Helping a tutee with limited English background express original ideas.
My lesson today went really well. I modeled it after the Language Experience Approach (LEA) ideas in the book and the activity that we had done in class several weeks ago. I wanted to include a friend, to lower the affective filter between my tutee and I, since this worked so well last time. We discussed the fires last week and what the boys had seen on the news. I had them first do an illustration for my anticipatory set; I felt this was a good way for my tutee to be able to express himself given his limited English language development. I know he likes to draw and he has difficulty thinking of ideas to put into writing. Also, I was able to tell a lot about their experiences from their pictures. Then, I had both students contribute sentences, which I wrote down. This way, I would not have the problem that I had with my last mini lesson where my tutee, was not coming up with his own ideas, but instead copied what his friend was saying.
The two main objectives of this lesson were to work on run-on sentences and organizing ideas. When I wrote their ideas I would use their exact words. For example, my tutee said “the firefighters turned off the fire.” What I encouraged them to think about was when one idea ended and a new one began. In order to work toward this goal, we made each idea a new sentence to avoid run-on’s. After we finished, we cut out the sentences and I asked the boys to organize them in a logical order. I told them to think of someone who had not been in San Diego for the fires and how would you explain to them what had happened, from beginning to end. The final step was to have the boys add the text to their pictures. I was wondering if I should continue to include a friend in our lessons because we have been so productive this way, or should I focus exclusively on working alone with my tutee?
If including a friend makes the child learn more because it motivates him, do it. Every student is different and for each one, you will find that a variety of strategies will work, this is all about DIFFERENTIATED INSTRUCTION! ONE SIZE/FORMULA DOES NOT FIT ALL. You have to do what may be necessary to engage them. Follow your pedagogical natural instincts. You also provided an excellent example on how we can capitalize on what is relevant, what is happening now, like the fires in this case, in the lives of our students. It is something they are concerned about which will motivate them and help them learn in a very authentic way. Great use of the newspaper, BRAVO!
I had that same problem with my tutee where her friends constantly said the answers. What I did on Tuesday, still letting her friends play with us, was that I told them that for two minutes everyone would be silent and think in their heads what they were going to do. You could try to say for five minutes that you want everyone to think on their own what they are going to write about. Then after those five minutes, they can share their ideas with each other. After all, what they really are trying to do is share their ideas, not tell him the answers. So by having a “silent thinking period” first, this might help him come up with original ideas.