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ELL 500: Classroom Observation

English Language Development: Level 1 Ms. Jean Malinasky Mt. Diablo High School Concord, CA

Gabrielle Murphy

on 2 October 2012

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Transcript of ELL 500: Classroom Observation

Gabrielle Murphy English Language Development: Level 1 Cultural Influences on the Classroom Environment Cultural Influences
on Instructional Strategies Walqui (2003) Six Scaffolding Techniques
schema building
text re-presentation

Read Aloud
Student whiteboards
Personal Journals
Students are allowed to use primary language translations of vocabulary words and definitions
Calling out answers as a group
Individual participation both voluntary and involuntary

Workbooks Cultural diversity dictates how instruction is differentiated
Dutro (2005)
determining linguistic demands
shifting discussion
Learning aids
visual kinesthetic, verbal
speak slowly and clearly
realistic and challenging expectations
collaborative and individual activities Create a unique community in the classroom to support ELL learning

Considerations of cultural background enhance student language acquisition and content knowledge

Multiple modes of assessments help ELLs because they can demonstrate knowledge of content without using language References
California Department of Education.
(n.d.). English Learner Advisory Committee. Retrieved from http://www.cde.ca.gov
Diaz-Rico, L.T. (2008). A course for teaching
English learners. Retrieved from The University of Phoenix Collection database.
Rothenberg, C., & Fisher, D. (2007). Teaching
English language learners: A differentiated approach. Retrieved from The University of Phoenix eBook Collection database. Students of different cultural backgrounds bring a unique diversity to the classroom environment. The students in
Malinasky’s class came from El Salvador, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Yemen. This diversity influences the way students interact with the classroom environment. As Diaz-Rico (2008) states, the components of culture that influence the classroom include daily life, the cycle of life, values, interactions, society, the nation, and creative arts. Each component contains similarities and differences for every culture. These background characteristics influence how students interact with the educational system, teachers, the curriculum, and peers. “Educational aspiration affects the attitude people have toward schooling, what future job or profession they desire, the importance parents ascribe to education, and how much investment in education they are willing to make” (Diaz-Rico, 2008, p. 272). These expectations from the educational system, teachers, and themselves can create highly active learners, mildly interested learners, or uninterested learners. It is important for teachers to respond to these cultural differences using family and student interaction with the school system to encourage academic involvement and student success.
In Malinasky’s class, the students participate actively and support one another consistently and effectively. They
interact in a respectful manner toward each other, the curriculum, and the teacher. They focus and participate multiple times throughout the lesson. These actions and focus signify that students’ cultural expectations of education either changed to adapt to the learning environment or their culture already supported the importance of education. Two of the eight students of the class are from Yemen. They had no prior education in their primary language, no reading or writing skills in Arabic or English, and no exposure to English until they came to America. Considering their cultural background and lack of education, these students struggle to keep up but participate and volunteer to answer questions in class. This indicates that their cultural expectations of a quality education for them changed because they had no experience in the Yemen educational system. They recognize the educational opportunity they have and chose to focus and become active learners. Fortunately, the diversity of students’ cultural backgrounds did not create any discourse with the classroom environment. Three Learning
Opportunities Implications for
ELL Instruction The Partnership between
Family Involvement and
the Learning Environment Instructional Modifications and Assessments The cultural differences, level of English proficiency, and diverse learning styles of students in Malinasky’s classroom influence her
instructional techniques. Malinasky uses multiple ways for students to connect to and understand the curriculum. She considers that most of her students are Spanish-speaking and may have the cultural similarity of an emphasis on community learning. As Diaz-Rico (2008) states, “Mexican-American children from traditional families who are encouraged to view themselves as an integral part of the family may prefer social learning activities” (p. 272). This cultural awareness and the importance of using differentiated instructional techniques promotes students to practice learning English and content knowledge as individuals and collaboratively. Malinasky takes into account that students need multiple ways to connect to the curriculum because of their lack of English language exposure. She learns about Yemen culture by asking the students about their experiences with dancing, friends, food, and their level of community involvement at home and in their native country. As Diaz-Rico (2008) states, ethnographic techniques are “an inquiry process that seeks to provide cultural explanations for behavior and attitudes” (p. 327). By asking the students about their culture, she learns that her students have an active role in their community and also experience independent responsibilities in their home. Learning about their cultural background prompts her to encourage both individual work and collaborative work with Spanish-speaking students to help them learn English and obtain content knowledge in a fair and supportive environment.
The students in Malinasky’s classroom work in groups and complete individual assessments and activities using visual, auditory, and bodily-
kinesthetic movements. As Rothenberg and Fisher (2007) state, differentiating sources, process, and products is conducive to supporting diverse cultures and learning styles. To help students learn the vocabulary, she understands that the lack of English language proficiency requires multiple ways to connect to the language and vocabulary definitions. She defines vocabulary words by acting out the definition for the students, drawing pictures, and provides a PowerPoint presentation that lists the words, their definitions, and corresponding pictures. She promotes individual and grouping activities to differentiate how the students learn the vocabulary and content in the story. To assess student comprehension, she uses oral and written activities. Students answer questions verbally, write answers to questions on their whiteboards and hold them up as the teacher prompts them to, and write in their personal journals and workbooks for the teacher to review with them. The multiple modes of instructional techniques helped the diverse learning styles of the students to access language and content objectives effectively. Her consideration of cultural differences and creating whole-class discussions about their similarities created a community within the classroom. This type of environment creates a safe place for students to learn from one another and the teacher effectively and obtain language acquisition and content knowledge. Malinaksy uses multiple forms of informal and formal assessments and activities for students to
