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Teaching English Learners

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Presentation on theme: "Teaching English Learners"— Presentation transcript:

1 Teaching English Learners
with the Brain in Mind Doug Fisher, Nancy Frey, and Diane Lapp San Diego State University Pam Cole Kennesaw State University

2 This Session’s Agenda Examine reading processes from a neurological standpoint Review brain anatomy Discuss the unique characteristics of the bilingual brain Analyze mirror neuron systems and their role in teacher modeling Consider the linkage between neuroscience and academic discourse for English learners


4 Pyramid of Reading Behaviors
Behavioral Cognitive Perceptual/Motor Neural structures Neurons and circuits Genetic Foundation Wolf, 2007

5 It took the species 2000 years of insights to develop an alphabetic system. A child is given 2000 days to gain the same insights Maryanne Wolf

6 A Quick Tour of the Brain
Doug begins

7 2 Hemispheres Left and Right

8 The hemispheres are connected by the CORPUS CALLOSUM

9 Each Hemisphere has Four Lobes
Frontal Parietal Occipital Temporal

10 Frontal Lobe Memory, emotion, planning

11 Temporal Lobe Auditory processing

12 Occipital Lobe Processes visual information and integrates vision with other senses

13 Cerebellum “Small Brain” responsible for movement and motor control (balance, posture, automatic motor functions)

14 “Specialized Areas” Sensory strip Motor strip



17 Fitting Two Languages Into One Brain

18 Neuroanatomy of the Bilingual Brain
Competition for cortical space (Doidge, 2008) Neuroplasticity: Learning and experiences change the way the brain physiologically (Mahncke & Merzenich, 2006) Bilingual brains have more dense grey matter (Mechelli et al., 2004) Recruit more parts of the brain than monolinguals including those not typically utilized for language, especially right hemisphere (Price et al., 1999) Pathways utilized for listening differ from those used to speak, read, and write

19 Educating the Bilingual Brain
Translation is typically approached as a non-automatized task (Dehaene, 1999) Automaticity frees working memory Exposure to two languages does not leave children language delayed, or language-confused (Petitto, 2002) Students must learn English, not just in English (Dutro & Moran, 2003) Late-bilingual students (second language after the age of 5) achieve mastery of a new language through “highly systematic and multiple contexts that are richly varied involving both home and community” (Petitto & Dunbar, 2004)

20 The Power of Modeling Why? Humans mimic or imitate
Mirror neuron systems activate pathways similar to the pathways used by the person performing the action Reading about the actions of characters in a narrative activates similar pathways (Zacks, 2009) 20

21 Mirror Neuron Systems Brain cells that respond both when we do something, and when we watch someone else do it The more expert the observer is, the more brain cells are fired (Glaser et al., 2004) Evidence that mirror neuron systems are necessary for social cognition, especially for predicting another person’s intentions (Iacoboni & Dapretto, 2006)

22 Embodied semantics Hypothesis: The same brain area that processes sensory-motor experiences also processes the semantics related to that experience

23 What Do Effective Teachers Model?
Analysis of the practices of 25 expert teachers, as identified by principals and coaches in San Diego County Observed 75 lessons Fisher, D., Frey, N., & Lapp, D. (2008). Shared readings: Modeling comprehension, vocabulary, text structures, and text features for older readers. The Reading Teacher, 61, ,

24 Selecting Participants
100 site administrators and peer coaches Expert classroom teachers in grades 3-8 Expert (models for others, presents in professional development forums, recognized as excellent in teacher

25 Participants 74 responders 67 experts identified
25 teachers representing 25 schools

26 What Happened? Inter-observer reliability for the 75 lessons was .88.
3 x 2 Inter-observer reliability for the 75 lessons was .88. Observations and field notes

27 What We Saw Four major areas of modeling instruction (comprehension, vocabulary, text structures, and text features) students could see the text a class set of books photocopies of specific texts projected the text on a screen using an overhead or document camera fluent reading clearly practiced the selections

