Each student carries with them a spark in their eye of curiosity to the class. In order to get a good grasp of our students, we, as educators, must consider what each student brings to the classroom and be able to reflect that level of expectation. This is especially pertinent when considering the culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) students. Each educator should consider the following things for pre-assessing.
- Sociocultural/acculturation biography
- First language biography
- Second language biography
- Schooling/academic knowledge biography
"After pre-assessing the biographies of [our] CLD students, effective teachers reflect on the ways in which [we] can modify [our] instruction to better accommodate the needs and assets these students bring to the classroom" (Herrera & Murry, 2011, p 90). We must not forget that just because a student is not fluent in a second language, doesn't mean they don't understand the content in the class as well. Pre-assessing will give us a better handle of what we can teach and how to differentiate the class in order to best teach all the students in the class.
A non-invasive, non-threatening way to pre-assess for prior knowledge and get a sense of their "sociocultural realities (Herrera & Murry, 2011)" is to begin the class with a personal report, or 'Me Report,' that can be used as an introduction to the class and each other. The teacher can give a few questions that would be relevant for introductions that would also be a good way to assess their home situation and their stage in their acculturation journey, according to Cushner, McClelland, and Stafford's U-Curve Hypothesis (Herrera & Murry, 2011). For example, they could draw a picture of their hometown and use one detail that was unique to the town. Or, they could talk about what the family eats for dinner every night and what their favorite meal is. These would be seemingly simple activities that would give clues to the CLD students background in an unobtrusive manner.
One thing I think would work great are home visits (Herrera & Murry, 2011). This method doesn't work in my situation since I teach in Korea and this is not a noticeably acceptable practice, but I can have "teacher-student conversations (Herrera & Murry, 2011)," which I utilize frequently.
All of these strategies would work for any student because even students that are not CLD students would benefit from a teacher that engages fully into the lives and backgrounds of the students to better teach each student. CLD students have unique challenges, but these methods would still work to differentiate learning among students with the same sociocultural background, but with different learning styles or personalities. Click the button below for another example of a classroom's pre-assessing methods.
For an example of a pre-assessment and differentiation strategy I planned click the button below.
Herrera, S. G.., & Murry, K.G.. (2011). Mastering ESL and Bilingual Methods. (2nd ed). Boston: Pearson Education Inc.
Pendergrass, E. (Jan. 2014). Differentiation: It Starts with Pre-assessment. Educational Leadership, 71, No. 4. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational_leadership/dec13/vol71/num04/Differentiation@_It_Starts_with_Pre-Assessment.aspx