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Friday, September 28, 2012

Get Graphic:) Bring Visual Supports Into Common Core Lessons

How does a mainstream teacher accommodate the needs of 3 or 4 ELLs in a class of 35 students?  It is a questions many grapple with on a daily basis.  It is a question which  sends them to their academic coaches in the hopes that the coaches may have some suggestions to meet the academic needs of those ELLs.

Is there a magic bullet for this?  No, of course not.  However, one instructional strategy which is very effective in helping this group of students (all grades and all content areas) is the use of visual organizers.  There are many types and the links in this post offer free ones.

ELLs need to interact with reading materials in ways that will provide access to the text.  For this to be a successful experience for them, they need to take notes as they read the text with a partner.  Partner reading is a powerful reading activity for ELLs.  The stronger reader goes first.  The ELL goes after.  Once the reading is done, both students proceed to the graphic organizer to identify key ideas, supports, key content vocabulary, etc.  Notes would be collected with a graphic organizer (this is one of many).  Notice that students are not overwhelmed with many sheets for notes, but instead face one sheet of paper divided into four parts.  Partners ideally would collaborate throughout the reading process with the teacher facilitating as needed to ensure that everyone is on task and trying to complete the assignment. 

Need supports for helping ELLs write essays?  Go to a WEBBING TOOL.  Here students can sketch out their ideas before they start trying to write  Webbing assists them in planning out their writing.  If ELLs struggle with pre-writing, pair them up with other students.  Try pair writing from time to time again using a webbing tool.  This type of practice allows the ELLs to work in low stress environment where it is OK to make a mistake.  In this scenario, both students are going through all the stages of writing including editing.  A teacher might want to think about posting the results around the room and then having students review each other's work.  In fact, she might want to take some good pieces, blow them up and  put them on chart paper to be posted around the room. Another option might be to type up the good samples and have ELLs especially keep copies in their binders to refer back to for the times where they must generate their own writing.

What could be used for boosting knowledge of academic or key content vocabulary?  Have your ELLs (and others) use the FRAYER MODEL.  How does this graphic organizer assist the ELL develop her/his language base?  It not only helps the student define the word, but also builds links to sentence writing (students must create their own sentences using the new word), synonyms/antonyms/examples/non-examples, and visuals.  Of course teachers can adjust the layout to meet their needs, but no matter what layout is chosen, it will expand the vocabulary base for ELLs.

Last, but not least, is the double bubble .  Think of it as an organized venn-diagram.  With this organizer, ELLs are set up to create organized well-written sentences and from those to good paragraphs.  Opposites are lined up in an easy to follow format which can easily be transferred to a solid sentence.  Ex.  Comparing New York and San Jose--Though San Jose is one of California's biggest cities with a population of 3 million, NY is by far the largest with a population of 18 million.  ELLs who spent time completing the graphic organizer carefully would be able to create some very impressive sentences.

So colleagues, find your graphic organizers and see your ELLs thrive in your classrooms:)

Denise

ELL TEACHER PROS

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