VS 5.1: Program Models

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Think About

Conceptual Outline Meaning Making
Current Realities  
What programs and practices exist to serve language minority students? In my school? 

Jeannie Oakes (University of California, Los Angeles) 


"The sad fact is that even today, after 30 years of talking about educational opportunity, we find non-English- speaking immigrant kids typically placed in low-ability classes. We seem to believe that just because they can’t speak English, they also can’t learn math, or history, or geography, or science. In the name of teaching them English, we often deprive them of years of learning academic content."

My beliefs about educational opportunities?
Gary Fenstermacher’s  example of the fish in water reminds us that to get an accurate view of the impact of practices, it is helpful to examine practices from alternative points of view—to use a “new lens.” My alternative lens? 

Examples

 
  • Critical Pedagogy 

The classroom as part of a larger social context 

  • Living Contradictions 

Differences between your beliefs and your actions 

  • Problem Orientation 

Viewing students or families in terms of their deficits instead of their resources 

  • Resistance Theory 

Reinterpreting student behavior and academic performance against this theory of prolonged rejection of minorities by mainstream culture in and out of the school setting

Applying conceptual tools to practice?

Gary Fenstermacher (University of Michigan) 

Why is it important for teachers to articulate the beliefs that lie behind their practices? If there’s anything that is a core principle of mine, this is it. What happens so much in education is that life in the classroom is created by imposition. There are so many systemic characteristics of schooling: tests and texts and marks and grades and schedules and GPAs and Carnegie units. And all these things wash up on the shores of every classroom,  if you will, and they shape what teachers do in that classroom. . . . And becoming aware—self-aware—of this construction is an important part of developing into a powerful first-rate teacher. Once you are aware though, you now have this opportunity to be in control of your own behavior as a teacher . . . understanding that you now have the freedom to make choices about how to be different.


What lies behind my practice? Imposition? 



Control of my behavior? Freedom?

The Critical Inquiry Process (Sirotnick & Oakes) 

 

     1. What are classroom and school practices? 

 

     2. How did these practices get to be this way? 

 

     3. What skills and messages are actually being taught? 

 

     4. Who benefits from these practices? 

 

     5. Are these practices what I think are best for kids? 

 

     6. What actions will I take?

 

Another lens? 

1. What are the classroom and school practices?

 

    

  • Student-Teacher Interaction Patterns 

What kind of interaction patterns exist between teachers and students? What is the balance between teacher talk and student talk?

Other examples of interaction patterns?
  • Approach to Learning 

What kinds of curricular and learning activities are planned? Are there lots of worksheets? Is there hands-on learning?

 

My approach? 
  •    Logistics of Schooling 

When do bells ring? How do people walk from class to the lunchroom?

 

My school logistics? 

Student-Teacher Interaction Patterns

 

Jeannie Oakes (University of California, Los Angeles) 

We often stick more closely to that [transmission] model with children who have the most difficulty learning. [We are] less willing with them to experiment with hands-on, less willing to connect what they’re learning in class with their experiences outside the class. . . . We make the knowledge so much more abstract for children . . . who have difficulty learning these isolated bits and pieces of knowledge.

 

My use of transmission model?

Approach to Learning

 

Virginia Collier (George Washington University) 

When they limit it to just that one question . . . the focus is on just English. ‘Well, they’ve got to learn English as fast as possible.’ The policy makers forget about issues like they’ve got to learn math, and science, and social studies, and keep up in their school work. That gets lost in the debate. . . . We find that if there are bilingual classrooms where the teacher is teaching them extremely traditionally, kids have to sit at their desks, they don’t speak a word, and they aren’t getting any language development in that kind of context. They are doing much less well than in a very rich, very interactive, cooperative learning classroom, with discovery learning taught all in English. It’s not just the simple issue of which language. It’s a whole complex variety of factors that create an enrichment context rather than a remedial context.

Enrichment context vs. Remedial context?

Fred Genesee (McGill University, Canada) 

Limitations of pull-out programs 

Contact is limited. 

Students are pulled out of regular classroom, missing content. 

Student groups have mixed needs and levels of language proficiency. 

Pull-out teacher may not be able to tailor instruction to individual language needs.

Other limitations? 

Logistics of Schooling

 

Example

Lorna Ormond’s account of how she got into ESL pull-out and what limited resources were made avail- able to the program: 

 

We had no room . . . Sometimes we would sit in the hall . . . Then we had a room that was a teacher’s lounge . . . As our population increased . . . I shared the computer room . . . Then that room was given to someone else . . . so I was given a cubicle [in the resource department]. 

 

 Ovando and Collier remind us that ESL students learn best in learning environments that consistently provide a cognitively complex curriculum and interactive instruction.

 

The message of a school’s logistics?

2. How did these practices get to be this way?

This question requires us to look at programs and practices from a historical perspective in a historical context.

My school's historical and perspective context? 

