Yesterday I visited a first grade transitional bilingual education program and I was really impressed with the high level of biliteracy development that was occurring in the classroom! The room environment was extremely print rich, and clearly demonstrated that first grade students are learning how to read, write and listen/speak in both languages at very high levels. I wanted to post some of the pictures because there is sometimes a myth out there in the general public that transitional bilingual education programs are of a lower caliber than Dual Immersion programs. In fact, this transitional bilingual program was of a higher caliber than some of the Dual Immersion programs that I have had the opportunity to visit!
Here is one picture of the teacher’s focus wall in Spanish. I know that the picture is a little blurry, but you will notice that she has included many different components of literacy, including reading strategies, vocabulary, comprehension, writing, phonics, grammar, and spelling:
The teacher was focusing on sequencing in reading comprehension, which she also tied to sequencing in narrative writing:
Here is a sample of a student’s writing in Spanish that she had on her wall:
In addition, they were studying the reading and writing strategy of compare and contrast. You will notice that in addition to the venn diagram, that she also included some vocabulary associated with the language function of compare and contrast. On the right of the venn diagram she had posted signal words that students can use to enhance their writing in Spanish:
The teacher also had an English language development (ELD) wall which also included various components of literacy such as reading, writing, phonics, grammar, and other components:
They had been studying compare and contrast in Spanish, so it made perfect sense to also study the language function of compare and contrast in English. Notice that the teacher also included vocabulary associated with the language function of compare and contrast, such as “are similar”, “both”, “different”, “on the other hand”. This is a great example of how teachers can teach specialized academic vocabulary:
In addition, the teacher chose to teach the short u phonics pattern, choosing words that are associated with the theme of weather that they were studying:
Students also were exposed to academic vocabulary and literacy through the use of songs and chants. To the right of the chant you can see that students were also studying grammar and sentence structure through a sentence patterning chart, a GLAD strategy:
Students also practiced writing, revising and editing through the use of the cooperative strip paragraph, another GLAD strategy that is used to teach metacognition and the writing process:
There were also really great writing samples in English in the room, which prove that with great instruction students can write well in both languages in bilingual programs as early as first grade:
Do you have great pictures of how you (or another teacher) are building biliteracy in your classroom? We would love to showcase them and other teachers would love to learn from you! Please send your pictures to multilingualmania(at)yahoo(dot)com and please make sure that you include your grade level!