Archive for April, 2014

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The winter 2014 adult ESOL and GED class session is now in it’s final week, and AmeriCorps members, Stephen and Carrie, would like to share some of their unique experiences in the classroom:

Stephen’s Reflections: 

The winter session was a great experience for me, as I was able to approach the term with the benefit of all the things I learned over the course of the fall session.  First and foremost, I would like to thank all of our lead and assistant teachers and tutors for their patience in working around all the inclement weather and schedule changes throughout the winter session.  Missed class time has the potential to be disruptive to any group of learners, and I was genuinely impressed by the way our instructors took things in stride.

In my beginner ESOL class, we worked through vocabulary and grammar related to clothing, shopping, food, and family.  This was my first time working with an ESOL teaching assistant, and Shabnam was a tremendous help in giving more focused attention to the students that needed it the most and keeping the energy level in the room high.  It was great to see the learners come so far over the course of just over two months, and I was especially impressed by their dedication in coming to class in dicey weather conditions and returning after the session was disrupted by weather-related closings.

I was thrilled to see the learners in the GED test rise to meet the challenges of the new test.  In addition to the fundamentals of science and mathematical reasoning that were carried over from the old format, we took a more in-depth look at the scientific method and extended applications of algebra.  With so much more material on the testing standards, the class had to move through the topics even more quickly than before.  Our GED-seekers found time between their jobs, families, and daily obligations to review the material on their own between classes, which truly speaks to their determination to one day obtain the GED credential.  I sincerely hope the students that choose to attempt the test in the next few weeks are able to reach their goals, and I look forward to the chance to get back into the classroom with those who return for the spring session class!


Carrie’s Reflections:

The year is half way complete! It is unbelievable how times flies instructing adult ESOL learners! For the winter 2014 session, the Adult Literacy Program decided to switch up our adult ESOL class division, creating a separate classroom for our intermediate level learners. As an organization, we thought it was best to create a low intermediate and a high intermediate classroom to properly engage our learners. I was fortunate enough to continue leading the class at the Cascades Library, focusing my energy on low intermediate instruction. The dynamic of the intermediate class shifted, and I felt, as a lead instructor, more competent in teaching my learners and I felt that my students were all at the same English learning level-therefore creating a comfortable learning environment for all.

This session, the class focused on smart shopping and food. These units proved great for using “realia” or real objects in the classroom and created more opportunities for students to delve into activities that allowed them to move around the classroom and engage with their peers in paired or group work. It was interesting to learn just how much the students already knew about the subject manner with their everyday experiences dining out with their friends or families or shopping at the grocery store or local mall. Everyone seemed to want to share their individual stories or experiences. These units also proved helpful for expanding the student’s vocabulary. Going beyond the All-Star book, I was able to develop different, more complex, vocabulary words for students to learn. As we were going over common clothing vocabulary, several students did not know words such as “cardigan” or “robe”. The seemingly ordinary words proved perplexing to my students. It was eye opening for the students to learn and discuss new words!

The class session for the winter term would not have been as successful if it was not for my dedicated teacher assistant, Song. She jumped right in to helping the students-especially the students who were struggling with a certain activity during the lessons. The ALP is so fortunate to have volunteers like Song in our classrooms!

This session, I also had the opportunity to tutor an ESOL student one-on-one. Unlike in the classroom, I able to create lessons that cater to what the student wishes to learn. My student wants to focus on preparing her resume and sharpening her interviewing skills to return to the workforce after time off caring for her son. She also wishes to learn more about American idioms—a nuance for many ESOL learners. She is very dedicated to her goals and I have been fortunate to work with her to help her achieve them.

This winter session was a dicey one – with all of the snow, but it proved to be another successful term due to the dedication of our wonderful volunteers and students! I have learned so much from my students and continue to learn new and unique techniques to adapt to the classroom and one-on-one. I’m excited about what is to come for the spring 2014 session!


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