There were no ELL students in my classes during my student teaching at The Lincoln School, but I taught several foreign students in the past, and I have certainly thought about my practice as it applies to English-language learners.
I think that this assignment could have been a good approach to addressing some struggles English-language learners may experience in a rigorous academic environment.
Contemporary World Issues
Authoritarianism and Totalitarianism – Comparison
This assignment is due on Monday, November 14, 2011.
Using your understanding of history, write a comparison between an authoritarian and a totalitarian state. You should use two examples from Section 2, Chapter 24: you may use Italy and Spain or U.S.S.R. and Spain.
In one paragraph:
- Please make sure to say which country was totalitarian and which one was authoritarian.
- Please make sure to explain why one country was totalitarian and why the other was authoritarian.
- Please be sure to refer to the definitions of totalitarianism and authoritarianism provided in your textbook or in any other reliable source.
- Please be sure to cite your sources.
As a list of bullet points:
- Based on the two examples, please make a list of general totalitarian and authoritarian political qualities.
In an illustration:
- Please draw two propaganda posters for the same cause but from two different political perspectives
- For example, imagine a picture of "Drink more milk" with the usual milk mustaches.
- In a totalitarian state, I may draw a picture which will look like "Drink more milk, or the secret police will lock you up" – the sad face without milk mustaches behind bars, the face with milk mustaches out and smiling.
- In an authoritarian state, the same idea may look like a picture of "Drink more milk, support the cow of your local landlord" – the smiling face with mustaches giving thumbs-up to the cow of a local landlord.
- The cause of your poster does not need to be political.
- Please use color in your poster.
- Please use imagination and humor.
I believe this assignment may be an effective approach to developing English and content skills of English-language learners for several reasons:
- The assignment is based on a concrete part of the textbook material, which is not overwhelming in length (it is two-pages long).
- Part 2 of the assignment asks for a definition, which is clearly stated in the textbook, can be obtained from a dictionary, or may be found on-line.
- Part 3 of the assignment asks the students to employ non-verbal communication. The biggest difficulty I see in Part 3 is understanding of what is expected. If there were an ELL student in class, I would have drawn pictures to illustrate the requirements instead of describing the assignment in words.
I would have used images similar to the actual work my students produced. They might have looked like these pictures:
- Part 1 of the assignment is the most difficult for an ELL student. If I had ELL students in my classroom, I would have provided them with a graphic organizer to complete this assignment. Depending on their levels of proficiency, I would might have asked them to draw connections between the ideologies.
- Since the two ideas are very important to understand in the class, I would have made sure the students knew what they were in their native languages.