Encounter with an ESL “Rock Star”!
We were at the New York State Association of Bilingual Education Conference (NYSABE) on Thursday and Friday and had the pleasure of meeting Keynote Speaker, Ana Uhl Chamot, the co-designer of the Cognitive Academic Language Learning Approach (CALLA), an instructional model for English Language Learners. (if you haven’t heard). We were like groupies, got our books signed and took lots of pictures. We even got to talk shop a little.
Of course, we discussed the use of technology with ELLs and how it aligns perfectly with the CALLA model. Many tech tools encourage metacognitive development and reinforce the use of differentiated learning strategies.
E-Book readers are good examples. They make it easy for students to practice their reading skills with links to additional content, one touch access to word definitions, instant highlighting, and note-taking tools. iPods are great too, as you can teach study skills with electronic flashcards and applications such as iQuiz.
We know that our students learn best when they have a repertoire of learning strategies to draw from and when they are reflective, critical thinkers. As Ana Uhl Chamot mentioned, the CALLA model encourages showing students how to practice vs. practicing more, breaking down tasks and modeling what the outcome will look like.
This allows students to practice strategically and identify the thoughts and actions that they use to help them complete a learning task, especially when they are struggling with a concept. Having many learning strategies means more use of higher order thinking skills which equals more success for our students!