Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Teaching Social Studies to ELLs

I make an effort to participate in the weekly #ELLChat on Twitter every Monday night at 9 PM (East Coast time).  This past week's topic focused on teaching social studies to English language learners. While sharing my tidbits, opinions and insights, I also shared shared some of the following resources:

Modified Reading Comprehension Passages

Presentations, Handouts and Interactive Activities

Vocabulary Resources

For more information on teaching social studies to English language learners, check out Social Studies Instruction for ELLs.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Long-Term ELLs: The Hidden Population

I recently conducted a school-wide professional development session on long-term ELLs.  This is a group that is near and dear to my heart as they are usually the most neglected group in any school building.  These are the students that were usually born in the United States, yet are still members of the ESOL program five or more years after being identified as limited English proficient.  These students sound native, yet are usually several grade levels behind in reading.  By the time they reach middle school, many of these students are apathetic and/or really good at being invisible.  Believe it or not, this is my favorite group to work with as I believe that they have the most hidden potential.

Many of the teachers at my school do not love to work with this group.  They are either frustrated by these students or up until my presentation, failed to notice that they even existed.  My first step was to distribute a list of long-term ELLs to each interdisciplinary team (each team has at least ten long-term ELLs).  Since I had a three hour time block, we delved into WIDA ACCESS scores and Can Do descriptors. Then, I had each team refer back to their list and choose one long-term ELL student to focus on.  They filled out a student profile sheet and used the WIDA ACCESS scores and Can Do descriptors to create an academic goal for this student.

While many of the teachers admitted that they were not initially enthusiastic about the idea of spending their afternoon at a three hour professional development session, the feedback after the presentation was encouraging.  This hidden group is a little more on the forefront and teachers have reported that they have begun recommending these students for tutoring programs.  With any luck, the fortunes of these students will take a turn for the better in the near future.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Helping Every Student Succeed (Via an Act of Congress)

In case you have not heard the news yet, No Child Left Behind is officially dead.  In its' wake is a new education acronym, the ESSA or Every Student Succeeds Act. This Colorin Colorado blog post explains what this new laws means for English language learners.  If you scroll all the way to the bottom of the page, you will find information about an upcoming webinar on this topic.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016


As we all know, vocabulary is a stumbling block for many English language learners.  I recently discovered Wordsift, an online tool that automatically picks out challenging vocabulary and generates a visual thesaurus.  Users also have the option of typing in individual words and getting the same results.  Check out the video below for more information.