Page 19 - FIS World November 2021
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 they could still recognize the features: the headline, subtitle, reporter’s name, introductory paragraph, pictures with captions. Not only did they learn about newspaper articles, they were also proud and excited to see their home languages represented. It shows that English is not the default language in learning and teaching; all languages have equal value.
FISW Grade 6–8 ELA teacher Mette Sarstedt regularly uses a table in a Google document as a bilingual organizing tool. It was developed some time ago for a beginner ELA student in elementary school, to help her get used to and join in with the units of inquiry. Throughout a unit, students continuously add not only vocabulary and definitions in English and their home language, but also pictures and links to videos and other resources. The vocabulary that is needed to be successful in the mainstream classroom is highlighted. “We now call it the Swiss knife document, because you can do so much with it, just like with a Swiss knife,” said Ms. Sarstedt. Her ELA students often remind her of it themselves: “Ah, we can use the Swiss knife document!”
Being aware of the language repertoire of the students is important to fully understand and assess their language skills, to see the whole child. When the English homeroom teachers saw some German writing samples from German students, they were impressed. “It was lovely to see their confidence in the writings in their home language,” FISW Grade 3 teacher Lisa Asmus-Bentley noticed. “It changes how we think about their writing.” Therefore, the collaboration and sharing observations between the ELA, German and homeroom teachers and other language teachers is useful and enlightening.
In Readers’Workshop, FISW Grade 4 teacher Joanna Brauckmann often hand selects certain books that she feels will best fit her students. “I prefer to choose books
like My Papi Has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero, in which a family puts translanguaging in practice: they use two languages even within sentences when they talk with each other. And The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi resonates really well with the Korean students.” At the same time, it allows other students access to a new culture. After reading that book, a Chinese student explained that he was given a different name too, because people could not pronounce his Chinese name. Ms. Brauckmann assured him that she would practice and use his Chinese name, too.
Whether in
the classroom or Zooming from home, students are able to connect to arrive at
a shared understanding of the content being studied
It shows that English is not the default language in learning and teaching; all languages have equal value.
Finding books that connect best to the students is not always easy, but FISW Librarian Natasha Pollock is ready to help. She has developed a library choice board in which many online books, both fiction and non-fiction, are easily accessible for the students, as well as tools and sources such as Power Knowledge and Brittannica. Some of the online books also have the option to choose from 20 different languages.
Along the road to translanguaging, we are also on the road to achieve some of the strategic goals at FIS: language acquisition, personalized learning, and cultural equity and belonging, all in one. Sometimes comparing the languages can be confusing and we may feel lost, like in the case of sea, Meer, meer and lake. But luckily, it isn’t always that difficult. A dike is a dijk is a Deich, and a dam is a dam is a Damm!
Renske Oort
FISW teacher and Student Learning Coach
  November 2021 FIS World 17

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