A message from our ELL Department:
Learning Stations and Co-teaching by Ms. Kim
One of the greatest things I get to do in my job (besides teaching your lovelies) is co-planning and co-teaching with SIS teachers. What you should know (since I teach your lovelies) is that by co-planning and co-teaching, we are able to meet the diverse needs of many students in one period.
How do we this? How are we so fabulous you ask?
Well, one way to meet the diverse needs of ALL students is to differentiate.
What is that?
That is when we plan and tailor our lessons to meet the needs of the individuals as well as the group. You probably do this in your household and not even realize it. For example, if you have more than one child you know how different they are. You love them both equally but you may discipline or behave and interact with them differently. You do this because they are different individuals and need different things from you. Well, we do this too, but with a much larger population than your household.
One way we do this is to create learning stations (also called centers).
Learning stations can vary and look different in each classroom and depending upon tasks. But the gist of a learning station is various tables or areas in the classroom that have either several targeted skills/standards or everyone is working on the same skill/standard but there are multiple ways to understand the concept provided. In small groups, the students rotate through different stations during the week or period of time. Sometimes the stations are independent and sometimes they are direct instruction – teacher led. This enables us to present and teach targeted lessons to the students in a more effective manner, allowing us to meet the students at their academic level and readiness. The stations can range from cooperative hands-on activities to quiet reading, from listening comprehension to practicing fluency and writing, from building vocabulary to using games to access content, seriously, this can go on and on.
Bottom line, stations work for all students in all grades, even adults benefit from learning in centers.
Here are some centers that we have used recently in the elementary classes:
Grade 2: Learning and using the academic vocabulary of text features and their UOI.
Grade 3: Explaining their observations by providing evidence
Grade 4: Evaluating their observation by completing a lab
Grade 5: Students learning various skills through the process of playing games
Now, I would LOVE to tell you that everything we co-plan and co-teach works smoothly and there are NEVER any bumps, distractions or OMG’s. Of course not, I am not really sure where that ever happens. BUT, we work as a team and reflect about how we can make it better. We know that mistakes keep us on our toes and help us become better educators, better humans. We also know that learning stations support student achievement and success, something that we all desire.
When we returned from vacation, we began our new unit of inquiry into “How We Organize Ourselves.” While we are focusing mostly on the production of cacao and how it goes through the process of change to become chocolate, we also went on a field trip to study another type of production process.
During the first part of the field trip we were taken to a small theater. In the theater, we watched a short video clip about the history of the Campinas Ice Cream Company. Then they showed us a second video clip that detailed different products that they sold. Finally, the worker showed us a slide and explained in detail each step of the ice cream production process.
The second part of the field trip was a student favorite: tasting the different products! Students were so excited because they were allowed to choose an ice cream bar to eat from about 5 different options.
The final part of the field trip was a tour through the ice cream factory. Students were slightly dismayed to learn that they had to wear a plastic shower cap over their hair during the factory tour. This was necessary to protect against contamination. On the tour they saw where ingredients were tested for quality control, where they had meetings, where they ate lunch in the canteen (with vegan and vegetarian options too!), where products were wrapped, and finally where they were frozen before being transported to stores.
The last part of the factory that they saw was the freezer. To enter the freezer they had to dress up in bright yellow, thick, hooded coats because the freezer was set at 30 degrees below freezing. While it was really hot in the coats when we were standing outside of the freezer, we were very thankful to be wearing them during this part of the tour!
Our next big event is the Festival of Nations (FON). Our class chose to study Brazil because they are the 6th largest producer of cacao. We can’t wait to show you our awesome “All About Chocolate” books and our Brazil research during the FON!