domingo, 20 de mayo de 2012

Homogeneous classrooms and weak students

Reminder: students are not native speakers

We really forget too often that our CLIL students are learning in a second language. Fluency is something we almost take for granted with our students who have a good/very good/excellent ability to speak the target language. Many times you're almost "charmed" by their accents and slight errors, so much so, that you forget that it is our job to  help them as much as possible with the language. When you grade the writing, however, you are sometimes overwhelmed by the errors you see. Deciphering their text can be an arduous task. You always have to consider the objective of your assigment when grading these pieces of work and you must force yourself to reconsider the cultural context in which you find yourself as an educator (...)

Andrew Frzludeen, teacher and CLIL programme manager, Qatar

Scaffolding is essential!
I've highlighted this quotation when I was attending the Licenciatura some Saturdays ago because I felt very identified with these ideas (I have a lot of learners that are excellent speakers but then when I read their pieces of writing I feel overwhelmed by all the mistakes) and I've decided to include it in my May's reflection because in my copybook we talked about that all students are not outstanding and we have to evaluate weak students in a more appropriate way. I have a very homogeneous group as regards level and abilities so I believe that the biggest challenge for me this year is not feel tempted to rush with the stronger students and don't use them as a parameter for evaluating the others: each learner has his/her own pace and may have differents needs, skills and interests. As regards writing I strongly agree with Andrew F in that we have to be very objective with corrections: if in the success criteria we stated that we'll concentrate on punctuation, capital letter and for example include a nunber of new vocabulary we have to stick to that: if we correct too many things at a time kids may feel threatened or insecure. Working with creative writing is excellent for providing students with scaffolding since you can correct mistakes or improve their writings gradually.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Mehisto P., Frigols M. Marsh D.(2008), Uncovering CLIL, Macmillan

4 comentarios:

  1. Este comentario ha sido eliminado por el autor.

  2. I absolutely agree!! Setting clear goals and focusing on them makes tha task fair for the children because they know what is expected from them! By scaffolding their work and showing them that writing is a process and that it takes time, they can learn how to write express their thoughts appropriately. What you do with the publications is great in that sense. I've been to Patsy's class to share the pieces of writing with the students and I found them AMAZING! Besides, it was great to see how proud they felt about the final pieces they could write.

  3. Ani, Correction is an issue! what I mean is that in most of the occasions,either in speaking or in writing there are lots of things to correct and it is true that we do not know where to focus. The key issue is to have clear in mind where you will be focusing. the point is that as a CLIL teacher, you have to consider meaning mainly, that is to say when you listen to an opinion, or you read a story, you need to be sure that the message is clear, the content. The challenge will be that besides the meaning of the message you have to focus on form there you will resort to your SC to state what you consider that they must handle in that task. As CLIL teachers we always have to strike a balance between form and meaning.
    And this is our biggest challenge: focusing in both aspects without overwhelming sts...

  4. A specific success criteria for each draft may prove useful! I didn´t try it out, I´m thinking about it after your reflection. it´s true that we can not ask them to do everything at the same time if most of the things are new for them! This year in our 2nd piece we asked sts to concentrate hard on paragraph organization. They were a real mess! They mix ideas up and they didn´t balance their ideas. Then, as a 2nd goal, we asked them to add specific vocabulary learnt. Some could do it perfectly well, but as you said, they are not all the same so not all my sts could find a place were to "stick" the new items learnt. Maybe they will do it in the next piece.
    I remember I used to attend a courses with an urugayan Teacher who said that we should make a greater effort to be with the weaker sts assisting the. The brilliant ones will go along with ot without us!