It may surprise you that most, if not all, of the children in our program do not know the meaning of, or even celebrate Thanksgiving. We didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving in my home country of South Africa, but if you can’t beat them, join them. Obviously, it’s a local tradition, whereby Americans celebrate the discovery of our land by those awesome pilgrims fleeing religious persecution in England, and arriving in Plymouth, and making peace with the local inhabitants. A big celebration and feast ensued … and the rest is history.
Tomorrow evening, we will have time with our students before our VolunteerGiving meal, provided in part by the families, starting at 6:30pm. If your student has homework or wants to read, please proceed with that, but be sure and spend 10 to 15 minutes during your time together and ask them questions about Thanksgiving and what it means to them, and your perspectives.
Starting next Tuesday, we are going to try somethings new to promote more debate and discussion with our students, as a complement to the reading portion of your time together. Research states that it is never too early to engage young children in academic thought. What do they think of people kneeling at a football game when the national anthem is played? What about animals being caged at a zoo? Do they think animals should be allowed to perform at a circus?
Many second language learners studying English do not understand the meaning of the words like analyze, develop, interpret, generate and investigate. Learning the meaning of some relevant words, pertinent to the questions posed above, like respect, patriotic, humane, confinement, free range, protection and cruelty can then lead to discussions using these words, that get them thinking. Your questions can lead to interesting perspectives that are neither right, nor wrong. Have fun debating and encouraging them to speak their minds …
We hope this approach helps them connect with the educational books they select, and help them build vocabulary and a greater depth of words that are of interest to them, than simply reading words off a page of a Dr Seuss picture book.
Lastly, we are elevating the role of room monitors to help you with student assignments, the distribution of notebooks, use of reading books, and managing behavioral concerns. More to come on this.
Diego and I attended an insightful doctoral dissertation readout on developing academic English including research and promising practices and would be happy to discuss if you have questions, and the kinds of books that might help promote cognitive academic English learning
Happy Thanksgiving and see you later this evening
Brent, Caren and Diego