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Success comes in many forms. At times success comes after a lot of hard work and time dedicated to a particular event or objective. Sometimes success just happens because the right pieces fall together. That was today. Today’s success was a mix of well thought out planning, and great students coming together to make a lesson work in a way that I never could have imagined it to have done.

I found out last week that we were planning on doing a jigsaw activity in class where three students would group up and work individually on learning three important areas of progressivism in US history. When I looked at the text load for the students I was immediately daunted by the amount of work it would take to find articles that my lowest ELL students could read. However, after much time thinking and planning, I came up with a different idea. I decided that the jigsaw activity would best be done in groups of 4 and not three. This would allow three non-EL students to work through their parts, while one ELL student would be able to partner with one of them to assist and help gather information. My goal for the EL student was to pick one subtopic and work with that through reading and translating. Then they were to check in with the non-EL student to check for comprehension and understanding of the topic. My thoughts were that this way everyone gets the maximum information out of each of the topics. The non-EL students aren’t losing any information due to the EL students inability to read the text at grade level yet, and the EL students aren’t losing information because they cannot access the grade text yet. I thought it was a good idea, but what happened next made me proud to be a teacher.

Before I could even give out the individual instructions and help each group of four work together, half of the class was reading to each other and explaining ideas away. My co-teacher approached me and asked if I told them to do that. I had to admit that the reading part was not my idea. I had just told them to check in on their one subtopic. It was absolutely amazing. The mainstream students were teaching the material in ways that presenting to a class just can’t do. The ELs were working hard as they were finally involved in something that they could accomplish.

Now, because my co-teacher saw the value in this type of project connecting English learners with mainstream students, he wants more of it. I saw the lightbulb go off in his head and heard the excitement in his voice as he shared his idea for future partner work. The benefits are endless.

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