Saturday, November 15, 2014

Finding Oldies, But Goodies

Several blogs ago, I wrote about creating office hours for content teachers to come and seek help with modifying their lesson plans for their English language learners.  I am happy to report that they have been consistently well-attended by a set of social studies and science teachers.  We are taking baby steps and have moved from including explicit vocabulary instruction to differentiating reading assignments.  The teachers I am working with are fairly new to teaching (and new to the building).  They were skeptical about being "allowed" to use materials other than the assigned textbook.  However, they also think that my status as department chair carries weight, so they were relieved when I granted them "permission" to do so.  Since our session took up the majority of their planning period, I offered to explore their book room and bring them any treasures I was able to scrounge up.

Luckily for me, the science and social studies departments happen to share a book room.  I was given a key, but warned that while I would probably find what I was looking for, many of the materials are old, some from the 1980's.  I pointed out that the social studies teacher is currently teaching about the American Revolution and the science teacher is teaching about acids and bases.  Unless pH levels or the events of the Boston Tea Party have changed in the past thirty years (doubtful), I didn't see a problem.

After dusting off the bookshelves, I found several American history textbooks that appeared to be easier to read than the Common Core aligned textbooks that the ESOL students are currently struggling with.  I also found a set of DVDs as well as a binder full of graphic organizers.  On the science end, I found a set of adapted readers, a set of modified tests and a DVD series created by the publisher that for some reason never made it to the teacher's room.

The teachers were thrilled with the materials that I gave them.  I promised to continue to keep my eyes peeled for more materials as you never know what is going to turn up in a building that is over sixty years old.  In the meantime, these oldies but goodies will help make these classes more meaningful to to the ESOL students (and most likely, many general education students as well).  While these materials may be older than the teachers actually teaching the classes and do not include fancy web codes or suggestions for web-based activities, the truth is that learning is timeless.


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