September 22, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo
Sometimes I can be pretty dumb, as I wrote in How I Milked A Lesson For Every Last Ounce Of Learning And Why I’m An Idiot For Not Thinking Of It Earlier.
I have demonstrated that cluelessness yet again….
Let me explain:
As I’ve previously posted, one of my U.S. History classes this year is a combined Intermediate and Beginning ELL one. The range of students’ English level is pretty vast, as is its native language diversity.
One of the instructional strategies I’m using is a variation of the tried-and-true technique called Preview/View/Review — offer a brief preview of the lesson in the native language, do the main lesson in English, and then follow it with a brief review in the native language.
I can’t use this strategy “by the book” because of the multiple languages and the large class size. But, at the beginning of the period when the Intermediates are reading a U.S. History book of their choice, I have been able to manage — with the help of aides and peer tutors — the “Preview” stage fairly well, and it has really helped with the overall lessons.
I use many of the resources found in The Best Multilingual & Bilingual Sites For Math, Social Studies, & Science.
Last week, though, I had an epiphany and realized that I had completely overlooked two extraordinary sources of materials for the “Preview” section of my lessons. In fact, they would be great resources for the “Preview” of any lesson in any class!
The first “duh!” moment is when I thought of Wikipedia and how it’s available in multiple languages. At the beginning of each class, I tell them what we are studying that day, they type the topic into their electronic translator, then go next door to call up Wikipedia on a colleague’s computer for ten minutes. Their comprehension of the subsequent lesson in English has improved dramatically.
The second “duh!” moment was when I realized that there must be videos in Spanish about U.S. History. I went to Yahoo’s Mexico site, clicked on Video, typed in “historia estados unidos” and found a huge number of U.S. History documentaries and re-enactments in Spanish. Many look very good. My Spanish-speaking students go to an adjoining classroom to watch video clips at the beginning of each lesson.
These two resources, as well as others on the previously mentioned “The Best…” list, can be used in similar ways for all content classes.
I wonder when my next major “duh!” will be?