When it comes to hallways, the norm is to ask teachers to display student work for the sake of appearances – so that when parents walk through the building – it looks like students have been working on some awesome projects. Which is fine, I mean what parent doesn’t love to see their child’s latest piece of art or their story hung up outside the classroom? But what if hallways could both show off what students have been working on and become interactive learning spaces at the same time? What would that look like and how would it impact student learning?
Imagine walking through a school where teachers were asked to create interactive learning experiences outside their classrooms. There might be projects hung up that have spaces for students and/or parents that pass by to comment or ask questions about them. Or perhaps classes might set out math challenges or games on topics they had been learning about for others to try and solve, or mini-science experiments for others to attempt. And it doesn’t need to be limited to mainstream subject areas; speciality areas could also be included. Maybe the wall outside the art room becomes a communal project where anyone at the school can contribute their bit to it, or the walls outside a gym might have instructions for fitness challenges students created for anyone to try, and the modern languages hallway may have foreign language riddles that classes came up with for others to solve …. The possibilities are endless and so are the benefits for a school as a learning community as both parents and learners would be encouraged to be part of a communal learning experience
Hallways shouldn’t be seen simply as empty walls to fill for the sake of filling, but rather as a way to extend and fuel what is already taking place at your school. Have a look at your hallways – what changes can you make to turn your corridors into engaging and meaningful learning opportunities? Extending beyond your hallway walls, what changes could you make to your outdoor learning spaces? We’d love to hear any inspirational ideas you may have!
Other Tips for Educators
The topic of push-in vs pull-out sessions when it comes to setting up an English as an Additional Language (EAL) program is often debated. Some would argue that it is better to keep EAL students in classrooms as much as possible, while others would contend that pull-out sessions are more effective as learners will receive more individualized attention. If you ask me which one I think is the better option, I would say neither because as they stand they both possess a similar flaw – that of the EAL teacher not being provided access to the curriculum.
And how is it that two different approaches have the same flaw? In both cases, the EAL teacher is often coming in blind. EAL teachers usually arrive mid-way through push-in lessons and are expected to jump in and offer support on the fly. Because the EAL teacher hasn’t been briefed about objectives and expectations before the lesson, they arrive without the necessary scaffolded and/or differentiated materials to properly assist students in their learning. As for pull-out sessions, again, the EAL teacher has often not been filled in on what is happening in the classroom; as a result, the lesson focuses on something entirely different – perhaps a conversational topic. Or, students arrive to the pull-out session with materials provided by the teacher and again, since the EAL teacher hasn’t been privy to the lesson, they aren’t prepared to assist learners in the best ways possible.
The solution to the problem at hand? Before deciding which route to take – push-in or pull-out, we must address how EAL teachers will access the curriculum. To assist with this process, we have developed a presentation that can be used as a guide in determining the best path forward, and that covers the following:
Feel free to use any or all of the provided slides as needed!
Whether you opt for push-in, pull-out, or a combination of both methods, the success of your program ultimately rests on providing the curriculum information your EAL team needs to best support learners!
Feel like you might need some additional support in setting up your program? Contact us; we are happy to help!
In my previous article, I questioned the ability of existing resources to adequately meet the varying needs of learners in “gradeless” systems and felt they could not. That said, what would the ideal set of teaching resources look like? If I had the funds and manpower, I would create them as a unified set of materials spanning across all subject areas and grade levels, and I wouldn’t stop there – I would also differentiate and scaffold them so that teachers had the ready-made tools needed to effectively teach their classes. And how would I go about achieving this?
At Grade-Level Resources:
First, I’d start by mapping out the language and content for at-grade-level resources. When doing so, I wouldn’t look at each subject area as an island; instead, I would look at how they could interconnect language-wise and content-wise and I wouldn’t limit the process to mainstream subjects like math and science – specialist subjects such as Physical Education (PE) and Modern Foreign Languages (MFL) would be included as well. In this way, a unified package of resources could be developed, and not just across a single grade level but across all grade levels, thus ensuring both horizontal and vertical coherence. The only subject I would leave out at this point (to be dealt with later) would be Language Arts (LA). For now, LA would simply provide a reference point for language acquisition and ensure that the vocabulary used in the above-mentioned resources would match the students’ ability.
Scaffolding and Differentiating:
Once at-grade-level resources were mapped out, I would look at ways to scaffold them so that within each subject area, different levels of text and sets of questions could be developed to ensure that an entire class could focus on the same concept, but learners would have the ability to access the content and demonstrate their knowledge at their own level. Within each set of levelled resources, different learning styles would also be thought of and accommodated.
And finally, the LA resources would come last as the levelled sets of non-fiction and fiction readers and resources created would be based on the language and content being covered in all subject areas. In doing so, LA lessons would become the tie that binds all subjects together and serve to enhance student comprehension.
Taking the time to cross-link, scaffold and differentiate the teaching resources would ensure that a solid continuum without gaps or pockets exists and that regardless of grade level, subject area or ability, the proper tools would be made available for students to succeed. Now, it’s just a dream, but perhaps one day it will become a reality.
If you could design your own set of teacher resources, what would they look like? How would you go about creating them?