Module 2

Assignment 1

When 7 Chinese international students matriculated into the high school where I recently taught, panic struck the faculty. What am I supposed to do with the students? They don’t speak English? They can’t understand what I’m saying or asking them to do. I don’t have time to write a 2nd set of lesson plans. What do I do with the other 20 kids in my classroom while I’m focused on the ESL students’ needs? These were the legitimate concerns of classroom teachers who cared about their students and wanted every child in their academic content classroom to have access to succeed. In Making Content Comprehensible for English Language Learners, the authors answer these questions and many others.

The impact of non-English speakers on our 21st-century American classrooms has reached levels not experienced in decades. In the last big immigration surge of the mid-20th century, schools mirrored the cultural attitude that saw the United States as a “melting pot” full of European descendents who were expected to learn English. Those descendents from other continents, especially those with non-white racial ancestry, and Native Americans from the Americas were not generally given access to mainstream public education, and were therefore not a part of the classroom dynamic. Today’s classroom demographic has changed drastically and that means more non-English speaking students in every teacher’s classroom.

The important message from this book to teachers is that “all English learners in schools are not alike” (4). The Chinese students in my high school were here to become fluent in academic English so they could further their American university aspirations. Besides these 7 students, our system also included the children of immigrant families who had settled into our town. Some of these children barely spoke their parents’ native language after years of American education, yet they continued to be identified as EL students based on annual proficiency scores in the state-mandated WIDA ACCESS test. Other students spoke barely any English at all because they had recently arrived from another country. Unprepared for their arrival, the school system placed them with their peer groups and hoped they would learn English through exposure to academic content.

It takes 5 - 7 years, according to the book, to learn enough academic English to be successful in post-secondary settings. Many students had been “sold” a pipe dream of preparation in 1 year. Even among students with the same socio-economic factors and cultural attitudes towards receiving an education, the motivation to learn, background in English, and cognitive abilities were varied. This kept content teachers on their toes trying to plan.

There was no PD to help teachers address EL learner needs. The SIOP method would have provided a research-driven “bag of tools” to help teachers of both EL and English native learners in the content classroom. By using these tools, teachers would not be left teaching either the EL or the rest of the class because the SIOP methods help all students achieve standards such as the Common Core standards. SIOP becomes the “how to” teach, while the Common Core is the “what to” teach. And because many of the techniques in SIOP use student-to-student or student-to-teacher communication, every student is getting more practice time during the period or the block.

Assignment 2
Please respond to the questions below in a single-spaced, one-page Word document, and submit it on the first day of class. Please do not exceed the one-page length.
1. For this task, you will once again use the WIDA (__www.wida.us__) web site. Using the “WIDA’s ELP standards, 2007 Edition,” please download either the ELP Standards, 2007 Edition, PreK-Grade 5 at__ or the ELP Standards, 2007 Edition, Grades 6-12 at__ Read the pages marked “introduction” and pay particular attention to the chart of “Performance Definitions.” It’s important for you to familiarize yourself with the 6 levels of English language proficiency.

Scan through this document and select any Formative Framework (not summative) for Standard 2, 3, 4 OR 5 (not 1) within a particular grade level cluster (PreK-K; 1-2; 3-5; 6-8; or 9-12). For example, you may choose “ELP Standard 4: The Language of Science,” for grade level cluster 3-5 or you may choose “ELP Standard 3: The Language of Mathematics,” for grade level cluster 6-8. Note to grad students: It would be wise to choose the formative framework in a content area and at a grade level that corresponds to the level and subject around which you think you will create your two Lesson Plans. If you are a preservice teacher, it will be productive for you to center the lesson plans on the grade level and content area for which you are seeking certification.
Once you’ve chosen a formative framework, study it carefully and respond to these questions in a one-page Word document that you submit on day 1 of class: How is the formative framework organized? Next, choose one language domain (listening, speaking, reading, or writing) and read across the framework. Which element remains the same across the proficiency levels? Why do you think that is? What components change as you move across the proficiency levels?
2. Now visit the page entitled “WIDA’s CAN DO Descriptors by Grade Level Cluster” at__ On the right side of the page, under Downloads and Products, click on the CAN-DO Descriptors for the same grade level cluster as you viewed in the formative framework above. For example, if you chose “ ELP Standard 4: The Language of Science,” for grade level cluster 3-5 above, then choose “Grades 3-5 CAN DO Descriptors” now.

Please read the introductory pages for the grade level cluster you've chosen first. Then study the two-page CAN DO Descriptors chart for that particular grade level cluster—one page focuses on listening and speaking, and the other page focuses on reading and writing.
Respond to these questions in a one-page Word document that you submit on day 1 of class: How do the CAN-DO Descriptors differ from the Formative Framework for the grade level cluster ELP Standard that you studied in question 2? What elements are the same? How can both of these documents serve as tools for you as a teacher to plan instruction for ELLs at different proficiency levels?