Dialogical Classrooms: Demystify ELD

FB_IMG_1512760052964 copyAt the CA League of Schools conference, I held a professional development workshop for teachers on the importance of speaking and listening for English Language Development (ELD). The ELD framework was adopted by the state of California to assist the teaching and assessment of students categorized as English Language Learners. Although the session was billed as “advocacy speaking” for secondary school students, I decided to move in the direction of English language development because of the need by our schools to better serve English language learners.

Original Abstract

The original abstract for the conference- “Student advocacy is much closer than we initially think. Teaching students the strategies for critical thinking and oral discourse can put the focus on student-owned design and development in the classroom. This interactive session will provide participants with strategies to teach the CCSS Speaking and Listening Standards to all language learners. Empowered by the California English Language Development Standards, come to this session to move your students toward mastery, create graphic organizers, and demystify the CA ELD Standards for speaking and listening.” While wanting to move in this direction, I decided that I would share the following pedagogical mechanisms that I learned in The Netherlands, and that I used in my own classroom:

  1. Dictogloss activity for second language acquisition
  2. Group Collaboration Observation Chart for feedback as students co-construct knowledge through speaking and listening during group work
  3. Discussion Rubric for Socratic seminars
  4. QAR Graphic Organizer and Question Stems for questioning during reading and discussion
  5. For advanced Socratic seminars to investigate the status_quo, teachers can adapt the graphic organizer created by the CA High School Speech Association for Original Advocacy speech. The ability for teachers to differentiate the transfer of a speech category to their general education classroom can empower students to learn the techniques to pinpoint a call for action.

The Speaking-Listening Standards K-12 are helpful for teachers to see the progression in the anchor standards/strands. It is further imperative for classroom teachers to begin demystifying the ELD standards for discussion. As the ELD framework explains, “Interacting in Meaningful Ways” can increase language acquisition through any of the above examples from the professional development session.

 

Primary School Speaking & Listening

Because my focus has always been secondary school, I am frequently asked about primary school. K-6 teachers will ask, “What about us?” On behalf of my classroom colleagues, I will make more of a sustained effort over the coming years to provide quality instructional practices for speaking and listening. Maybe I should start with mentioning the work of two professors at San Diego State University.

Drs. Nancy Frey and Doug Fisher of San Diego State University write about the importance of oral language development. In “Speaking and Listening in Content Area Learning“, the professors offer evidence-based speaking and listening instructional routines that have been useful for students during content area instruction. The rubric/checklist is a good starting point for primary school teachers to begin their journey of teaching the speaking and listening standards. In another article, “It’s All About the Talk“, the professors further discuss collaborative professional development for teachers in order to increase oral academic language use in the classroom.

toward-a-theory-of-second-language-acquisition-21-638

Dialogical Teaching 1.0

What is “oracy”? It sounds like a made-up word, but a school in London has decided that it is equally important to literacy and mathematics. The oracy element added to School 21 nurtures the school to further implement a social-emotional learning curriculum through communication. The Progression in Oracy rubric gives standards at the school for teachers to design curriculum to move their students towards mastery. School 21 in London has become an exemplar for other schools in the U.K.

stw-school21-oracyframework

How has School 21 implemented their framework into the everyday curriculum? They made it their core pedagogy:

1. Embedding Oracy Into Your Classroom (It’s Already Happening)
2. Create Discussion Guidelines With Your Students
3. Guide Your Students to Reach a Shared Agreement
4. Help Your Students Analyze Discussion Guidelines
5. Consider How to Group Your Students
6. Create Discussion Roles
7. Create Structured Talk Tasks
8. Build Comfort and Confidence in Your Shy Students

What does the research say about oracy? The head school teacher and cofounder at London 21 lays out the thinking behind the decision to make oracy a primary focus. As a classroom teacher and educational researcher, I like how he puts forward the research while offering the partnerships that have developed since the start. Voice 21 is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to the speaking and listening standards, while the head school teacher further mentions using Ignites (think quick TED talks).

Forensics Education is Important?

“It’s the best thing you don’t know.” That’s a line often repeated among students, parents, and speech coaches who believe the league’s competitions offer some of the most useful lessons high school has to offer. A direct quote from an article in the Boston Globe regarding the impact speech and debate is having on students in the region. Unfortunately, something so important to the development of adolescents is a funding nightmare for teachers with school districts cutting an important extracurricular piece to a child’s education.

