Thinking about ways to support multilinguals to communicate their understanding while learning, reminds me of the fact that multilinguals can actually understand more than what they can communicate, especially orally. (Harper and de Jong 2004). When it comes to consolidating learning, language proficiency and multilinguals’ cognition seem to have a complex relationship. The fact that some emergent multilinguals are not yet asking clarifying questions, or ready to express themselves to share their understanding/learning, may cause teachers to resort to low level recall or knowledge questions to check their understanding. To prevent this from happening, Bautista (2014), proposes a variety of tasks, catering different proficiency levels, while maintaining a challenging cognitive demand.
Keeping in mind that consolidation is defined as a stage in learning where a topic or new information is reinforced or reviewed, lessons should be created with opportunities and scaffolds to advance multilinguals from basic recalling skills to more complex thinking. The article Level Up: addressing ELLs’ language proficiencies and cognitive abilities in science classrooms (Bautista, 2014), reminds us of the different considerations given the students’ proficiency levels. Also, she stresses on the importance of supports such as visuals, word banks, background knowledge and vocabulary building, as well as embedding scaffolds.
On page 34, Bautista, shows a very useful chart that shows how Bloom’s taxonomy can be used while providing the necessary supports for multilinguals along a proficiency continuum.
Here are some supports and scaffolds that I have created and embedded in the planners to support access to content and consolidation of learning.
Question Grid (based on Kath Murdoch’s book Power of Inquiry)
Vocabulary cards, an example of visuals for the current unit of study
Linguistic Supports K-2, Science (Foss: NGSS and WIDA Aligned)
The above research summary led me to explore more information about the role of discourse in developing conceptual understanding within science inquiry. I read the article The effects of scientific representations on primary students’ development of scientific discourse and conceptual understandings during cooperative contemporary inquiry-science. (2014) (M.Gillies, Nichols & Khan). The authors suggest that multimodal representation of the concepts, cooperative discussions and teacher feedback are important for learners to develop understanding. Active learning includes opportunities to ask questions, solve problems, develop explanations, and reflect on thinking. In addition, it is important for learners to be scientifically literate, meaning that they need to practice and acquire the language to reason and process and interpret scientific information. Turns out, reading, writing and speaking are foundational to do science, therefore, these literacy practices are essential to develop understanding and consolidate learning.
As in the previous article summarized, multimodal representations, visual and verbal representations help learners retain learning for longer. Students need opportunities to do visual representations to express understanding, in addition to opportunities to interact/exchange ideas with peers. Engaging in scientific discussions, acting, reading, and writing cooperatively optimize learning. Last but not least, children need to be trained to ask cognitively challenging questions during cooperative guided inquiry.
Concept mapping also proved to be helpful for young learners to organize and represent their thoughts, uncovering their metacognitive thinking. The students in the experimental group showed gains in conceptual understanding, problem solving and reasoning skills.
ELL friendly strategies to promote cooperative learning and reflection are listed below:
Cooperative learning summarized tasks (based in Kagan’s cooperative learning)
Reflection stems (based on Kath Murdoch’s Power of Inquiry)
*the different resources linked have been embedded in different units of study so that they can be incorporated as fitting*