Building Tetrahedron Pyramids to Build Community in ESL
My students need paper, markers, tape, and colored pencils to create and connect tetrahedron pyramids that show their identities. The books will supply background knowledge about pyramids and provide reference for symbols.
I teach middle school ESL to students new to the United States. My students are highly motivated to learn; they are eager to learn all they can about the English language, as having proficient academic English is a marker of success in their new American lives.
A challenge I face is ensuring that each and every student feels connected to the classroom and school community, as my students are completely new to the United States and the English language.
My students come from Haiti, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Somalia, Cape Verde, and Vietnam. They are typical middle school students - energetic, funny, and eager to figure out who they are. Our school is an urban 6-8 in a large city school system. It is a loving place where the staff does all they can for the students, and the students work hard to achieve success.
My students will draw symbols to represent their personal identities on the brightly colored paper, which they will fold to create tetrahedron pyramids. The small pyramids will then be connected to one another with tape to create a sculpture.
The pyramid sculpture that the students create will become a classroom display representing the power of community and teamwork that is necessary for all students to feel comfortable in a new country and language.
As I get new students throughout the year, each one will add a tetrahedron to the sculpture. Through building something as monumental as a pyramid, students will recognize that they are an important part of the classroom community.
The books about pyramids and symbols will serve to build background knowledge about pyramids and pyramid builders, and the book about symbols will provide ideas for drawing.
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