Content and Pedagogy:

Grades Six Through Eight

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INTRODUCTION

If any of you have ever seen a middle school or even been a middle schooler once, then you know what we are talking about when we say middle school is a difficult time. At this time, children are experiencing rapid physical, cognitive, and social-emotional growth. To complicate matters more, each student is developing at entirely different rates resulting in awkward chaos. Good educators are given the task of increasing an adolescent's cognitive capabilities and desire to learn as well as encouraging their quest for autonomy.


The overarching ELA/literacy and ELD goals are: readiness for college, careers, and civil life; increased capacities of literate individuals; to be broadly literate (understanding many contexts); and navigation skills in the 21st century. Standards insist that instruction in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language be a shared responsibly within the school.


California greatly values primary language and takes an additive stance through an interdisciplinary approach. The desire is to make learning integrated, motivating, engaging, respectful, and intellectually challenging. Good teachers do this by making learning relevant to the adolescent's life, connecting what they read, encouraging creativity, fostering abstract and creative thought, giving more responsibilities for their learning, and creating opportunities for collaboration and communication with their peers.

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OVERVIEW

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Meaning Making

What is it?

  • Students should be learning how to make meaning of a text, build awareness and understanding, and analyze/interpret complex texts

Why does this matter?

  • In middle school, students are being exposed to more complex text structures and vocabulary, making understanding more critical

How do I apply this?

  • Engage students in meaningful interactions through questions and metacognitive conversations and make learning relevant to their life

Language Development

What is it?

  • Students must develop linguistic awareness and understand how/why language functions in our culture

Why does this matter?

  • Middle school is a time where students rapidly gain academic language as they are exposed to complex and research-based texts

How do I apply this?

  • Provide language-rich environments through explicit instruction of vocabulary and grammar and natural avenues for natural conversation

Effective Expression

What is it?
  • The ability to use writing, discussing, presenting, and language conventions.

Why does it matter?

  • At this age students are growing in their ability to communicate through social media and the technological world and it is important for them to grow in their ability to communicate more effectively in the academic world.

How do I apply this?

  • The CA ELD standards are a guide for scaffolding that teachers can use to assist their students in being able to use language in order to express their knowledge.

Content Knowledge

What is it?

  • As students in middle school continue to increase their ability to read complex texts they gain knowledge in specific academic subjects.

Why does it matter?

  • Students are continuing to use their skills to gain a foundation of information that they will need as they progress into the high school level and beyond.

How do I apply?

  • Address the importance of content and literacy and use them to guide each other.

Foundational Skills

What is it?

  • By middle school, students should have well established foundational skills and continue to improve/develop their fluency

Why does this matter?

  • English Language Learners come in to middle school at varying levels of proficiency and have varying levels of degrees in reading and writing in English.

How do I apply?

  • Adapt the ELA foundational standards by using appropriate instructional strategies and materials to meet their literacy needs and the need to teach these foundational skills in an accelerated time frame

ACTIVITY: Case Study

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MEET BENISON:

Benison Russo is a 6th grade, middle-school boy new to America in the last month. He comes from Brazil and his first language is Portuguese. He is identified as an expanding EL student. He loves soccer, videogames, and drawing. Benison is very shy and reserved in the classroom, yet seems eager to make friends during recess.

Activity:

The class will be divided into 5 conversational groups to discuss:

meaning making, language development, effective expression, content knowledge, & foundational skills. In each group, discuss how we can tailor each content area to the unique needs of Benison as an EL student and an individual.

Compare & Contrast: 6th, 7th, 8th

ASSESSMENT: Exit Ticket

Write three strategies you can use to make learning integrated, motivating, engaging, respectful, and intellectually challenging. Be as specific as you can!


Bonus question: without looking at your resources, try to list the five content areas for ELD standards!

Chatper 6: Read the FULL thing!

Click here to read the full chapter on English Language Arts/English Language Development Framework GRADES 6-8