Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Desperate for Ideas

A fabulous fourth grade teacher at my school just dropped by briefly to ask me to mull over a challenge in her classroom. She has a new student (just arrived from Central America) who is illiterate. He can not read in Spanish; he can't actually identify all the letters in the Spanish alphabet. According to records he was in school in his country and repeated one or two grades.

She's looking for ways to engage him and help him learn at a level completely different from the rest of her class. Any thoughts?

Update: For more details and/or to get the story from the student's classroom teacher,go here.


Anonymous said...

Are any of your first graders reading at a fourth grade level? Do your classes do reading at the same time? Maybe you could swap kids for guided reading?

Amy said...

Larry Ferlazzo teaches ELL kids and has a web page with about a bazillion links to helpful pages. I have also used The Rosetta Stone with some of my ELL kiddos. It has pictures and spoken text. I hope there is a fabulous ELL teacher at your school and someone who can talk to him in Spanish. ;-) Good Luck!

Becca said...

Pictures and lots of gestures (I am assuming that he has no English speaking as well...)

If there is another student in the room who is bilingual, buddy them up together to help each other.

Could he (or she) be a buddy to a kindergardener? This way he or she may pick up some of the material as well as helping the K student stay on task

Tracey said...

Buddy with a K or 1st grade!

Jose Rodriguez said...

Comming from Central America there is a high possibility that he IS fluent in a native language that is NOT Spanish. I agree with suggestion about gestures and pictures for now. Just give him some absoption/culture shock time. He'll probably start interacting in English soon enough. As a bilingual teacher I do have to say that cross-age tutoring is OK but works best when the tutor is the older student. I WOULD limit time in lower grades and just let him experience language at his age level and content appropriate space. Lot's of luck with the new school year. Look forward to connecting our classrooms. I teach 3rd grade in Los Angeles, CA..

Alice Mercer said...

Make sure that the student is being monitored for special education services. The fact that he repeated grades could indicate overall language/cognition issues. This will be esp. true if he does not have another indigenous home language (Jose's point). Most ELD programs even in upper-grade have visual/audio dictionaries that will show a picture, then say the word when you click on it. I would definately check in with your site/district bi-lingual specialist(s) for advice and resources.
Larry can give some advice because he has worked with non-native language literate populations. Watch the use of primary classes, that can be really embarrassing.

Jenny said...

Thank you all so much for these thoughts. Our school is widely diverse and we are totally accustomed to students who don't speak English, but I can't remember a student who arrived in an upper grade without any literacy in any language. I can only imagine what the day must seem like to him.

Again, thank you for all of these ideas. We've got a lot to think about and we are grateful for all the help.