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How-To: Adjust Your Teaching Styles for English Language Learners (ELL) in ESL/Bilingual Classrooms

Starting Out a Reading Program for ELL/ESL Students
Tobey Cho Bassoff

One of our readers asked, "How do I begin a reading program for ELL students in my second grade classroom?" I have taken what I do in my fifth grade classroom and adjusted it so that it may fit most any elementary school classroom with ELL students. Each day consists of word work, reading, and a comprehension strategy or writing support. The format is designed for a small group of no more than six students.

Day 1: Introduce students to words from three different word patterns (Ex. -at, -ot, -it)
Give students examples of words that have this pattern: cat, not, and it. Throughout the week lead activities that expose them to this word pattern. For ideas on words or activities, consult Words Their Way (Invernizzi 2003), Spelling Smart (Stowe 2002), and Making More Big Words (Cunningham 1997).

Next, give students a copy of a poem that incorporates the word patterns that you have selected. If you need ideas on poems to select, consult Phonics through Poetry (Hajdusiewicz 1998). You will read the poem aloud. Then have the students read it with you. Finally, have the students whisper read the poem twice. Students will continue to read and discuss that poem each day with the goal of having that poem memorized by Friday. Last, have students whisper read a book with which they are already familiar. Choose one student to be the subject of a running record.

Day 2: Revisit the word patterns
Do an activity that emphasizes their familiarity of the word patterns (10-15min). Read and discuss the poem (5 min). Take a running record on a new student (5 min). Before reading a new story, offer students a comprehension strategy for the week, such as "make a prediction." While you're reading a new story, model using that comprehension strategy. Your school should have trade books. If you need ideas, consult Matching Books to Readers (Fountas and Pinnell 1999) and Guiding Readers and Writers Grades 3-6 (Fountas and Pinnell 2001). These resources have the books divided into levels A-Z. Read the new story. If time remains, then have your running record student practice the comprehension strategy.

Day 3: Revisit the word patterns
Do an activity that emphasizes their familiarity of the word patterns (10-15min). Read and discuss the poem (5 min). Take a running record on a new student (5 min). Remind the students of this week's comprehension strategy. Finish reading the book, or if you finished the book from the day before, discuss the book. Have the students practice the comprehension strategy. When you're finished, encourage the students to make the read/write connection. You can have a written question prepared, or you can expose them to a graphic organizer. Each student in my class has a notebook where they do assignments.

Day 4: Revisit the word patterns
Do an activity that emphasizes their familiarity of the word patterns (10-15min). Read and discuss the poem (5 min). Take a running record on a new student (5 min). Remind the students of this week's comprehension strategy. This day I might focus on writing. One activity that I really enjoy doing with the students is a cloze exercise. I take a page from their story and I copy it on the computer. I leave out some of the words and I put blank spaces in their place. We discuss the story and the possible words that could belong in the empty space. By doing this the students practice using synonyms and increase their comprehension skills in the process. Other activities that I have done include summarizing, using graphic organizers, and writing a paragraph with a topic sentence and supporting details.

Day 5: Poem Test
Give each student a chance to recite the poem aloud. Be sure to offer them a chance to read it through on their own and as a class. Take a running record and end for the day. I also use this day as a catch-up day.

Good luck! If you have any questions, please email me.

 

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