Reflection: ELL Students What Do You Know About Zoos? - Section 2: Engage: Group Discussion


Listening to students express their ideas in science helps me continue to monitor the progress of their  English language acquisition skills.  Students who have been reclassified as Fluent English Proficient still benefit from consistent grammar practice. It helps them continue to develop basic skills such as subject-verb agreement and another recurrent language issue that I don’t have a specific label for, but we are all familiar with it.  I call it subject confusion, and language learners are certainly not the only elementary students to struggle with this.  This student, for example, needs continued work with basic language skills.   I have specified her specific struggles below, as well as the strategies I built into my individualized plan for her to help her with these areas of confusion.

From her one sentence, “They take good care of animals because they feed ‘em, they play with him, and they entertain people,” I was able to take notes on a number of varied language and concept issues with which this child needs additional support.  Specifically, in the first and second part of this sentence the student switches from referring to zoo animals as a plural entity to referring to zoo animals as one creature, “him”.  In the final part of this sentence, she has completely flipped the focus of the sentence, in which she was explaining the ways in which she believes that zoos take good care of animals, to explaining how zoo animals benefit people (entertainment). In additional to the language confusion, I also made note of the fact that she believed that the role of zookeepers in caring for animals is to play with them.  While this is an understandable belief, as she is a child that loves pets and playing with them, this is not the role of zookeepers in caring for their charges, as usually the intent is to keep the animal’s wild behaviors as intact as possible, given the very real constraints of captivity.  

On my individualized plan for this student, I made notes to monitor and support her in subject-verb agreement, in keeping singular entities singular and plural entities plural, and finally, in separating unrelated thoughts in different sentences.  For example, later when I spoke with her 1-1, I we discussed her statement about people being entertained by animals and she was able to clarify that that is a reason that zoos are good for people, and that it is not a reason that zoos are good for animals.  It is a separate thought.


  ELL Students: Misconceptions and Language Confusion
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What Do You Know About Zoos?

Unit 14: Create a Zoo Habitat
Lesson 2 of 5

Objective: SWBAT clearly communicate their initial ideas about what a zoo is, why zoos might be important, and possible pros and cons of zoo environments.

Big Idea: Students discuss what they already know about zoo environments and unearth connections to animal habitats, adaptations, and behaviors.

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Science, habitat
  60 minutes
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