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Benefits of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Classrooms

Benefits of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse ClassroomsNatalie WallerWalden UniversityNovember 8, 2015

Student InformationFemale7 years old1st graderHome Language: SpanishFluent in Spanish, speaks English and Spanish moved to the United States from Mexico when she was 2 years oldYoungest child, has an older brother in 2nd grade

Background InformationHome LanguageMother is a native Spanish speaker and speaks very little English. Older brother is bilingual in Spanish and EnglishStudent speaks English, but is fluent in Spanish.Socioeconomic StatusLow socioeconomic statusMom works in a restaurant.She receives for free school lunch.

Academic ChallengesStudent is able to read English. However, comprehension is lower than expected. Student has the most trouble with thinking beyond the text or making personal connection. This comes from a lack of background knowledge and English vocabulary.Student has trouble expressing herself and her learning through writing.Student does very well memorizing information.

Funds of KnowledgeLinguisticStudent is fluent in Spanish.Student is in the developing stage of learning the English language.The mother speaks little English. Spanish is spoken at home.CulturalUnderstanding and experience of Hispanic traditions and beliefsDiversity of food experiencesStudent does not remember living in Mexico. The student's mother has set high expectations for her child's academic success. The student has respect for the education setting.

Funds of KnowledgeFamilyThe student has sibling support for school, academics and social behaviors.The student has a strong work ethic.Family: The student lives with her mother, older brother (2nd grader) and cousins. The family is very close and active in the children's education. Parents and other relatives come to after school events and conferences.ExperiencesHoliday and Cultural celebrationsThe student's father lives in Mexico. The student has not seen her father since she was very young. The student has not been back to Mexico since her family moved to the America.

Funds of KnowledgePracticalEnjoys readingHas a lot of support at homeWants to learn and perform well

Schools are Recommended by the CCSS to Provide:Appropriate instructional supports to make grade-level course work comprehensible(Common Core State Standards Initiative, n.d.)Modified assessments that allow ELLs to demonstrate their content knowledge(Common Core State Standards Initiative, n.d.)Additional time for ELLs to complete tasks and assessments(Common Core State Standards Initiative, n.d.)Opportunities for classroom interactions (both listening and speaking) that develop concepts and academic language in the disciplinesOpportunities for ELLs to interact with proficient English speakers(Common Core State Standards Initiative, n.d.)Opportunities for ELLs to build on their strengths, prior experiences, and background knowledge(Common Core State Standards Initiative, n.d.)Qualified teachers who use practices found to be effective in improving student achievement (Common Core State Standards Initiative, n.d.)

Literacy Expectations of the Common Core State Standards[the] goal is to provide all English-language learners, regardless of their language proficiency levels, the same opportunities to demonstrate their content knowledge and skills as their peers who are native English-speakers or former English-learners, (Maxwell, 2013a, p. 1).

Strengths of the Standards for Language Learners:Prepares all students, including ELLs for college and careers and to participate fully in what has become a global workplace (Language Magazine, 2015).Encourages significant collaboration between content area teachers and teachers of ELL students, which my increase scaffolds and support for ELLs in the general classroom and content area instruction.

The student is able to:work diligently on tasksdecode simple text and understand simple materialscarefully and thoroughly think before responding to questions verbally and in writing. have unique experiences that provide background knowledge she can share with others. have a wide range of science related content vocabulary.

Challenges of the Standards for Language Learners:Making CCSS content accessible to ELLs who are deficient in oral and written communication skills, (Coleman & Goldenberg, 2012).Schools need to establish a school-wide focus on literacy, (Language Magazine, 2015).Extra scaffolding needs to be in place to support ELLs for vocabulary as well as oral and reading fluency in EnglishText complexity and the focus of the standards on the learner creating meaning, puts additional burdens on ELL students who could previously rely on the teacher to help with vocabulary and meaning construction.

The student:Does not often ask for help when needed. The teacher has to be mindful to check in regularly and ask open ended questions. Needs assurance that making mistakes and not knowing is okay. Unfamiliar with common English phrasesUncomfortable talking in groupsHas a challenging time expressing her opinion and thinking beyond the text.

Overcoming these ChallengesMaxwell suggests teachers spend time, picking apart the standards, stripping them down to the essential concepts, simplifying the language and developing strategies that all of them can use to support English-learners in both content and ESL classes, (2013b, p. S9).

Instructional Strategies to Help Overcome Challenges for ELLs and the Standards:Collaboration between ESL and content-area teachersIncluding language and content instruction throughout the academic dayUtilizing push-in support to provide additional scaffolding for ELLsHelping teachers develop a deep understanding of language acquisitionTime devoted to getting to know individual students and their specific learning needsIdentifying and addressing cultural and linguistic differences that may enhance or hinder learningExplicitly teach academic language related to content(Maxwell, 2013b)

References:Coleman, R. and Goldenberg, C. (2012). The common core challenge for English language learners. Principal Leadership, 12, 46-51.Common Core State Standards Initiative. (n.d.). About the standards. Retrieved from Magazine. (2015) Cutting to the common core. Retrieved from, L. A. (2013a). Consortia struggle with ELL provisions.Education Week, 32(27), 117.Maxwell, L. A. (2013b). Standards and English-learners: It takes a village. Education Week, 33(10), S9S12.


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