Even my “native English speakers” all speak, read and write in another language. With a class full of students who speak, read and write in at least one language other than English, teaching the rules of English is extremely important. So, for the last few weeks, we have been creating our Language Arts Notebooks in order to help us truly understand vocabulary and grammar. My students have separate Reading Response Journals for reading comprehension and Writing Journals, but all of the reset of our Language Arts goes into this notebook.
[I meant to take pictures of their actual notebooks, but in the excitement of taking pictures of our butterfly chrysalis (check these pictures out tomorrow), I forgot. Check back Monday for these pictures.]
Here’s what is in my student’s Language Arts Notebooks:
1.) Vocabulary Reference Sheets – Each week, my students complete a vocabulary packet. The whole class is on one “theme” – this week was emotions – at differentiated levels. We glue our first, “learn the words” sheet in the front of this notebook. On this sheet, students have a place to write their words in another language, giving them a good reference clue to the meaning of the words. Of my beginning English students, I have 2 who speak Spanish, 1 who speaks just French and 1 who speaks French & Arabic. We have fun comparing how the French & Spanish versions of the words often look similar, but sound different. It’s a great time to look at cognates, and how languages are connected. These Vocabulary Reference Sheets stay in their notebooks, so that they can continually reference back to words we have already practiced. (The rest of their vocabulary packets are stapled together, worked on pretty independently, and sent home graded each Monday.)
2.) Grammar Songs with Notes – I use Shurley English grammar jingles with my students. I’ve typed up the words for each song. They glue the words into their notebooks, and then write their notes for each part of speech next to the song. Each day, we practice singing these jingles, and use the information to help us remember the information about different parts of grammar. Where necessary, I give students a word in French or Spanish to guide this process. For example, we used the words for verb, noun, adjective in all 3 languages: English, Spanish and French, since many of my students already know part of speech, as well as how to conjugate verbs etc. in their home language.
On Thursday, we worked on pronouns, which sounds like it should be easy, but I decided to give students these little words in French or Spanish. I’m okay enough in both languages that I figured this shouldn’t be a problem. But, I didn’t take into account “it”, which barely exists in French and Spanish, as all inanimate objects are distinctly male or female in these languages and so you would say “him” and “her” when talking about them. This lesson turned into a wonderful, although complex, conversation comparing and contrasting languages!
3.) Sentence Diagramming and Verb Conjugations – Each day, after Daily Language Review, I write a sentence on the board to be diagramed. My students copy the sentence on the board, diagram it, and then we identify the verb in the sentence and conjugate it. The amazing teacher who started International School of Morocco has a form she uses with her first and second graders to make conjugations simpler. I made a smaller copy of this verb conjugation form for my kids to be able to glue into their notebooks each day. (Feel free to grab a FREE copy from Google Docs.) Believe it or not, my kids love this process. They love connecting what they already know in their home language to help them decipher English, and they love using the songs to help them figure out what each word is.
What do you put in your students’ Language Arts notebooks?