28 What We Saw Teachers modeled their thinking, not ask students individual questions Students encouraged to partner talk, write reflections, indicate agreement through unison responses such as fist-to-five Students asking questions

29 #1: They Model Comprehension B/D/A
Visualize Monitor Synthesize Evaluate Connect Inference Summarize Predict Clarify Question 29

30 Bundled Strategies “I used to do it that way, focus on one comprehension strategy at a time. But I think that’s a problem. I don’t really read that way and if I don’t read that way it’s not really an authentic shared reading and think aloud, right?”

31 Metacognition “I hope you’re not suggesting that we should model one at a time. For me, the shared reading is about consolidation. We need to show students how to incorporate these things automatically and not artificially stop and summarize or question or whatever. I use my guided instructional time to focus on specific strategies with specific students who need attention in a specific area.” “Yes, I agree. And it’s also about metacognition; knowing that you’re doing this but not paying a lot of attention to it.”

32 #2: They Model Word Solving
Context clues Word parts (prefix, suffix, root, base, cognates) Resources (others, Internet, dictionary) 32

33 What Teachers Want “I want students to have both inside and outside word strategies. I want them to be able to go outside of the word, to context clues. I also want them to be able to go inside the word, using parts of words, to figure out or make educated guesses about, the word’s meaning.”

34 What Teachers Modeled Context clues: Coming on Home Soon (Woodson, 2004) “When she put her dress into the satchel, I held my breath” (p. 1) and said, “I’m not sure what a satchel is. I’ll read this page and check out the picture. If I can’t figure it out from this information, I’ll ask someone for some help.” “Mama folded another dress and put it in the bag” (p. 1) “Another dress in the bag? She already put a dress in the satchel. I bet that a satchel is a special kind of bag, but it looks like a suitcase in the picture. I’m going to re-read this page with the word suitcase in place of both bag and satchel to see if this makes sense… [Rereads sentences.] Yes, it does. So there’s another word for a suitcase, a special kind of bag for traveling.”

35 What Teachers Modeled Word Parts: 4th grade teacher
“Carnivore reminds me of carne in Spanish meaning ‘meat.’ It also reminds me of carne asada, a kind of meat, but that just makes me hungry. So, I use carne to remind me that carnivores eat meat.”

36 What Teachers Modeled Resources
7th grade teacher Patrol: An American Soldier in Vietnam (Myers, 2002): “Two clicks away, there are flashes of gunfire. Two clicks is the distance of my enemy” (p. 15). She then paused and said, “I’ve heard of clicks before but mostly about the Internet, you know click on this page and stuff. I think I want to know what this is and I don’t have any context clues to use to figure it out. I’m going to look it up really quick.”

37 What Teachers Modeled Wide Reading
“I know that students will learn a lot of words from reading, so I have them reading all of the time. I also know that they will learn to solve unknown words when they’re taught how to do this. They need my modeling to figure out how to do this.”

38 #3: They Model Using Text Structure
Informational Texts Problem/Solution, Compare/Contrast, Sequence, Cause/Effect, Description Narrative Texts Story grammar (plot, setting, character) Dialogue Literary devices 38

39 Modeling Text Structures
7th grade teacher The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli: “I think that Machiavelli is comparing and contrasting here. I’ve thinking that he wants me to understand the difference in the two types of fighting he discusses. I see here, where he says ‘You should consider then, that there are two ways of fight, one with laws and the other with force.’ I think he’s setting up to compare and contrast these two ways. This leads me to organize my thinking into to categories that I can use to help me remember what Machiavelli believes.”

40 #4: They Model Using Text Features
Headings Captions Illustrations Charts Graphs Bold words Table of contents Glossary Index Tables Margin notes 40

41 Modeling Text Features
“In some cases, the text features may even confuse the reader.” “At minimum, students need to know when to attend to the text features. For example, when should they read the graph? Before reading the text, while reading the text, or after reading the text? The answer is, it depends. And any time that’s the answer, students need a lot of modeling and practice.”

