Sunday, September 23, 2012

Successful SDAIE Strategy

What is SDAIE? SDAIE is the acronym for Specially Designed Academic Instruction in English.  The SDAIE method is used to teach various subjects including social studies and science to English Language Learners with intermediate fluency.  It provides scaffolded instruction to support an ELLs understanding of the content.  Some of the SDAIE strategies include:

Modeling - The teacher provides an example either through direct experience or providing the student with an example of a finished product.

Reading Out Loud - using proper pronunciation and voice inflection. 

Bridging - Making a personal connection between the previous knowledge of the learner and the new content.  

Think-Pair-Share - Students are asked a question or asked to consider an idea then they write their answers on paper.  Then they are asked to turn to a neighbor and share their responses orally.

Quick writes - Students respond quickly to a question with emphasis on getting their thoughts and ideas down within a certain time frame.

Brain Storming - Students work in groups and are given a topic.  Everyone contributes their own ideas about the topic.  A recorder writes the contributions down on paper, under the condition that all ideas count and everything is recorded.  New ideas are built on former ideas.

Graphic Organizers - Charts, graphs, and diagrams encourages the student to see information organized in context of related information rather than isolated facts. Some examples are word maps, venn diagrams, KWL charts, flow charts, graphs, and schedules.

Jigsaw - Teams of 3-4 students are given a reading assignment.  Each team member is assigned a part to read, take notes, and prepares a presentation.  Each member shares their portion with the other team members.

Reflections - Students reflect on what was learned or experienced, making connections to other ideas.  Students can also assess their own learning and talk about what they would do differently next time.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Intro to Biology - Student Survey

Name:__________________________________   Nickname: ___________________ Grade:______    Period:______

Primary language:__________ Primary language used at home:___________ Parent's primary language____________

What technology do you have access to? (circle all that apply)  Computer / Printer / Internet

Where do you access the equipment circled above?  Home / School / Other: ________________

Do you work?  Yes / No   Where? __________________________  Hours per week?  ___________

What types of extracurricular activities are you involved in? (clubs, sports, hobbies, etc.) _______


Would you like to attend college?  Yes / No  Why? ________________________________________


Which career(s) are you interested in? ___________________________________________________

What science course did you take last year? ______________________________________________

Which school? ________________________   Teacher ___________________  Grade (A-F) ______

What was your favorite thing about this course?  Why? _____________________________________


What was the least favorite thing about this course?  Why? __________________________________


Why are you taking this class? ________________________________________________________

What can I do to help you succeed in this course? _________________________________________


Other comments or questions: _________________________________________________________


This is the survey that we gave the students in the Intro to Biology class. We surveyed both sections totaling 81 students. While the survey did not contain specific questions related to literacy, I was able to estimate their level of literacy through their responses to the questions.  Here is a summary of what I learned about my students:

Most of my students are freshmen.  There are some sophomores and a handful of juniors/seniors.  All of the students have access to a computer/printer/internet.  Most students access these technologies at home, some at the school.  There are a few students that work part time, but most don't work.  Many of the students participate in extracurricular activities including sports (soccer, basketball, football, volleyball, swim, track & field, surfing, gymnastics, lacrosse, skateboarding, golf, tennis, baseball, hockey and horseback riding), the arts (dance, piano, fashion, and art) and others (paintball, charity league, AVID, web design, and computer programming).  Most of the students have career goals.  Some examples of career aspirations are professional athlete, engineer, teacher, real estate, doctor, lawyer, military, entrepreneur and pilot.  Most of the students took physical science in the previous year.  Other classes they took include biology, chemistry, earth and space, physics and life science.  Many students are taking this class because it is required for going to college.   Some are returning students because they failed last year.  Others are interested in biology because they thought it would be fun.  Most students would like assistance in the areas of homework, studying, organization and staying focused.  According to the responses to the survey, most of the students in the class are able to communicate in a thoughtful and meaningful manner.  Some students gave one word answers for questions that required full sentence responses.  To date, we do not have any students designated as ELLs.  However, there are four students with IEPs.  These number may change since it is still early in the school year.

Reading the survey gave me an idea of who my students are.  I was quite surprised at the number of students who already had career choices in mind.  Since most of the students in this class are freshmen, I expected most of them to be undecided on a career choice.  Most of the students write coherently and are able to comprehend the instructional content.  However, some students struggle with comprehension. This conclusion is based on the responses to the survey questions, worksheets, assessments and my own observations in the classroom thus far.

I can use the information collected in a survey like this one to create an inclusive curriculum.  A survey like this will help me to understand where my students are coming from and their current capabilities.  I will learn their likes, dislikes, struggles, goals, and so on.  This will allow me to make adjustments to lessons based on what I learn.  

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Is this injustice or not?

This is a picture of my Intro to Biology classroom.  There are 46 seats in the classroom and all but four are used.  Is having 42 students in one class with one teacher an example of injustice?

Heck yeah, this is an example of injustice.  Can you imagine being a teacher with 42 kids in one period?  These days, this is the norm, not the anomaly.  Since the economy has tanked and education budgets have been slashed, teachers have been let go, resulting in less teachers and larger class sizes.  A larger class size means less time for the teacher to help students one-on-one to comprehend difficult concepts.  Students may become frustrated and have less enthusiasm for school work which can lead to academic failure.  This translates to negative effects that can last a lifetime.