Monday, February 29, 2016

Be a Constant Source of Inspiration and Support for Your ELLs:)

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ELL Teacher Pros                                          March 2016 Newsletter

With the start of March, students start the countdown to June:).  All too often, they need a gentle reminder that school continues for 3 more months.  At this point, ELLs need to be made aware of how much progress they have made in acquiring English skills.  How can this be done with meaning?  How can this be done in a personal way that sees the whole student and not just the grade received?

20 Tips on Delivering Positive Feedback includes many of the approaches I have used over the years.  Though all of these approaches are quality ones, I have my favorites (as any educator would):
  1. Feedback must be delivered in a timely manner.The longer it is delayed, the less effective it will be in addressing the problem.This type of feedback should be personal in nature keeping in mind that ELLs are trying to demonstrate their understanding of the assignment in a language that is new.The sooner the teacher and ELL have this conversation, the better. (#2 and #3 in article)
  2. Focusing on key questions (#4) is also a must.What can the ELL do, what can’t s/he do, how does her/his work compare to the class overall, and how can s/he do better?These are questions all teachers grapple with daily.For ELLs to do well, all content teachers must tie those questions to all assignments if ELLs are to successfully pass the class and be fully prepared to move to more challenging work in the next school year.
  3. One-on-one conferences (# 7) is a favorite of mine.ALL students love that time with the teacher in this setting.I always tell mine though that they must have a solid question to ask me on the work they produced (of course, as a class, we practice what is a quality question and what isn’t).Here, the risk of embarrassment is a non-issue
  4. Number 15 is an excellent one.Return tests and assignments at the beginning of a class.This gives students time to ask questions.Assignments given out at the end of class are generally crammed into backpacks.

Another great source on this same topic is found in Edutopia’s article entitled 5 Research-Based Tips for Providing Students with Meaningful Feedback.
  1. “Be as specific as possible” (# 1).ELLs especially need to know what they must correct and how.In delivering this information, teachers need also to let ELLs know if the quality of their work is improving and specifically how.This type of encouraging feedback boosts their self-confidence.
  2. “Present feedback carefully” (# 4).When corrections are offered, they must be for every single issue.Over-correction leads to ELLs giving up.The “red massacre” should never be used for any student since it kills any desire to improve.

One last excellent source for supporting ELLs is found in TESOL’s Motivating Language Learners to Succeed.  Several suggestions are very successful techniques in any classroom, but especially beneficial for ELLs.
  1. Teachers should build pair and small group activities into classroom lessons on a regular basis.Such learning environments build the ELLs confidence in learning the content while building English skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) in a low anxiety environment.
  2. Create a friendly classroom environment.Basically, set up a classroom where students help each other. Competition should take a back seat to assisting fellow classmates in learning the content.Small group activities are perfect tools for doing this.ELLs feel safer sharing their insight in small settings than in front of the entire class.

Again, many of these tips probably cover approaches that are probably already being used in most classrooms, but a refresher is good as the school year is quickly coming to a close.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Denise, Marnie, and Cheryl
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P.S.  We will be presenting at CABE in San Francisco in March 24th.  Come by and say hi:)

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