24 Dec Guest Blog: Dawn Lam – “Reflections of a high school English / ELD teacher committed to refining her craft”
Dawn Lam is an English teacher based at Beckman High School in Tustin Unified School District, California. What drew me to Dawn’s work is the emphasis she places on setting her students up for success. Her use of thinking time, writing frames and key academic and subject specific vocabulary, coupled with high expectations of herself as a professional and her students as learners is inspirational. Her goal seems to be to do all that she can to allow her students to shine. She engineers learning activities that allow students to show themselves at their best. This is the evidence she needs to signpost the next episodes of their individual journeys, as it informs what she has to do to allow them to each take their essential next steps.
“I’m constantly looking to refine and reinvent my teaching craft; inspired by fellow educators and most importantly my students.”
My current school is 1-1 with technology; this coupled with the fact that I am working with a DLC (Digital Learning Coach) has revolutionized my teaching. I hope to share my journey integrating technology to inspire others to find and try new ways of teaching, and to realize this craft we call teaching, is constantly evolving, and challenging us to be the best we can for those who matter most: our students.
My students have transitioned out of the ELD (English Language Development) program, but are not quite ready to handle the rigor of a traditional English CP (College Preparatory) class due to language deficits. The goal with the transitional program is to provide language support (oral, writing and reading) to help the students eventually move into an English CP class. I currently have 25 sophomores enrolled in this class. Along with students new to the country, I also have LTELs (Long Term ELs) who have unique issues that stem from low reading and writing skills, lack of family support and/or lack of motivation.
One of the texts on our school’s sophomore reading list is the play, The Glass Menagerie. Teaching drama is sometimes challenging because the playwright intended it to be acted out on stage. Often dramas are read in class, or sometimes acted out by students. Because my students have language issues, reading in class needs a ton of scaffolding. I wanted my students to experience the play without having to watch the whole movie, while passively taking notes or taking up a 2-hour chunk of time. After a class reading, I would add an activity on Verso that required the students to watch a snippet of a scene and answer an open-ended question tied to one of our essential questions.
Once students make their initial post, they must reply to two peers’ posts.
I love that the posts remain anonymous and students aren’t enticed to comment just on their friend’s post or worry about the class judging their own initial post.
A framework for thinking before posting.
I Love that Verso allows you to add additional instructions such as sentence frames or key vocabulary for students to include as part of their response.
Similarly, this field can also contain translations or support materials for my ELD students to provide greater access to the curriculum.
I provide students with frames for both responding AND commenting.
When I first started, students would comment, “I agree” or “Good job,” and the frames have helped significantly.
To find out more about Dawn’s reflections on learning and teaching, visit her blog at https://mrslamsmusings.wordpress.com/