A former special education teacher, Ms. Wilson designs her instruction around the particular needs of her students. With her eye on the English language learners in the class, Ms. Wilson makes oral language development her primary literacy focus. Influenced by the thinking of Mary Ellen Giacobbe, she believes that telling stories is the first step toward reading and writing stories. She aims to make even her quietest students verbal.
Ms. Wilson plans class activities that are thematic and hands-on to reinforce the literature students read in class. "What some people view as play creates a meaningful experience with print." In Ms. Wilson's opinion, students may have the skills to decode language, but not the familiarity with concepts and vocabulary to understand the content. She believes that experiencing new things -- dances, food, cultural traditions -- is the best way to improve comprehension. "I could show them pictures, and I could talk about it, but actually feeling it, seeing it, is the most powerful way for them to understand."
Ms. Wilson works closely with Ms. Li, her full-time bilingual aide, to connect home and school. "Ms. Li brings an understanding of the Chinese culture to me which impacts my instruction. She also communicates with children and parents who speak Chinese so they are able to fully participate. She really is that link that helps me keep the channel open between families and school."