word in the second language is enhanced when they have access to concepts stored in the memory of their first language. In the latter phases of instruction, students strengthen their vocabulary understandings by focusing on higher-level knowledge. A student’s proficiency in his native language will determine the degrees of language transfer. Having thoroughly explored their connections to the target vocabulary, ELLs are more prepared to demonstrate their understanding. The aforementioned reading phases are referred to in an article by as the Vocabulary Quilt method. It is a teaching strategy that can be used for designing a reading program for my student. It would be particularly effective with my student because it actively engages him throughout all phases of instruction. With the Vocabulary Quilt, at the end of the lesson, my students will have a tangible product that documents his learning and can serve as a useful study aid.
Lesson Plan Objective English Language Learners (ELL) will recognize and define target vocabulary in their second language (English) using the background of the native language as a resource to make connections. Nebraska Language Arts Standards LA 5.1.4.a – Read phrases, clauses, and sentences that sound like natural language to support comprehension. LA 5.1.4.b – Read words and phrases accurately and automatically LA 5.1.5.b – Relate new grade-level vocabulary to prior knowledge and use in new situations Standards for the 21st Century Learner 1.1.6 – Read, view and listen for information presented in any format (e.g., textual, visual, media, digital) in order to make inferences and gather meaning. Lesson time : 40 minutes Group Size: 1 – 4 students Materials completed “Vocabulary Quilt “ target vocabulary list sticky notes chart paper reading selection pens, pencils, markers Lesson Modeled and Shared (Before Reading) • Display a completed vocabulary quilt. • Explain to students that they are going to create something similar using their vocabulary words . • To create the quilt, fold chart paper as many times to make the number of squares needed per word. • Project or write targeted vocabulary for all students to see. • Show students how they are to write one word per square from the targeted vocabulary list. • Now tell students that they are to write or draw in their own language whatever comes to mind when they hear the word. • Demonstrate to students that they will rewrite the word (in English) in the “quilt” square if they have no recognition of it. Guided (During Reading) • Display “vocabulary quilts” so that students can see them throughout the lesson • As vocabulary is encountered in the text, stop to discuss the students’ reactions and comments.
Stop often throughout the reading to refer to the quilts and help students make connections between their initial connections and the text. Continue to monitor the students’ understanding and dispel any misconceptions or inaccurate connections to the text.
Independent Practice (After Reading) • Have students work together to generate a definition for ech word and record it on a sticky note top put on the quilt. • Student groups share with others the definitions they generated. Assessment Students’ learning will be assessed by their accuracy with recognizing, pronouncing and defining the new words on the established “vocabulary quilt”
Writing and Collaboration-Communication Many studies have shown that the collaborative model for writing is much preferred by English Language Learners (ELLS). Once thought of as a task that is done individually, writing collaboratively is reported by ELLs to be enjoyable and contributes to better learning of the second language. Shehadeh (2011) studied the effects of collaborative grouping for ELLs given a writing assignment. The subjects were divided into two groups. The experimental group of students carried out their writing tasks in pairs. The control group conducted their writing tasks individually. The results of the study showed that the experimental or collaborative writing groups had a significant effect on the students’ second language writing skills. Their language learning and writing skills were noticeably improved in the areas of content, organization and vocabulary. The benefit was less significant for grammar or writing mechanics. In a study conducted by Woo, Chu, Ho, and Li (2011), Chinese elementary grade ELLs worked collaboratively to produce a non-fiction text. Each member of the collaborative group contributed to the writing via of a class wiki. The writing process and product were enhanced for the ELLs through the use of collaborative grouping. Making entries on the wiki allowed for an exchange of comments that improved the ELLs’ writing conventions and coherency. The students reported that they enjoyed using the wiki and how it helped them to work better as team and to write better. My student, Bimal, will benefit from the feedback from his peers of like language, culture and age. By working in pairs or small groups on writing tasks it will enhance his language learning opportunities as suggested by the aforementioned study. Using a wiki, as a scaffold for my student would provide a non-threatening way for him to interact with the English language while receiving support form his peers. Other interactive tools may be used such as a Google Document or an interactive board. Lesson Plan Objectives Students will… • Work collaboratively to read and write • Improved English fluency and learn new vocabulary in their second language • Practice the writing process by writing an acrostic poem in collaboration with other group members • Learn how to access and post information on an online shared document. Nebraska Language Arts Standards LA 5.3.3.c – Interact and collaborate with others in learning situations by contributing questions, information, opinions, and ideas using a variety of media and formats LA 5.2.2.a – Write for a specific purpose (e.g., story with pictures, factual book, alphabet book, poem, letter) LA 5.1.6.l – Build and activate prior knowledge in order to identify text to self, text to text, and text to world connections before, during, and after reading LA 5.3.3.c – Participate actively with others in learning situations by contributing
