Responding to national curriculum goals for English language learners: enhancing reading strategies in high school content areas. Teachers and teacher educators as co-researchers: an action research project . Jennifer Alford, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane .
Responding to national curriculum goals for English language learners: enhancing reading strategies in high school content areas.
Teachers and teacher educators as
an action research project.
Jennifer Alford, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane.
Alice Windeyer, Education Queensland.
Presented at AATE/ALEA National Conference, July 5-7, 2013. Brisbane.
Journal of Immersion and Content-based Language Education. (in press, Spring 2014).
Contact: [email protected]
Intro – why this? why now?;
Overview of Kedron High School ESL unit and Alice’s class;
Action research model;
Action research reading focus in this project;
3 sub-focus areas with snapshots from lessons and reflections;
Introduction – why this?;why now?Context: Growing cultural and linguistic diversity;Over 5000 students in Queensland high schools in Australia are migrants or refugees or are from backgrounds other than English (DET, ESL Database, 2011).
with mainstream content teachers.
ii. parallel programs for groups of English language learners - same content but modified with a stronger language focus (Davison, 2001; Gibbons, 2002).
“can help students develop content knowledge
at the same time they develop more advanced
reading skills” (Fang and Schleppegrell, 2008, p. 10, our emphasis).
Numbers within the language unit fluctuate around 200 students
An equal number of students receive support within mainstream classes.
Two levels of classes
Higher class – working to parallel mainstream / adjusted assessment
Lower class – elements of mainstream curriculum / highly adjusted assessment
Bandscales 6 +
Bandscales 3 - 5
SALIENT POINTS FROM THIS??
“a form of self-reflective enquiry undertaken by participants in social situations in order to improve the rationality and justice of their own practices, their understanding of these practices and the situations in which the practices are carried out” (Carr & Kemis, p. 162).
Central concepts in AR (Burns, 2009):
i. empowering participants in a social situation;
ii. self-consciously criticising what exists through becoming aware of assumptions that influence the social situation;
iii. working to confront inequities in the system;
iv. deliberate intervention with recurring reflection that adjusts the project as required.
the teachers – our mutual interest in
Alice’s initial goals:
To help students become aware of their role as readers;
To help them proactively use reading strategies when tackling reading tasks;
To assist learners to be able to confidently read for and extract relevant information from a range of web sites and other source materials during their independent research on endangered animals.
To enhance students ability to go beyond basic information retrieval to more in- depth processing of text.
Metacognition “is the ability to think about and control the thinking process before, during, and after reading. Students who have learned metacognitive skills can plan and monitor their comprehension, adapting and modifying their reading accordingly. …..Ineffective readers, on the other hand, often don’t realize they should be doing something while reading except moving their eyes across the page. They are unaware of the complexities of reading and have never been taught to think about what they are reading, create mental pictures, or ask questions. (Urquhart & Fareez, 2012. p. 4).
Many strategies included, for example:
Having a reason for reading and being aware of this;
Recognising text structure at discourse and clause level;
Identifying the main idea and important details;
Relating text to background knowledge;
Recognising relevance of a text to reading goals;
Recognizing and attending to difficulties;
Reading carefully. (Grabe, 2009)
Reflection on skills
Lexical signalling or noticing the words in academic texts that signal patterns of text organisation and relationships between ideas.
Paying attention to signal words, such as those that indicate cause and effect (e.g., ‘due to’; ‘as a result’; ‘is caused by’), does improve reading comprehension particularly among less-skilled readers. (Chung, 2000;Meyer & Poon, 2001).
Giving reasons why
Reasons within reasons
Creese (2005) found a similar situation in her study in a Yr 10 Geography class in a London school. While the teacher attempted to keep the EAL students focussed on the language of Geography, “their objective was to get the answer” (p. 198). Creese suggests this is directly related to what is valued in schools, i.e., curriculum content which is tested, even in those schools with inclusive policies that aim to meet both language and content objectives.
