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The information and strategies in these courses are a great resource for teachers. I have increased my knowledge base in the subject area of Teaching English as a Second Language. Teachers are more effective when they are knowledgeable in the subject area they are teaching. I am currently teaching at a school that has a high English Language Learner population, so the strategies learned in these courses has helped me become a more effective teacher.
The five concepts that I found the most interesting and helpful are Differentiated Instruction, The Language Experience Approach, Incorporating visual clues, text adaption, and The Hierarchy of Effectiveness. I chose these as the top five because when they are implemented in the classroom they make a drastic improvement in classroom instruction. I am excited to implement these strategies and learning philosophies in my classroom next school year.
Differentiated Instruction is when the teacher modifies the curriculum to meet the needs of all the students in the classroom. This does not mean that the teacher gives the above average student more work, or worksheets to complete when they finish early. The teacher has to modify the activity to meet the various learning levels in the classroom. An example of a differentiated lesson in kindergarten would include a whole group introduction of the concept with a demonstration of the activity. The teacher would show three examples of the activity, difficult, on level and below level. The below level activity may be a matching activity; the students have to match the rhyming pictures, answers provided. The on level activity would require the students to match the rhyming pictures without the answers. The above grade level activity would require the students to match the rhyming words and pictures. Modifying the lesson allows the students to work at their learning level.
The Language Experience Approach is essential to the primary classroom. As a kindergarten teacher I use this approach often and find that the results are amazing. This approach has four simple and effective phases. The first phase is the overall understanding of the approach which is, if the students can think it, say it, write it, then they can read it. The next stage is to create a shared experience for the students, such as making gingerbread cookies as a class. After the students have made the cookies, then the class can think about and discuss their experience. The third step requires the class to write about the experience whole group, in the form of interactive, shared or modeled writing. Finally the class reviews and edits the work whole group. The entire class can read and use the vocabulary from the lesson due to the repetition and active participation required to complete the Language Experience Approach.
Incorporating visual cues and gestures are an effective way to improve instruction in the classroom. These strategies seem so simple and straight forward yet they improve instruction and help English Language Learners understand simple directions and content. As a primary teacher I use picture cues in the classroom however I can use them more often and more frequently. The use of gestures in the classroom is inevitable but as a teacher I have to remember to use the same gesture for a specific response. An example of this is, when I want the students to sit, I can lower my hand and say sit. This way the students will link the word sit with the action. This will help the students learn the vocabulary word sit. The use of visual cues and gestures will help the students learn new vocabulary and understand subject matter.
The implementation of adapting text will enable English Language Learners to better understand text and subject matter. It is quite often that subject matter text is too difficult for English Language Learners to understand and read fluently. The vocabulary is too difficult so the students are then unable to understand the subject matter. The teacher can adapt the text to help students understand the subject matter. Some text adaption strategies are, identifying key vocabulary words, outlining the text, using alternate texts, rewriting the text, providing live demonstrations, audio taping the text and providing a graphic representation of the text.
The text adaption strategy I use most of is providing a live demonstration of the text. This can take many forms such as viewing a play or movie of the text. The students can also act out the text using puppets or masks. Acting out the text using a felt board is also very effective and engaging for the students. When the students see the text acted out for them it helps clarify the text and motivates the students to revisit the text.
The Hierarchy of Effectiveness is another concept I found interesting in the lectures. The Hierarch of Effectiveness is relevant when the teacher is providing the students with an experience to understand a concept and build vocabulary. The most effective example to the least effective example is: the real object, a three dimensional example of the object, a color picture of the object, a drawing of the object and the written description of the object. A combination of these examples can be very effective in the classroom. As an educator it is beneficial to know that using a real example of an apple is more effective than a simple drawing of an apple. The students are able to make better connections to the object and which increases their ability to remember the concepts connected to the object.
The three concepts I have chosen to implement in my classroom are Differentiated Instruction, The Language Experience Approach and text adaption. Implementing differentiated instruction will be difficult and overwhelming because it is such a large task. It would be impossible to differentiate all of my lessons, so I am going to begin by differentiating instruction in math and then gradually increase it to other content areas. The slow implementation of differentiated instruction will make it more successful and easier to accomplish.
The short term effects of implementing differentiated instruction will be more effective instruction and teaching at each students learning level. When the instruction is modified to meet the needs of the students learning will increase and the students will be more prepared for the next grade level. The students will also be more prepared for the standardized assessments required by the school district.
The Language Experience Approach will also increase learning in the classroom. The repetition and shared experience give the students the opportunities to increase their oral and written language skills while learning a variety of subject matter. The short term effects of implementing the Language Experience Approach is increased language skills and understanding of subject matter. The increased language skills will help the students become more fluent in English which will in turn increase the studentâ€™s success in school.
The implementation of text adaption in the classroom includes a wide array of strategies which makes it easier for teachers to use in lesson plans. Slow implementation of these strategies into lessons will allow me to successfully use text adaption strategies. Successful implementation of text adaption will help the students better understand texts and content area. This will increase studentâ€™s motivation to learn and give the studentâ€™s strategies to help them understand texts in the future.
Overall I have found that the concepts and strategies discussed in the lectures will help me increase student learning and the development of language in the classroom. I believe that by slowly implementing these strategies I will be more successful and meet the needs of the students in my classroom. I am excited to use these strategies in my classroom next year.