Visit to El Camino Real Academy, Santa Fe, NM (La Cosecha 2014)

We had a wonderful visit today to El Camino Real Academy in Santa Fe, NM as part of La Cosecha 2014.  Here are some pictures of artifacts that I saw.  The first 8 are from Kindergarten and 1st grade; the others are from 6th and 7th grade.

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On the Border

Many people do things that are illegal. Most people speed in their cars; many people drink before their 21st birthday. Some parents will even say that their children are only 11 when they are really 12 so they can pay less to watch a movie. I won’t mention the more serious crimes of which we are all aware.

The crime that people are guilty of when they are in the United States illegally is Entering Without Inspection. This is a misdemeanor crime. That means that it is a minor crime like underage drinking or petty theft. When people cross the border into the United States they are required to check in with Homeland Security.

When a person does not check in with the border patrol they do not become illegal anymore than an underage drinker becomes illegal. A person cannot be illegal. A person can do something illegal; a person can be in the country illegally. A person cannot be illegal.

We would do well to welcome the stranger, believe that all life is sacred and ask some questions. Why do people want to come into the United States? What responsibility do we, as citizens and residents of the United States, have for the conditions in their home country? What responsibility does our government have? Leaving home for a foreign land is never a decision taken lightly. An easy first step we can take in this matter is to treat all with dignity and never refer to a human being as illegal.

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Not at the Shelter

While reading with a student today, the book talked about gardening and flowers.  I asked my student, “Do you have a garden or flowers where you live?”

“No,” she answered, “we don’t have a garden at my shelter but I have a flower by my bed.”

That’s how I found out she was homeless.  So, I continue to tread lightly, teach strongly and lend a hand when I can, for the people I meet are carrying some heavy loads.

Making Content Accessible

All teachers who have Emerging Bilinguals (a.k.a ESL students) in their classrooms are immersion teachers.  That is, their students are immersed in English when that is not one of the languages the students know.

Often I am asked, “How do I change my instruction to make the content accessible to my emerging bilinguals?”  Below I have begun a list of ideas (most are not mine

Instructional Practices to Make Content Accessible

  • Use a variety of techniques responding to different learning styles and language proficiency levels.
  • Build and maintain positive interactions between teachers and students and among students.
  • Implement a reciprocal interaction model of teaching – genuine dialog.

Cooperative learning or group work situations, including…

  • Students work interdependently on tasks with common objectives.
  • Individual accountability, social equity in groups and classroom- everyone can do something.  (Have you seen the WIDA Can-Do descriptors?)
  • Extensive interactions among students to develop bilingualism.

Language input that…

  • Uses sheltering strategies to promote comprehension (see below)
  • Uses visual aids and modeling instruction, allowing students to negotiate meaning
  • Is interesting, relevant, of sufficient quantity
  • Is challenging to promote high levels of language proficiency and critical thinking
  • Language objectives are integrated into curriculum, including:
    • Structured tasks and unstructured opportunities for students to use language
    • Language policy to encourage students to use instructional language
    • Monolingual lesson delivery by the teacher
    • Students’ use of their L1 as needed to make meaning
    • Needs of all students are balanced
    • Students are integrated for the majority of the instruction

In the early stages of second language acquisition, input is made more comprehensible though the use of:

  • slower, more expanded, simplified, and repetitive speech oriented to the “here and now” (Krashen, 1981; Long, 1980),
  • highly contextualized language and gestures (Long, 1980; Saville-Troike, 1987),
  • comprehension and confirmation checks (Long, 1980), and,
  • communication structured to provide scaffolding for the negotiation of meaning by L2 students by constraining possible interpretations of sequence, role, and intent (SavilleTroike, 1987).

Sheltered techniques include:

  • the use of visual aids such as pictures, charts, graphs, and semantic mapping,
  • modeling of instruction, allowing students to negotiate meaning and make connections between course content and prior knowledge,
  • allowing students to act as mediators and facilitators,
  • the use of alternative assessments to check comprehension,
  • portfolios,
  • use of comprehensible input, scaffolding, and supplemental materials, and
  • a wide range of presentation strategies.

Capitalism vs. Democracy

Posted at NY Times:

S. T. Fleming   Minnesota

When I lived in Latin America people would often say, “We are poor because they are rich.” The reference connected the poor of the global south to the rich of the global north. The popular wisdom (and authors such as Eduardo Galeano) had it right all along.