Shark Declines Threaten Shellfish Stocks, Study Says
Helen Scales for National Geographic News March 29, 2007 http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/03/070329-sharks-shellfish.html
1. Dramatic declines of large North Atlantic sharks due to overfishing have upset the balance of entire marine ecosystems, a new study shows. Now scallops, clams, and oysters are paying the price.2. Smaller sharks, skates, and rays that are normally eaten by the large sharks have become so abundant that they are decimating shellfish stocks, the researchers say.3. This shark decline, fed by growing worldwide demand for shark-fin soup, is indirectly causing some scallop fisheries to collapse entirely, the scientists add.4. A recent study, which appears in this week's issue of the journal Science, is the first ever demonstration of how wiping out top-level predators causes impacts that cascade down through the rest of the food web, the study authors say.5. "Commercial fishing has left so few big sharks that they no longer perform their role as the top predators," said study co-author Julia Baum of Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia. "The predators of smaller species of sharks and rays have been virtually wiped out.“6. In new research, marine biologists discovered some species have declined by 99 percent and more. What was most alarming was that all 11 major species of predatory shark—including sandbar, blacktip, tiger, hammerhead, and bull sharks—drastically declined. As a result, 12 other smaller prey shark and rays species shot up in abundance.7. "Twenty years ago the abundance of rays was not sufficient to cause a decrease in the population of scallops. With the arrival of more rays, the scallop populations have been decimated, and the area's century-old fishery has closed.
Focused language work like this, needs to be a regular, articulated part of classroom practice to reinforce its value, and to generate the skills and confidence to do it.
Whole school approach supported by education authorities would mobilise teachers to deepen their knowledge of content-related language demands in relation to their particular student cohorts.
Language teachers need to investigate the language demands of Geography and other content areas more deliberately, as Alice did, to identify the literacy practices within Geography that create opportunities for learning. The Geography teacher can gain understanding of the “constellation of interacting grammatical and discourse features” (Schleppegrell, 2004, p. 76) that realise the discipline area.
Research this collaboration in relation to ACARA’s EAL/D agenda.
Particularity is the key as language learners have differing needs depending on a range of variables such as first language variety, level of literacy in the first language, and proficiency in the target language. This was clearly evident in our attempt to teach top level text structure with learners at level 4 in this group. ACARA EAL/D Learning Area annotations are helpful ....to a degree. See also EQ Teaching Emphases website.
Professional associations for both content and language areas can cross-fertilise to bring the topic of language and content integration into greater focus in publications and conference themes and in teacher education programs. This would help break down the ‘silo mentality’ that leaves teachers of curriculum content with fewer resources for teaching language, and teachers of language with inadequate access to knowledge of curriculum content.
Alvermann, D., Phelps, S., & Gillis, V. (2010). Content literacy and the reading process. In Content Area Reading and Literacy – succeeding in today’s diverse classrooms. (6th Edn). Boston: Allyn & Bacon/Pearson.
Arkoudis, S. (2006). Negotiating the rough ground between EAL/D and mainstream teachers. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 9(4) 415-43.
Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). (2012). English as an Additional Language Teacher Resource Overview and EAL/D Learning Progression Foundation to Year 10. Retrieved from http://www.acara.edu.au/curriculum/student_diversity/eald_teacher_resource.html. Aug 29, 2012.
Banegas, D. L. (2012). Integrating content and language in English language teaching in secondary education: models, benefits and challenges. Studies in Second Language Learning and Teaching 2 (1). 111-136.
Creese, A. (2002). The discursive construction of power in teaching partnerships: Language and subject specialists in mainstream schools. TESOL Quarterly, 36 (2) 597-616.
Creese, A. (2005). Is this content-based language teaching? Linguistics and Education 16. 188-204.
Davison, C. (2001). Current policies, programs and practices in school ESL. In B. Mohan, C. Leung, and C. Davison (Eds.), English as a Second Language in the mainstream - teaching, learning and identity. (pp. 30-50). Harlow, UK: Pearson Education.
Davison. C. (2006). Collaboration between EAL/D and content teachers: How do we know when we are doing it right? International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 9 (4) 454-475.
Department of Education and Training, Queensland. (2011). ESL Database data. Personal communication. Date received March 3, 2011. Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
Fang, Z., & Schleppegrell, M.J. (2008). Technicality and Reasoning in Science: Beyond Vocabulary. Reading in secondary content areas: a language-based pedagogy. (pp. 18-38). Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Gibbons, P. (2002). Scaffolding Language, Scaffolding Learning : Teaching Second Language Learners in the Mainstream Classroom. Portsmouth: Heinemann.
Grabe, W. (2009). Building Main Idea Comprehension. Reading in a second language: moving from theory to practice. (pp. 198-219). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.