HELLO! HOLA! XIN CHÁO! BONJOU! HALO!

Connecting high school and elementary English language learners

Julie Bravo, Meadowbrook Elementary School, North Kansas City Public Schools, Gladstone, MO

HELLO! HOLA! XIN CHÁO! BONJOU! HALO!

Introduction

As the population of English learners (ELs) continues to grow in our community, students can utilize their home language as a means to develop second language skills. The ELL Outreach Program brings together students of different ages yet similar cultures and languages to improve their English proficiency. Mentors become role models who provide guidance and motivation in a fun atmosphere. As mentors and mentees play games such as Uno and Yahtzee, they build their number sense while identifying numbers. The popular game Hedbanz and other matching games help students learn vocabulary and construct meaningful questions. The socialization inherent in each of the activities increases confidence, communication (speaking and listening) skills, and self-awareness. The freedom to speak in their home language creates a comfortable and safe environment where ELs feel understood.

What did it look like?

Step-by-Step Plan

Many years ago, some college football players signed up to mentor struggling readers at the school where I taught. The excitement of those students was palpable. The growth they made throughout that year was astonishing, so I wanted to create the same enthusiasm for ELs. There were so many times I couldn’t respond because of our different languages, and I wanted to be a better educator to the ELs in my classroom. I began brainstorming and the idea of connecting high school students with elementary students seemed like a reasonable start. This would allow older, more experienced students to help younger ELs develop their knowledge of English while comfortably using their home language.

Watch a video from North Kansas City School District’s iNspire Video Series

A different kind of mentoring program

https://www.facebook.com/NKCSchools/videos/897292794927066/

Goals

  1. Provide an opportunity for elementary ELs to communicate and learn with mentors who speak the same language.
  2. Help both elementary and high school ELs develop their English proficiency.
  3. Provide resources for communication and learning to occur.
  4. Create a partnership among the EL community in our school’s feeder pattern.

Identify the need

  • Meadowbrook’s EL population has increased significantly over the past three years. Newcomers bring with them increased cultural and linguistic diversity. These students benefit from conversing with others who share their culture and language.

Before mentoring session

  • Identify potential elementary and secondary participants. 
  • Arrange transportation as necessary.
  • High School (H.S.) ELL teachers develop and administer a survey to gauge student interest in serving as a mentor.
  • See sample survey: https://forms.gle/zHMH3kdpoU4ET3ev9
  • Elementary coordinator purchases supplies or requests donations then prepares tutoring kits with at least 3 resources or activities in each.
  • The H.S. ELL teachers borrow the kits to prepare the mentors. Allow several class periods to become familiar with the resources and activities in the kits.
  • Elementary coordinator communicates with H.S. and elementary ELL teachers to place mentors and mentees together based on home language.
  • Label a folder with both students’ names. Stuff the folder with a reflection, a pencil, and blank paper. The coordinator will review the folder contents after each session.
  • Elementary coordinator sets up space with kits and folders, ensuring everything is ready for the mentoring session. 

During mentoring session

  • H.S. ELL teacher chaperones the mentors to the elementary school and monitors the program.
  • H.S. mentors locate their spot and decide upon an activity for the day’s session. The mentees enter and begin the session with conversation in English or their home language. After 3-5 minutes of socializing, mentors begin the activity.
  • Students are encouraged to use either English or their home language. This is important, especially for newcomers.

End of Mentoring session

  • Mentors will complete a session debrief.
  • The Elementary coordinator tracks qualitative data.
  • ELL teacher will administer ACCESS tests and track quantitative data.

Program Reflection

  • The Elementary coordinator and ELL teachers meet to reflect. Seek input from classroom teachers whose students participate in the program.
  • Last session, mentors and mentees create a reflection about their time in the program. Provide sentence stems.
  • Mentors complete this survey: https://forms.gle/6xESTvM63PV7rVVH9

What did it look like?

Timeline

See the step-by-step plan above.

Budget

Amazon Wish List: https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/1ROT050RPH3OA?ref=cm_sw_em_r_un_un_vFMF1Z3U089Gd $493
t-shirts for mentors 627
We Can All Be Friends (Eng/Haitian Creole) 15
Icing on the Cake (Eng/Haitian Creole) 16
Fresh as a Daisy (Eng/Haitian Creole) 16
Happy After All (Eng/Haitian Creole) 16
Vaccines Explained (Eng/Haitian Creole) 16
Maximilian & the Mystery of the Guardian Angel 7
Maximilian & the Bingo Rematch 7
The Spirit of Tio Fernando / El espíritu de Tío Fernando 5
Tito Puente: Mambo King / Rey del Mambo 6
Green Is a Chile Pepper / El chile es verde 5
What If You Had Animal Eyes? ¿Y si tuvieras ojos de animal? 4
What If You Had Animal Teeth? ¿Y si tuvieras dientes de animal? 4
What If You Had An Animal Nose? ¿Y si tuvieras nariz de animal? 4
Total $1,241

What did it look like?

Sustainability

Fortunately, this project is continuing next year. The high school included transportation in next school year’s budget and many of the resources purchased are reusable. We are excited to continue monitoring the students' progress. The administration sees the benefits and has agreed to schedule time in the library to continue this mentorship.

What did it look like?

Reflections

Difficulties to address next year include the following:

  • Take travel time into consideration.
  • Send new activities to the H.S. EL teachers to review and prepare mentors prior to placing in kit.
  • Personalize the kit for each pair to prevent mentors from relying on the same game/activity repeatedly.

Recommendations

  • Coordinate with the EL teacher at your school. They have many resources that can be printed, laminated, and used in the kits.
  • Prepare a location to house all the materials in the space.
  • Encourage mentors to create original resources. 
  • Match by language, not age. Kindergarteners, 4th graders, and high school students communicated, collaborated, and learned from one another.

Take-aways

  • Attendance on mentor session days improved for both students in my classroom and the H.S. mentors.
  • The mentors’ leadership skills and confidence increased.
  • Mentees in my class wanted to share their writing with their mentor.
  • Acceptance of this idea was overwhelming.

 Additional Resources

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