Examples

 

Linda Frost (ESL Specialist) 

Her traveling ESL job reveals that each district and state has varied resources and practices for serving ESL students.

Types of resources? 

JoAnn Crandall (University of Maryland, Baltimore County) Comments on the importance of students’ background: 

A large number of students, . . . because of the incredible political and economic realities of their lives, have had almost no schooling. Or, if they’ve had any schooling, it’s been interrupted for three years at a time. . . . All of the basic academic skills that kids learn in their first six years . . . all generally falls to the ESL teacher.

My student's background? 

2. What skills and messages are actually being taught?

The way we teach content and interact with students sends intended, and even unintended, messages to students.

My message to ESL students? 

Examples

 

Invalidating cultural identity

 

Fred Genesee (McGill University) 

“The message is ‘We want you to learn English, and we really don’t care too much about your home language.’ Or even worse, [a teacher] may say, ‘In fact, the best way for you to learn English is if you use English as much as possible and try and forget about your home language.’ The problem with this approach is that these children can’t simply forget about their home language. It’s part of who they are; it’s part of their social sense of themselves. . . . These kinds of environments where children are having to learn something—but it’s done at the expense of something else—are psychologically not very advantageous.”

 

 

Invalidating ability through tracking

My experience with tracking? 

Jeannie Oakes (University of California, Los Angeles) 

 

We live in a culture that basically has said that there are some people who just don’t have as much ability and that they need something really quite different from other students. . . . Unfortunately, this was not a race- neutral process. 

Four factors coincided with tracking: 

 

     1. Influx of immigrant students were entering secondary schools at the turn of the century 

 

     2. Standardized testing and the idea of the “normal curve” 

 

     3. The idea that intelligence is fixed in people 

 

     4. The idea from evolution that some groups may be more  intelligent than others 

“All of these things came together to lead educators to decide, “Well, the best thing to do then would be to divide the ones who are smart from the ones who are less intelligent—teach them very different things.”

  • High-scoring students were to be prepared for professions. 

 

  • Low-scoring students (mostly non-English-speaking immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe) were to be prepared for the factory. 

 

“Most educators now don’t know that history—many would not agree with those decisions. But the practices have become thought of as common sense. We don’t question the normal curve; we don’t question the standardized tests; we typically don’t question ability grouping.”

 

Current views on such issues? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My view? 

  1. Who benefits from these practices?

              Students? Teachers? Society?

My practices benefit who?

Jeannie Oakes (University of California, Los Angeles) 

Students learn, more than anything else, how they’re supposed to behave. Coming to class on time—very important. Often teachers enforce tardy policies more rigidly in low-track classes than in other classes. Doing work neatly is often stressed very much. And it’s almost as if kids are being trained for very low-level jobs, where they’re expected to follow orders, do things correctly, not ask too many questions, get things done on time.

 
  1. Do I think these practices are best for students? 

                The moral dimensions of teaching.

 

Examples

 

Pedagogy or Politics?

 

Jeannie Oakes (University of California, Los Angeles) 

The problem with how to deal with language minority students is not a matter of what we know about how children learn best. We know that children learn best in diverse groups; we know they learn best when they can rely on their native language, as well as the new language they’re learning. The research about this is very clear. This is a political issue. . . . It’s very hard to decide about what’s best for children when policies are being driven by nervousness about ‘Is this country going to turn black and brown?’

What's best?

Macro-level Politics

 

Anne Katz (ARC Associates) on English Only: 

I find it difficult to understand how good high-quality instruction will be delivered to children if they cannot understand what the teacher is saying. I find it puzzling. . . . We use terms like sheltered English or Specially Designed Alternative Instruction in English to describe some methodologies. But those methodologies were designed for intermediate-level [language] proficiency students. They were not designed for beginning-level students, for students entering school for the first time, for students who have had interrupted schooling and have fragmented academic backgrounds. I don’t hear very much from the English Only people about how to do that.

Other examples? 

Micro-level Politics

 

Millie Fletcher (Principal) 

One of the things that I have been heard to say on this staff is ‘When a little boy or girl comes into this building, we put our politics aside. That is, the personal politics that come from your views about limits on immigration—things like that, your views on the quality or qualities of any culture. . 

. . Put it out in your glove compartment and leave it there, because . . . we’re going to educate the kid and we’re going to put our best heart toward that effort. 

My politics? 
  1. What actions will I take? 

Critical Inquiry should lead to action. Individual decisions are indeed moral decisions. A moral deci- sion involves our intellect, our emotions, and our politics, essentially our hearts and our minds.

My actions? 

Rita Esquivel (Former Director of OBLEMLA) 

 Program models, of course, do matter. . . . And the principal being an educational leader, of course, is key. But when you [the teacher] get to the classroom . . . what you do and what you say and how you say it will directly influence children for the rest of their life. . . the power they have with children is unmeasurable. 

My moral decisions? 

 

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