I am a first grade dual language teacher who teaches the English component of an integrated-science based curriculum. I teach two groups of students. Both classes are divided into one-third Spanish dominant, one-third English dominant, and one-third balanced bilingual. Educating these learners can be very difficult. Not only do we have to consider diverse learning styles and adapt our teaching styles to meet the needs of these learners, we also have to consider language and cultural barriers. In addition, uncontrollable environmental influences also can affect their learning.
Our children not only experience frustration learning fundamental skills in one language, but also have the additional challenge of applying these learned skills in a second language. At this stage of development, children are still seeking guidance as they develop their concept of self, identity, social skills and responsibility. Therefore, we as teachers must wear many hats as we teach them the skills to survive and adapt to the environment around them. Developing social skills can help children learn to exert control over their actions and obtain suitable relationships with family, friends and the community in which they reside. Developing these skills can in turn reveal why learning is important in itself.
I would like to present a unit in which the comprehension of literacy elements can be made relevant to solving problems that learners may encounter in their daily lives. Promoting child development through literature can play a significant role in a child’s life if one selects the appropriate text. Introducing literature that students can relate to will allow them to make connections to the environment in which they live. Selecting literature that reflects the stages of language, cognitive, personality and social development of our students will allow them to understand conflicts or situations that the characters in the story are subjected to and how they resolve their problems in a specific manner. Providing my students with literacy pieces that they can relate to their personal experiences will help them to learn skills from their favorite characters as well as appreciate literature. These selections can address the needs of a child throughout the maturing process and influence their understanding and response to literature (Norton 6).
In this unit I will be selecting age-appropriate literature that is related to conflicts children may encounter throughout social development at that age. This unit will focus on specific characteristics of social development such as (1) understanding consequences of good versus poor behavior, (2) dealing with aggression and other emotional behavior, (3) developing responsibility, (4) self-directed learning and problem solving, and (5) developing self-worth.
My goal is to develop literacy skills and problem-solving skills through retelling selected story elements. I would like the plot and problems the characters encounter in the stories to be related to conflicts that arise in my student’s personal experiences. As they learn the elements of a story I would like the learners to be able to identify the characters, setting and problem in the story, the events in the story, and how the problems are resolved. As they learn the literacy elements, I would like them to make connections to real life problems they encounter. I would like them to be able to identify a problem, discuss strategies and steps they will use to reach a solution to the problems they face. I also want them to self-reflect upon their decisions and determine if the solution they chose was appropriate; and, if not, is there an alternative solution they could use that may produce a better outcome?
To meet the needs of the variety of learning styles in my classroom I plan to begin with whole group instruction, which will introduce the text. Through whole group instruction and modeling, we will analyze the story elements and story sequence. Next, visual reminders will be incorporated into the lesson as a tool to practice comprehension by retelling a story. A triangle will be used to represent the beginning of a story. Understanding that the shape has three sides, I would like them to remember three things they learn in the beginning of the story: characters, setting and the problem. Next, a rectangle will represent the middle of the story. Recognizing the shape has four sides I would like them to remember four events in the story in sequential order. Finally, a circle will represent the end of a story, in which the characters resolve the problem (Benson).
Once the elements and graphic organizer materials have been modeled and practiced, instruction will transfer to small group activity centers. The students will practice the strategies they learn in activity centers. The centers will focus on oral language development and be designed to incorporate joint productive activities, challenging activities, and a teacher facilitated group where the children are engaged in instructional conversation. By beginning with whole group instruction, the students will be provided a model of what is expected. They will be given the opportunity to practice the modeled strategies, which will equip them with the oral language development they will need to become storytellers.
Integrating social development with literacy will help to increase self-concept, and identity. I would like my students to become storytellers by retelling the stories they hear to their peers or families and take ownership of the stories they create. Keeping with the state standards of reading, my students will learn to become storytellers by using a retelling format that includes the story elements, and reenacting the stories they hear. Giving the students ownership of the story will help to increase their confidence, their concept of self and their awareness of responsibility to become social and academic problem solvers.
Once the learners have grasped the concept they will be introduced to activity centers where they will use the strategies they learn through literacy in a social environment to collaborate with peers by working together to complete a collective group project (joint productive activity), or inclusive challenging activities. The activity centers will allow students to be grouped heterogeneously English/Spanish dominant, including pairing low ability and high ability for peer assistance. This provides my learners the opportunity to socially interact, to increase oral language development and build confidence.