This year, Learning Community Charter School has introduced a new curriculum to help children become more proficient in speaking English. This program, known as English Language Development (ELD), focuses on the types of language that would not be taught explicitly to students in the regular classroom. For example, kindergarteners in the program are taught how to greet people politely and how to ask practical questions. Second graders are learning when to use “was” and when to use “were” depending on singular or plural subjects. Fourth graders take a “Virtual Field Trip” to a snowy destination in their ELD curriculum. Students get to pretend they are skiing down slopes, building snow forts and ice skating. They use a variety of tools to describe sightseeing on a hike or meeting friends in the snowy village for a snowball fight.
In some grades, English language proficiency levels are so varied that in order to meet the needs of all students, we need all teachers and additional ELD trained educators to lead small groups. AmeriCorps members were called upon to fill this gap and have been trained in ELD. This opportunity allows us to teach a curriculum that is very different from our other subject areas. We are able to help students learn crucial parts of speech while also igniting their creativity.
Teaching ELD is just as much of a learning experience for us as it is for the children we teach. We continually re-build our curriculum based on assessment results and the needs and proficiencies of our students. We work with groups that range from 6 to 14 students, so we are learning how to manage classrooms of various sizes. We also are getting to know our students – their strengths, weaknesses, interests and other unique qualities – in a setting that is different from our classroom and playground time.