Kids love to explore the real world-as young scientists they observe and relish nature, and through social studies they investigate other times, places, and cultures. In this series of three videos, authors and staff developers Anne Goudvis and Stephanie Harvey welcome you to the child-centered classrooms at Columbine Elementary in Boulder, Colorado, where the majority of the children are English language learners. In these culturally and linguistically diverse classrooms, kids read, write, talk, listen, and investigate their way through the curriculum, developing a common language for reading, writing, and speaking English. Join Anne and Steph in these classrooms where effective comprehension strategy instruction is integrated with content knowledge acquisition in science and social studies. The instruction students experience is responsive to the learning and language needs of English language learners in the primary and intermediate grades, giving them tools to understand and actively use information and ideas, and learn English along the way. Purposeful talk is central to instruction, as kids discuss and try out their ideas with each other, developing the confidence to become independent learners.
1: Content Comprehension: Across the Day and Throughout the Year
The first video provides the big picture-the school's vision as described by ELL consultant Nancy Commins, who shares practices that result in thoughtful, effective teaching and learning for all students. Observe classroom teachers, the librarian, and ELL teachers as they plan ways to engage kids, teach responsively, and differentiate instruction all day long. Peek into classrooms where kids are engaged in investigations with insects and tackling big ideas about immigration in social studies. For English language learners, reading and writing across the curriculum is a powerful tool for acquiring new information and then synthesizing it to share new learning with others.
2: Learning and Wondering About Science
We join first-grade teacher Brad Buhrow, whose kids are up to their ears in insects-observing them, reading and writing about them, and illustrating their own learning on large posters. As they read engaging information, the kids use comprehension strategies to enhance their understanding of insects. Brad and librarian Nell Box confer with these young readers and writers as they tackle their own research questions.
3: Exploring Immigration in Social Studies
Anne Goudvis, fifth-grade teacher Steve Ollanik, and several classroom and ELL teachers, collaborate with the librarian to integrate comprehension instruction with content as they engage the kids in an immigration topic study. Students read picture books to bring big concepts and themes to the surface, gather information from historical texts and photographs, and write their own immigration stories.
Zeroing in on kids' conversations in small-and-large groups demonstrates the importance of talk and discussion as a cornerstone of learning, especially in classrooms with English language learners and native speakers. All kids respond to high expectations and thoughtful instruction. They become a community of learners when we challenge them to think more fully and deeply about topics of consequence-those that matter in their own lives and in the larger world.