Monday, February 22, 2010

Common Misconceptions About English Language Development (ELD)

The following statements are common misconceptions about teaching English language development (ELD) to English learners:

Misconception #1: Students at the Early Advanced and Advanced levels of English proficiency no longer require English language development on a daily basis.

False! Even though students are at the higher levels of proficiency in English, they still need continual language development in the following areas: phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, language functions and pragmatics. You can find additional information about each of these components on the ELD Strategies website's article "What is ELD?".

Misconception #2: ELD cannot be taught during Science or Social Studies time.

False! English language development (ELD) can be taught through the medium of Science and Social Studies if English language objectives are also simultaneously integrated with Science and Social Studies instruction. Content-based ELD consists of the teaching of phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, language functions and pragmatics while at the same time developing concepts in Science and Social Studies. If Science and Social Studies instruction is to be considered as ELD time, there must be a clear focus on language development, language structures and previously mentioned components of ELD.

For example, when studying the solar system, students might learn that the planets in the solar system move in a predictable pattern around the Sun. They might also learn that inner planets and outer planets have distinct characteristics. In a content-based ELD lesson, students will also develop language through the study of the solar system. Teachers might include the ELD standards of writing paragraphs with topic sentences and details, while differentiating expectations for students at the various levels of language proficiency. Or teachers may choose to include an ELD standard in the area of reading comprehension and main idea/details.

Misconception #3: State English language development (ELD) proficiency tests do a good job of measuring students' current English proficiency level.

False! State language proficiency tests are only one indicator of language proficiency and should also be paired with multiple measures of assessment. Proficiency tests do not take into account that the student might have been having a bad day on that particular day in which they are assessed, or students may be unfamiliar with the format of the assessment. In addition, many language proficiency assessment results may arrive months after having administered the assessment. In the case of the CELDT (California English Language Development Test), test results might arrive three to five months after assessing the students. It's imperative that teachers fully understand the English language development (ELD)/ESL standards in order to create multiple measures of assessment to measure language proficiency.

Misconception #4: Students at the beginning stages of English language development (ELD) understand very little of what is being taught in class.

False! Students who are at the beginning levels of language proficiency often comprehend much more than they are able to express orally or through writing, provided that teachers use a variety of instructional strategies to make content comprehensible for English learners. Teachers should employ alternative measure of assessment in order to determine student understanding. For example, teachers might ask students to draw a picture of what they learned, or ask students to summarize what they learned in their primary language.

Misconception #5: During ELD instruction, teachers and students should not use students' primary language and should speak only in English.

While the main focus of English language development (ELD) is the development of proficiency in English, there may be instances in which teachers and students utilize students' primary language. Teachers might use students' primary language to quickly preteach or reteach, or to clarify a difficult concept, word or idea. Teachers might also have students summarize what they learned in their primary language, as an informal assessment of learning.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Two New SIOP Books!

Two additional books about the SIOP model of instruction for English learners have been published this month! I'm really excited about them, because they are books that are specific to the content of Science and Social Studies!

Check out "The SIOP Model for Teaching Science to English Learners" in the ELD Strategies store!

Check out "The SIOP Model for Teaching History-Social Science to English Learners" in the ELD Strategies store!

Update: We just heard that the SIOP Science book was published, but that the Social Studies book has been postponed until June! You can still preorder the book though!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Revisiting the Cognitive Content Dictionary (CCD)

In our last post, we discussed the use of the cognitive content dictionary, a Project GLAD strategy that is designed to build academic vocabulary and word analysis skills. If you haven't read that post, you might want to read it first! You can read it by clicking here.

On the first day we gave the students the word and asked students to make a prediction about the meaning of the word. We also used the word as a signal word, using a gesture and giving the hint to the word. Next we read poems about the word "ecologist" and pointed out the word as we read it in a text.

The next day we revisited the cognitive content dictionary and asked students to tell us the meaning of the word "ecologist". As mentioned in our first post, we did a mini-lesson on some of the word parts that the word contained. Students then put the word into an oral sentence.