questions, information, opinions, and ideas (e.g., book share, literature circle, field trip share, cooperative problem solving) LA 5.2.1.f – Publish a legible document (e.g., handwritten or electronic) American Association of School Librarians ( AASL’s) Standards for the 21st Century Learner 3.1.3 Use writing and speaking skills to communicate new understandings effectively. 3.1.4 Use technology and other information tools to organize and display knowledge and understanding in ways that others can view, use, and assess. 3.2.3 Demonstrate teamwork by working productively with others. Materials Copies of, Keeping Up With Cheetah by Lindsay Camp Colored Pencils, Markers Writing Paper Completed “Vocabulary Quilt” Computers with Internet access List of English/ Nepali vocabulary words from, Keeping Up With Cheetah Lesson Session One -‐ Reading the text • Show students the book, Keeping up with Cheetah by Lindsay Camp. Explain that the book is written in English and Nepali and that they will hear the book read twice, once in each language. • Tell students to pay particular attention to the interactions in the story between the cheetah and hippopotamus because they will write a poem about the story later. • Using the overhead, project images of the book on the screen while reading the story. Read each page in English. Have a Nepali student read the story again in their native language. • After reading, lead students in a discussion about what the main idea of the story is. • Session Two – Vocabulary Building • Create a “vocabulary quilt” by folding chart paper as many times to make the number of squares needed per word • Re-‐read the story, Keeping Up With Cheetah • List targeted vocabulary • Tell students that they will write the words they have learned from the story in English and Nepali in a square on the “vocabulary quilt.” • Show students how they are to write one word per square from the targeted vocabulary list. • Tell students that they should write the English word with the Nepali word next to it in each square of the quilt. They should also draw pictures to help them remember what the words mean.
Tell students that they are to write in their own language whatever comes to mind when they hear the word. If they have trouble coming up with an answer have them look at the page in the book where the word appears to see if the pictures help them. • Allow students to work collaboratively with one or more partner to complete the quilt • Display the vocabulary quilt for continued referencing. Session Three – Collaborative Writing • Pass out copies of Keeping Up With Cheetah to each student pair or group (no more than 4 in a group). • Explain that they are going to take turns reading the book first in Nepali then in English. • Before reading, ask students if they know what an acrostic poem is. Explain that it is a poem where every line starts with a letter in the word. Project an example of the type of poem they will write. • Remind students that Cheetah and Hippo have a special friendship in the story. Explain that once they have read the story together they will write an acrostic poem in English about the things they like about their favorite friend. Tell students to reference the “vocabulary quilt” and book for help with words. • Distribute a different colored marker to each student • Give directions for writing the collaborative poem. Model the following: o Start with the words BEST FRIEND written vertically on a large piece of paper o The first person adds a word or phrase next to the letter of their choice to describe their favorite person/friend o Use a different colored marker than the person before you to add your word or segment to the poem o Pass the poem to another student and they will add a word or phrase, in a different colored marker. Pass the poem to the next person o Continue passing and adding to the poem words or phrases in English until it has been completed. • Once the poem is completed, allow students to read the poem in English. • Compare what has been written to the friendship in the story • Display completed poems. Session Four – Peer Editing Using a Wiki • Tell students that they are going to post their acrostic poem on a Wiki. After discussing and explaining what a Wiki is, model the path for getting to the homepage of the teacher created wiki. • Explain to students that they will type their contribution to the poem on the wiki. Model how to format on a wiki to include changing the color of text. • Explain to each contributor that they will use the same color on the wiki as they used on the paper draft of the poem. • Once completely posted on the wiki, allow students to read, in English, the line they added and the second time, read the poem chorally. •
