Update on Gerson Dec 2016 and How He is Inspiring ELLs

Do you remember Gerson Bermudes??  This student is inspiring my current Newcomers to go around me and use technology to motivate each other!

Perhaps you saw his inspiring video in one of our Seidlitz trainings or here on this blog.  If you haven’t seen it, take a few minutes to be inspired by this young man.  You’ll no doubt want to show that video to your students.  ELs and native speakers alike are motivated by how quickly a person can learn a new skill with focus, practice and a belief that it is possible to accelerate your learning.  (That first video is embedded below. )

So just before the December holiday break, I dropped by Spring Woods High School to meet with Gerson.  I know he had a successful first year in the US, but it was difficult for him as most of his family was not here with him.  He was living with relatives and trying to navigate our school system, high school academics, and a new environment.  I am so happy to report that Gerson is finding success as a Junior at Spring Woods HS here in Houston.  He struggles with Chemistry – but he tells me that is common among many 11th grade students. 🙂   I’m editing the video but I wanted to offer you this 2 min reflection from Gerson.  I think he says as few things here that are important for our beginners and our long-term ELLs to hear.

Thanks to everyone who asks about him.  I told him that he had quite a following of students and teachers.  He was astonished!

He was even more moved when I read him the questions from my high-school newcomers.  He answered them all in the video that we are editing.

To me, this is where it gets even more amazing.  One of my students, Sonbul, is in his 2nd year in the US after having to leave Sudan, Africa.  Sonbul is working hard and is very motivated by Gerson.   Sonbul took it upon himself to record a quick video for Gerson and send it to me.  He did it on his phone in my class when we were finishing an activity.  Sonbul really wanted Gerson to know about how much he appreciates his example and he obviously wanted to give something back to Gerson.  Gerson loved it!

Can you imagine how much fun that was for me to share with Gerson??  Later that week I got an equally inspiring email from another ELL who was moved by Gerson’s courage.  Wendhy is Intermediate to Advanced in her English but tells me that she struggles in academic classes because of language.  She wrote me an email about Gerson and it became a back-and-forth with Gerson getting to read her expressions of gratitude.


I love this ripple effect because none of this was content-specific but these learners are obviously influencing each other to keep going and it is sure to have a tremendous impact on their motivation and their learning.

If you’d like to connect with any of these students, just reach out.  I’m sure they would be honored.

Happy 2017!

Carol

PS: Here is the original video that we did a few years ago… the one that started it all.  Gerson was only in US schools for 7  months but he took it upon himself to make sure he learned as much English as possible right away.  Just try not to be inspired!

Update Dec 2016

Translanguaging Before a Study Trip

You’d like to use theories of translanguaging in your classroom but it seems like too much work?   One click on a web page and many of your students have a native-language resource.

In Google Chrome it was just a right-click to bring up this dialog box.  (More on Chrome Translating) Pick a language and the translation may not be perfect (often is not) but it is a great support.  I have some international students and volunteers working with SIFE (under-schooled) students.  Offering the help of this resources is often very effective for helping build background.

google-translate-webpage-arabic2                    google-translate-webpage-arabic

 

So yes!  We are taking a trip to a plantation!  If I give all of my students a bit of background on the site, the English tour and English class discussions will be so much more comprehensible for everyone.  (Native English students will benefit from this, of course.)  I want to have the students work in groups to discuss the major events that happened at this location so I will provide sentence frames for that.  But to make sure they understand the events, I’ve cut & pasted some of the events from the website to this WORD document.  I’d like them to do a quick illustration with an English sentence for each event.  I’ve highlighted 10 events in all, so we will likely jigsaw this activity or do it on posters for a gallery walk:

hogg-planation

What I used to worry about:   Recent immigrants lack the background knowledge of our country when trying to learn about U.S. History.  Something I try to keep in mind now is that they have an abundance of background knowledge in other areas!  This adds to the depth of everyone’s learning.

History is a wonderful opportunity to look at over-arching concepts that can be applied and aligned to local history, world history and even current events.

Several of my newcomers had intimate knowledge of what it is like to be in a time of war.  Their perspective is incredibly powerful for our learning about things like push/pull factors, establishment of governments, conflict, etc.

We are all fortunate to have history all around us.  What places in your area can be visited to deepen the classroom conversation and learning across content areas?

At this point in the year (December) we have very few beginners for listening comprehension that started the year with us.  Everyone can understand basic English with support of visuals, gestures and other supports.  But we have new arrivals all the time.  I used to be perplexed at how to help my newest newcomers connect with what the class is doing.

I’m grateful research and findings in the area of Translanguaging.  There is now evidence that using the native language is  a powerful and effective way of deepening learning and helping ELs acquire both content and language learning in their second language. More by CUNY-NYSIEB, The Graduate Center, The City University of New York here:  http://www.nysieb.ws.gc.cuny.edu/files/2012/06/FINAL-Translanguaging-Guide-With-Cover-1.pdf

Consider taking a trip to a historic site and look for a place that offers historical events that tie to historic events they will need to learn in other content areas.  (Bonus!  Archeology is a fantastic tie to science, technology and math – be sure to look for any connections or areas of interest your students show you.)

Happy language learning!

 

Carol