Friday, April 22, 2011

What to do with a Newcomer and The Daily 5?

I've received a non-speaker (recent refugee or immigrant)  almost every year that I've taught. Here is what I have done during D5 time. I have the student participate in listen to reading - the more they hear, the more they will learn. I sometimes have them use tumblebooks or starfall for that time. I also have them participate in partner reading. Ideally you can pair them with a student who doesn't mind reading some simple pictures books with the student.

During word work, I have the student work with a partner and make flashcards using a bilingual dictionary. They spend the time drawing the picture, making the cards etc.

One other thing I do is teach a lesson in a non-dominant language for everyone when the child is out of the room. I try to do this during ESL time.

Before teaching the lesson, I have the students answer some questions on paper - like how would you feel if you didn't understand anything that was happening at school. I ask them what thoughts they would have while they were in school? Would they want to come to school? Etc.

Then, after I teach the lesson 100% in Spanish (most of them don't speak Spanish, and the ones that do understand what it's like to have a non-dominant language), we review how they felt. This really seems to increase students' compassion for the new student! After teaching the lesson, I ask for volunteers that would like to help the new student learn English. Invariably the whole class is interested in volunteering!

I suppose if you didn't speak a second language, you could still have someone from the community come in to do a demo lesson. The lesson doesn't need to last more than 10 minutes for the students to get the concept. It is a lesson that years later students will remember.


  1. As an ESL Program Facilitator for both K-12 and Adult Education programs, I feel your pain. I love your idea of sharing what it is like to not be part of the dominant language group. I have done this with my teachers to remind them of how students must feel when they enter our program...sometimes having just arrived literally "off the boat".
    Kudos to you for helping all kids succeed in their learning community. It is teachers like you who help make our jobs much easier!

  2. Thanks for this! I'm about to begin my 4th year of teaching, and I have also had at least 1 newcomer each year so far.