practice listening, reading, writing, speaking, and language skills. The lesson on the story From Cuba to the United States, an ELL adapted story that accompanies the National Geographic Learning text Inside the USA, focuses on the development of each skill. Scaffolding techniques help Malinasky enhance student comprehension and help him or her practice his or her linguistic skills. According to Walqui (2003), there are six scaffolding techniques that assist in the ELL language acquisition and content knowledge process: modeling, bridging, contextualization, schema building, metacognition, and text re-presentation (as cited in Rothenberg & Fisher, 2007). Malinasky uses modeling techniques when she models running her finger under the text while reading aloud, and accesses student’s background immigration experiences to link him or her to the theme of the text. She helps students contextualize the material by relating the definition of family to their own definition. She helps students organize the text information about the author’s family and other key points in the story by using graphic organizers to build schema. She encourages students to think about the best way for them to learn the vocabulary from the book and definitions. She prompts students to use their primary language to help them remember the definitions and to draw pictures to apply their knowledge on a test she will implement later in the week. Malinasky also engages students in text re-presentation using the Inside the USA workbook that coincides with the story. The assessment asks students to recreate a letter to their family or friends back in their native countries with the same format as the letter in the story. Her use of auditory, visual, and kinesthetic aids that students observe helps them comprehend the content and apply their knowledge to their workbook assessment. Malinasky’s use of scaffolding techniques and multiple ways to assess student learning gives student multiple opportunities to demonstrate his or her level of content knowledge and language acquisition effectively. Parental involvement occurs behind the scenes at Mt. Diablo High School. Most interactions between
the parents and Malinasky are through phone calls using a translator or English Learners Advisory Committee (ELAC) meetings. When Malinasky contacts parents about behavioral or attendance issues, the parents support school policies and values. The parents enforce the value of respect for the teachers and the educational opportunity that Mt. Diablo High School provides because they want their children to learn English and succeed in their academic careers. The parents of the students in Malinasky's ELD classes exemplify the view that America is the land of opportunity, and they view education as relevant and an important investment (Diaz-Rico, 2008). This view toward the educational opportunity in America is conducive to a consistent and successful educational environment for students at school and at home.
Parents may also be part of ELAC. ELAC is responsible for assisting school development assessments,
annual language census, for advising the School Site Council on the development of the Single Plan for Student Achievement, and advising principle and staff on programs and services for English learners (California Department of Education, n.d.). To support their children's educational opportunities, they may participate in committee elections, learn about the programs available to their children, the expectations of ELD programs, and the importance of regular attendance (California Department of Education, n.d.). ELAC also provides financial aid to members of the committee for them to attend regularly and continue participation in the ELD programs and developments. This group provides adequate support and involvement in the school environment to ensure they comprehend and become a part of the ELL learning environment. This committee creates consistency for students and creates common home and school expectations. Students' and parents' comprehension of expectations of the school system leads to students' success in language acquisition and content knowledge (Diaz-Rico, 2008). Cultural diversity is an essential component of differentiating instruction to help teach
ELLs effectively. When teachers consider the different ways culture influences how students learn, they can accommodate their instructional strategies. Dutro (2005) states that integrating language and content by determining the linguistic demands of a lesson, pre-teaching students the vocabulary and language structures they need to understand the lesson and participate, and shift the lesson from discussing content to language and back again is an effective way to teach ELLs (as cited in Rothenberg & Fisher, 2007). This method provides both language and content support. Students need to learn English in a supportive and engaging environment. Providing visual, kinesthetic, and verbal activities and assessments gives students of multiple abilities a chance to interact with content and the English language effectively. Teachers must speak slowly and clearly to enhance student comprehension, communicate realistic but challenging expectations, and allow students to work alone and with others. Each separate aspect of instruction needs to be sensitive to student needs based on his or her cultural background, level of English-speaking abilities and knowledge, and learning style. The key components to teaching ELLs is considering their cultural background, how it influences learning and the classroom environment, and providing multiple means for students to learn both content and language. Creating a supportive learning environment for students is essential to promoting student learning
and participation. An encouraging learning environment requires students to create their own classroom community of respect and equal learning expectations and practices to learn individually and collaboratively. Allowing students’ to use their primary language as an aid helps students feel more comfortable in the learning environment as they acquire language skills and content knowledge (Diaz-Rico, 2008). Once students begin to acquire language skills, they can slowly shift to using English and become more comfortable using their second language. Acknowledging students’ cultural backgrounds as a factor in their learning abilities gives teachers insight into how to instruct and assess student knowledge and language acquisition.
Teachers must take into consideration how students’ cultural background influences the classroom
environment and how culture will influence teaching techniques. Teachers who differentiate instructional techniques take into account students’ cultural backgrounds and learning styles to create lesson plans. Cultural differences, such as eye contact and verbal communication that differ from American mainstream culture, should be considered when assessing student knowledge (Diaz-Rico, 2008). Understanding what students expect from the educational system can help teachers prepare lessons, assess student learning, promote higher order thinking, and language acquisition in effective ways.
Providing multiple ways to assess student learning is conducive to helping students of diverse
backgrounds succeed in demonstrating their level of content and language knowledge. This includes providing different types of activities and assessments that include listening, speaking, writing, reading, and language skills. Using activities that engage students through kinesthetic or visual representations gives students a chance to demonstrate their knowledge without using oral skills. Encouraging students to use English and using scaffolding techniques to ensure comprehension and enhance participation is important to help students advance in their language acquisition. Observing Malinasky’s ELD class demonstrated how SDAIE strategies work in the classroom. Malinaksy
uses slow and clear speaking techniques, the use of multiple visual aids, appropriate wait-time, attainable goals, realistic but challenging expectations, scaffolding, and effective feedback. The students practice reading, writing, listening, speaking, and language skills throughout the reading and vocabulary lesson. She encourages students to use their primary language to ensure comprehension but Malinasky requires students to speak in English and in complete sentences if they have a question. The sentences they could use were permanently on the board for student reference. Malinasky has an aid, Manigetti, who speaks fluent English and Spanish. She clarifies directions, and provides primary language support if students cannot figure out vocabulary definitions or concepts through simplified English.
The multiple techniques used to support language development and content knowledge of grammar
incorporated multiple skills in one lesson. This combination of language and content is assessed appropriately at the same time. Students participate in individual, whole-class, small group, or partner reading activities and the teacher conducts comprehension checks using student whiteboards and asking questions. The process of incorporating language and content knowledge, appropriate activities to promote comprehension, meeting the needs to develop listening, speaking, reading, writing, and language skills, and using SDAIE techniques seemed overwhelming in theory. After observing Malinasky meet academic expectations, support student needs, and use teaching strategies and techniques makes the process seem challenging but possible to accomplish. Observation Summary Parental involvement
support school values and policies
enforce respect for teachers and appreciation for educational opportunity
comprehension of expectations leads to academic success

