Monday, November 7, 2016

Supporting ELLs in the Final Stretch of the School Year!

ELL Teacher Pros Newsletter                                              October 2016

It is hard to believe that it is late the year is fast coming to a close!  Soon, winter break will be here and all of you will have time to relax and, hopefully, have some fun!

With English language learners in classes, teachers may wish to modify assessments a bit to allow these students (as well as those with special needs) to demonstrate to a teacher’s satisfaction what they really know without being unduly penalized for occasional errors in their use of English.  So how can modifications be made to allow them to show what they know without watering down the content?  Employ a wide variety of highly engaging formative assessments BEFORE the summative is given.  Using these approaches build self-confidence for the ELL as well as for other students with special needs.

Here are a few ideas that I have used from Edutopia:

1.     Use a KWL chart with 2 modifications.  K (what I know), W (what I want to know), L (what I learned), H (how I learned it), and Q (Questions I still have).  The H and Q components provide the teacher with a better idea of how well the lesson was understood.  The Q component opens itself easily to small group discussions to help clarify murky issues.  Results would all be posted on chart paper around the room for students (ELLs especially) to access as needed in navigating new materials.
2.     Have small groups (ELLs, English Only, and special needs) teach a part of the lesson to the classroom.  This way each group becomes an expert in their assigned topic (with the understanding that EACH member of the group must be ready to share what s/he understood).  While each group discusses their grasp of the topic, the rest of the class is taking notes on a teacher-designed handout (this type of guidance ensures that everyone knows what to listen for). Once all groups have finished sharing, small groups can discuss what they understood and compare notes.
3.     Pass out chart paper and markers to each small group and have them create an illustration of what they understood of the lesson.  Post the results and then have students evaluate each chart (simple rating system—3 being the most detailed down to 1 having limited grasp of the topic).
4.     Design a pamphlet that will clearly cover all the main concepts of the lesson.  This will include diagrams, pictures, bullet points, short paragraphs, etc.  Each group will then share the results with the class by posting them around the room so that every student can review and rate them (again 3 being the best and 1 being needs work).
5.     Conduct teacher and student one to one conferences.  Students must have specific questions in mind when they approach the teacher.  From experience in this area, I can tell you that students really enjoy that one on one.  ELLs especially enjoy it since no one can hear the conversation but the teacher so the fears of stumbling in English fade away.
6.     Have students do a 1-minute reflection on what their big takeaway from the lesson.  This can be a written reflection, a sketch, bullets, cartoons, etc.  This type of freedom of expression will build student confidence in sharing what they know.
7.     Let students create a comic book or strip on what they understood.  Use Read, Write, Think comic strip creator for those who don’t feel comfortable drawing.
8.     Talk to colleagues to pull ideas from them.  Every teacher has a few fun ideas to reach their students.

We hope your students have a fun Halloween (and leave the candy home on November 1st).

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