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Integrative Individual - Essay Example

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One of the best ways to determine what practices are the most effective in a classroom as a function of understanding key theories, aside from reading the literature, is to observe the application of the knowledge in a firsthand setting. …
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Integrative Individual Essay One of the best ways to determine what practices are the most effective in a room as a function of understanding key theories, aside from reading the literature, is to observe the application of the knowledge in a firsthand setting. Via observation of the practices used within a classroom of emergent bilinguals, this student was able to obtain a better understanding of how the information and theories presented in the textbook are relevant to what occurs in a bilingual classroom. For the purpose of this paper, this author will reflect on the experience observing a fifth grade bilingual classroom. This report focuses on the means by which the educator assisted ELLs to maintain motivation and engagement in the learning process. Furthermore, it discusses practices that were effective as well as ineffective to the ELL’s acquisition of the English language. One thing that caught my attention about the educator’s approach in working with ELLs is that she attempted to maintain engagement from all of the students at all times. The educator specially paid attention to the non-English speakers who tended to be shy and reserved. This author noticed that the educator placed the non-English speakers around a table with other more proficient English speakers of the same native language. This was a particularly helpful method in that it allowed the non-English speaking students the opportunity to draw on their first language, for instance during group discussions. Students were allowed to share their ideas in their native language and then later report to the class in English. This is a form of translanguaging which Baker talks about in Chapter 13. This is one practice I found to be effective since students were more willing to participate and share their ideas with group members. Although this was a bilingual classroom, instruction was mostly given in English, with just some Spanish. However, students with limited or no English background knowledge were also pulled for ESL for an hour on a daily basis, receiving additional assistance with the primary and second language skills. I was able to connect much of what I learned from the course readings. For instance, I noticed that the focus was mainly to allow these ELLs to learn the English language quickly in order to transition them to English-only instruction. Chapter 5, from Ofelia and Kleifgen, discusses this type of inequitable practices. One means by which this is performed is by supporting and developing languages in which most of the instruction is done in the classroom. This is also known as a subtractive approach where the aim is to get students to abandon the native language and transition to English only. Furthermore, there are only a limited amount of resources available in the home language of students. For instance, some of the non-English speakers had to work with math textbooks in English because there were not sufficient Spanish books. Given that the teacher assigned homework in this textbook, it was difficult for a parent to be able to assist the child. Ofelia and Kleifgen further talk about these inequitable practices used by educators, in this case, the inequitable resources available students who do not speak the English language. Another interesting practice I observed was seeing how the teacher walked around the classroom while students reflected on their reading and she would scaffold them by asking questions and encouraging students to think more critically about their response. Vigotsky in Bakers, talked about this “stretching of the child by locating the zone of proximal development. Vigotsky (1962) saw this zone of proximal development as the distance between a student’s level of current understanding as revealed when problem solving without adult help, and the level of potential development as determined by a student problem solving in collaboration with peers or teachers” (Page 295). Scaffolding was definitely a strategy oftentimes used by the educator, where not only did she serve as a means to scaffold students, but she also used pairing students and groups discussions to allow for this scaffolding process to take place. Another inequitable practice is having these students required to take the AYP test after a year of English instruction although students have yet not acquired proficiency in the second language. Chapter 8 in Ofelia and Kleifgen’s book, talks further about assessments and the importance of testing students in a language that is comprehensible to them. For instance Valdes and Figueroa discuss the difficulties of testing emergent bilinguals with an instrument that was created for monolinguals. It is therefore more proper to gauge ELLs in their home language until they gain proficiency in the second language; however, regardless of what research shows, these are the practices that take place within bilingual education. Overall, this educator was able to see language-as-a-resource and allow students to draw on their native language. Despite the fact that there are limited resources, and a limited amount of one-on-one that, this educator was able to provide for non-English speakers, it is undeniable that she sees the value of allowing students to develop their first language along with their second language, to the best of her ability and knowledge. She makes use of alternative strategies to encourage the use and development of both languages, despite that most of instruction is given in the English language. As a result of being a supportive educator, students felt more at ease to speak up and ask questions concerning the content and subject matter. In addition, the educator was able to create a high level of interaction as well as engagement. The educator was further able to mold a classroom environment that was highly conducive to instruction and engagement. Read More
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