Karen's Blog

Let's take a walk through a brand new day.

Giggles, Pac Man, Jabber Box, Lady Bug, and NASCAR Live In Harmony.

Sabrina Bennett, an ESOL or ELL teacher at Madison County High School is quite the jewel! As an ESOL (English Speakers of Other Languages) or ELL (English Language Learners) teacher, it is her job to teach a standards-based curriculum emphasizing academic and social language development. She believes in a well-rounded education for ALL students, no matter the nationality and no matter the limited language. She’s a true southern belle born and raised in Georgia who loves all things about the South…including NASCAR.  While visiting her classroom this past week, it was no surprise to find the Learning Target, the Performance Standard, and an update on NASCAR racing listed sided by side!  She’s always been an “88 girl” and she’s passed that love for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. to her students.

Mrs. Bennett’s unique style of teaching (which includes a 30 second NASCAR update in her opening lesson) is part of what makes her a standout as a teacher.  The other asset is her love for her students.  Even though these students come from all over the world and look very different from her, she still refers to them as her “babies”.  And she mothers them in every way.  She teaches, praises, reprimands, demands, supports, reteaches, and embraces their culture so that students from all nations of the world can feel welcome in school and safe in America. They are eager to learn, often learning at a very fast pace!
She recently chose my book, Northbounders, as a novel study for her students and invited me to visit the class. The students were eager to learn more and practiced asking questions using their limited English skills. The students made up mostly of Karreni, Karen, and Hispanic cultures fell in love with the main character, Copper the Golden Retriever, and were eager to learn more about his adventure from Georgia to Maine. The students were able to learn about American culture, history, geography, math, vocabulary, and American etiquette from the reading.  Their favorite phrase from the book was Leave No Trace. They each chose or were given Trail Names to further enhance their enjoyment of the experience.  Seen below are Mama’, Saggy Pants, Cute Noodles, Big Heart, Cry Baby, Quiet Mouse, Giggles, Camera, Running Man, Pac Man, Burns, Sweet Tooth, Big Man, Quient, and Angry Girl. Don’t you wonder why they chose those names?
To help the students imagine what it might feel like to hike the Appalachian Trail, I brought a fully loaded backpack, cooking equipment, water filtration system, trail food, hiking poles, sleeping bag and tent. Several students were eager to learn more about its contents. Pictured with the hiking gear are: Pretty Bug, Plant Man, Phone Girl, Pocahontas, Rice Man, Juju, Jabber Box, Newbie, Smartie and  Ladybug!
Just to have a little fun, we asked Angry Girl to show us what it’s like to wear that big pack. She said it was “TOO HEAVY!”
So, she picked Big Man to try it on and he said it was “Just Fine”.
All the students wrote their favorite part of the book on the board
And, this is what they wrote.  I think they are learning the English language very well!
I was so impressed with the students and had the opportunity to learn about their cultures.  Do you know where the Karen and Karenni people originate?  Take a moment to read about their culture and beliefs.  What a wonderful opportunity to live in a land where all cultures can live together, learn together, and create a stronger and more understanding world for us all.
Mrs. Bennett, thank you for your love of these students and your wish to help them succeed.  And, thank you for using Copper’s story to teach them about our wonderful USA.  I applaud you!


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