Pink Shirt Day
In honour of pink shirt day on February 25th I wanted to post this video I saw over the summer about cyber bullying. The video was created by Strutt Central on YouTube. TED-Ed has developed a student survey and discussion questions to go with the video and you can click here for the link.
What I really liked about this video was the message of hope for change and how it works to empower youth to say no to bullying and stop it at from spreading. The video speaks for its self and I encourage you to share it with your students and talk about it with your own teens. Support the youth in your life to be the hope for change.
English Language Learners (ELLs) come from diverse backgrounds, countries, cultures, and experiences. For example ELLs can be Canadian born students who have come from a non-English home, immigrants, refugees or those learning a new dialect of English (British Columbia, 2009). Approaching ELL instruction with curiosity and openness to learn about the diversity in the classroom sets assumptions to the side and fosters an inquisitive and open learning environment that creates a sense of openness apposed to predetermined beliefs.
Aim to Understand
Similar to forgetting assumptions, aim to understand your ELLs. Look for cultural differences to support in bridging the gaps in their understanding, which can smooth their learning and cultural transitions (British Columbia, 1999). Also, look for similarities in culture to build on commonalities (British Columbia, 1999). Learn about the ELLs heritage and celebrate their heritage (British Columbia, 1999). For example; invite ELLs to be the experts about their cultures, celebrate holidays and festivals, embrace differences between cultures as a way to learn more about the world.
Create Positive Encounters
ELLs need to be supported in building their self-worth (British Columbia, 1999). Just like other students in your school ELLs need to be supported in their personal growth in conjunction with their language development. Look for ways to create positive encounters with ELLs and build relationships with them. For example, ask them about themselves, point out what you like about their work through descriptive feedback and acknowledge them by name outside of the classroom.
Talk with your ELLs. Support them to build their communication skills (British Columbia, 1999). Let them practice with you where they can make errors without fear of isolation. Build communication into your relationship and allow students to feel safe to share their thoughts, feelings and opinions with you and within the classroom. Learn from communication with your students and be flexible and ready to adapt when you learn more about them, their interests, needs and goals.
In Meyers’ (2010) article she says, not all teachers are ESL teachers and therefor are neither ESL trained nor specialists. One of the major elements that I have found to effective ELL instruction is the inclusion of structure. Although structure is not specific to ELLs, and could be considered a “good” teaching practice, it is a major piece in maintaining classroom management and a supportive learning environment for ELLs. Structure can take many forms such as; class schedules written on the board, scaffolded lessons or explaining organisation systems. For example, many ELLs come from a different educational structure and using binders versus workbooks can be a new concept. Structure also mirrors the rote style of learning common in China; placing Chinese ELLs in a more familiar setting as they integrate.
British Columbia Ministry of Education Special Programs Branch. (1999). English as a second language
leaners: a guide for ESL specialists. Retrieved from https://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/ell//policy/special.pdf
British Columbia Ministry of Education. (2009). English as a second language policy and guidelines. Retrieved
Meyers, M. (2010). Myths and delusion: English language instruction in Canadian schools. Canadian
Education Association, 46, 2, 31-34. Retrieved from http://www.cea-ace.ca/sites/default/files/EdCan-
Article: FASD Teens in the Classroom: Basic Strategies
Author: Lisa Harpur
Lisa Harpur’s article on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) teenagers, FASD Teens in the Classroom: Basic Strategies, contains substantial and valuable information. Along with a very clear writing style and nice detail Harpur has provided several very good points, and I would recommend this article as one to bookmark and read when you have a teenager in your classroom or school with FASD. Given the amount of content in the article I have chosen two points, which struck me as especially relevant for FASD teenagers and felt connected with one another.
First, FASD teenagers are described as complex and especially so because of the stage in life they are at; the teenage years where behaviour, development, independence versus dependence are tested and social dynamics play a large role, were all examples provided in the article (Harpur, 2001). Given the added stressors of teenage life Harpur (2001) stated there is a greater potential for anxiety, depression, lowered-self esteem, being used by peers, issues managing emotions and alcohol and drug use concerns. Harpur (2001) expressed that these added stressors were just as damaging to an FASD teenager as the initial concerns of academic growth. The teenage years can act as a cover, hiding the stressors because of their stage of life and what would be typical teenage behaviours and life circumstances (Harpur, 2001). Yet these stressors in FASD teenagers can lead to added concerns and problems. I found this awareness to be very important to note because it highlights the many concerns and cause and affect issues, which FASD teenagers experience above and beyond those concerns that non-FASD teenagers experience.
The second point, I wanted to include here, was an observation strategy. Among the strategies listed in the article, Harpur (2001) noted the importance of communicating with the students and discussing their awareness, insights into themselves and their learning. Given that verbal communication, which is clear and articulated can be a challenge for FASD learners, Harpur (2001) stressed the importance of teachers taking time to observe non-verbal clues such as, looking about the room, becoming angry or tossing papers around. Through making observations the teacher can learn about the FASD student’s possible anxieties, desires, what agitates them and their needs (Harpur, 2001). Through information gained in observation it can become easier to learn what motivates the student (Harpur, 2001). I felt Harpur’s suggested strategy of observation was linked to recognizing the anxieties and stressors FASD teenagers can be experiencing because it calls on the teacher to make note of the student’s behaviours and given that teenagers, and especially FASD teenagers, may not be able to fully articulate their feelings or reasoning, keen observation can become a very valuable strategy in gaining much needed information.
Harpur, Lisa. (2001). FASD teens in the classroom: basic strategies. Guidance & Counseling, vol. 17, issue 1,
24-29. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.proxy.queensu.ca/login.aspx?
Ms. Kolshuk's Blog
Welcome to my blog where I post about my teaching practice, ideas, findings and discuss topics of an educational nature. Please feel free to comment and/or email with any topic suggestions.