Thursday, October 4, 2012

Common Core Standards and Explicit Direct Instruction--Great Support for ELLs!

Teachers will need to tweak their instructional routines to accommodate the language and content needs of the low level ELLs when delivering common core standards based lessons in mainstream classes.  The usual lesson delivery will have to be adjusted to include sufficient language support in all 4 skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) for the ELL to not only follow the lesson, but also grow in English language proficiency.  Though ELD teachers are quite accustomed to this mix of strategies which cover all 4 skills, many mainstream teachers aren't.  So what is the mainstream teacher to do?

Explicit Direct Instruction might be just one instructional delivery worth exploring.  With this approach, every student's progress is monitored through multiple ongoing formative assessments as well as regular checks-for-understanding.  The start of the lesson opens up with learning objectives. The teacher, through various activities demonstrated in the video clip, completes a short series of activities which engage the students in clarifying what they will be doing in the lesson.  He models everything he wants them to say.  They repeat only after he has clarified those one or two words in the objective which may be new (especially for ELLs). 

After his intro procedure, he moves into the activating prior language segment.  APK has been around for years, but here its importance is highlighted in a new light.  From the clip, the teacher guides the students in making those vital connections from their personal experiences to his lesson objective.  Notice how he has kids talking to each other first before he calls on students randomly.  Think-Pair-Share is used throughout the lesson and this builds their self-confidence as they move through the lesson.  For the ELL, it also provides time for her/him to practice using the language of the lesson in a safe setting with her/his partner.

One exceptionally well done segment is the 'I DO, WE DO, YOU DO WITH A PARTNER, YOU DO ALONE."  Students, especially ELLs, have many productive opportunities to  navigate the language demands of the activities.  Even though this is a class of 3rd graders, the same approach can be used throughout all grade levels and content areas (I have used it in high school and discuss it the teacher credentialing class I teach).  Unless ELLs can build an academic language base and use it, they will never be able to go on and succeed in college or the work force.

This company does workshops around the country, and offers many of its resources to teachers for free (such as these videos as well as sample lessons and lesson templates).  They were at my district last year and everyone was highly impressed and motivated to start re-evaluating their teaching practices to see where they could be adjusted:) 




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