Malinasky's relationship with parents
phone calls or conferences
ELAC Grouping preferences
small group
Background Knowledge and experiences
learning cultural experiences that impact learning style
ability level
can explain behavior and attitudes toward curriculum and teacher
differentiating sources, process, and products
use verbal, visual, and kinesthetic activities
Create an effective learning environment
respect for cultural diversity
language and content support According to Diaz-Rico (2008), cultural influences include:
daily life
the cycle of life
the nation
creative arts

These components of culture influence students interactions
educational system
the curriculum
peers Introduction The classroom can be a supportive environment for English
Language Learners (ELLs) when teachers consider students’ cultural influences. To enhance this environment for ELLs, teachers must consider how culture influences the classroom environment and instructional strategies. Considering the components of students’ cultural experiences, values, and educational expectations requires teachers to make instructional modifications and assessment adaptations. Incorporating parents into the educational environment also promotes students to succeed in academics. The consistency between the home and school environment helps students focus on academic expectations and achieve language acquisition and content knowledge effectively. Special considerations need to be made to enhance ELL educational experiences:

classroom environment
instructional strategies

make instructional modifications
assessment modifications

Involvement enhances student achievement

Implications for ELL instruction
Three Learning Opportunities
Research and observation based on Jean Malinasky's ELD class and experiences with parents. Conclusion Malinasky’s class illustrates the importance of considering students’ cultural background. Creating a learning environment that supports ELLs by incorporating their parents and considering the influence of their cultural values and expectations helps teachers educate them effectively. Creating activities and assessments that students can relate to in non-verbal ways to enhance their language acquisition and content knowledge build a foundation that students can use to learn English. Using scaffolding techniques enhances ELL comprehension and allows students to succeed in the academic environment individually and collaboratively. If teachers consider what ELLs need based on their cultural influences and learning styles, ELLs can succeed in learning English and in their future academic career.
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