Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Being and Becoming Language Learners

The March Language Arts includes an article by Tasha Tropp Laman and Katie Van Sluys that explores how “children in multilingual, multiage classrooms participate in and transform the writing workshops” (265). In “Being and Becoming: Multilingual Writers’ Practices,” Laman and Van Sluys describe two multiage classrooms where students participate in daily writing workshop activities, typically beginning with a mini-lesson and then allowing time for students to read, write, and collaborate while teachers met with individual writers and small groups.

Using examples from students’ writer’s notebooks and other student publications, the article demonstrates how “multilingual students in both classrooms transformed their learning communities and opened up new possibilities for all children” (272). What made the practices successful was the fact that “All students were positioned as language learners” in the two classrooms:

Multilingual students explored connections, differences, and insights into their understandings of their first language(s) and those they were learning. Ms. Brice and Ms. Roberts [the two teachers] intentionally established curricular structures that repositioned literacy learning in general and writing in particular as collective and social acts. English-dominant peers also began to study and compare English with other languages . . . . This work was not spontaneous. Multilingual students shared their linguistic knowledge with peers as they leaned into one another’s notebooks during writing time, read their writing aloud during share time, and publicly displayed their writing during celebrations. These collective and collaborative structures repositioned first language(s) as significant and vital literacy resources. (273)
How can teachers find activities that situate students as language authorities? Students can take on the role naturally in classrooms where students are encouraged to collaborate and share their writing. Students in the two classrooms highlighted in the article were encouraged to choose the language (or languages) that they felt comfortable using, to use texts as models and springboards, and to investigate how different languages work. As they collaborated, students—whether new to English or not—all worked as language learners. And when everyone in the classroom is a language learner, great things happen!

1 comment:

Event Tents Dubai said...

Hopkins is wonderful too, but my memories of his poetry are all tied up with my love for the college professor who first made me realize that I wanted to be an English major, Alison Sulloway. She was a Hopkins scholar, and her passion for the poetry was contagious. It wasn't so much that I have ever loved Hopkins that much. I just wanted to learn to care about words and images and sounds that much. Great collection of resources! Thanks!Branding Event Tents Dubai | Catering Hall Tents Dubai | Commercial Promotion Tents Dubai | Corporate Event Tents | Event tents Rentals Dubai | Events in Dubai | Events Tents Supplier Dubai | Exhibition Booth Tents Dubai | Exhibition Tents in Dubai | Fashion Show Tents in Dubai | Fashion Shows Event Tents Dubai | Product Launches Event Tents | Religous Event Tents Dubai | Tent Companies in Sharjah | Tent Manufacturers in UAE | Tent Rental Sharjah | Tents for Sale in Dubai | Wedding Tents Dubai | Party Marquee Tent Rental Dubai UAE | Event Marquee Tent Rental Dubai UAE | Wedding Marquee Tent Rental Dubai UAE | Outdoor Marquee Tent Rental Dubai UAE | Temporary Marquee Tent Rental Dubai UAE | Ramadan Marquee Tent Rental Dubai UAE Mine is certainly pocket sized and perfect in other ways as well. I'm going to carry "Keeping Things Whole" by Mark Strand. My ELA classes have done most of these suggestions but they still don't care to participate in poetry. Using technology doesn't help either. Any other ideas?