42 Teaching Establishing a purpose Modeling Guiding Learning
Supporting productive group work

43 Pam B. Cole, Ph.D. Kennesaw State University
Classroom Discourse Pam B. Cole, Ph.D. Kennesaw State University

44 Classroom Discourse Oral/written language used by teachers and students to communicate. Pictorial, symbolic, numerical, and graphic, body language

45 Importance of Classroom Discourse
Language is the instrument of education.

46 Importance of Classroom Discourse
Teacher modeling requires discourse.

47 Ex. Writing an argumentative paper (focus on form) Students need…
Show. Don’t Tell. Experience. Ex. Writing an argumentative paper (focus on form) Students need… to know how to question and disagree with points of an argument. to ask questions and have deep discussion based on those questions. to think through the process of constructing an argument. to “talk” through and develop their understandings

48 Student learning takes place through these language routines
Discourse Patterns: Structure Pedagogic language routines take specific forms (Bernstein, 1990; Wells, 1999) Student learning takes place through these language routines

49 Discourse Pattern: Cyclic Structure
A. Teacher asks a question B. One or two students answer C. Teacher comments (sometimes summarizing and/or clarifying and/or evaluating) D. Teacher asks another question E. Cyclic Pattern Repeats

50 Question. Answer. Evaluation. Initiation. Response. Evaluation.
QAE Pattern or IRE Pattern Question. Answer. Evaluation. Initiation. Response. Evaluation. Most common pattern Possibly accounts for 70% of teacher-student interactions (Nassaji & Wells 2000) Q & A

51 Why worth talking about?
Q & A routine marginalizes some learners Enables different learners unequally Closes classroom discourse Privileged learners can readily recognize, predict, & recall patterns Subject/content specific Dense content specific vocabulary Teacher controls conversation/vocabulary Differs from home/social discourse

52 Language Diversity Cultural differences (questioning patterns may be different; vocabulary/lexicon; home/family) Linguistic differences (confusion and miscues with vocabulary/sound-symbols) Dialectic (confusion with variations in language) Learning problems

53 Opening Up Classroom Discourse

54 Shared ownership in classroom discourse

55 Room for deep conversation Reading/Learning not on a “fixed” schedule
Validating responses Room for deep conversation Reading/Learning not on a “fixed” schedule Assessment isn’t a “threat” Safe environment Sensitivity and understanding of different belief systems Rewriting “classroom experience” Student choice Student ownership “Select” class activities A level playing field Multiple answers Fluid curriculum Respect for where adolescents “are” cognitively/emotionally Comfortable in our own “skins” Opportunities for students to “see how we think” (modeling)


57 Tell yourself right now you can’t know everything, but you can be a lifelong learner.

58 Accept that you may stumble and feel awkward at times.

59 Enter class discussions expecting (and wanting) to learn from students.

60 Don’t fudge.

61 Recognize when a student’s intelligence intimidates you and learn to embrace and celebrate his/her aptitude.

62 Let students know you value learning from them.

63 Shock effect questions & your “Achilles’ heel”

64 Awkward silences are good.

65 Remember… Some of the best questions have no answers, but multiple possibilities. They may raise additional questions.

66 What questions do you have?
versus Do you have questions?

67 Facilitate discussions.

68 Spread the conversation around.

69 Listen.

70 Be aware of put downs.

71 Scaffold students’ responses (avoid the laundry list of questions)

72 Categorizing Questions
QAR Right there Think and search Author & reader On your own Question Guess Categorizing Questions

73 Questioning Circles Socratic Circles QtA (question the author)
(ex. “how to” instructions) Thick & Thin (Harvey & Goudvis, 2000) Ranking Questions Questioning Circles (Christenbury & Kelly, 1983) Socratic Circles

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