Five Ways to Effectively Enhance Instruction for ELLs
Tobey Cho Bassoff
1. Clearly post, refer to, and review learning objectives and language objectives.
Visit this website, http://cal.org/siop/Index.html, which belongs to the Center for Applied Linguistics. It is an excellent place for educators to gather research-based tools for working effectively with English Language Learners.
2. Value the instructional power of a word wall by frequently utilizing, maintaining, and updating it.
All too often, secondary educators miss important opportunities to build the literacy skills of all students. This is especially true in classrooms where ELLs are active participants. Word walls should be ever-changing and highly interactive. Check out this great article at: http://curriculalessons.suite101.com/article.cfm/use_word_walls_in_middle_school
3. Know the audience you are teaching.
Find out what their likes, dislikes, and interests are. Create a way for connecting to students on a personal level and then apply that knowledge to enhance instruction. For example, if you know that your student is going to Mexico for the next three weeks because a family member is ill, you might help the student calculate trip distance, or encourage them to take photographs of the town and keep a journal--buy them a disposable camera and offer to develop the pictures as a courtesy to improving the class’ knowledge of the area. For more ideas visit: http://jths.org/jths/schools/central/HSTWc/
4. Use technology.
Students live in a digital world. They use technology everyday. They don’t know how people lived before cell phones, text messaging, e-mail, and the internet. (Sometimes I wonder the same thing!) Explore ways to bring Smart Boards, document cameras, notebook computers, etc., into the classroom. I have watched some amazing work being done at Southern Hills Middle School in Boulder,CO. Teachers use PowerPoint, interactive white boards, and download videos from YouTube as ways to reach today’s student audience. I was an adult observer and I had trouble leaving every class I entered because of the high level of engagement being created. Visit North Central Regional Education Laboratory’s website to explore critical issues in technology and education: http://ncrel.org/sdrs/areas/te0cont.htm
5. Value Brain Breaks.
Students need brief fun breaks to keep them engaged in the classroom. Educators shy away from this concept because they view it as a classroom management nightmare. However, if used effectively, brain breaks have the exact opposite effect. I recently watched a teacher insert pictures of various movies to see if students could guess the movie. She only used one picture every 10-15 slides of her presentation, and students remained riveted on the content because they didn’t want to miss the breaks. For ideas to get you started, visit: http://emc.cmich.edu/BrainBreaks/TOC.htm
Let me know how you enhance instruction in your classroom; perhaps we can start a new list.