Thursday, April 30, 2015

English Language Learners-Part Two

State Standards for Working with ELL Students
In the classroom, academic experience and English language proficiency levels vary. Many state standards include standards for educators working with ELL students and for ELL teachers/Reading Specialists. We will look at state standards in Oklahoma since that is my home state. Then, we will examine federal standards.

Oklahoma ELL Instructor Standards

· Teachers and personnel at the school and district levels who are well prepared and qualified to support ELLs while taking advantage of the many strengths and skills they bring to the classroom

· Literacy-rich school environments where students are immersed in a variety of language experiences

· Instruction that develops foundational skills in English and enables ELLs to participate fully in grade-level coursework

· Coursework that prepares ELLs for post-secondary education or the workplace, yet is made comprehensible for students learning content in a second language (through specific pedagogical techniques and additional resources)

· Opportunities for classroom discourse and interaction that are well-designed to enable ELLs to develop communicative strengths in language arts

Oklahoma WIDA/ELP Standards for ELL Students
Reading Specialists, Literacy Coaches, and ELL educators use this to guide their instruction.

Sorry, this one is blurry.

SIOP (Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol) Model

ELL educators,Reading Specialists and Literacy Coaches may use the SIOP program to help determine ELL instruction and assessment.

What Is the SIOP Model?
The Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) Model is a research-based and validated instructional model that has proven effective in addressing the academic needs of English learners throughout the United States.

The SIOP Model consists of eight interrelated components:
-Lesson Preparation
-Building Background
-Comprehensible Input
-Lesson Delivery

Using instructional strategies connected to each of these components, teachers are able to design and deliver lessons that address the academic and linguistic needs of English learners.


Federal Standards for Working 

with ELL Students

Application of Common Core State Standards for 

English Language Learners

*Please note that Oklahoma does not use the Common Core State Standards but this is included because 46 states currently do recognize CCSS.

The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School
Officers strongly believe that all students should be held to the same high expectations outlined in the
Common Core State Standards. This includes students who are English language learners (ELLs).
However, these students may require additional time, appropriate instructional support, and aligned
assessments as they acquire both English language proficiency and content area knowledge.
ELLs are a heterogeneous group with differences in ethnic background, first language,
socioeconomic status, quality of prior schooling, and levels of English language proficiency.

Effectively educating these students requires diagnosing each student instructionally, adjusting
instruction accordingly, and closely monitoring student progress. For example, ELLs who are literate
in a first language that shares cognates with English can apply first-language vocabulary knowledge
when reading in English; likewise ELLs with high levels of schooling can often bring to bear
conceptual knowledge developed in their first language when reading in English. However, ELLs
with limited or interrupted schooling will need to acquire background knowledge prerequisite to
educational tasks at hand. Additionally, the development of native like proficiency in English takes
many years and will not be achieved by all ELLs especially if they start schooling in the US in the
later grades. Teachers should recognize that it is possible to achieve the standards for reading and
literature, writing & research, language development and speaking & listening without manifesting
native-like control of conventions and vocabulary.

English Language Arts

The Common Core State Standards for English language arts (ELA) articulate rigorous grade-level
expectations in the areas of speaking, listening, reading, and writing to prepare all students to be
college and career ready, including English language learners. Second-language learners also will
benefit from instruction about how to negotiate situations outside of those settings so they are able to
participate on equal footing with native speakers in all aspects of social, economic, and civic

ELLs bring with them many resources that enhance their education and can serve as resources for
schools and society. Many ELLs have first language and literacy knowledge and skills that boost
their acquisition of language and literacy in a second language; additionally, they bring an array of
talents and cultural practices and perspectives that enrich our schools and society. Teachers must
build on this enormous reservoir of talent and provide those students who need it with additional time
and appropriate instructional support. This includes language proficiency standards that teachers can
use in conjunction with the ELA standards to assist ELLs in becoming proficient and literate in
English. To help ELLs meet high academic standards in language arts it is essential that they have
access to:

• Teachers and personnel at the school and district levels who are well prepared and qualified
to support ELLs while taking advantage of the many strengths and skills they bring to the

• Literacy-rich school environments where students are immersed in a variety of language

• Instruction that develops foundational skills in English and enables ELLs to participate fully
in grade-level coursework

• Coursework that prepares ELLs for postsecondary education or the workplace, yet is made
comprehensible for students learning content in a second language (through specific
pedagogical techniques and additional resources)

• Opportunities for classroom discourse and interaction that are well-designed to enable ELLs
to develop communicative strengths in language arts

• Ongoing assessment and feedback to guide learning

• Speakers of English who know the language well enough to provide ELLs with models and

How State Standards and Federal Mandates Effect Reading Specialists, Literacy Coaches, ELL Teachers & Media Specialists

Working with ELL Students (Nation-wide)

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 aimed “to close the achievement gap with accountability, flexibility, and choice, so that no child is left behind.” Many states set requirements for the training of teachers and federal mandates outline the requirements for ESOL programs but not for the specific standards to be taught to ELL students. Federal mandate SEC. 3115 (f) regarding the selection of method of instruction outlines the requirements of the districts and school. Primarily it states that one or more of the activities designed for ELLs should be used in the classroom.

 Federal mandates also state that all teachers working with ELLs must have a strong understanding of oral language development, academic language, and cultural diversity and inclusivity. Common Core State Standards, adopted by all states of the team creating this resource, have specific standards for Oral language development. Additionally, the CCSS provide standards for specific content areas vocabulary or academic vocabulary. Academic vocabulary must be taught explicitly as the meanings cannot usually be inferred or looked up.

