You are on page 1of 20



Teachers should have a clear understanding of a students funds of knowledge.
Moll, et al. (2001) introduces funds of knowledge as a qualitative approach in connecting homes and classrooms. Funds of knowledge, as defined by the reading and our class discussion, is the knowledge we learn at home. I like to think of it as street smarts. The funds may include business knowledge, farming experience, cooking, cleaning or knowing how to change a tire. In order for a teacher to fully see students funds of knowledge, the teacher needs to make a home visit and see the student in their home. This is similar to a parentteacher conference, but on a more personal level. While at the home the teacher can see the students achievements, pictures, manners, communication, interaction, and in general, how they act outside of the classroom. Asking the parents strategic questions can provide the teacher with answers on the childs responsibilities outside of school, if he or she cares for siblings, activities outside of the school, and if the student has a job. The funds of knowledge are important because in order for teachers to fully understand their students in the classroom, they also need to have an understanding of their students culture, and its effect on learning . In my classroom, I would like to tailor assignments to match their interests whenever possible.

Teachers should scientific inquiry to engage students scientific perceptions.

I learned in Chapter 3 of Bruna & Gomez (2009) that classroom activities can demonstrate change in students abilities to show what they know by writing in science. Their goal was to investigate whether students expository writing skill in science would improve through an instructional intervention that was meant to promote achievement and equity in science and literacy for linguistically and culturally diverse and well as mainstream students (p. 51). The study proved that children as young as third grade were able to connect ideas and thoughts through writing. In a science classroom, teachers should consider using scientific inquiry to explain and reason. It is proven to be very important in students scientific learning. Going through the scientific method creates a habit of mind that students may use during their lives. There are other ways to engage students through scientific inquiry as well. I plan to use student-led discussions, hands-on activities and activities that facilitate student thought and have them find the answer on their own.

A teacher should never assume that every student views science in the same way.
In chapter 9 of Bruna & Gomez (2009), scientific literacy and academic identity is discussed in greater detail. This chapter focused on an ethnographic research project involving a 3rd grade class. The purpose was to examine how science was inscribed into students writing. The students participated in three artifact analysis as a reference point for examining how students in this class inscribed aspects of their academic identity and scientific literacy into their science work. The first artifact asked the students to picture a scientist and analyzed the

students perceptions of a scientists image. The second artifact was a self-reflective writing titled: I as a Scientist. The third artifact was titled: What Counts as Science? What do We as Scientist Do? The fourth, and final, artifact was a science fair poster. This last artifact argued that students academic identities changed throughout the year. The findings of these artifacts show that views on science vary from student to student. For example, in the first artifact, only three of fourteen students pictured the scientist as female. Teachers may use inscriptions like these in their classroom to gain insight into student scientific misconceptions.

Teachers should introduce multiple reading-to-learn tools for students to increase their literacy.
Chapter 5 of Bruna & Gomez (2009) explains that these tools are explicit strategies and processes that students, especially ELL students, use to understand text. These tools supports individual recognitions of ideas. It is up to the student to decide which approach they use. The three strategies in this article are annotation, double-entry reading journals, and summary. In annotation, the goal is to make the authors message more explicit to the reade r. The goal is to select important information and disregard useless information. This chapter states that students usually annotate the following: difficult vocabulary words; main arguments; evidence; transitional words; difficult sentence construction; inferences; and conclusions. In a doubleentry reading journal, the student has the opportunity to actively read and reflect on what they have read. For example, students may be asked to write about the main argument and the supporting evidence for the article. In a vocabulary double-entry, the students write the vocabulary word they find hard to understand on the left side of the page and then write what they think word means to the right. The third technique is the summary method. Here, students will read the selection and communicate it in writing in a way that makes sense to the student. In any case, the goals for the three strategies are the same: to get students to read more carefully, to teach students explicit skills for how to read science text, and to help students be better prepared to reflect on and think critically about what they have read.

Teachers should understand the effects of a positive learning environment.