One thing that we noticed throughout the day when students were using the word was that they said, "A ecologist...". We therefore thought that it was an excellent opportunity to conduct a minilesson of when the articles "a" and "an" should be used.

We then gave the students a new word and went through the same process with the new word.

A helpful reminder when practicing the cognitive content dictionary ELD strategy is that you might want to pick academic words that can be analyzed by prefixes, suffixes, root words, etc. An excellent resource for word analysis is the ESL Teacher's Book of Lists, which can be found in the ELD Strategies store. In addition, the word will need to be a word that students will be exposed to in multiple contexts such as poems, books, videos, etc.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Using the Cognitive Content Dictionary to Develop "Word Attack" Skills

Today we modeled the cognitive content dictionary from Project GLAD with English learners in a third grade bilingual classroom during ELD time. The students were at varying levels of proficiency in English, ranging from beginning to advanced levels.

We first wrote the words "ecologist" and asked students who had heard the words before (h) and who had not heard the word before (nh). Then we asked students to "put their heads together" in a cooperative group and make a prediction about the meaning of the word. We called on a representative to tell us what prediction their team came up with, and asked what clues they used to make that prediction.

As you can see in the picture, the first group predicted that the word ecologist meant "scientist". When we asked what helped them make that prediction, they told us that the word had the ending "-ist" and it reminded them of scientist. The second group informed us that they thought ecologist was a signal for something because they had heard us say by accident, "When you hear the word ecologist, I want you to..." The third group told us that they thought that the word meant "college" because it "sounded like the word college". Another group expressed a similar prediction stating that it must be a scientist who went to college. The final group informed us that they predicted that it meant "knowledge" because the part "olog" in the word sounded like the word "knowledge".

Throughout the lesson we read about ecologists and pointed out the word in poems and the book. Tomorrow we will ask students to tell us the meaning of the word and then we will conduct word analysis on the word, explaining that "eco" means "environment", "ologist/ology" means "one who studies __ or the study of ___", and "-ist" means "a person who".

From our initial modeling it was clear that the students already had word consciousness, because many of them noticed and analyzed the word parts in order to aid them in predicting the meaning of the word.
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Why do we write down predictions, even if they are not correct?
It's important that students begin to make their own predictions about words, based on context clues or morphological analysis of word parts. If we always give students the meanings to vocabulary, when will they ever learn to have the word attack skills necessary to predict the meanings of words? As teachers we need to sometimes explicitly tell students the meaning to certain vocabulary words, but at other times we also need to assist students with learning how to become "word detectives" and figure out the meaning of the word on their own. At times it is necessary for students to make their own predictions and later return to confirm and revise their predictions.
eld, eld standards, the cognitive content dictionary is an eld strategy, eld strategies, eld
Why is it important to ask about the clues that they used to make the prediction?
It's important to model with students that there are various clues that we can use when trying to figure out the meaning of an unknown word. It's important that students become sophisticated with looking for prefixes, suffixes, root words, cognates and context clues that enable them to make a prediction about the meaning of a word. This takes considerable practice and teacher modeling in order for students to appropriate "word attack" skills and become proficient enough to use it on their own when reading independently.

When using an ELD strategy such as the cognitive content dictionary with English learners, it helps to sometimes choose words that might have prefixes, suffixes, roots words, etc in order for students to develop practice with morphological analysis of words. When you first begin to use the strategy, students might not have the sophistication necessary to verbalize which clues they used used to make the prediction. In this event, teachers can prompt students by using the following examples:
  • Does the word remind you of another word? Does it look like a word that you know?
  • Have you seen the word somewhere before?
  • Did someone tell you what they thought the word meant?
  • Did you just make a "wild guess"?
With enough practice and teacher modeling, many students will begin to independently use word attack skills on their own in order to determine the meaning of unknown words.
The cognitive content dictionary is an ELD strategy that can be used during ELD for vocabulary development. ELD means English language development.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Using Math Songs to Teach Language Development

Photo by woodleywonderworks

The other day we mentioned in a post that songs, poems and chants can be used to simultaneously develop language as well as mathematical concepts with students who are learning English. We linked to a couple of "math poems" books that have poems that can be utilized with students in order to develop language and literacy. You can find the post by clicking here.

