Student Successes With Thinking Maps®
David Hyerle, editor with Sarah Curtis and Larry Alper co-editors
Chapter 11: A First Language for Thinking
in a Multilingual School
Stefanie R. Holzman, Ed.D.
“The Thinking Maps took the English language learner to the highest level of thinking . . . in a very simple way.”
Many of the teachers in this urban, inner city, K5 school of 1200 minority students (85% of those entering with Spanish as their primary language) thought they were already getting the best out their students. As the newcomer to the school, I had expectations that students should be achieving at higher levels than current test results indicated.
My high expectations are rooted in an understanding of what many of us who have attempted to learn a second language know: Learning content while learning a second language is a complex process. It is frustrating for a child to have ideas, vocabulary, and rich patterns of thinking in one language that are not immediately translated and understood by teachers in the context of the classroom. This is because the acquisition of a second language obviously gets in the way of our thinking and learning. The Thinking Maps become a translator of language and thinking from one language-mind (Spanish) to another language-mind (English). Thinking Maps became our first language for thinking, thus supporting the languages, content learning, and cognitive development of our multilingual population.
My experiences from seeing the maps in use in other schools in Long Beach Unified School District made me believe that our students would learn the maps, and the result of all this would be higher academic achievement. This did happen. The numbers are in from the standardized tests given in California. The state has a very complicated formula to determine expected growth. Roosevelt school was expected to gain 11 points overall. We exceeded that goal with a 60 point gain. Not only did the school as a single unit make growth, but so did our significant subgroups: Hispanic students, English language learners, and students of low socioeconomic status as determined by free lunches.
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Differentiation in a Multilingual School
Read the complete chapter in the book Student Successes With Thinking Maps. Key sections from the chapter A First Language for Thinking in a Multilingual School with excerpts above include:
Stefanie R. Holzman, Ed.D. is currently the principal of a large, urban, multiethnic, multilingual elementary school in Long Beach, California. She has also been an internal literacy consultant for K8 schools, a regular, special education, and Title I teacher, and a lecturer at California State University, Long Beach.
Read more about Roosevelt Elementary School in the Long Beach Press Telegram article Elementary Maps Triumph published February 1, 2004.
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