Imagine you have been prescribed medication with a daily dosage to help control your blood pressure. Let’s say 50 mL in the morning and 50 at night. However, you decide the pills are too large and uncomfortable to swallow. You reduce the dosage by half daily and mix it with water. The first day you feel great, no change noticed. Second day, same. But over time, something happens. Suddenly there is a difference—a decline—in your health. Why?
Grade-level curriculum is like a prescribed dosage for all students, including monolingual and emergent bilingual students alike. Over time, emergent bilingual students who regularly receive diluted instruction are at risk of not meeting the requirements to exit ESL programs and, as a result, becoming classified as long-term English learners. Oversimplification of instruction leaves out critical academic vocabulary and important elements of content that may be necessary for subsequent learning, classes, or grade levels.
It’s that time of year again! We get to sit by the pool, read the books we’ve collected over the past few months, spend time with friends and family, and maybe get a few minutes to reflect on our year and think about what’s to come. The last couple of years have been an adventure and have really forced me to revisit my initiative as a teacher, particularly asking what can my students do, and what are they doing?
Having students participate in small-group academic conversations is one of the simplest and most effective strategies in the modern classroom. Not only does it build students’ academic language, critical thinking, and socio-emotional skills, it also establishes a sense of community and creates a student-centered environment in which everyone’s voices are heard.
I come to you having failed miserably at what seems on its face to be a very simple task: to sit still, without any distractions, for five whole minutes. The first minute was fine, during the second I started a to-do list for when the time ended, and by four I gave myself permission to stop sitting as long as I started writing instead.
(Before mocking my weakness, it might be interesting to attempt this yourself, without music or a mindfulness app to keep you company. I’ll wait.)
The success of multilingual learners (MLs) depends on all stakeholders that touch their educational journeys, including the specialists, instructional coaches, counselors, assistant principals, principals, and central office administrators. Teachers alone are not solely responsible for students’ success. As is often said, “We are stronger together.”
On the other hand, many of the leaders mentioned have every intention of supporting MLs but are pulled in all directions and don’t know where to begin. Some are experiencing their first few ML families. Here you will find five tips to begin providing support for MLs in ways that seem simple yet will make positive and powerful impacts.
Effective anchor charts can leave a lasting imprint of a lesson, helping multilingual learners while they work independently. Multilingual learners can refer to anchor charts and use them as scaffolds toward independence.
You may already know that my Seidlitz Education colleagues are some of the most intriguing people from some of the most interesting places around the world. I love and respect them more than I can say (or that I would say in a blog post because, eww, this public emoting is gross), but sometimes I feel a pang of envy when they share stories of languages and cultures so different from my own. I find myself wishing my story crossed oceans and borders in that same way so that, when someone asked me where I’m from, I’d have more than a one-word reply.
Co-teaching can be a powerful instruction approach and beneficial to the students in the classroom. One of the best things about co-teaching is that it can lower the student-teacher ratio, allowing for more interaction with individual students and customized instruction. Yet sometimes, co-teachers in reading and writing classrooms find themselves feeling underused. When one teacher reads aloud to the class, what can the co-teacher do to add value to the lesson? Or, when one teacher conducts a shared reading, how can the co-teacher support instruction?
For quite a while, I’ve been wondering how to understand the statement I’ve often heard that “English learners struggle with critical thinking, analysis, and inferences.” Is it really true? Or is it possible that this idea might actually reflect deficit thinking? Could it be that it’s actually insulting to assume we have to teach multilingual students to think critically when, in fact, they already do?
Multilingual learners juggle two language systems (quite a high-order thinking task!) and navigate multicultural spaces on a daily basis. Translanguaging requires not only building a mental map of complex linguistic systems but maneuvering between nuanced similarities and differences of both. So, why would MLs (as a group) struggle with HOTS more than any other students?