Cooperative Learning Facilitates And Language Acquisition For English Language

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The eight components of the SIOP Model work together to create a learning setting that is accessible for all learners. Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol or the (SIOP) model benefits teachers as it improves teacher planning, instruction, and teaching of English learners and it benefits the learning of students. Research has shown that high quality sheltered instruction yields high student achievement (Echevarria, Vogt & Short, 2004). Many studies have proven that cooperative learning has a positive effect on language acquisition. Given the eight components of SIOP and integrating, cooperative learning strategies, the goal of this research was to make it applicable to my teaching of English Language Learners. It is the learners understanding that implementing the SIOP model is a process. The SIOP Model is not a program but good teaching practices which embrace different methods. The functions of cooperative learning can be applied to the procedures in which the students are expected to follow by using the acronym APLE (Noyes, 2008). The success and performance of the cooperative learning teams are dependent upon the combination of these functions: accountability, positive interdependence, learning objective and equal participation. For each student be held accountable, it is important that each student have a job and contribute toward the whole group.

Preparation. Collaborating with teachers that are experts and consulting with the ELL specialist will assist in preparation. Sheltered Instruction considers the learning styles, academic background, and the language acquisition of the English Language Learner. Utilizing multisensory approaches will accommodate the needs of the learners. Center activities and menus offering choice creates a nonthreatening environment where the learner feels comfortable taking risks with language. Content, language objectives and assessment are the vehicle which drives instruction. When planning instruction, according to (Echevarria, Vogt & Short, 2004), teachers need to be consider the following: the students' first language (L1), their second language (L2) proficiency, the student's reading ability, the cultural and age appropriateness of the L2 materials and the difficulty level of the material to be read. Communicating the objectives with the students and engaging them by having them orally repeat them offers the first opportunity for the students to take ownership of what they are going to learn. Once students understand what they are supposed to know, the rubrics are presented so the students know how well they achieved their goals and how their learning will be measured. In order to be prepared for class discussions, advance questions should be noted. Preparing for the dialogue is essential as many English Language Learners may not respond and the teacher may need to provide additional clues. Realia that supports the content will need to be located. The school library is an excellent resource when gathering supplementary materials, and visuals. There are many web sites to tie in a technology. The teacher may select key vocabulary and the cognates on chart paper. Differentiating instruction is similar to lesson adaptations . When planning a lesson, teachers consider ways to adapt the lesson to meet the many needs.

Building Background. ELLs may have been exposed to similar concepts as their English speaking peers, but don't know the language to comprehend the understanding of that concept. Providing nonlinguistic representation and realia (Marzano, Pickering & Pollock, 2001) is one way to build background knowledge with English language learners. English language learners benefit from connecting a picture to the word. When we only talk about new vocabulary, the student's don't have anything to draw from. Experience has taught me to provide students the opportunity to generate their own nonlinguistic representation in order for them to retain the information. Examples are graphic organizers such as Thinking Maps, making physical models, drawing pictures and engaging in physical, kinesthetic activities. When my second graders were studying nonfiction features they created their own nonfiction text after they examined many examples. A Picture dictionary is an excellent tool to help familiarize students with new words and help them create meaningful practice. Real pictures and objects are referred as realia (Noyes,2008). Anytime a real object can be used to represent the vocabulary or concept the greater the understanding for the student. Playing word games by providing clues for the students to identify the words outside of context provides additional meaning with the word. Word walls are designed to provide a visual representation of target words to be accessible for all learners (Harmin, 1995). It is a user friendly guide to help students write and read. There a numerous activities that can be implemented to reinforce the newly learned words such as "Be a Mind Reader". "Be a Mind Reader" is a game that the teacher gives students five clues to words that are on the word wall. They are instructed to read the teacher's mind by using the clues. A variation is to have the students give the clues and have their mind read. The students are actively learning the words through chanting, clapping, stomping and cheering the words. KWL's and anticipatory guides are tools that teachers can use to uncover previous knowledge. It helps set the stage to find out student's interest. Peer support of practicing language is vital as students need to use the new language in a comfortable setting. Student's prior knowledge becomes new knowledge for someone else. Technology, video clips and use of media can also serve to provide background knowledge.

Comprehensible input. When teachers and students communicate they must be understood. In a partner setting or in a small group, it is easier and more naturally for a student to correct their speech to make themselves more comprehensible. Language acquisition is fostered when it occurs in a context that is supporting, motivating, communicative and feedback rich." (Kagan, 1995) Practicing giving feedback is natural for most students. It would take over an hour for a teacher to individually provide feedback in a whole group setting, whereas when applying a cooperative learning strategy such as Rally Robin, 100% of the students give and receive feedback in 2-3 minutes. Repetition is the key when learning something new. When students are talking about something, they each use a variety of phrases. The student's CALP (Cognitive Academic Language) increases using a cooperative model. By adhering to the principles of cooperative learning strategies, the comprehensible input and output produces speech acquisition more readily than using formal input (Kagan, 1995). As a result, students are more motivated and will spend more time on task. (Johnson, 1995; Slavin, 1995). Comprehensible input encompasses the use of modeling, hands on materials, gestures, demonstrating and media.