Assessment • Observe the process of writing the poem collaboratively to determine if an ample scaffold for strengthening English writing fluency occurs as the activity progresses. • Listen to each student read the poem paying particular attention to their mastery in pronouncing and understanding the English words. • Observe how students’ contributions to each line of the poem demonstrates their understanding of the main idea and elements of the story. Digital Literacy and Creativity The opportunity to express oneself creatively using digital tools may be one of the tasks an ELL can do with a measure success as they are on the path to English language development. From the standpoint of motivation, an ELL may be more inclined to tackle a task digitally in lieu of the traditional paper and pencil implements. Literature suggests that interactive, web-‐based instructional tools used with ELLs improve their grammar, vocabulary, sentence writing and reading in the second language. It also improves their digital literacy and encourages creativity. In a study conducted by Pandya (2012), elementary through college age ELLs were given the task of designing a digital video composition. Students transferred their traditional writing assignment into a video that utilized writing, audio and visual skills. Although assessing literacy development using a digital modality posed a challenge for teachers, the benefits, as expressed by the ELLs were positive and favorable. The options for using digital tools to enhance ELLs are numerous. In an article by Kilickaya and Krajka (2012), web-‐based comic strip creators were used to help ELLs with grammar and sentence writing. Students were highly motivated for this task and created stories with more ease, giving voice and character to the characters they inserted in the strips. Combining digital literacy and technology in the construction and programming of robots was a study conducted by McDonald and Howell (2012). The study describes the use of robots in an elementary classroom as a tool to enhance the development of technological skills in a creative environment rich in numeracy and literacy opportunities. Students were exposed to a new range of vocabulary and demonstrated confidence in using the new words. Throughout the project new terms were introduced to the students via colorful posters that were left in the classroom over the duration of the project for students to reference and build upon.
Lesson Plan Objectives Students will… • work collaboratively to develop a digital video composition. • transfer a writing assignment into a video that utilizes writing, audio and visual skills. • learn GarageBand and I-‐Movie applications as tools for visual and oral presentations. Nebraska Language Arts Standards LA 6.2.1.a – Use prewriting activities and inquiry tools, using available technology to generate and organize information, guide writing, answer questions LA 6.3.1.a – Communicate ideas and information in a manner appropriate for the purpose and setting LA 6.3.1.b – Demonstrate and adjust speaking techniques for a variety of purposes and situations LA 6.3.3.c – Interact and collaborate with others in learning situations by contributing questions, information, opinions and ideas using a variety of media and formats LA 6.4.1.f – Gather and share information and opinions as a result of communication with others (ie., video/audio chat, interview, podcast, multimedia presentations) American Association of School Librarians ( AASL’s) Standards for the 21st Century Learner 2.1.6 – Use the writing process, media and visual literacy, and technology skills to create products that express new understandings. 3.1.3 – Use writing and speaking skills to communicate new understandings effectively. 3.3.4 – Create products that apply to authentic, real-world contexts. 4.1.8 – Use creative and artistic formats to express personal learning. Lesson Time: 6 (+), 40 minute sessions Group Size: 1 – 4 students Materials • Copies of, I See The Sun In Nepal by Dedie King, translated by Kanchan Burathokil • Computers with Internet Access; I-Movie and GarageBand applications • List of English/Nepali vocabulary words from the book selection Lesson In this lesson, students will create a digital composition to retell a story. English Language Learners (ELLs) will compare and contrast their culture of origin, as described in the story, with their present American experience. They will retell the story in English, paying close attention to fluency and the use of new vocabulary. The digital composition will be created using I-‐Movie and GarageBand applications using video, still images, voiceover narration and instrumental music. 10
Session One • Show students a digital video composition similar to the one they will create. • Tell students that they are going to create a video composition about the book, I See the Sun In Nepal. Summarize the story by telling students that it is about a girl that lives in Nepal and what everyday life is like for her such as chores, going to school, playing with friends and spending time with family. • Read the story in English. Have a Nepali student read the story again in their native language. • After reading, lead the students in a discussion about the story. Session Two • Re-‐read the book, I See The Sun In Nepal, in English and Nepali. • List targeted vocabulary. • Tell students that they are going to re-‐tell this story only with it taking place in American culture. Explain that their stories will be done in a video composition. • Allow students to work collaboratively in writing a draft. Session Three • Continue guiding collaborative groups in writing a narrative comparison and contrast of Nepal and American cultures as portrayed in the story. • Allow pairs to peer edit the narratives, referring and paraphrasing from the text as much as necessary. Technology Model for students how to develop an I-‐Movie with images, recording voiceovers and music from GarageBand. • Collaborative groups will work for several sessions to develop the video composition. Assessment • Evaluate students’ work on the video using a rubric and reflect on the overall process. • Listen to the students reflect on what they learned in terms of content, writing skills and technology. • Observe how students’ contributions to the narrative and development of the video demonstrated their learning in their second language and digital literacy.
