If you are serving beginning English Learners, i.e. those having no or little English proficiency and typically scoring at levels 1 or 2 on the WIDA scale, you may find these resources helpful. These activities are designed to build basic classroom and content area vocabulary so that students can access your teaching.
You may choose to place the onus of learning directly on your EL students, encouraging them to translate the materials you use into their native languages. If your students are motivated and willing to engage in double the work of their English-speaking peers, they may acquire some of your target concepts. Unfortunately, they will not be able to exploit or apply this information in English- the key to attaining the dreams that brought them to their adopted country and still the language of all scholastic assessments, both formal and informal.
Begin at the Beginning
My Symbaloo webpages provide online core content resources for learners who speak little or no English. Activities either need no instructions OR have instructions that can easily be ignored, e.g. a voice tells the student to push the button, but the student can see that there is only one button- and it’s blinking.
Each column addresses a different sub-topic. Activities should be done in order, top to bottom. If a tile (square in the Symbaloo grid) takes the user to a site that offers more than one activity OR multiple levels of an activity, the student should complete all the exercises offered. For review links, students should choose at least three tasks to do.
The student should complete only one NEW activity per class session. However, s/he is encouraged to return to previously completed activities for practice and review. Requiring the student to proceed at a measured pace will ensure that s/he retains material. Many beginning ESL students rush through material to “prove” that they are “smart,” then cannot recall the material even a day or two later. Please keep in mind that most ELs were successful students in their native countries; for some, it is crushing to their self-esteem to have to relearn basic vocabulary and content. They are desperate to prove their competence by completing tasks as quickly as possible, without regard for long-term retention.
ENGLISH/LANGUAGE ARTS https://www.symbaloo.com/mix/jantzarinonewbieela
SOCIAL STUDIES https://www.symbaloo.com/mix/jantzarinonewbiesocstu
In addition to completing one on-line activity daily, students need to record the new vocabulary they have encountered on this form: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1vTAf4lIHJb5SZI3BJguFXoVSx0RlQb44f8Bb6Nvem0w/edit?usp=sharing . I strongly recommend that teachers punch holes in these pages and require students to keep them IN ORDER in a binder. Having the students make and keep on a ring flashcards of these words can also boost retention.
Assessments and Grading
For Els, teachers may substitute linguistically appropriate alternative assignments and assessments for tasks required of pupils proficient in English. There exists a long legacy of court cases which has established that school systems MUST design instructional strategies that allow English Learners to access the curriculum. If a teacher fails an EL, (i.e., assigns him/her an “F”), the teacher MUST demonstrate that s/he accommodated both the instructional and assessment needs of the student. If the instructor cannot show this, s/he may not fail the student and will be required to make appropriate adjustments to his/her lesson delivery. Some resources and suggestions for evaluating the work of ELs follow.
For an easy, weekly formative assessment, teachers may fold outward the “Native Language” column of students’ personal glossaries, https://docs.google.com/document/d/1vTAf4lIHJb5SZI3BJguFXoVSx0RlQb44f8Bb6Nvem0w/edit?usp=sharing, so that that column only may be seen on the back of the page. After the teacher tapes the column to the student’s desk, the learner can number a separate sheet of paper 1-9 (or however many words are being assessed) and write the English equivalent for each term.
This document summarizes standard strategies for modifying tests for ELs: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1pETNYW2QNDjt9jfJs2Jwg4BjmtMasRKQ/view?usp=sharing.
When a teacher is satisfied that a student has successfully acquired target terms and concepts, s/he may choose to create his/her own summative assessment OR use one of the multi-media tests supplied here: http://quizstar.4teachers.org/indexs.jsp . First, have the student sign up for use of the site. Next, have the student click of the “search” tab and type in the name of the “class” (Symbaloo) the student is working in. This will be one of the following: Newbie ELA, Newbie Math, Newbie Science, or Newbie Social Studies. When the student clicks on the appropriate title, s/he will see sub-tests for that general topic. S/he should select whichever sub-topic s/he has just completed and take the test.
For teachers to see the results of student assessments, they must sign up for this free app. They can then import the quizzes into their accounts. For a list of the quiz import codes, as well as resources for bilingual graphic organizers, bilingual versions of often-used teacher letters to parents, and examples of on-line word walls tailored for ELLs, please visit https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Rg6o3J52WEX85dWQScHCfYt9AqR3Hpddn2RIWWQ5TNU/edit?usp=sharing .
As noted above, teachers must modify instruction as well as assessment when serving English Learners. A cursory internet search will reveal that much has been researched and written in this area. The format of the resources listed here make the strategies they recommend easy and convenient to apply.
The chart on page 28 enables quick access to exemplary strategies for addressing specific ELL challenges. Most of the rest of the booklet describes the purpose and implementation of each intervention: https://www.ride.ri.gov/Portals/0/Uploads/Documents/Students-and-Families-Great-Schools/English-Language-Learners/go-to-strategies.pdf.
This is a very simple chart of alternative assignments for ELs: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ZJQ9-2YHx5rzKLFnD7-gpWz8E-G0TA8p/view?usp=sharing. It may spark some ideas regarding how to modify tasks for your less English proficient students.
If you write language goals for your students (or use Bloom’s taxonomy to shape your goals), you may find this chart useful for applying those goals to developing ELLs: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1djPOcwH3K3Zgj8LcvIb-u3zGElBU32jB/view?usp=sharing .
In English, questions depend on complex grammatical constructions. Which types of questions can a teacher reasonably expect an EL student to understand? This chart integrates the WIDA English language proficiency levels and Bloom’s cognitive taxonomy to suggest question frames appropriate for each stage of development: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1DcWIxMIMgO-MRh_2KcBjoWJ00bjkqHL4/view?usp=sharing.
- This is not an ESL course. These resources are only meant to support mainstream classroom content by making it more accessible to the English Language Learner. ELLs should still participate in regular ESL classes where they will receive much more comprehensive instruction.
- This is not a substitute for differentiation. Teachers are still responsible for providing instruction appropriate for each learner’s level of English Language Proficiency. However, it is very difficult to give ELLs all the attention they need all the time when the teacher is accountable for the education of 30+ students in a classroom. These activities may serve as productive pursuits for ELLs when the teacher is necessarily engaged in meeting the diverse needs of other class members.
- This is not an exhaustive list of resources. Even a cursory web search will reveal an abundance of materials for ELLs. To guide their selection of tasks, teachers may wish to peruse the “Can-Do” charts found under the “Downloads and Products” heading at the website listed here: http://www.wida.us/standards/CAN_DOs/