Saturday, December 8, 2012

Working with ELLs

My experience with ELL students is that you definitely need to
activate prior knowledge. We cannot assume they know certain vocabulary words, and so it always helps to have a visual with a word. Also, it is helpful for the teacher to check for understanding throughout the lesson. Modeling is a big factor in teaching ELL students literacy strategies. Also, if you have them do independent work it may be best for them to practice the skill(s) with a partner first. Today in my reading groups I had them do A/B reading where they sit elbow to elbow and knee to knee (known as EEKK!). Both children have the same text. One child reads while the other follows along. The reader asks the follower a question related to the story to make sure the follower was listening. Then they switch. 

I have also found picture dictionaries to be good resources so my ELL students can look up a word.

One way to assist ELL students with writing is the use of visuals as writing prompts. I found some good ones here:

It is very easy as an educator to get photos from magazines or online and use those, too. Sometimes just using the photo and not even giving a certain writing prompt but using the visual alone is thought-provoking. You also have to take into consideration are they ready to learn this particular concept? You have to remember that Zone of Proximal Development. The more a teacher knows about a student's background and interests, the easier it is to provide appropriate instruction for that student. What is of interest to the student? If the topic is something that interests the student, they will be more likely to produce a higher quality writing product. You also have to consider all of the different learning styles and have a way to tweak the lesson based on those. I think also providing multiple ways to assess the writing helps to ensure students are able to show you what they know.
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