Rational: This lesson was taken as an example from a real-life experience in my practicum. I was in charge of teaching a science unit on Space. The students I am focusing on in this lesson are modelled after the 4 ELL students in my class – 2 were fairly strong readers, 1 struggled at reading (these 3 have fairly high oral communication skills) and 1 student is very new to Canada and speak very little English but understands a fair amount, he has limited English writing skills. All 4 of these students speak the same Arabic (different varieties of the language but they are able to understand each other) and thus can communicate with each other and translate and help each other read and comprehend.
I feel it is important to include their native language in this lesson, especially when learning about science vocabulary which can be very complex. I have given them many variations of assignments for assessment in order for them to show me their understanding of the vocabulary, which is the major intent of this lesson. I have included many visuals with a PowerPoint presentation and pictures to accompany my word wall for all students, including the ELL’s.
investigate characteristics of the systems of which the earth is a part and the relationship
demonstrate an understanding of components of the systems of which the earth is a part, and explain the phenomena that result from the movement of different bodies in space.
use appropriate science and technology vocabulary, including axis, tilt, rotation, revolution, planets, moons, comets, and asteroids, in oral and written communication
identify components of the solar system, including the sun, the earth, and other planets, natural satellites, comets, asteroids, and meteoroids, and describe their physical characteristics in qualitative terms (e.g., The earth’s surface is very young; much of it is covered with water. The moon is the earth’s only natural satellite. Comets are the largest objects in our solar system; their centres contain rock particles trapped in frozen liquid; their tails are made up of gas and dust.)
Students will understand that space contains various different bodies and components through writing a fictional story of a trip they take through space that includes new space vocabulary as discussed in class and the word wall, as well as a provided checklist of words
ELL students will write a “dictionary” about new space vocabulary and will verbally communicate the new vocabulary to each other and to the teacher in a small group
ELL students are given a book called Our Solar System (a big book that has highlighted vocabulary words on each page). The group of 4 will read this book together (students can help each other read the book and read it aloud in the group, taking turns reading each page. After they have read the book, they are asked to write down the highlighted vocabulary words in the book on the chart provided. The first column is writing the word in English, the second is writing the word in their Native language, the third column is drawing or finding a visual representation on the computer or in another book to be copied.
Depending on the level of the students, they may draw a picture scene of them in space, labelling the vocabulary objects used (i.e. label Earth, the Sun, the Moon, etc.) or write a short paragraph or story that includes some of the new vocabulary words and “publish” their book and read it aloud to the class or to each other in a small group atmosphere. They will also have the chance to verbally explain their assignment.
Focus on understanding of the word rather than style and grammar
Picture, paragraph or story will be collected if it is written and assessed based on their understanding and to be sure they do understand the new vocabulary
Give each student two post-it sticky notes and ask them to think about what they already know about space and what they would like to learn about space. Model this activity through teacher modelling for students
ELL students will participate in this, if help is needed writing, they may verbally communicate what they know and want to know and the teacher will help them write it or add it to the list for them, depending on the level of the student
Teacher will then make a KWLS chart with the students, giving each student 2 sticky notes, 1 to write what they already Know about space and the other to write what they Want to know about space. Each student will place their sticky on the corresponding piece of paper while sharing with the class what they know and what they want to know. When the unit on Space is over, the students will complete the other two sections of what I Learned and what I Still want to know.
Teacher shows PowerPoint presentation and walks students through an overview of space
ELL students should participate in presentation and discussion (if they are comfortable asking and answering questions aloud in the class) because they are learning content and language at the same time which makes the experience more meaningful for them
The PowerPoint dismisses popular myths about space and science fiction
Overview of new vocabulary that will be introduced to students throughout the next few lessons (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, the Sun, Comets, Moon, Satellites, etc.)
Include photographs to accompany vocabulary words on word walls for a greater understanding of all students – have them pre-made so they can be stuck onto the cards right away. If there are any words that come up that were not anticipated, add the pictures later
Go over each word to confirm the meaning amongst all students
Read the students a short science-fiction story of choice – this is to be done as a shared reading having the teacher begin modelling fluency and then asking students to read sections of the story. ELL students will participate in this, reading along with the story (they are not expected to participate but they are expected to actively listen in order to understand new vocabulary and style of a science-fiction story). They will be given a book to follow along with so they do not have to follow along on the overhead, which can be harder to read and see the shape of the words.
Go through the story and highlight any of the vocabulary words that have been introduced in the lesson so far, or that are new space vocabulary words
Teacher model writing your own story, using the cards with the vocabulary words on them as fill in the blank type words (i.e. when writing Earth bring the card into that spot and place it in the story to make the use of the vocabulary word very obvious)
Assign the students their task of writing a science-fiction story where they use as many of the vocabulary words as possible including the checklist and rubric that will be used to mark them
Give the ELL students Our Solar System book and ask the 4 of them to get into a small group and read the book together. Have the stronger readers take turns reading each page. If they need to translate in the native language for the other student, this is okay as well, as long as their dictionary is done in both languages and their final assignment is labelled or written in English.
Thank the students for a great lesson and for all of their participation