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Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Story Writing with an English Language Learner

Today, I was back in the classroom as the classroom teacher.  I love Wednesdays because I get to reconnect with the students throughout the day and spend more time involved in their learning face to face.

One particular student I spent some time with was Rahmond.  He arrived in Term 2 from Samoa and could read, write and speak Samoan, but had no understanding of English (and why should he? He came from Samoa!)

I asked two of my Samoan speaking students to help with translations in his first few weeks and then began to create a programme designed for him with the help of our New Entrants teacher.  She ran a JAM assessment and Running Record assessment, in which he achieved Stage 3 for Add/Sub and Level 1 (Magenta) for reading.

Today, we wrote a story together in English!

First, I used sequence stories as a resource and photocopied and cut out the pictures and mixed them up.  Then I asked Rahmond which picture was number one, number two, number three etc.

After that, I asked Rahmond to tell me what was happening in each picture.  I then recast his sentence back to him and encouraged Rahmond to write his own sentences down.  One exciting thing I noticed was the way he initiated conversations such as:

"Miss, do you know what the Samoan word for that is?" (Pointing to the campfire).
"I think I do... is it afi?"
"Yes!"
(Little while later...)
"Miss...what is the English word for that?" (Pointing again, to the campfire).
"Fire."
"Oh...Fire..."

After that, I let him colour in the pictures, while I wrote the final sentences on our 'good copy.'

I then took photos of his pictures and through iMovie, put a short film together using his pictures and a voice over recording of Rahmond reading his story.  He told his story to three teachers today and two other students.  Repetition without boring!

This reaffirmed for me, the importance of scaffolding and giving students multiple opportunities to process an idea in different forms.  Through sequencing pictures, Rahmond was able to show his comprehension of the story, then telling, then writing and then reading - and reading again, Rahmond was able to learn, create, and now share!

Here is our final product!  Lelei tele, Rahmond!

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