I really have been deeply moved by the Integrating Language Development and Content Learning in Math: Focus on Reasoning through Stanford University Online that I spoke of in my previous blog post. I wanted to share another strategy that I have tried this week that I just loved. I can't wait to refine it try it again!
One major take away from this course is the importance of students having conversations not just to make meaning of their tasks or discuss procedure, but to deepen their mathematical thinking. However, often in classrooms moving conversations into reasoning is often heavily teacher dependent. I have been guilty of this too, feeling the responsibility and urgency to help the students "get it". That is where this strategy can help.
The strategy is called Silent Support Cards and it was shared by Dr. Jeff Zwiers. When students are engaged in discussing a math problem in partnerships or small groups, we want to students to move beyond simple procedure, but make conjectures, see patterns, and connect to larger mathematical ideas. Instead of inserting ourselves in a conversation, when the reasoning has stalled, we can simply place down a Silent Support Card to give immediate feedback, without inserting our voice into the conversation. Some possible support cards might say:
I tried this out with my third graders. I was able to provide my students with immediate feedback, without interrupting the flow of their conversation about a multiplication problem they were solving. One adaptation I plan to do is enlarging the size of the card (perhaps index card size) and adding an icon to match the feedback.
I'm wondering how I might apply this strategy to other scenarios in my classroom beyond math.
What a whirlwind of a semester it has been! I have been very busy taking the online course Integrating Language Development and Content Learning in Math: Focus on Reasoning through Stanford University Online. I stumbled across this course in my Twitter feed right before it was set to begin and quickly signed up. I have been heavily influenced by the work of Dr. Jeff Zwiers, particularly when I worked in high schools and was excited he would be one of the professors.
As an EAL specialist, my day to day job does not require the teaching of math. There is a lot of language of math of course; my language targets would revolve around vocabulary, specific verbs, if/then statements to name a few. I am so glad I took this course because it really has been helping me strengthen the language learning of reasoning. I can't recommend it enough.
Our EAL training informs us that students make meaning and develop language by using it with their peers. This of course is the classroom implications of the Zone of Proximal Development. Think-Pair-Share is the very classic strategy used in math classrooms. How can we go deeper? What other strategies might we facilitate in our math classrooms, as the EAL specialists, that get students talking to each other authentically about mathmatical reasoning.
My favorite learning experience I have learned from this course so far is the information gap strategy for mathmatical reasoning. This emphasizes listening for reasoning. My anchor chart can be found here. Student A and B receive two cards. Student A receives a card that has a math problem on it, but information with numbers is not provided. Student B receives the partner card that has the information on it. Student A must ask Student B a question. Student B, before giving the information must ask "Why do you want to know that?" Student A provides their reasoning. If Student B is satisfied with their reasoning, they provide the information. This process continues until Student A is able to solve the problem. The emphasis is on building the listening for reasoning skills.
We tried this several times, using a lineup strategy. This became a go-to lesson for my language station, switching the problems to align with the work they were doing with their classroom teacher. Kids loved it. "It's like we're Sherlock Holmes!"
Many Voices. Many Strengths. Many Stories: Differentiation in the Multilingual International Classroom
We live in a multilingual and global society. Linguistic demographics of international schools have changed. The question is... have our instructional and assessment practices changed to meet the needs of our students? What does an international classroom with a true immersion program that celebrates and leverages their students bilingualism look like?
I am really excited to share this EAL international certificate offered by the Teacher Training Center. The certificate program consists of three courses. Two are offered online while one other on-sight course.
Juana and Lucas is a Newberry Award winning book by Juana Medina from Candlewick Press. It is a book that is an important addition for your classroom library.
In Bogota´, Colombia lives a young girl name Juana. She loves her dog Lucas, comic books and space, but she hates learning English. Throughout the beginning of the book we learn about Juana's day to day adventures, with a voice of a child trying to make sense of the world. Her abuelo, a brain surgeon, tries to convince Juana about the usefulness of learning another language. He even goes as far to bribe Juana that if she learns English he will take her to Spaceland in Florida.
What I truly love about this book is that although learning English is a featured plot point, it is not the sole driver of the story. For Juana, learning English does not come at the expense of her Spanish. The language Medina uses, captures the mischievous nature of childhood in both languages. The illustrations are equally playful.
In addition, it does not fall into the "white teacher/immigrant child" trope that is prevalent in children't literature about bilingual children. Immigrant stories are important, when written from the lens of the immigrant. However, this is not necessarily the story of our international students who are learning English. An English language learner's experience in an international school is very different then the experience of an immigrant and/or refugee's. I think this is important as many expatriates are guests in another country; we should not bring our North American (and British and Australian) baggage to a context different then the ones we are from. English language learners are a diverse body of experiences, not one monolithic entity.
The diversity of stories are important in our curriculum's goals of global mindedness. Juana and Lucas approaches storytelling with additive bilingualism.
I am an EAL specialist and educational consultant that is dedicated to building a more transformative educational landscape that honors linguistic diversity and challenges societal paradigms.