Hi! This post is a reflection on my progress so far in my independent study! Stay tuned for some new blog segments and info ahead 🙂
Give a brief summary of content that you have learned so far.
So far, I’ve learned a lot about strategies to support EL students as well as how COVID has affected Latinx populations, especially in Durham. For example, I’ve explored ways of annotating for meaning, vocabulary, and creating graphic organizers.
What has stirred strong emotional responses? Anything shocking, pleasing, fascinating, appalling?
I was fascinated to learn how important learning in your native language is to understanding. To some (especially in traditional theory), it seems like complete immersion–trying to use the new language as much as possible–would be the most effective way to help students learn a new language. However a lot of research has shown that teaching bilingually and actually deliberately incorporating more words of the native language results in better outcomes.
I was also a little bit surprised at the variety of native language use among EL scholars. While some speak only their native language at home, which is what I had been expecting going into the independent study, others actually don’t speak their native language much at all or speak it only with one parent. Because the classification of “English Learner” is used to describe such a broad and diverse group of people, it can be difficult to truly understand the nuances in one’s experience and proficiency.
What new questions do you have about this topic?
I’d love to learn more about what types of strategies have been used with EL learners in person and how those have changed after moving online. I’m also trying to figure out more ways to expand impact–I would love to have more time with the students, but we’re maxed out in the time available in their schedules and my schedule. Instead, I’m hoping to find some creative ways to incorporate new activities into small groups or provide asynchronous materials.
What has worked out as expected?
I’ve been able to share my screen, annotate the text, and have them read along as expected, which has been great!
What has been challenging?
It can be difficult to encourage shy students to participate in meetings, and students also forget to attend sessions sometimes. However, I’m working on sending out more reminder emails and keeping sessions engaging to hopefully help solve this problem!
What are you learning about your learning process?
Definitely the importance of picking up on the little tidbits and writing things down. Often, there’s small events that happen during sessions that can give me more insight into how student learn, but without writing them down, I’m likely to forget! Having a place where I can note even the tiniest ideas I have has been helpful. In fact, I’m actually hoping to share more of these tidbits with a section on my blog specifically dedicated to small, easily digestible things I learned each week!
To what extent are you meeting the expectations of IS students?
I think I’ve done a good job setting up my blog, communicating with my content advisor and with the faculty at Maureen Joy, and running small groups! The place where I can improve is on independent research, especially about COVID-19’s effect, and trying to find some data to include in a future report. It’s sometimes hard to fit it in each week, so I’m going to make sure to schedule separate work times in my calendar for this!
What do you need help with?
I would say finding direction on working towards my final product. As I mentioned above, I’m trying to note little tidbits during small groups, but it’s been hard to research with a specific focus and figure out which info is most relevant for the report I’m planning to write in the future.
Does your initial plan for the second quarter of this project match your current intentions? If not, or if you can make it more specific at this point, describe needed changes or attach a modified plan.
I believe my initial plan for the second quarter (researching more, putting together notes, expanding to make more of an impact) does match with my current intentions! It has been difficult to determine where and what to research, but I think that sitting down and first deciding exactly what I want to include in my report, then aligning my research around that, will be helpful. I’m also a bit stumped on how to approach my idea of creating a long term tutoring system. I talked with Profe about it a bit this past week, and I think it may need to be built into a current Spanish class curriculum…however, we don’t know what DA or Maureen Joy is going to look like next year quite yet, so it’s hard to plan for this. I’m going to keep brainstorming on these things in the next few weeks!
Thank you for reading my reflection. I’m excited for the weeks to come!