Gail Walker My21 Reflection Selecting an English Language Learner (ELL) has helped bring an awareness of the many challenges facing school districts with the charge of addressing the 21st Century skills learning needs of students whose first language is not English. This experience has made me more sensitive to the strategies and interventions enlisted by English as a Second Language (ESL) instructors and has given me more reason to make connections with those professionals at my school in a way not previously done. As a school librarian, the heightened awareness of ELLs’ learning needs has prompted me to be more intentional in my collection development and to solicit more input from the ESL professionals on their recommendations for books and ways to best serve our ELL population. I gleaned a great deal of knowledge from a myriad of literature that supports the 21st Century skills of reading and critical thinking, communication and collaboration and digital creativity. The activity of searching for articles became a personal quest for knowledge as the course progressed. I learned that word knowledge and recognition is the best indicator of an ELL’s reading and critical thinking abilities. The strategy of teaching reading vocabulary to an ELL provided an opportunity to determine the student’s cultural context for the second language words. The strategy was more interactive and moved away from dictionary defining. The visual chart, which is a continual word reference for the ELL, also served as an assessment tool. Focusing on target vocabulary allows the ELL to isolate the words from the general text and concentrate on the highlighted ones. My student came to higher word knowledge when able to first connect to the English word in his native language and creating a visual image. Writing his own definitions provided him with a greater sense of ownership and comprehension of their learning. Revisiting words and images encourages the ELL to view their background knowledge in their native language as a resource. The completed “vocabulary quilts” served as a tool for reviewing and practicing the content learned. The opportunity for my student to create a composition digitally added value to his English literacy development. Oral language development is critical for all learners, particularly ELLs. The chance to record his voice and to hear it back offered my student a chance to speak to his audience (teacher and peers) without the accompanying stresses associated with writing and speaking a second language. Many ELLS don’t like writing in the second language so creating a digital composition was more engaging. An enhancement to his digital literacy also occurred by using Garage Band and I-Movie applications to create the video. He may be more motivated to compose for a digital video and ultimately find the overall writing process more bearable. The student reflected on what he learned in terms of the process and technology. The students expressed pleasure in putting their writings into a video format. Offering this digital approach to writing and speaking may enhance my student’s motivation and engagement. Utilizing the video composition is a way for me to 12
assess and track growth in oral language skills as heard in the student’s videos over time. It provides the opportunity to introduce alternative approaches to traditional tasks and to aid in the development of my student’s digital literacy as well. Using technology tools promote writing and speaking. Students practice new vocabulary and grammar structures and improve their second language fluency enabling them to engage in conversations around issues and topics of concern.
Works Cited Holdren, T.S.(2012). Using art to assess reading comprehension and critical thinking in Adolescents. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 55(8), 692-703. Doi:10.1002/JAAL.00084 Kılıçkaya, F., & Krajka, J. (2012). Can the use of web-based comic strip creation tool facilitate EFL learners' grammar and sentence writing?. British Journal of Educational Technology, 43(6), E161-E165. McDonald, S., & Howell, J. (2012). Watching, creating and achieving: Creative technologies as a conduit for learning in the early years. British Journal of Educational Technology, 43(4), 641-‐651. Pandya, J. (2012). Unpacking Pandora's box: Issues in the assessment of English learners’ literacy skill development in multimodal classrooms. Journal Of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 56(3), 181-185. doi:10.1002/JAAL.00124 Shehadeh, A. (2011). Effects and student perceptions of collaborative Writing in L2. Journal of Second Language Writing, 20(4), 286-‐305. doi:10.1016/j.jslw.2011.05.010 Swanson, H., Orosco, M. J., & Lussier, C. M. (2012). Cognition and literacy in English language learners at risk for reading disabilities. Journal Of Educational Psychology, 104(2), 202-320. doi:10.1037/a0026225 Wessels, S. (2011). Promoting vocabulary learning for English learners. Reading Teacher, 65(1), 46-50, doi:10,1598/RT.65.1.6 Woo, M.,Chu, S., Ho, A., & Li, X. (2011). Using a wiki to scaffold primary school students’ collaborative writing. Journal Of Educational Technology & Society,14(1), 43-54.