While there are many ways that teachers can create a positive learning environment for students, chapter 12 of Bruna & Gomez (2009), explains how the use of informal science institutions (ISIs) act as catalyst for a new learning environment that yields positive results. A traditional science learning experience may include lecture and experiments in the classroom. ISIs stimulate learning through the use of zoos, aquariums and museums. In chapter 12 I read about families in an aquarium observing exhibits and engaging in thoughtful, educational conversation amongst the ELL student and his or her family. The authors argue that real objects, in this case the exhibits at the aquarium, assist in making a new language comprehensible, and act to build an associative bridge between the classroom and the world.

Instructors may use similar objects during class, but as we have discussed, real-life objects in a setting other than a classroom may increase both learning and fun.

Teachers should always support their ELL students, using visual examples and repetition to achieve literacy.
On the first Friday of this class, we were introduced to four students who are come from varying backgrounds and have various success in the ELL program. All four girls were ELL success stories, and the conversations I had with them provided me with an understanding of ELL programs that I feel I would be unable to get from any textbook. Each of the girls explained how they found learning English easier with visual examples and repetition. While each of the girls used visual examples to a different degree, the fact that all of them used visuals to learn proves to me how important they are. The girls also stated that they used repetition in addition to the visuals to further enhance their learning potential. I plan to use both of these techniques in my own classroom if I encounter an ELL teaching experience. Jennifer from Crete High School also enforced this idea. She explained the role of teachers in ELL classrooms and answered general questions from the class. By sharing her experience and guidelines, she helped enforce proper tools in teaching to ELL students.

Teachers should use multiple means to teach academic language in science in terms of language acquisition.
The authors of chapter 9 in Bruna & Gomez (2009) discuss the cognitive, linguistic and affiliative role of language play in the schooling lives of Mexican adolescents. The authors argue that the adolescents use language play or native tongue as an important display of their changing biliteracy. I read in the book (p. 176) that many words, such as pizza and pieces, are similar in the Spanish language. This was described as a humorous situation that the authors say put kid and his peers in a comfortable situation because it was something to laugh about. In my belief, a comfortable situation makes learning new material easier. ELL students may use their own native language to assist them in learning the scientific language or English terms. For instance, the students may talk to their peers in native tongue to ask questions about the topic covered. This may include laughing and open discussion. It is important for the teacher to not overreact when hearing this. The instructor needs to realize that by using their native language, they can use peer-to-peer interaction to better understand the topic.

Teachers should efficiently use their entire teaching time to enhance student learning.
Chapter 4 of Bruna & Gomez (2009) explored a teachers habits during the first five minutes of a class. In this study, the teacher used a daily calendar to focus the students at the beginning of class so he could complete administrative tasks. Similar to this, Jim Rynearson explained that the first 5 minutes of class time are the most important. It is crucial to grab

students attention during the first five minutes so they are focused for the entire class period. Rynearson explained, and I have noticed throughout my educational career, that students who control the first five minutes with talking, cell phone use and random behavior, have a harder time focusing on the discussion or lecture for the day. Therefore, it is important as a teacher to find ways to keep the students busy at the beginning of class while you, as the teacher, completes attendance or administrative tasks. In class we discussed that this could include journaling, going over yesterdays material, or answering questions. The teacher in this chapter used questions like, Why is it important to measure accurately in science? (p. 77). While this questions is very general and does not require deeper thought, one could create deeper questions to engage deeper thought. In any case, this technique assures that students will remain on task and not use the first five minutes of class as free time. In my class, I plan to use a daily blog or notebook in my class that students will complete when they arrive to class. The question will be different every day.

Teachers should never make assumptions about a students future.

On Pigs and Packers by Bruma & Vann (2007) the authors brought attention to the inability of a teacher to sidestep misconceptions about Mexican immigrants in a high school English Learner (EL) Science course. In this article, a class participates in a pig dissection lesson instructed by a teacher who (a) does not possess adequate dissection materials, such as scalpels, lab tables and instructions; and (b) is only teaching the lesson because students expressed their desire to work at a local meat packing plant to finally make some money. The instructors intentions appear to be good, as she is preparing her students for a potential career. However, as we have thoroughly discussed in class, our class came to a consensus that the instructor should have used science to prepare the students for a future that included paths leading to careers other than a meat packing plant. There is no problem working there, but the instructor gave into the misconception that as Mexican immigrants, the students would work in a meat packing plant. I used this article to reinforce my own teaching beliefs and understanding of cultural misconceptions. I believe that teachers need to prepare students for the future and not for a stereotypical job. The lectures and activities should open up a world of opportunities to each student, not just a meat packing plant job.

