The number of English-Language Learners in the United States is growing rapidly, including many states that have not previously had large immigrant populations. As teachers try to respond to the needs of these students, here are a few basic best practices that might help. We have found that consistently using these practices makes our lessons more efficient and effective. We also feel it is important to include a few "worst" practices in the hope that they will not be repeated!
Educational author and former teacher, Dr. Michael Schmoker shares in his book, Results Now, a study that found of 1,500 classrooms visited, 85 percent of them had engaged less than 50 percent of the students. In other words, only 15 percent of the classrooms had more than half of the class at least paying attention to the lesson.
Some answers are so obvious that they elude us. Some answers are devastatingly apparent but require a new set of eyes to see. Take the classic conundrum that we all face: How best do we learn? What cutting-edge, flavor du jour will have us whittling away our time at the next professional development stint? What rip-the-top-off-and-dump-it-in practice works best?
We have a generation of students that are trained to automatically trust the textbook, or for that matter, trust anything that is written. Today, many students don't know how to read things with a grain of salt. So how do we go about fixing this?
What's the most powerful resource in your classroom? Is it the formidable stack of textbooks, the encyclopedia, the computer? As much of a reader and education technology enthusiast as I am, I believe this most powerful resource is something else entirely.
"Good Morning! You are seated in groups because you will be working together to find real solutions to real problems. You will have to collaborate with your group members to arrive at a solution. Are you ready?"
Classrooms across the United States are becoming increasingly diverse with increasing numbers of students whose primary home languages are not English. State-reported data in 2008-09 estimated 10 percent of the US school-aged population (PreK-twelfth grade) as students identified as limited English proficient. Terms more widely accepted and used are English-Language Learners or simply English Learners (ELs).
"My mom is a hero," Alfredo said, cutting me off one sentence into a picture book about Martin Luther King, Jr. His chubby second-grade body perpetually squirmed on the rug where my 32 students were seated. "She brought us here from El Salvador by herself. Me, my two sisters, and our baby brother. We walked."