Based on my own experience as a classroom teacher and the impact on my curriculum as a speech and debate coach, I can only say that extracurricular is only one way to reach students. The best way to increase the number of students impacted is to include the lessons into your everyday curriculum.images

With the advent of the Common Core curriculum in Florida, a principal decided that her middle school students (6-8) would be required to take a speech and debate class each year. The reason for the decision? The principal was a speech major in college, and knows the power of speech and debate in the curriculum. Any talk about how English Language Learners or “special needs” populations would falter with the more rigorous curriculum did not deter the curricular change. A mindset developed at the school that the students that would gain the most are the populations that have historically not been served by speech and debate. Students would learn methods in the speech and debate class, and then use those same methods in their core literacy classes.

Growth as Professional Development

Early on in my career I became confused as to why my school called our student early dismissal downloadday as “teacher professional development day”. I hoped that it would be the day that I could learn additional methods as an inservice teacher. What I soon found out is that the day would never become professional development for inservice teachers, but a faculty meeting. Occasionally, there was an attempt by an administrator to offer reading, discussion, and a PowerPoint presentation on how we can move our students’ learning forward. While this type of approach is seen on campus, I began to see this approach off campus as well. This may very well continue, and so I found a recent blog post “6 Keys to Planning and Delivery Effective Professional Learning“. Offering professional learning/PD needs a growth mindset for those who wish to try the top-down approach, I think the assistance is helpful for teachers, and for those who wish to teach teachers.

When I began my journey to clear my teaching credential by entering a BTSA program (induction for preliminary teaching credentials in California), I spoke to my BTSA coach about the problem. He told me that I needed to change my mindset about professional development, and that I would never receive proper PD on campus. Ultimately, I should seek proper PD off campus. Recently looking at the website of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), I came across a blog post that I wish I would have known about many years ago. “Going Beyond the Stitch Fix Approach to PD” is an excellent read for a teacher to understand the growth mindset as a classroom teacher. It makes me wonder why we look for the “top down” approach to professional development, and not the growth mindset approach that we as teachers will turn and ask our students to develop.

After years of trying to find this unicorn of off-campus PD, I would luckily hear about the National Writing Project. There are a couple of programs offered at universities in Los Angeles, but I was encouraged by a colleague to apply for the Cal State Northridge Writing Project site. I applied and entered the Invitational Summer Institute directed by Dr. Kathy Rowlands. Regardless of grade level or subject matter, I cannot say enough about the Writing Project and the profound impact it creates for inservice teachers. I can only now encourage classroom teachers to find their professional development unicorn, and give the National Writing Project a chance to create that growth mindset.

The Socratic Method as Form

1. Locate a statement confidently described as common sense
Ex. Being virtuous requires money
2. Imagine for a moment that, despite the confidence of the person proposing it, the statement is false. Search for situations or contexts where the statement would not be true.
Ex. Could one ever have money and not be virtuous? Could one ever have no money and mbfcd60bac47bec1ba03cd8d08aef060abe virtuous?
3. If an exception is found, the definition must be false or at least imprecise.
Ex. Is it possible to have money and be a crook? Is it possible to be poor and be virtuous?
4. The initial statement must be nuanced to take the exception into account.
Ex. People who have money can be described as virtuous only if they have acquired it in a virtuous way, and some people with no money can be virtuous when they have lived through situations where it was impossible to be virtuous and make money.
5. If one finds exceptions to the improved statements, the process should be repeated. The truth should be impossible to disprove. It is by finding out what something is not that one comes closest to understanding what it is.
Socrates described a “correct belief” as an opinion if one could not respond to objections. We must understand why something is true, and we must understand why the alternatives are false.
*The Consolations of Philosophy, Alain de Botton
17141801-Abstract-word-cloud-for-Socratic-method-with-related-tags-and-terms-Stock-Photo

Why the Debate? The Fulbright Report

download

The Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching grant ended on June 16th with the submission of two requirements: Summative Report and the Inquiry Project. Reflecting on my academic journey, and the educators that I met along the way gave me a new sense of purpose as I enter the Joint Ph.D. Program at San Diego State University and Claremont Graduate University.

