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CLRT Institute Topic 3.4 - Snapshot 5.9

Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Teaching (CLRT) Institute - English-Language Arts (ELA)/English Language Development (ELD) Framework, Snapshot 5.9.

Snapshot 5.9. Connecting Photographs and Cultural Backgrounds Designated ELD Connected to ELA and the Visual Arts in Grade Five

Ms. Avila’s class includes many children from diverse backgrounds, including English learners who are recent immigrants from several different countries. She has found an engaging way to foster her students’ cultural awareness and appreciation for artistic diversity, all the while building their English language and literacy skills. Each Monday, Ms. Avila provides an integrated ELA/global art mini-lesson by showing the students a photograph of a piece of art (e.g., a painting, sculpture, mask, carving), explaining some important things about it (e.g., what it is made of, its title), and then showing a map of the location where the art was created. She encourages much discussion, and she draws connections between the country or region where the art was produced and the United States.

For example, one day, the students discuss photographs from the Angkor complex in Cambodia, one of the most important archaeological sites in Southeast Asia. She focuses her students’ attention on a 12th century Khmer stone bas-relief (individual figures, groups of figures, or entire scenes cut into stone walls) from Angkor Wat. Many of Ms. Avila’s students are Cambodian American, and she wants to foster appreciation and pride among these students in their cultural heritage while also expanding the knowledge and perspectives of other students in the class, who may not know much about their peers’ cultural backgrounds. She selected this particular bas-relief because of its intriguing content—a depiction of a battle—which she anticipates will result in much animated discussion.

Next she shows the students a map of Cambodia in the 12th century, at the height of the Khmer Empire, and a current map of the Kingdom of Cambodia. Ms. Avila explains that the Khmer culture has a rich and fascinating history and that in the recent past, many families immigrated from Cambodia to their new home in the United States. In fact, she explains, many Cambodian families settled right in their own community. Many of Ms. Avila’s students enthusiastically volunteer that they are Cambodian too, and that they have seen photographs of the Angkor complex. She acknowledges their cultural expertise and tells the other students that these classmates may know details about the art they will see that will be helpful in their explorations.

Ms. Avila then asks her students to discuss the photographs and maps in their table groups, and after a few minutes, she facilitates a brief whole class discussion, in which students ask questions, express their impressions of the art, and make connections to their personal and cultural experiences. (On another day, the students will create their own bas-relief using foam and cast paper.)

During designated ELD, Ms. Avila sometimes builds into and from the content of integrated ELA/art to support her English learner students in developing English. When she works with a small group of students at the Emerging level of English language proficiency, using the California ELD Standards as a guide, she extends the conversation begun earlier in the day and has pairs of students describe several photographs of Khmer stone bas-reliefs. First, however, she asks the students to briefly examine the photographs and brainstorm a list of words they might want to use in their conversations. The students have heard many terms in the integrated ELA/art lesson (e.g., huge, stone, bas-relief, warriors), and listening to the students recall them gives her an opportunity to formatively assess some of the language they have taken up.

After the students have shared, she writes the words they tell her on a chart, so they can refer to them as they describe the photographs. She also provides them with some additional to take turns describing the photographs, which are projected on the board, and to make their terms, which she briefly explains and then adds to the word bank. She prompts the students to take turns describing the photographs, which are projected on the board, and to make their descriptions as rich as they can. She provides her students with a few sentence frames (e.g., The stone bas-relief shows [blank]. These (animals/people) are [blank].) and explains that they can use these structures if they need them but that they can also describe the art in their own way. She models for the students what she expects to hear as she points to different parts of one photograph (e.g., The stone bas-relief shows a lot of Khmer warriors fighting in a huge battle. These warriors are riding elephants). Ms. Avila listens to the students as they describe the bas-relief scenes, and she provides just-in-time scaffolding to help them expand and enrich their descriptions, using the words they previously generated together.

Afterward, Ms. Avila guides the class in a jointly constructed description of one of the photographs that the class has selected. First, she asks the students to tell her words and phrases that might be useful in writing descriptions of the photographs the students discussed. She then shows the photograph that the class selected and prompts the students to provide a rich description of it, first by briefly turning to a partner and generating ideas, and then by asking students to tell her their ideas. She writes the sentences that the class agrees are richly descriptive using a document camera so that all can see the description as it unfolds; students suggest more precise words, prepositional phrases, or other editing and revising they think is necessary. Finally, she asks the students to work in pairs to select another photograph and write a short description, based on their initial conversations and incorporating some of the language from the jointly constructed description and the word and phrase bank the class generated.

For the full text of Snapshot 5.9, see page 95 of the ELA/ELD Framework Chapter Five (PDF).

Questions:   Migrant Education Office | 916-319-0851
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, March 7, 2023
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