Empowering English Language Learners: Come Prepared for Conferences

At Center City PCS in Shaw, we teach native speakers of 9 languages. I use a three-part framework to support English Language Learners in being strong, independent learners in a blended learning classroom. Check out Part 1 and Part 2 here!

Part 3: Come prepared for conferences.

Each individual’s path of language learning is slightly different. No student learns 100% of the same words and concepts in 100% the same order. Our classroom’s blended learning model includes time for conferences in order to make room for personalized instruction that is designed to fit individual student needs.

Some of the personalization comes from me, the teacher, in the way I respond to student data and come to conferences with teaching points in mind. But an extremely motivating form of personalization comes from students themselves when they come prepared for conferences with questions. In order to make sure students know what I mean by “come prepared,” this year, I’ll be sharing this list of potential conference topics with ELL students:

  • A word you are not sure how to use in a sentence
  • A sentence or paragraph of text that was confusing
  • A person or place name that you would like explained (many allusions to American history and geography are challenging to newcomers)
  • An open response question worded in a way that you found confusing
  • A place where you lost points on an assignment, and you want to be sure you know how to correct it
  • A real life situation in which you wanted to express something and were not sure how to say it in English

In language learning, as in most kinds of learning, success breeds success. Controlling their pace, collecting new words, and coming prepared for conferences are three strategies ELLs can use to accelerate their success with English in a blended learning classroom. I’m hopeful that by explicitly teaching these three strategies for maximizing language learning, my co-teacher and I can put kids in a position to be the drivers of their own English acquisition and to improve their English on purpose in every class period of their days.

Alison Gillmeister, 2015 Education Innovation Fellow
Center City Public Charter Schools—Shaw Campus

Alison-Gillmeister-Web

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