Integrating poems, songs and chants support language and literacy development with students who are highly musical, kinesthetic, linguistic and verbal. Students often know how to solve basic skills problems, but often have difficulties on standardized math tests because many tests also focus on the language and vocabulary that is associated with math. Integrating poems and songs helps students practice mathematical vocabulary, as well as assists musically and verbally inclined students with memory recall of mathematical facts.

To make it easier for teachers, we have been scouring the web for math songs and poems and found thousands of math songs for children on Amazon. We have been working hard to categorize them for elementary-level teachers into mathematical concepts. These songs are easily downloadable and are automatically downloaded into your itunes or windows media player. In the near future, we will also include some regular math compact discs in the ELD Strategies store.

Tips for Using Math Songs in the Classroom
When using a math song in the classroom, it would be beneficial to write out the words to the song on chart paper. We recommend playing the song once so that students will hear the rhythm and cadence. After listening to the song once, teachers can turn students' attention to the chart paper with the words and read the song with students. Teachers may elect to include pictures or sketches next to words on the chart paper, or may highlight key vocabulary words with a highlighter. Next, teachers can play the song again, using a pointer with the chart paper so that students can visually follow along with the words as the song is being sung.

The song can also be typed and copied for students to take home to practice. Typing up the songs on paper for students to read independently aids in reading fluency, decoding and vocabulary development. Teachers can include multiple songs on the same topic in order to provide English learners with multiple exposures to similar vocabulary words in different contexts. Typing up the words to the songs for students to read are a cost-effective way to include reading practice and language development through the study of math.

Check out the following songs, which have brief excerpts that you can listen to:

General Math Songs
Addition Songs
Counting Songs
Subtraction Songs
Multiplication Songs
Division Songs
Geometry Songs
Shapes Songs
Songs About Telling Time
Songs About Clocks
Place Value Songs
Measurement Songs
Days of the Week Songs
Calendar Songs

We plan on adding additional topics and themes soon, so stay tuned!
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Friday, January 1, 2010

More Published Articles!

We have published some articles on Check them out when you have a chance!

What is Project GLAD?
What is SIOP?
Principles of Effective Vocabulary Development

Please check them out when you have a chance! Thanks for your support!

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Teaching Math to English Learners

As a teacher it was hard enough for me to teach math to young students, let alone teaching math to students at the lower levels of proficiency in English. As I became more skilled in teaching math, I learned that I was just teaching math in a "memorization" type of way and the main issue as to why students were unable to attain long-term mastery of mathematical concepts was because I was not teaching them conceptually in an in-depth manner.

Teachers must remember that English learners who are acquiring a second language have a double burden: they must keep up with grade level content at the same time that they are acquiring a second language. Not only do students need practice with mathematical skills, they also must learn the mathematical vocabulary and grammatical/language structures of the mathematics content area.

One way that teachers can expose students to mathematical vocabulary is through the use of songs, poems and chants. Teachers can create their own basic chants and rhymes with well-known, traditional songs for children. For teachers who might not be musically or poetically inclined, there are also a variety of books that have songs, poems, and chants for students about mathematical concepts, such as:
Students who have authentic, meaningful practice with mathematical vocabulary and concepts through the fun use of chants, songs, and poems will be more inclined to store mathematical vocabulary and concepts in their long-term memory.

An additional way to develop language and math in a simultaneous way is to integrate literature and non-fiction books that contain mathematical vocabulary, concepts or real-life use of math. In the upcoming months, we will be creating a '"teaching math to English learners" section to the main website where we will review many literature and non-fiction books that are recommended for using with English learners. In the meantime, you can also find some recommended titles in the ELD Strategies store by clicking here.

You can find additional resources for teaching mathematics to English learners from kindergarten through high school, as well as poems and some recommended children books in the ELD Strategies store.

Happy New Year!
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