Do you remember the last time you stayed up late into the night because you couldn't put a book down? Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai was a book a colleague had put into my hands saying "I think you will like this", which is always an interesting challenge. It sat in a pile of books to be read near my night table for a few weeks. I picked up right before bed and ended up reading in one sitting into the late hours of the night. Late hours for a teacher, anyway.
Inside Out and Back Again is a book inspired by the author's experience of fleeing Vietnam after the war and resettling in Alabama. It is written in verse that is delicate and bold at the same time.
Hà is a young girl who loves Vietnam and is reluctant to leave. She is confused and angered by her new life and America. Young Hà describes her process of learning English with such disdain! When describing the rules of plurals and adding "s" to the end of a noun, Hà states "Whoever invented English must have loved snakes," (118). There are several poems that document Hà's linguistic and cultural transitions that may illuminate what some of our own students are wrestling with, particularly while they are experiencing their "silent period".
Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai is a needed text for your culturally responsive library. Students needs to see themselves in the texts they read. Identity texts that reflect the diversity of our students' experiences, help facilitate a multilingual identity that is additive rather than subtractive.
Finally, Harper Collins offers a discussion guide on their website.
You know what I love about co-teaching? Having someone to process and reflect with about your lessons, practice, worries, and hopes. You are on an adventures together, the adventure of creating a loving, nurturing, challenging classroom that fosters critical thinking and meets the complex needs of your students. It isn't that different than scaling a mountain!
That is why I loved the opportunity to chat with some other EAL specialists about their experiences with co-teaching; particularly discussing the shift from a traditional "pull-out" model. Thanks to @Toppel_ELD, @mrs_badger_east and @Deanne_Mor for inviting me to the conversation,. I've embedded the chat below. Where is your school in their co-teaching adventure?
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
I am an EAL specialist, coach, and educational consultant that is dedicated to building a more transformative educational landscape that honors linguistic diversity and challenges societal paradigms.