Teachers should understand the dynamics of group work.

Group work is an important teaching and learning strategy that every student will experience multiple times during their educational career. In chapter 10 of Bruna & Gomez (2009), the authors investigate in which ways classroom collaboration problem-solving groups offer ELLs the opportunity to participate in discourse and the impacts of grouping. Ell students may be intimidated when participating in groups dominated by English speaking students. In class we discussed and created our own groups to prove group interaction dynamics. We found

that groups containing a student who speaks only Spanish, the student struggles to contribute and may not understand what is being discussed. A bilingual group member will help the Spanish speaking student and the discussion, but the other members may feel cutoff from the group and hold side conversations. As a teacher it is important to know which students are ELL and the level they are in. It is also important to observe group interaction and make changes when needed to make the most of group work for both general and ELL students.

Strategy One
Standard: Students will analyze how energy flows through different trophic levels in an ecosystem. Nebraska State Standard 12.4.4b. Lincoln Public Schools Standard 12.3.3 Instructional objective: The student will analyze how energy flows through different trophic levels in an ecosystem. Students will use vocabulary words from Food Chains (Silverstein, Silverstein & Nunn 1998) to connect words to ideas. Strategy: Concept circles (Allen) Context: This activity introduces students to energy flow in food chains. This lesson is part of a larger lesson on ecology. Materials: Concept circle assessment worksheet, pencil, copies of Food Chain (1998) Procedure: 1. All students will read chapter two, making sure to pay close attention to unknown vocabulary words. Students can write these words down as they come across them if they choose. 2. After reading, students will be handed a copy of the concept circles assessment. Using the four words in each of the circles, students will write a small paragraph that shows the relationships between the words. There will be two circles for the students to complete. The words students will use in the first circle are: autotrophs, heterotrophs, photosynthetic, consumers. In the second circle they will use: trophic levels, primary producer, secondary consumer and quaternary consumer. 3. Upon completion, students will participate in a class discussion by reading the paragraphs they wrote. The students will volunteer or be chosen at random. 4. At the end of class students will hand in their work in the basket at the front of the room. Role of teacher: The teacher will design the assignment by choosing the words that the students will use. The teacher will monitor class participation, answer questions and provide assistance where needed. At the end of class, the teacher will ask students to share their paragraphs, if no one volunteers, she will choose them at random. (I did not write the words in

the concept circles on this page because it kept messing up my formatting, so I have them listed above.

Food Chain Concept Circle Assessment

Describe the meaning and relationship between and among the words in the sections of the concept circles

1. ______________________________ ______________________________ ______________________________ ______________________________ ______________________________ ______________________________ ______________________________ ______________________________

2. ______________________________ ______________________________ ______________________________ ______________________________ ______________________________ ______________________________ ______________________________ ______________________________

Strategy Two
Standard: Evaluate the role of human population, technology, & consumption of the environment. Nebraska State Standard 12.4.4e, 12.7.3b,c. Lincoln Public Schools Standard 12.3.3f Instructional objective: The student will participate in a structured academic controversy over global climate change using the peer-reviewed article Understanding the Global Warming Debate by Warren Meyer. Strategy: Structured Academic Controversy ( Context: This activity will act as a debate for the students. It is part of a bigger lesson on ecology. This lesson follows the previous lesson in which we discussed climate change, global warming and human impact. Materials: Pencil, notebook, copy of article: Procedure: 1. Teacher breaks students into heterogeneous groups of 4. Each group will be assigned a partner within the group. 2. Each pair in the group (2 pairs in a group) will be assigned to one side of the controversy. 3. Silently, in their groups, the students will read the article provided. After reading, each pair will break off from the group and prepare their main points for the debate. Reading and preparing should take no more than 15 minutes. 4. When both pairs are ready, they will come back together and participate in a debate. 5. Rules of the debate: a. Try to keep personal beliefs out of debate; b. Use facts found in the article to back up your ideas; c. No yelling; d. Be as constructive as possible.

