ESL Grades 9-12
Roberto Clemente Community Academy is fortunate to have small classes for English Language Learners. This allows students to receive the one-on-one or small group instruction they need to progress through the IB Language Acquisition curriculum for English as a Second Language. The small class sizes also give ESL classes the opportunity to learn outside the box, or in this case, outside the classroom.
With a class size of five students, Ms. Malone’s ESL I class is frequently able to explore the school during lessons. To make reading more exciting, we practice in the comfy chairs in the Media Center or wander the building reading the quotes on the walls. When practicing speaking and listening, we have walked through the school to give each other tours of each floor. With new vocabulary, we search the building for items or symbols that represent new words to attach visual and tangible meaning to a list of unknown words. To make writing more exciting, we take our notebooks and find quiet corners or inspiring places where we can focus on improving our writing.
One of my favorite lessons outside the classroom was a reading and writing activity with a story from The House on Mango Street. The book is set in Chicago and the narrator describes her family, heritage, and home in great detail. One day, we read a vignette that focused on Chicago’s landscape – the concrete streets, skinny trees, old homes, etc. To read this story, we walked to the Link, which is the bridge that connects the Clemente academic building to the Clemente physical education building. The Link has floor-to-ceiling glass windows and it’s a quiet and beautiful place to read and write. After reading together as a small group, students split off to complete a writing assignment that focused on the landscape of Chicago. I wanted students to write as descriptively as possible about the views o f Chicago outside Clemente. They looked at the skyline to the east and the historic Paseo Boricua to the west, and like Esperanza from The House on Mango Street, described what they see Chicago to be. The students were quietly writing and thinking for all the time that was given, and their finished products were proof that learning outside the classroom inspires, engages, and excites our Clemente students.