Building Language: Clay and Sculpture for English Learners
Help me give my students high quality Amaco Mexican Pottery Clay and Xiem Studio carving tools to enable these learners to create their very own original models and buildings in our ELL Social Studies Class.
My students are clever, funny, creative and passionate learners. They are beginning to advanced English Language learners from China, Vietnam, El Salvador, Mongolia, Mexico, Yemen, Honduras, Thailand, Somalia, and Peru.... students who navigate the daily struggle of codeswitching between languages, dialects, and ways of being.
My students love to read, love to learn, and love to create, even when they don't understand the content and major language.
When we build pyramids or make ancient Chinese temples, my students throw themselves into building, writing, explaining, and curating. They happily receive extra work and do outside practice when asked.
My group of learners act as translators for their family and friends. They have to go to court hearings, deal with trauma, and raise their siblings. They take on so much, while also learning constantly. I am so proud of them.
For English Language learners of any level, content-focused classrooms can be a challenge–it becomes very difficult to access both the curriculum and the language if English is not their first language. To remedy this challenge, my Social Studies classroom made up of 100% Newcomer (recently come to the United States) English Learners is a place primarily for projects, experimentation, and hands-on learning. I prioritize building, creating, and then explaining to allow students to both grasp the content while also building their vocabulary and language. This project, focusing on clay and creating models, will allow this to happen for my students.
This project aims to provide high quality sculpting tools and materials for my students, allowing them to create original sculptures and buildings to explain the deep concepts we discuss in 6th and 7th grade Social Studies.
These topics, ranging from Ancient China to Medieval West Africa, are important for my students to understand, as understanding history of the world can help us understand our own cultures. I find that my students learn best when they can create, and this high quality clay, made of both earth-tones and various colors, will allow students to make models of Mayan temples, create dioramas of daily life in Greece, and explore the bureaucracy of Medieval China.
In the past, my students have created original Egyptian pyramids out of salvaged cardboard and dollar-store duct-tape. My hope is that my students are able to use higher quality materials to really explore the way their ancient peoples built, wondered, and lived.
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