La Maestra Bilingue

Posts Tagged ‘spanish

Oral practice.

 

Although this post is really written about a Spanish class, this activity can be used in bilingual classes as well.  I personally used a similar activity to help my kids practice their oral English or their written Spanish.  When you add in the writing component, you can focus on spelling, punctuation, writing complete sentences, and other skills.  I found that my students really liked it when I used “silly” pictures.  We would give “classroom money” for really original or creative statements.  The students would decide who deserved these rewards.  Soon the level of the sentences were getting quite complex and interesting.  Later, I showed the kids that putting these sentences together we could begin to write a story.

Bilingual teachers have most of the same difficulties that all teachers share, yet they have more problems that other teachers do not have to face.  Probably the most difficult issue that exists is the lack of high quality resources that are readily available.  Textbook companies are getting much better at providing for the bilingual classes, but most teachers pull activities and lessons from a wide variety of resources.  Sometimes, it’s possible to do a quick translation of an activity and make it work, but more often than not, the translation takes quite a bit of preparation.  Even assuming that the translations are quick and easy, that still adds quite a burden to the bilingual teacher’s planning.  Another issue bilingual teachers face is creating a workable schedule.  They have the same amount of time each day that all other teachers have, yet they are expected to cover the same material, with the same rigor AND fit in a time for ESL.  In my experience, this created quite a juggling act between which lessons could be done in English to facilitate the language learning and not have the students have academic struggles.  One way that I helped fulfill the ESL requirements was to give most basic classroom instructions in English (put your books away, get out your folder, etc).  Even though that was mostly listening comprehension, it was still very simple to assess which students were understanding the instructions. As the year progressed, I gave more and more of the classroom instructions in English as well as including many of the “personal” conversations with the children.  This was not a very formal way to include language learning, but it was one way that I could make sure that the students were being constantly exposed.  I realize that this creates a bit of “code-switching”, but in my experience it didn’t seem to cause the children any issues.  Besides they loved it when I caught myself speaking in the “wrong” language.  I can’t count the times they reminded me, “English, miss, English”.  I’d just laugh and repeat everything in the other language.  Bilingual teachers are also faced with an extra dose of paperwork that has to be completed.  Every state and/or school district has its own requirements, so I can’t speak to all of the different requirements.  However, I know that in my case, I had to conduct several assessments in both languages and fill out several pages of paperwork for each child.  Perhaps the most frustrating situation is when no one recognizes the extra challenges these teachers face.  What difficulties do you face as a bilingual teacher that the other teachers don’t have to deal with?

Here goes the beginning of (hopefully) a beautiful friendship!  In the last few weeks I have reached the decision that I am going to leave my classroom.  I love teaching.  I love my students.  I love my administration.  I love my school.  So, why am I leaving?  First, I feel like a new chapter is opening in my life.  After much prayer and contemplation, I feel that this is what I’m supposed to do.  Second, I can financially afford to.  With all the worries about possible Reductions in Force and possible teacher layoffs, I can’t help but think of my colleagues who depend on their meager teacher’s salary to make ends meet.  Thankfully, the other business my husband and I started is booming and he supports me completely.

That brings up the question of what am I going to do?  My quick answer is for awhile NOTHING!  I am going to sleep in, read, relax, watch some movies, and do basically nothing for at least a few weeks.  After that gets old, I’m going to help my husband more with our business, work on getting our horse business off and running, and volunteer at my school.  However, a new light bulb has started shining…..

During our team meeting today, the second grade teachers were working on lesson plans for next week.  Nothing special, happens every week.  The monolingual teachers were running back and forth to their classrooms to get other materials that they thought of as we were planning.  Us bilingual teachers didn’t really have anything to get.  This has been my frustration (as I’m sure it is for many others) since I began teaching bilingual education.  There are many wonderful resources for the classroom available for English speakers, but bilingual teachers have to pull from a small reservoir of materials or translate.  I love technology, I love teaching, why don’t I start creating some high-quality resources for bilingual teachers?!

I have been toying around with this idea for quite some time.  But life seems to keep me too busy to do much about it.  In the last few weeks, I have been making strides to put this dream in motion.  In fact, I have two apps for the iPod/iPad in production right now. Without giving too much away, they will be helpful tools for both bilingual and monolingual teachers.  I have lots of ideas of things that I want to create.  Resources that I would like for my own classroom, but never have the time to make.  Hopefully, now that I have decided to take this step of faith, I will have the time to pull some of these resources together for my fellow bilingual teachers.

Thank you for being here on this first entry….I hope that soon I will have many things to share.

¡Hasta Pronto!


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