Graphic Organizers: One example, (created in Notebook 10 software) is shown right; it could be used for taking notes. Adding images to advanced/graphic organizers is a good way to help students in varying stages of language acquisition to understand the organizer. This should be modeled first. This could be printed or provided electronically depending on the grade level and technological ability of the student. (adapted from Classroom Instruction that Works for English Language Learners)
Physical Models: "The use of nonlinguistic representations enhances students' ability to represent and elaborate on knowledge using mental images," (Hill 7). Words alone are not sufficient to convey meaning to ELLs. "Their instruction must by supplemented with real objects, visuals, body language, facial expressions, gestures, and hands-on experiences," (Hill 37). One example of using physical models is using Claymation for students to create short movies and stories. Claymation is basically animation with clay--students create figures out of clay with which to tell a story. Using a digital camera, computer, and video software, their story comes to life. This can be motivating for a student in early stages of language acquisition because it is something interesting, relatively short, and gives them a reason to tell a story. Also, the focus on language takes a backseat to the animation of the figures. This lends itself well to cooperative learning assignments as well. By working with others, a student like Juan could help with the figures and the story, but maybe doesn't have to narrate on film. And in a cooperative setting, students often feel safe in conversation amongst a small group and group discussions are necessary so it gets the students talking.
Setting Goals and Providing Feedback:
- "Set goals that are specific but flexible, and contract with students to attain specific learning goals," (Hill 28). If ELLs can write their own learning goals with their teacher they have a greater sense of control over their education and may feel more compelled to meet that goal. This can also foster a good working relationship between teacher and student.
- Feedback is vital to learning. The way language usage is corrected by a teacher affects the modifications a student makes. If feedback is constructive in nature, students will use that feedback to rephrase. With ELLs one recommended method of correcting language usage errors is called Reformulation. Reformulation is a correction that is disguised as a "conversational aside." For example if a student says "She has a brown hair," a reformulation response would be "Oh, she has brown hair, has she?" Basically, it is better not to outwardly correct the grammatical mistake, but to rephrase and model correct usage instead. It is also recommended to used rubrics to provide feedback as often as possible, especially if ELLs take part in the development of the rubric. (Hill 31-33)
Working in cooperative learning groups allows students to have more opportunities to speak and each member has a stake in the success of the group. Working in small groups can minimize the anxiety that many ELLs feel, especially if the group works together often and had had team-building experience. One example is a cooperative learning jigsaw: Each member of the home team has a topic relevant to the lesson, students are then reorganized to topic-alike teams and, using resources provided around the classroom, learns that topic exclusively. Then each member goes back to their home team and teaches their group about their topic. Then each home team prepares a group presentation. Click here to read more about cooperative learning. (Hill 56-61)
Homework and Practice:
Homework and Practice:
- A homework policy should be made clear to parents and students. For ELLs it is good to send home a policy in a language their parents can understand.
- Homework assignments should have a clear purpose. It is okay for homework assignments that ELLs do to be modified or given extended time. Homework for ELLs in early stages of language acquisition should focus on vocabulary. Lots of visual cues and directions in primary language are helpful. Also, a preparatory homework assignment may be beneficial for ELLs--if they can prepare ahead of time for the lesson, they might not feel as overwhelmed or have as much anxiety if they have had vocabulary development on an upcoming lesson.
- ELLs can benefit from peer review and seeing examples of homework.
Technology and Software Ideas:
Using technology is a good way to differentiate and motivate for all students. Here are some sites I think are especially helpful for ELLs.
- Comic Life- "A comic can be purely graphical in nature and help provide practice with sequencing as well as concrete to abstract transitions using illustrations instead of written words," (Thacker). When teaching reading skills of pulling out important information from a story, give students 6 boxes and have them pick out six of the most important things in the story and create a comic slide for each event. This can be a way for ELLs to learn a graphical way of summarizing. And for early acquisition stage learners, they don't have to add words, maybe just pictures at first as a modification (Hill 63).
- Memorize words Flashcard System- this can be helpful for vocabulary development.
- BrainPOP creates animated, curriculum-based content that supports educators and engages students. BrainPOP is used in numerous ways, from introducing a new lesson or topic to illustrating complex subject matter to reviewing before a test. Content is aligned to state standards. All products are fully compatible with PCs, Macs, projectors, and interactive whiteboards. No downloading, installation, or special hardware is required.
- There is also a BrainPOP Jr. site that provides educational movies and homework help for K-3 students. Each animated movie has quizzes, games, vocabulary, and activities for kids. BrainPOP Jr. is a great resource for teachers, offering lesson plans and lesson ideas that develop critical thinking and inquiry skills.
- BrainPOP is also available in Spanish.
- Kidspiration- This software is really incredible. Please go to the site if you haven't heard of it. It does so much: develops critical thinking and problem solving skills, helps visual enhance reading and writing skills, develops conceptual understanding in math, and has special accommodations for ELLs. Here is what the site says about support for ELLs:
For ELL and ESL learners in grades K-5, vocabulary building is critical for reading and writing proficiency, the core of academic success. Kidspiration uses proven visual learning strategies to build students' vocabulary and English comprehension with the integrated Picture and Writing Views, the Word Guide, longer audio recording capacity and expanded symbol search and libraries. ELL and ESL students will also benefit from Kidspiration's emphasis on developing and using independent strategies such as pictorial representation of thoughts and concepts, and sight vocabulary lists in Word Guide which align with Fry's Instant Word List, Dolch Word List and TESL vocabulary.
- ESL Pro English for Kids -This is software designed by ESL professionals. It helps students learn the English language with sounds, pictures, definitions, and diagrams.
- Student Response Systems (clickers)- these can be an effective way of doing informal assessments. And since everyone can answer, or "click-in", without speaking it can be a good way to give ELLs a chance to participate without feeling embarrassed or called-out. It can also give ELLs a chance to think about what they want to select or say before clicking in.