Living in The Netherlands gave me a chance to travel throughout the country visiting multiple schools and teachers’ classrooms. Going to debate tournaments on the weekends to observe secondary students debating all led to my project of sharing Dutch speaking and debate strategies with U.S. teachers.

“Why the Debate? How the Study of Argumentation and Debate Increases Language Proficiency” Summative Report includes:

  • Program Experience
  • Project Description
  • Project Process (Resources, Methods, Participants)
  • Results
  • Relevance & Application

Attachments:

The Final Project is created as a “script” that is adjustable based on the audience of download-1the professional development seminar. The goal of the Inquiry Project is to transfer what I learned in The Netherlands to helping classroom teachers in the United States. The first opportunity to do so will be at the National Speech & Debate Association’s Education Conference in Denver, Colorado August 24-27. The workshop titled “International Best Practices: Strategies for Teaching Debate to First and Second Language Learners” will share Dutch strategies for teaching English Language Learners. The Fulbright Inquiry Project allows me the flexibility to move in the direction of teaching teachers based on the specific topic.

Discussion as Structured Controversy

Class Discussion for Teaching Goals

Although Stanford University’s Center for Teaching and Learning focuses primarily on university teaching, I have blogged in the past about their work and how to adapt the strategies for imgressecondary classrooms. Their 2005 research and practice-based newsletter Speaking of Teaching exemplifies teaching strategies for classroom use. What matters from the research is that discussion must be taught, it is not naturally acquired, “Truly successful classroom discussions are guided by specific teaching goals such as increasing students’ comfort with the specialized language and methods of a field or developing critical thinking.” Ultimately, discussion-based teaching and learning should serve the following three elements:

  1. Increase students’ comfort with the specialized language and methods of a field.
  2. Develop critical thinking.
  3. Develop problem-solving skills.

But…where should teachers start? I have spent an enormous amount of my career developing discussion-based teaching methods with inclusion of deliberation and debate. I have further spent frustrating moments trying to get my teaching colleagues to join this research-based and success-proven endeavor. The Stanford article supports this approach, and further encourages the teaching approach for undergraduate classes with hundreds of students! Some of the articles tips and tops for teachers:

  • Exercises and Prompts ~ Analyzing texts or examples from the field.
  • Comparing Texts or examples from the field. One step up from analysis is comparison. Ask students to compare and contrast two texts or examples.
  • Guiding Discussion, Partner Swap, Two-Four-Six-Eight (enlarge grouping)
  • Troubleshooting during Discussion ~ when students lack intrinsic motivation
  • Stir up controversy!!!
  • Encourage and provide competing alternatives

Teachers are then encouraged to assess student learning through reflective assignments, asking students to write about how the discussion changed their thinking or understanding.

Stirring Up Controversy, albeit “structured academic controversy”

Developed by social studies teachers, Structured Academic Controversy (SAC) is discussionimages that moves students beyond either/or debates to a more nuanced historical synthesis. Sample lessons are offered by different websites, but I have included a history format with reading and handouts. SAC is also an excellent opportunity for discussion in the science classroom. In the past, I have found this teacher document to be the best primer, and it includes a generic task card and worksheet. The goal of SAC is for students to work towards finding consensus, but also offers a type of deliberation. When my students could not find consensus, we took the topic to a vote. There are several ways for a teacher to develop the SAC method in their classroom and the ultimate measure is for teachers to see the value in the critical thinking/language acquisition.

In their article “Understanding and Developing Controversial Issues in College Courses,” Brian Payne and Randy Gainey offer possible topics in eleven different disciplines, and then go further in detail for the main four that social science students are most interested in (gun control, death penalty, alternative sanctions, and drug legalization). The authors highly note that teachers must take into account:

  1. There may be differing degrees of background knowledge on behalf of students
  2. Gender and demographic differences that affect individuals’ beliefs

searchThe instructor must make students aware of these differences in order to help students understand their own values and how they may differ from others. This is further important to stress the differences to students so that the discussion is not monopolized by one segment of the class with a distorted view of the issue. Interestingly, the authors point to the method of notecards on each student that is randomly called upon. The article further notes that one instructor quadrupled the turn-in rate for notes and reflections because students are told that the notes are returned the day of a test, and that they may use their notes and reflections on the assessment.

For note-taking, I teach and encourage high school students to use the double-entry journal method or the Cornell notes method. Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages, but they are both effective tools for secondary school students’ success!