Bad ELD eval: Doing too much?

Discussion in 'ESL/ELL' started by RubberRoad, Feb 10, 2017.

  1. RubberRoad

    RubberRoad Rookie

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    Feb 10, 2017

    My principal observed my carefully thought out ELD lesson and had a lot of positive feedback but one criticism that I'm confused about. It was a whole-class vocab lesson, in which students were to apply their new word knowledge to write a short story. All students had four sentence starters and a picture prompt. ELs were invited to the back table with the teacher to do the same poster assignment but with additional scaffolding. From previous assignments I noticed the ELLs struggled to correctly include both nouns and verbs in their sentences. So for this assignment I had them use their word/picture cards with verbs (from a previous lesson) to help them structure their sentences using the new vocab words (nouns). In my mind this was supportive scaffolding. The student work shows it helped them, as two of their sentences used verbs from their cards. They correctly used all words on their posters and scored 100% on the summative. But the principal says the cards were too much and threw them curve ball and I "should have just kept that previous lesson separate." She says I "shouldn't have worried about them making correct sentences, only that they use the word correctly." When I questioned her she reminded me she has a bilingual education degree and asked if I have ever learned a second language. When I told her I studied Spanish for six years, she started aggressively talking very quickly in Spanish, pausing to let me respond in Spanish. Luckily I was able to understand and respond to some of it! She was an EL herself. I'm just confused. I don't understand her suggestion. Any ideas? Am I missing something? Genuine question.
     
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  3. GemStone

    GemStone Cohort

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    Feb 11, 2017

    Are they early learners of English? If so, it might be more important, to your principal, to cement the word meaning in their minds and build up their confidence than to ensure a correct basic grammatical sentence. Did they have the chance to practice speaking rather than just writing?

    I think correct sentence structure in learners of any language comes less from explicit instruction and more from environmental immersion in that language - hearing, speaking, reading and writing. So in the classroom, try to incorporate multiple modes of multisensory instruction and practice. Is the other teacher in the room co-planning with you?

    I have studied several languages and learned two fluently. I have also taught two separate languages. I would never treat someone how your principal treated you. How rude!
     
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  4. sjanew15

    sjanew15 Rookie

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    Feb 11, 2017

    Being a former ELD student and now a teacher of very young ELD students, I think it is best for students to get a grasp on what they are learning. I had the same problem as you during my first year of teaching and the best advice I ever got was to "back off and just let students absorb what they are learning." If the lesson is about nouns, let students learn nouns. If the lesson is about vocabulary, work with students to help them learn the vocabulary. They need to see this vocabulary in multiple contexts and in actual conversation before they pick it up. For example, if someone only used a new word around me in spoken conversation, I never picked it up. I'd often forget it in less than ten minutes, especially if it was a difficult content-area word. What helped was having visual cues, seeing my friends use it, having my friends re-teach me what the word meant, and also having to write about it. I had to use it multiple times over multiple days in authentic contexts where I could associate it with memories and visual cues before it stuck. People had to tell me what the word meant, what it didn't mean, examples of how the word could be used, and examples of how not to use the word. I have some students who can use vocabulary beautifully in all their work, but if you ask them to actually define it or use it in a non-scripted scenario such as a classwork assignment, they give me blank stares. It's all about making a different language click for students. I would never have spoken to you like that, but your principal does have a point. It might have benefited the kids to focus more on pre-teaching the vocabulary versus having them use it in a grammatically correct sentence. It also depends on the levels of the students. Are they high-fliers who might test out soon, or are they like my transitioning-level student who I know would get confused if she had to both learn new words and write a grammatically correct sentence? Sometimes I find it best to guide students to meet an objective while not over-correcting their mistakes. Students need experience just using the language they know, exploring it and making mistakes. It's how I learned to speak English.

    Hope this helps.
     
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  5. vickilyn

    vickilyn Phenom

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    Feb 11, 2017

    One bit of constructive criticism doesn't make a bad evaluation. Are you a rather new ESL teacher? Part of the point of any evaluation is to present suggestions for you to reflect upon. Yes, I am an ESL teacher, and the goal is for them to be able to understand and then use English. Your push for grammatically correct sentences, while logical to you, asks them to do much more detailed work than they are ready for at this point. I can't speak to the principal's actions, other than it gives a real example of what she is trying to get you to understand. Your feathers are ruffled right now - reflect on what she was showing you without being defensive, see if you can understand the meaning of the message. Remember, you had six years of Spanish, and you were able to understand and respond to some of it. Her actions, though unorthodox, do give a clear message that if you, with your years of Spanish, struggled, your ELLs, with much less English, are far less likely to be successful even a fraction of the time. Just reflect on that.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2017
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  6. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Feb 11, 2017

    I thin your evaluation was good, having one area with suggestion, is not bad. They way your principal treated you was uncalled for. You asked for clarification / justification and she got on the offensive. What was she trying to prove? Not productive at all.
     
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  7. RubberRoad

    RubberRoad Rookie

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    Feb 11, 2017

    Thanks for your response. I am a regular third grade teacher with three designated ELs who are not newcomers - they tested mostly early advanced in all categories (speaking, listening, etc). I wouldn't be surprised if they tested out next year. I guess I do see my principals point. But I still think the verb/picture cards were an excellent resource for them on this assignment. And trust me, there were plenty of other mistakes in their sentences that I let them make, haha.
     
  8. RubberRoad

    RubberRoad Rookie

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    Feb 11, 2017

    This is really helpful, thank you!! It's a good reminder for the reality of the grit required to learn a new language!! Thank you for sharing your personal experience as an ELD student <3

    I have been teacher for 12 years. Third grade. I have three designated ELs in my regular class who tested early advanced which is why I made the judgement call to bring in the extra verb/picture cards to provide some additional resources for them that the rest of the class didn't have.
     

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