Reflecting on Internship Performance Criteria 3.1 Component 1b: Demonstrating Knowledge of Students
Learning to apply effective differentiation techniques in the classroom can be a challenge for a student teacher. To do so requires the teacher understand their students from a cultural perspective as well as from an academic perspective.
In my classroom I have an English Language Learner student who has arrived to live in the United States with almost no English ability either in written or spoken forms. As he has been integrated into our classroom there have been many instances where including him in the learning tasks has felt next to Impossible. With no language ability and no ability to interact with their peers this student oftentimes falls under the radar and does not receive the instruction they need.
To remedy this I am learning to differentiate my learning tasks in order to instruct the greater class at the appropriate level while finding ways to challenge my English Language Learner. For example I have made an effort to include more pictures in the PowerPoint presentations I create for my lessons. Even when other students in the class I know do not have as strong of a need for pictures in these situations, I explicitly have my English language learner look at these pictures and pronounce the words associated with them. Then I have him listen to the rest of my presentation and discussion with the students making sure I model using the correct vocabulary.
I also make sure to keep my English Language Learner engaged throughout each learning segment. Lewis & Hill (1992) write how English Language Learners learn to speak by listening first. One of the ways I’ve been doing this more is by including turn and talk assessments throughout. I’ve placed him strategically at a table with my other English language learner who has very little English. I’ve found that this English Language Learner is much more willing to engage in conversation when the other English Language Learner is present.
I could also more about the interests of my ELL student by connecting with his cousin who is the sixth grader at the school. Connecting learning at the school with topic at home can really help ell students to progress in the language development and also look forward to the next day’s lesson.
Although my ability to differentiate has a great deal of development that still must happen, I am aware of the need for it and am eager to begin exploring new ways to engage all my students at their levels.
Lewis, M., & Hill, J. (1992). Practical techniques for language teaching. Hove, England: Language Teaching Publications.