Samson, J.F. and Collins, B.A. (2012) Preparing all teachers to meet the needs of English language learners: Applying research to policy and practice for teacher effectiveness.

 Tips for Working with ELL Students

1. Build Background Knowledge

ELL students may have a different set of experience so their background knowledge must be built up. One way to do this is to explain new vocabulary words. Building vocabulary is the best way to build background knowledge. Another way to help build background knowledge is to compare and contrast/explain similarities and differences during instruction.

2. Use Non-Verbal Cues

Use pictures, visuals and real objects when you can in your instruction. Gestures, and incorporating kinesthetic learning also opens up opportunities for more effective instruction. Research suggests 80% of what we learn comes from non-verbal cues.

3. Model

Model the activity and also have visual examples of the finished project. If an ELL student makes a mistake while talking, instead of correcting the student, just repeat back what he/she said using the correct verbiage.

4. Adjust Academic Language

Think about the key words you want students to learn. Cut out any words that are unnecessarily used. Or at least explain the vocabulary word if it is new to the student.


How Federal Mandates and Common Core Align

Sample of Federal Mandate Category Common Core State Standards that Address this Requirement
Oral language development
Standard Description:
Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
Standard Description:
Recognize variations from standard English in their own and others’ writing and speaking, and identify and use strategies to improve expression in conventional language.
Academic language
Standard Description:
Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when encountering an unknown term important to comprehension or expression.
Standard Description:
Correctly use frequently confused words (e.g., to/too/two; there/their).
Cultural diversity and inclusivity
 photo tinasig8-7-14_zpsd9a78e1a.jpg

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

English really is weird!

Sometimes I really think Grammarly is living inside my head!

Today I really want to share some items from my old Wiki site on working with ELLs (English Language Learners).

This is Part One of Three~

Benefits of Having Different Cultures

 Represented in the Classroom
-It is important for students to learn that we live in a global society. Technology has bridged the gaps that were once created by physical distance. Individuals from other countries can collaborate via computer using email, video conferencing, or texting. By representing various cultures in our classrooms and schools we are developing mutual respect for diversity, exposing students to new vocabulary and images, and allowing for perspectives, ideals and beliefs from another viewpoint. 

- Students benefit from sharing their backgrounds and culture with one another. This aids students in literacy by understanding idioms that are culturally specific and vocabulary that is new to them. Teachers should create lessons that highlight diversity. By embracing multiculturalism in our instruction we are opening our classrooms up to a multitude of learning experiences.

Ways of Creating a Sense of Community in a Class of Diverse Learners

-Effective schools that serve truly diverse students in authentic and democratic learning must work together to build a community and provide mutual support within the classroom and school. When students engage in behaviors that are challenging, staff understand that these are expressions of underlying needs of students and seek to help students find positive ways to meet their needs.

-Understanding how to promote self-concept, acceptance, and belonging in school and in the external community seems important for improving students' academic achievement. This suggests that researchers and practitioners become more compassionate and knowledgeable of the relationship between formal and informal cultures, the implications of this relationship for helping youths feel better about themselves, achievement, and their place in school.


  • Classroom Atmosphere- Students are often organized in circles without desks. Every class begins with a brief check-in, during which the students and the teacher share how they are feeling, even if it's just a nonverbal thumbs-up or thumbs-down. Teachers explicitly teach collaboration skills that help groups working on projects to be more successful, and they simultaneously build community. Teachers also confront issues of diversity, race, and class in the context of their curriculum, teaching collaboration while explicitly building a learning community.

  • Community meetings offer school leaders an opportunity to teach and build the whole school learning community. Each school develops its own rituals and formats for their meeting. Some schools start each meeting with a chime and an inspirational reading.

  • Others have students facilitate the meetings, and they begin with a quote of the day. Schools use community meetings to address critical schools issues, to explicitly teach values such as community and to share information.

  • Community meetings also serve as an opportunity to showcase student performance in the context of a project. Though every school's community meeting looks different, the outcomes are the same: Students and teachers feel more connected and part of a community.

  • As with most aspects of high-quality schools, building community begins with a vision and happens because the school leaders and the teachers intentionally design structures and activities to reach the vision. When our students graduate, we challenge them to lead the formation of community wherever they go, for the rest of their lives. Once you have the privilege to experience true community, you have the obligation to create it.

A Plan for Collaborating with School Librarians or Media Specialists to Provide Multicultural Literature & Resources

School librarians or media specialists can help classroom teacher find culturally responsive materials through collaboration. The school librarian/media specialist has a database of the books available at the site and can use it to look up books. If there is a certain book a teacher is looking for and the school does not have it then there may be a way to purchase it with money raised by the library or by a school's PTA committee.

Using the book database school librarians could compile lists of suggested books for teachers to help them teach about a certain topic or culture. The list can be further condensed by grade level or reading ability level. School librarians or media specialists can meet with teachers to learn what themes they are working on in the classroom. When students go to the school library they will find books featured that go with the same types of things they are learning in class.
 photo tinasig8-7-14_zpsd9a78e1a.jpg

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The ABCs to Summer

Sharing this file (an ABC countdown for your class) for you to use for the end of the school year. It is a fun way to end the year and totally editable. From Jacque Barton.

 photo tinasig8-7-14_zpsd9a78e1a.jpg

Thursday, April 16, 2015

This is what interactive learning looks like!

From Twitter: We began our journey down the yellow brick road today! We went in the tornado...then created artwork to show what we saw when we opened the door to OZ! 

Follow this great school on Twitter at 

Follow this amazing educator on Twitter at
 photo tinasig8-7-14_zpsd9a78e1a.jpg