Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Life is Like a Box of Chocolates

Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get."
--Tom Hanks, American actor, in "Forrest Gump"
I like most chocolates, fortunately, and now I have had a taste of what I will get for next year. I have accepted the position of ELA (English Language Acquisition) Specialist. I will be based at North for three days per week as it is one of the SK schools with a large population of ELLs (English Language Learners). I will also visit West once a week. At these schools I will be coaching-mentoring ESL teachers as well as those providing content to ELL's using SIOP or sheltered instruction observational protocol. Fridays will be professional development days for coaches to learn and practice strategies and protocols to take back to our schools. We have all been trained in SIOP, for example, a great protocol for great teaching. All great teachers will recognize how important it is to:
Prepare students for learning by telling them the learning objectives of the day as well as the standards they will be meeting not only in the content area but also in literacy and in language.
Build background by discovering prior knowledge of students and using that as a gateway to new material. Graphic organizers such as KWL charts aid in this step.
Provide comprehensible input by using visuals and manipulatives, clearly outlined procedures and protocols to help students understand the content. Choose appropriate strategies from your teacher toolkits and explicitly teach those strategies to your students to help them learn and retain information which can support them not only in other classes but in their lives beyond the school door. Model the stategy first, following the gradual release of responsibility instructional model. Allow for class interaction. Release some responsibility to students to apply the strategy through extended practice with the teacher near by to help. Complete the lesson delivery by reviewing what students have learned as a class. Assess learning through an exit slip or 3-2-1 sheet. This important step will indicate where to start the subsequent lesson.

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