Strategies. Dr. Spencer Kagan, known for his cooperative learning structures, has developed over 200 simple teaching techniques to engage all learners. Two structures of cooperative learning are class building and teambuilding. Class building is a process that occurs throughout the year to create a class of caring, active learners. Teambuilding is a process to put four students in a team and work on cooperation and teamwork. There is a high level of engagement, individual accountability, positive interdependence and equal participation. Scaffolding is a technique that provides assistance by adapting difficult text. Revisiting and using practicing opportunities ensures that the learning of new information is structured. Students are able to recall previously learned information, but often they may need some prompting supported with examples. The role cooperative learning plays in scaffolding is when the students are practicing skills and the students are involved in meaningful conversations. A die or a ball with questions is an interactive tool that can be used to get students to ask or answer questions. Interaction between students and students provide opportunities to practice the English language, express their ideas and share information. English Language learners may not be able to discuss their ideas in a whole group setting, but would rather talk to a peer in a Mixed Pair Share Kagan structure in which a question is posed, students walk around while music is playing, and when the music stops, the students pair up and share responses. When posing a question, students need wait time or time to think and formulate their answer. To cushion their answer, students share their answer with a partner or around in their teams. This collaboration among peers promotes the acceptance of different responses, develops communication, and strengthens student's responses. Teacher talk needs to be balanced. When students are engaged with challenging learning tasks in a supporting learning environment, they are more willing to take risks in a cooperative learning setting more than if they were expected to do it independently. The most effective form of interaction is students working in pairs or a small group (Marzano, Pickering & Pollock, 2001).

Practice/Application. In a classroom that is rich with rigorous practice activities, providing hands on activities makes learning concrete. In math the students use manipulative materials that help them construct meaning. This step is essential for students to be able to attach the concrete and nonlinguistic representation to the language and new vocabulary. "Show Down" is a practice technique using cards with the particular skill. Students write their responses on a white board. When the Caller says, "Show down" the students checks their answers to the caller. One of my student's favorite interactive practice games is called "Four Corners". The teacher asks the students a question and provides choices. Each student picks a corner of the room which represents a choice. Then the students discuss the answer together. Experiences that help students connect prior knowledge will help them build on that knowledge and be able to integrate it into their schema will produce higher outcomes. Technology plays a huge role when providing practice. Students are more motivated when they value what they are doing and when they believe they have a chance for success.

Lesson Delivery. It is important to identify individual levels of the student's language acquisition. Understanding each level will help identify student characteristics, and will guide teacher's questioning, and with the support of peers, students be able access the curriculum. When delivering a lesson teacher's need to be aware of the multiple intelligences (Noyes, 2008). Students learn in unique ways and using the preferred learning style makes content comprehensible because it taps into how they learn. There are eight intelligences: verbal/linguistic intelligence, mathematical/logical, musical/rhythmic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, bodily/kinesthetic, and naturalist. For a verbal linguistic learner, the prescribed activities are think, pair-share, and the team frames in which one person interviews the others and writes down the information under that specific category. Mathematical/logical intelligence would benefit from the team frames using problems or math problems. Visual/spatial learners can draw pictures to illustrate a book. With musical/ rhythmic learners can make up a song. Students with Intrapersonal intelligence as their strength would benefit from keeping a journal. Think pair-share is a suggested cooperative strategy that addresses many learning intelligences. Students that are independent workers are the interpersonal learners. Students that are constantly moving, and touching things will create and build things. Naturalists enjoy outdoors and things in nature. It is important to provide students opportunity to practice speaking in their support groups. The role of the teacher is to keep the lesson's pacing and adjust to meet individual needs.

Review/Assessment does not always require a pencil and paper. Checking for understanding can be as simple as thumbs up-down. Assessments can be formative or summative. Giving feedback allows students to adjust their thinking, make changes and problem solve. Merrill Harmon suggests the "voting" strategy where a question is posed and students raise their hand. An example of the voting question is, "How many feel ready to move on?" This is different from asking the class if they are ready to move on. Voting makes it easy for all students to participate (Harmon, 1995). Other informal measurements are teacher observation, teacher created assessments, and checklists. Performance assessment measures achievement by creating a product or demonstrating a simple task. Formal assessment summative assessment is a collection of information about student achievement. Data notebooks are a culmination of writing samples and student work. The students use the data to communicate their progress with their family during student led conferences. Rubrics are tools that grade levels create to determine student performance. Finally, students look at the objectives and determine whether they have met the criteria of emergent, approaching, meeting and exceeding standards.

The goal of utilizing the SIOP Model is an approach that takes into account the whole child for teaching English while learning the content standards. Integrating engaging, cooperative learning strategies increase student motivation and achievement because students are learning, and practicing language in a natural non-threatening environment.

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