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Arachnids, amphibians, and mammals, oh my!

animals.jpg

These past few weeks have been quite interesting. The students had a big test on classification and kingdoms, etc., and are now starting to work on a new assignment: animal projects! The projects take the form of an informative poster that each student has to create. To begin, they are required to select a certain animal group (mammals, for example). Then, they are to answer specific questions about them (such as whether they are vertebrate or invertebrate) and then state five characteristics of their group that makes them different from other groups. To find these characteristics, the students have to look in library books in the classroom. This is what I helped them with today. For the most part, it was easy to find the information, but it was difficult to explain that they needed to find characteristics of the ENTIRE group, not just one animal in it. One student was studying arachnids, but he kept pointing out facts just about spiders, not really considering the other members of the group, like scorpions and grasshoppers.

It's hard because I can see that the students are very, very intelligent, but they just have a hard time understanding English. When I come in before class, I always have conversations with the students, and they always ask me questions about college, the upcoming elections, etc. I know they are very bright and inquisitive kids on every level. However, I can see how difficult it is for many of them to digest English readings and comprehend them enough to answer questions about what they read. The teacher in the class does an amazing job explaining things so that they understand, but I wish I knew how I personally could make things easier for them...

(Images combined in photoshop from www.flickr.com)