Tags: explore, learning, sandbox
I first heard the term “sandbox” mode from Vicki Davis on one of her podcasts or read on her blog. The idea is to allow students the time to explore and discover for themselves how to accomplish tasks on a new software program or technology tool. This can be easily framed within a curricular task but the idea (as I understand it) is to allow free exploration or propose a task for students to attempt individually without any assistance. This allows students time to explore a program and develop their ability to find answers on their own. I highly value collaboration, but if one is to contribute you need to bring something to the table and not always rely on others.
I worked with grade four students this week on a project where they were asked to assume a group task involving exploring and planning a dream trip to a particular country. Some students and groups seized the opportunity and needed no guidance and others were frozen, plus there were students in between. I found myself asking those who wanted help, guiding questions that they should be asking themselves. Some searched in Google and then asked which one they should click, missing the idea that they would need to read and make choices.
My immediate thought was that we needed to integrate sandbox sessions for students. When using Math Their Way as a first grade teacher, we spent time at the start of the year allowing students guided play time with the math manipulatives. If that step was not experienced, the students would need to play with the manipulatives all year rather than use them as tools. Many students still need to learn to explore and “think on their feet.” Sandbox time is needed to allow the independent-thinkers time to flourish and those who need to flex those muscles time to discover they can rely on themselves more often.
Tags: ELL, ESL, Primary
This is a followup to my last post, Finding the Right Keys.
Last Monday I met with my student and I asked him about his weekend. He told me had been to the Madrid-Warner Bros park with his family. He told me a little, but after I did an image search for the park, we had a visual assistant to allow him to tell me which rides he went on and shows he saw. He described what he felt and saw, how his brother reacted on the rides, and which rides his mom and dad went on. After, he read the full page to me and again to our principal on his way out with his mom. The images provided a support to his expression, and with his strength in reading, he shared more than ever.
It reminded me of a book I read while an education student that had a great impact on me, Teacher by Sylvia Ashton-Warner. It is a journal of her experience teaching New Zealand Maori children to read English by creating common language experiences. She took them outside and from these experiences they created a common English vocabulary they could use to writing and reading in books she created for them. My student isn’t nearly as culturally removed as those Maori children, but creating an atmosphere of trust and commonality is key to anyone taking risks. I think we’ll take the netbook out around campus this afternoon and see what else we can write about that can create connections and build vocabulary.
Any comments from actual ELL/ESL teachers will be appreciated!
Tags: ELL, ESL, Primary, Voicethread
I need ideas and advice for working with a 6-year-old student who is an English Language Learner. He started in our school last February and didn’t start speaking to anyone at school until June. Turns out that he’s very bright, knows English very well and reads fluently- as his family knew all along. We met 3 times in June and he read aloud for me and answered my questions as we were participating in online activities. He’s one of those people who sits back watching and listening until he feels the water is safe to jump in.
I start working with him again this Monday for 3 weeks until school begins. We will only meet for 2-one hour sessions each week so I want to make the best of our face to face time. Here is what I’m planning so far and I’d love feedback on my ideas and suggestions as well.
- Set up a google doc and google presentation shared between myself, the student and his family. The Doc will hold any links or text he wants to write. The Presentation will serve as a portfolio where we can embed images and audio we create.
- SmartBoard- I spent hours while in the US picking the brains of two friends who are Special Ed teachers and had the SmartBoard training a year ago. They shared what they did with their students and the progress these students made. It was so inspiring to hear of the progress and pride the students had for their learning. While they were sharing, I was thinking of this student and how great a tool this would be for him. It’s hands on and away from the “sitting down together” dynamic that is typical and maybe a bit too close for this student. So I’m compiling relevant activitiesthat we can use on the Smartboard.
- Audio recording. I’m not sure this is a good idea given this student’s reluctance to speak, but I also feel it would be a powerful tool for him. While in a digital storytelling workshop at BLC09 over a week ago, I was thinking about this student as well. if I compile compelling images for him to choose from, put them in a Voicethread and ask him to write comments and maybe speak about the images it may be a safe place to start. It’s risky, but I’ve had 3rd grade students who were reluctant to do almost anything involving literacy and when we began podcasting they were writing and recording eagerly.
- We’ll meet 6 times before our school begins this year, I’d love to create something with him that he can take to share with his class during those first few days. I’d like to see him to start the year contributing in all ways- not the shy, reluctant boy they saw last year but the bold guy underneath. Again, it may be too risky but is worth a shot.
So, what do you think of the above? Any additional ideas or thoughts to add that may help when I start on Monday??