Working with Juanita From Honduras Case Study
We had the pleasure of working with Juanita from Honduras. She is in fourth grade and is preforming at WIDA level two. Her current level of language skills is represented by her ability to use limited words and phrases to discuss familiar topics. When given simple directions, Juanita responds with very simple phrases and does a very good job of communicating her needs in this way. In her country, she was a very high-achieving student in all of her subject areas. However, math is still her favorite subject to this day. Her parents are very encouraging and enthusiastic about her academics. Although they have high hopes and expectations for her, they cannot contribute to her studies because neither of them speaks English.
The goal for Juanita is to move her from WIDA level two to WIDA level three. To do this, it will be imperative for us to scaffold her instruction and provide her with necessary supports. We wanted to focus on developing Juanita’s reading and writing skills, so we decided that a small group reading activity would be the best way to approach this goal. We have chosen the book titled “Lola Levine is Not Mean” by Monica Brown. Our text states, “Culturally relevant teaching draws on the experience of the students. Stories of their experiences learning English, and what their lives are like in a new country will validate their experiences.” (Whelan Ariza, pp. 38) Having a book from a South American author can help make the story more culturally relevant to the student and help the student make connections with their own lives. Therefore, choosing Monica Brown, a Peruvian author, will accomplish this intention.
The title of our activity is “Lola’s Journey.” One of its many learning objectives is to describe the theme of the story and the textual evidence that supports it. After having read the story in a shared reading setting, Juanita will work with another student who has the same L1 to fill out a graphic organizer to iron out the details of the story.
Prior to the student’s going off to write their pieces, I will be setting time aside to review the book with Juanita to further her background knowledge and vocabulary familiarity. Our text encourages teachers to “begin with presenting the main point of the text in clear, simple, and understandable language” (Whelan Ariza, pp. 111). This way, when Juanita sits down to work on her short story, she will be set on the right foot. I will also use this time to address her misconceptions and to ensure that Juanita understands what the expectations of the assignment are. Juanita will be provided with an English/Spanish dictionary and a story map to help understand the sequencing of the story. I will be sure to collaborate with my other teachers, as well as, reaching out to the ESOL coordinator of the school to further my understanding on how to help Juanita meet her learning objectives for the year. Regular conferences with Juanita’s parents will be held with the ESOL coordinator present so I can keep the parents updated on her progress and bridge the communication gap.
The strategies we were thought were most efficient to implement are working closer with students to ensure they are in full understanding of the lessons and activities. We want to establish an environment where students are excited to learn. The scaffolding techniques we were taught will be a great groundwork for when we are having to give instruction to ELLs. Furthering my understanding of how to teach English Language Learners is a skill that will be beneficial throughout my teaching career. Florida is a very diverse place to live and having this knowledge will serve to make me a more effective educator.
Ariza, E. N. (2018). Not for Esol teachers: what every classroom teacher needs to know about the linguistically, culturally, and ethnically diverse student. Kendall Hunt.