Monday, October 8, 2012

Teaching 1P ESL Science

This semester I am teaching a Grade 9 Applied Science class that is designated for ESL students. This means that I have students in ESL levels A to E in the class that also have a varying Science level. It poses some interesting challenges.

Before the semester began I sought advice from colleagues who had taught an ESL subject class (and regular ESL classes) in the past. Here are some of the things I was told that seemed helpful:
- routine
- start with lots of evaluation of speaking, writing, reading and listening (without the science)
- speak slowly
- use graphic organizers
- use glossaries/word walls

I have used most of it but it has not been an easy adjustment. I have, luckily, taught 1P Science before so the curriculum is not something I have to grapple with. The adjustment for me has been more about determining what parts of the curriculum can be (for lack of a better word) ignored and how to adjust things well for students with limited English.

I have our 1P textbooks in a cupboard in my classroom so that the students who finish work more quickly than others can do added reading/questions to advance their English vocabulary and science understanding. This has helped me manage the classroom a little better as students are less likely to get up to socialize while I am still trying to help the weaker students.

My seating plan has the newest English speakers sitting with someone else who speaks the same first language to allow them to help with translation when necessary. It also sits a group of 4 students together with varying first languages where possible to encourage English speaking in class. These 4 students also have varying science understanding to encourage them to help/seek help from others.

We are having quizzes often to encourage students to review their glossary and science concepts on a regular basis. Generally speaking each segment that I am teaching them involves
1) Adding words to their glossary and coming up with examples
2) Teaching the concept
3) Practicing
4) Sometimes a video
5) Handing in some practice that is marked and returned
6) Quizzing - usually involves some fill in the blanks with a word bank

The part of the routine that I haven't used yet is having an agenda on the board for that days work. But I have never been good at that, in any of my classes. In fact I am not even good at updating the date on the board!

In any event it has been and will continue to be a learning experience.
On that note, I am going to adjust my seating plans and have a relaxing evening.

Any advice, comments, questions, concerns are appreciated!

P.S. Teaching the lab process to them with the correct vocabulary is a challenge and a half!