6. This will be a switch-format structured academic controversy. This means that one group will advocate one position as another team presents a counter position, then both teams switch roles (Johnson). Role of teacher: The teacher is responsible for assigning the groups and choosing which side of the debate each pair will represent. The teacher will continually walk the room and observe debate conversations. It should be the responsibility of the teacher to keep the peace and make sure students stay under control. The teacher will answer any questions and help point the debate in a direction if needed. The teacher will also assist with any unknown vocabulary in the article.

Strategy Three

Standard: Identify examples of cooperation & competition. Explain how cooperation & competition between organisms influence population dynamics. Nebraska State Standard 12.4.4c. Lincoln Public Schools Standard 12.3.3b. Instructional objective: The students will demonstrate understanding relating to ecosystems and biomes and read pages out of Earth Matters: An Encyclopedia of Ecology. Strategy: Think-pair-share (class strategy) Context: This activity will act as an introductory lesson to ecosystems and biomes. Students will be introduced to new vocabulary terms and be asked to make references based on the readings. Materials: Pen, outline (see attached), copy of Earth Matters: An Encyclopedia of Ecology. Procedure: 1. All at once the students will read pages 38-39, 42-43, 65-67, 92-95, 116-117, 140141, 164-165, 186-187, and 210-211. 2. While reading these pages the student will complete the outline, taking additional notes if desired. 3. Teacher will pair up students and they will share their data and answer questions on bottom of outline. 4. Upon completion of exercise, the teacher will ask a few groups to share results/answers. Role of teacher: The teacher will hand out books and outline to each student. While students are reading and completing the think-pair-share exercise, the teacher will walk to each group and check on their understanding. The teacher will also answer any questions the groups may have, careful not to give the answer away. The purpose of this exercise is to make inferences based on reading. Upon completion, the teacher will call on groups at random to answer questions.

1. Biomes a. Grasslands i. Located between forests and deserts b. i. c. i. d. i. Covered by ice all year e. i. f. i. g. i. h. i. 2. Define: a. Biosphere: b. Biome: c. Ecosystem: 3. With a partner answer these questions: a. Which biome does Nebraska fall in? i.

b. What would have to happen in Nebraska to change our biome into a rainforest? i.

c. If climate change drastically decreased rainfall and increased temperature would we change biomes? If so, to which one? i.

Strategy Four

Standard: Analyze how energy flows through different trophic levels in an ecosystem. Nebraska State Standard 12.4.4b. Lincoln Public Schools Standard 12.3.3a. Instructional objective: Students will read the article Comparative Spring-Staging Ecology of Sympatric Arctic-Nesting Geese in Southern Nebraska. The objective is to learn new vocabulary by reading the text and apply their knowledge of ecology to a local context. Frequent contact worksheet is attached at the end of this strategy. Strategy: Frequent contact (Class handout) Context: This lesson is part of a larger unit on ecology. The purpose and data in the article may be a few years ahead of their current ecological knowledge. The goal is to learn new vocabulary. Materials: Pencil, frequent contact worksheet, copy of article, whiteboard, dry-erase markers. Procedure: 1. Teacher will randomly split up students into groups of three and everyone will get a copy of the article and a frequent contact handout. 2. As a group, students will attempt to fill out the worksheet as described, even though they may not understand the words yet. 3. Every student will read all together the introduction, discussion and potential for competition. 4. Students will highlight new and unfamiliar words. 5. When everyone in the group has completed the reading, the students will use the frequent contact worksheet they have completed and check their answers as a group. 6. The students will then use at least 5 words to summarize what they learned from the article. 7. Upon completion, each group will present to the class their answers and their summary. Role of Teacher: The teacher will randomly assign groups and observe the students while they read the article, answering any questions the students may have. The teacher will hand out the worksheet, with columns already filled out. The teacher will make group visits while they are

putting answers on the white board to check understanding. When every group is finished, the teacher will have each group present their answers. When class is over, the teacher will put the materials away.

