Supporting English Language Learners (ELLs) in the Secondary Classroom
The upcoming school year is nearly upon us. Here are some valuable ideas to think about as you prepare for the new ELLs that will arrive and thrive under your instructional guidance.
Helping new ELLs navigate the School and their Class Schedule:
Beginning English language learners may have difficulty getting from classroom to classroom. The idea of changing classrooms may be unfamiliar to many students. To help them navigate the school and the hallways, provide a map of the school and take a digital picture of the principal, the nurse, the librarian, and each of the student’s teachers to go along with the room, class period and classroom number. Students will see a familiar face as they enter the room. If they need directions, beginners can point to the picture of the teacher if they need directions.
An alternative to the “Close” reading strategy
Recently I have had several e-mails and been sent articles on something called “Close” reading. I must say that I liked the process of the strategy but I believe it has substantial limitations for content teachers, especially at the secondary levels. The greatest difficulty is simply the time it takes to complete in class. The all of the rigors of the Common Core Standards, and Content standards like those found in mathematics and science I must budget my time between core content standards and the Common Core. Both are important and both require time. As much as I would like to, I cannot spend the lion’s share of time reading an assignment two or three times. I must find alternatives that promote literacy, reading comprehension and improve my student’s reading speed. One specific strategy I and others who have used this set of tools is “Cued Retelling”. Students improved comprehension, reading speed and as a consequence improved performance in class and their test scores.
Cued retelling, sometimes called “Scaffolded” reading is an excellent strategy to improve reading comprehension and reading speed. It is especially helpful for secondary students (middle and high school) in content areas like science, mathematics and social studies. This strategy can be adapted and modified to meet the needs of the reader and help students meet the needs of the Common Core Standards.
Preparing Content Educators to Teach ELLs
English Language Learners (ELLs) are the fastest –growing student population in schools across the United States, and even so almost 70% of classroom teachers have little or no training to work with ELL students. Until professional development programs reflect what is needed in the field, the “achievement gap” will never be closed.
Keys to English Learners’ Academic Success
From my own experience with English language learners (ELLs) in my science classroom, as well as classroom observations of many other teachers, I have identified a number of significant issues that educators need to address to help ensure ELLs’ academic success.
As teachers prepare their lessons, they should consider the following ideas to make their lessons more comprehensible for their ELL students. All of these strategies are those that I emphasize and model in my training of teachers and throughout the Teaching English Learners materials.
I recently read some articles describing what they called the “new” direction reading was taking, based upon the latest research and the Common Core Standards. Although I applaud the effort and the conclusions, they surely aren’t new! With the emphasis on testing, the Common Core Standards, and student performance indicators, changes in how we teach reading were inevitable. And especially with our ELL students consistently lagging behind other groups of students, something had to give. It was something that many of us in the field have been saying with great enthusiasm--and doing in our classrooms--for years.