This week I have a video of my teaching. At first I thought I had pulled off a great lesson. Later I realized it was a non-example!
If you’d just like audio, the podcast version is here & in iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts:
Listen to “BAP026 Language Experience Approach and QSSSA (complete with non-example)” on Spreaker.
There is always room for improvement so we might as well embrace the fact that lessons will not go as planned. The video I embed for this podcast has a teaching “fail” in it. That makes me cringe but reflecting on the way we teach is what will help us improve. So instead of beating myself up, I tried the lesson again with strategies that I know offer the students more opportunities to speak. This show is primarily about Language Experience Approach and also the QSSSA questioning strategy that John Seidlitz put together for us.
To read more about Language Experience Approach, check out this article from the Center for Adult English Language Acquisition on the cal.org website: http://www.cal.org/caela/esl_resources/digests/LEA.html
In the show I mention Abydos International several times. I recommend their training to everyone who teaches writing. You can’t go wrong bringing them to your campus for the summer institutes.
I have a trainer’s certification that I like to keep current because the program is so never let it lapse.
So on to Language Experience Approach (Co-Creating Text) and QSSSA:
I used to be uncomfortable with watching myself teach, but I started doing it so frequently, that the benefit outweighed any negative feelings I have about the errors that I see when I review the footage. ** Be sure to get the proper permissions for any filming you may do in class.
So yes, I’ve gotten quite comfortable with the fact that no lesson will ever be 100% perfect. That’s just impossible because we are human beings.
There will always be room for improvement. So why not embrace that? Why not challenge ourselves the way we challenge our students every day? “Put yourself out there.” We tell them. But how are they supposed to believe us when we say that failure and errors are part of improving? That they are opportunities to learn and get better?
I feel strongly that if we want our students to develop a growth mindset about their learning, we need to model that ourselves in our own craft.
This all happened in a super busy semester so I’d been periodically filming myself teaching but hadn’t had as much time as I would like to review the films. That changed when I made a conscious effort to do a Language Experience Approach lesson so that I could show it to another teacher. I was so happy with how the lesson went until I watched the film. Now I’m actually using it as a non-example! Ha!
I got some great advice from a former instructional coach, Curtis George. It was something like “When you watch the film, don’t rip it apart for everything. You will see many errors because you are your own worst critic. Hone in on one thing and keep filming & tweaking your instruction to do your best to improve that one thing. Don’t show the film to anyone until you think you can’t improve any further on your own.” That was very freeing advice and has served me well.
After watching my Language Experience Approach lesson, my “one thing” is obvious to me. I needed to give the students more opportunities to speak.
And I live and breathe this stuff!!
The point is, I know I’m decent at sheltered instruction. For example, I know the benefit of students speaking and I value the 10-2 strategy where I don’t speak for more than 10 minutes before I allow them to speak for 2 minutes. But sometimes even that is just too long! I’m an ESL teacher for goodness sakes. I saw a few missed opportunities for them to practice the language or talk about what they think. I saw many opportunities where I could have stopped sooner.
What I realized was that it’s important for me to watch myself teaching more frequently. Seeing myself on film is always going to give me a different perspective. That perspective is valuable and I would highly encourage everyone to give it a try.
The great news is that of course, I started putting things in place so that I gave my students even more opportunities to own their learning. And if you watch the video, you’ll see that it really did pay off. The student that fell asleep is super engaged when I repeated the lesson with more student talk.
I used QSSSA and it never fails. Watch the video to get an idea of how that technique goes. Essentially, you provide a sentence starter for answering the question. But you first offer wait time with a signal. Then you offer a low stress opportunity to talk/share before you randomly call on someone or have students write something (formative assessment). QSSSA is widely used and extremely popular among content and ESL educators at every grade level.
QSSSA was definitely the answer for engagement and it was KEY to making this lesson more meaningful. Newcomers, SLIFE or any EL will improve their decoding skills with more reading. Their fluency improves as they gain more language and have more exposure to text. But if they are bored, they are often fake-reading. But when we co-create text, they are engaged because as a class THEY are the authors. We just need to be sure they all had a chance to talk about it before we write about it.
Hope this was helpful.
Thanks for reading!