Frequent Contact Ecology Read and discuss each of the words in the word bank. As you discuss the words, decide which column each should be placed in based on which words would have the most frequent contact with each categorys label. If you can justify placing words in more than one category, you should do that. When you finish, circle those words that ended up in more than one category. Behaviors Food-Impacting Bird Specific

Migrating Habitats Breeding Interspecific Competitors Niche

Wetlands Staging Dietary Converge Terrestrial Foraging

Roosting Nocturnal Sympatric Fitness

Summary __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________

Strategy Five
Standard: Evaluate the role of human population, technology, & consumption on the environment. Nebraska State Standard 12.4.4e, 12.7.3b, c Lincoln Public Schools Standard 12.3.3f Instructional objective: In class, students will watch Carbon Footprint-Discovery Channel. The purpose is to develop an understanding of human effects on the environment.;_ylt=A0S00MmyFPtRLTsAQ3f7w8QF;_ylu=X3oDMTBzNjF 2b2I1BHNlYwNzcgRzbGsDdmlkBHZ0aWQDBGdwb3MDMzM?p=carbon+footprint&vid=867f952403f3c715cca1144a3f6d505a&l=3%3A26&turl=http%3A%2F%2Fts1. nce+and+technology&age=0&norw=1&fr=yfp-t-308&tt=b

Strategy: Think-pair-share (class strategy) Context: This video is a part of an ecology unit. Materials: You tube video, pen, notebook, discussion prompt. Procedure: 1. First, I would introduce new words found in the video. 2. As a pre-watching journal the students would answer this question, How worried are you about our environment? 3. Students will watch the National Geographic video during class. 4. Take notes as you wish, and be prepared to answer questions after the video. 5. After the video, the students will pair up with the person next to them and as a postwatching journal they would answer the question, In what ways can you lower your carbon footprint at home? Does anyone in your family already take steps to lower their footprint? Role of Teacher: The teacher will prep the class by having the video ready when students arrive to class. The teacher will write the prompt on the board, and have the students complete the

pre-watching journal. After the video, the teacher will instruct the students to pair up. For assessment, students will be asked to share their findings with their partner with the class.

This course has done wonders for my understanding of ELL students and the challenges they face during their educational career. Just going to school for most children is not a desirable experience, I can only imagine how much fun it is for a student that cannot understand, write, read or speak the language used in their classrooms. I can recall kids in my elementary school being called out of class to go see their ELL teacher, and I always thought less of them, but I do not know why. It was not a bad feeling, I just noticed they were different, and I dont think I was really friends with any of them. This class has helped me understand why I thought those kids were different. Every class I have taken so far in the MAst program has been backed by teaching with scientific inquiry. However, all of the classes have been different. One was methods, one was writing, one was special education, and now this one on English language learners. Every class focused on something different, but seem to utilize inquiry as the way I, as a science teacher, should teach. In particular this class was challenging for me; not because the material was difficult, but the content opened my eyes to what I will be faced with as a teacher. ELL students present a real and growing challenge for teachers in every subject. I think that science teachers may be faced with the biggest challenge of all: teaching to ELLs academic and discipline language. After all, art is just art and math is just numbers. Science is words, new words, long words, hard words that even I do not understand. Although a challenge, this class has been nothing but positive. In three short weeks I learned so many things about the lives of ELL students that I never recognized before. Their native culture is a far cry from what mainstream, American kids perceive as a childhood. Many

ELL students have jobs, care for their parents who may be unable to speak English, run errands, and even care for their siblings. The funds of knowledge topic was most important to me, and even though we only studied this for one day, I feel like the funds were an over-arching topic of the class. Because of this, when I become a science teacher I am going to learn my students funds of knowledge when possible and needed. I feel that it is important to understand your students culture and their home life to better understand who they are in your classroom. I cannot really say that my ideas on teaching science have changed, because this class was positive and only provided us all with ways to be a better science teacher. It is another tool in my teaching toolbox. Just as in my special education class, we learned that there is no reason any student should not have an equal chance to an education. ELL students are no different. The four girls that came to our class proved that the ELL program is not a failure, but an accommodation for students to succeed. I learned that teachers play an important role in their success, and while this will be a challenge, it is one I am excited to take on. I have even thought about getting my ELL endorsement. With the knowledge I have gained from Janet, the readings, and the class, I will never again think that the ELL students in my class are different as I did in elementary school.