Saturday, March 1, 2008

Dual Emersion, Part Dos

I'm happy to report here that I "guest taught" this past week in a Third Grade Dual Emersion Class that seemed to be fulfilling the mission, as I see it, of Dual Emersion. i.e. both Hispanic and Anglo students learning a second language and succeeding. This I observed and also found out by talking with the regular teacher. They had been together for almost three years with this dual setup and even though there was the usual "transciency" and turn-over, there were measureable gains in both languages.

My lesson plans were in English, thank goodness. The first lesson was from a reading anthology that was totally in Spanish. The CD was put on and they were supposed to read along. I wasn't really able to read that fast and didn't really get the story, even with the abundance of pictures. So, I had them explain it to me a bit in English. I had previously told them, and written on the board my old "saw" in Spanish: "He who gives, receives; He who teaches, learns." I told them that they would have to teach me Spanish and then they could learn it better and visa-versa. I told them that I liked it when they helped each other since we weren't doing any "tests". It was still pretty hard for some of them to "help" their seat mate without my reminding.

It was an easier day since we all had to go outside for an assembly about Martin Luther King Jr. This was the usual kind that visit elementary schools - "itinerant showmen/minstrels" who work for a fee from the special budget funds that are already in place. This guy was a "one-man-show" and had a "gift of gab" or elloguence that kids like. He had them most of the time with stories, poems, and speeches from MLK. He did alot of audience participation and calling them up to help perform. It was all good, except that the administrator had set up the assemble so that most of the audience had to look into the sun and it was getting warmer, even in Feb. His performance reminded me of one of my favorite poems by Langston Hughes, "Hold Fast To Dreams". I shook his hand at the end and asked him if he knew it. He said yes but started to quote a different poem.

I went back to class and wrote it on the board and talked about it, pointing out the metaphors and rhymes and meter. If it had been my class, in the "pre-historic" times (before Testing) I would've taken time right there to help them memorize it in a "verse choir". But no, back to the lesson plan.

We were also scheduled for the bi-weekly "flute-a-phone" lesson from the roving music teacher. When I taught them to our "upper graders" they were called "recorders" and were very helpful in teaching the beginnings to reading music, notes, time signatures etc.(a different, third language) These kids were actually pretty good with their left hands only. They hadn't learned the note position for the right hand which are much harder. I whipped out my recorder and played along. She even had me demonstrate toward the end of the session with the hardest song, "Mary Had a Little Lamb...Cha, Cha, Cha". It was fun. My granddaughter had just shown me her recorder from her school the past weekend. Hers was numbered and she got to take it home. These were in plastic bags and collected/distributed weekly. (personal germs kept personal)

In the afternoon we had another "reading session" with an English Textbook on Social Studies. It was supposed to tie-in with the A.M. Spanish Literature reading. This one we did "live" a paragraph at a time by calling names written on popsicle sticks. It went pretty well with many stops for discussion and helps with longer words. I tried to put up a Venn Diagram on what we read with initials of topics covered. It was mostly over their heads. In another class, with older students, I had attempted a form of Venn Diagram, as directed by the lesson plan. This time we used a sheet of construction paper folded in thirds with the middle third reserved for "Both" (traits that were shared)
Here they were responding to a sheet and a half on "Frogs and Toads" i.e. how they were compared and contrasted. Only one student in this "Dual Emersion-4th-5th Combo" had to write it all in Spanish. I had help from his mates with "Rana"=frog, "Sapo"-toad, and I came up with "Mismo" for both or same. This class had another major challenge, i.e. the 5th half, the whole time (PM) was being taught an entirely different lesson on Physical Chemistry from a "guest professor" "that they needed for the up-coming tests" It got pretty hectic at times and I don't know how they could listen to just one of the two teachers. At the end, we played 20 ?'s with both groups disguising it as "Science" i.e. "Asking questions" what Scientists have to do, hypothesize. They liked that.

In both classes, I was invited back. There were no "behavior problems". One kid, after several warnings, got his name written on the board by me. But then, just before dismissal, I offered him a chance to "work it off" by doing something nice for the class since he had disturbed it so much. He finally volunteered to put the chairs up on top of the desks for all the boys only. No dual loyalty with him. RRR

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