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‘Magical Room’

Collaborative Efforts Help ENL Students

Ring ENL teacher, Durrin See, and first grade teacher, Kim Ognibene, do a hands-on activity showing how craters are created on the moon for their ELA Astronomy unit.

Ring Elementary School English as a New Language (ENL) teacher Durrin See, handed a rock to a first grade student while co-teaching with Kim Ognibene’s class to drop in a box of flour and dry hot chocolate to demonstrate the surface of the moon. The rock created a “crater” to the “ohhhs” and “ahhhs” of the class.

“Why is there nothing stopping the meteor from making a crater, why we do not have craters on Earth’s surface, what did Alex say?” asked See.

“Because there’s no atmosphere,” answered the students.

The educators were co-teaching an English Language Arts Astronomy lesson in See’s classroom. Ring Elementary School teachers collaborate on lessons to help fully expose ENL students and native language students to content areas.

See and Ognibene envisioned transforming the ENL room into a “magical room” filled with posters, prop, and visuals to support the content area they are learning. It allows the students to come to a special room during their Listening and Learning time. It is a great way to have native language learners and ENL student develop their language skills together while using strategies for all learners.

“Our learning targets and expectations are high for ALL students, however, ELL’s have additional language objectives,” said Ognibene. “ENL students work with the native language speakers, which helps them with their language development. They are engaged in groups based upon their strengths, needs, and instructional levels. Both teachers use Native language learners as peer models for oral language development, vocabulary, comprehension, as well as the cultural exchange academically and socially. We preview vocabulary, we build background information, and we focus on language skills as we are learning the content. Vocabulary and comprehension development is the target for all students in listening and learning. We use mostly visuals, models and demonstration to make the content comprehensible and this type of learning benefits all students, but especially ENL students. Anytime you collaborate with a colleague, it is an opportunity to share your strengths as an educator. Co-teachers share responsibilities and collaboratively implement evidence-based co-teaching practices through planning, delivery and assessment of instruction. We have become like a well-oiled machine!”

Ring ENL teacher Kim Jewell and kindergarten teacher, Jen Goshgarian; have also collaborated in Goshgarian’s classroom for five years. They spend two hours teaching together daily with the first hour being an integrated ELA block. The ENL students and native language students work collaboratively during this hour to build writing, listening, speaking, comprehension and vocabulary skills.

They follow the team teach model of co-teaching during which time both teachers work together to teach the entire group of 25 kindergarten students. In the second hour, they use stations co-teaching model to continue their lessons.

“It is important to have two teachers in the room because we are able to model thinking aloud and appropriate conversation,” agreed Goshgarian and Jewell. “We demonstrate how to ask and answer questions in order to find out information and we model how to correctly use protocols such as think, pair, share, gallery walks and inside-outside circles. Our youngest children need several models to understand what is expected before they are able to complete a task independently. We are able to reach all of the children, and with such a large group the two teachers are beneficial. Together we are able to reach the needs of every child.”

Jewel brings in the expertise of language development and Goshgarian is able to provide her expertise on early literacy development and the kindergarten curriculum. Each teacher has a background in Spanish, which helps build relationships with Ring ENL students and families.

“During our initial co-teacher training we were taught that co-teaching is a like a marriage,” said Goshgarian and Jewell. “It takes flexibility, trust, respect and good communication. We have been co-teaching for five years now and each year our teaching relationship strengthens and we are able to measure our success by watching the students’ growth and progress increase yearly. Both teachers are working to meet the needs of the students and we have the best interests of our students in mind for every decision that we make. Overall, it’s a fantastic experience for the teachers and the students.”

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