Sunday, March 14, 2010

Gibbons Chapter 5

This chapter gave a lot of great ideas about how ESL students go about reading, and also how we as teachers can help them with reading and comprehension. One of the most important things to remember about students who are ESL, is that many times the stories are written with the idea that everyone understand the social norms, which is not always the case. Gibbons states, "We should also remember that most children's books are written with the assumption that their readers will be familiar with the cultural aspects of the story and already fluent in the spoken language" (pg. 83). If we approach teaching ESL students in this way, we are setting up a detrimental learning environment for these children because we are not giving them a fair advantage to learn to their full potential. We must remember that there are many implications for ESL learners, and we have to approach teaching them in a careful and understanding way. Familiarity with the language is also important because there are many words that ESL students may confuse with other words or have two different meanings for the same word. These are all things that we need to remember when teaching ESL students and learning how to approach their learning.

There are several techniques that are discussed in this chapter that can help ESL students with comprehension. One of the most important ones is Predicting from a Key Illustration. I have seen this in my own experience in working with children, because if they are confused about a word, they can look to the pictures to try and come up with an idea of what is going on in the text. Although this is not always going to help the students, it is a good starting point for them to try and comprehend what is going on. Another important technique is Jigsaw Reading. Jigsaw reading consists of 3 or 4 people who each read a portion of the text and come together to share and get the idea of what is going on in the text. Jigsaw reading can be a great way to collaboratively work with students of different achievement levels, and it "provides an authentic context for developing summarizing skills, since each group of experts must decide on the key points they are going to share with others" (pg. 90). These are just a few of the techniques that can be used to help ESL learners, but there are many more on pages 85-96 so I encourage everyone to take a look!


  1. I really like you point about how important it is to remember (as teachers) that not all of our students will connect with the reading in the same way. Like, if we were to have a class all read the same story, ESL students may be able to read it fluently, but do they really comprehend what the story is about? It's so easy to rely solely on a studnet's fluency when assessing their comprehension and reading ability, but that just doesn't cut it! And I have to say, I totally have to agree with your thoughts on Jigsaw reading. I LOVED doing that in Eric's class. I just feel like its a really great way to get kids to THINK about what they are reading without overloading them and by incorporating thoughtful discussion and collaboration. I'm not sure how often the opportunity to incorporate jigsaw reading in the classroom would present itself in elementary school (specifically lower elementary) but I think its a great strategy to remember.

  2. I liked how you talked about the idea of what she consider "normal" compared to ESL students. I have a student that has four different languages spoke at home so when she comes to school she is completely confused with what is going on and what is being said. She has so many cultures going on her life how would you approach her with strategies for comprehension? My CT is having a hard time because she can't explain what she is thinking very well because she is translating everything in her head so many times that it never comes out right? She is extremely hard to work with one on one and I was wondering if you had any ideas!