Educator’s Discussion Guide

  1. Who are the ELLs in your school and classrooms? What are their strengths? What are their instructional needs?
  2. This toolkit discusses three instructional approaches for supporting ELLs in core instruction: backfilling, frontloading and scaffolding. Discuss ideas you have for using these concepts in your classroom.
  3. This toolkit includes six recommendations from the highly regarded federal report, Practical Guidelines for the Education of English Language Learners: Research-Based Recommendations for Instruction and Academic Interventions, available at https://www2.ed.gov/about/inits/ed/lep-partnership/interventions.pdfDiscuss the six guidelines listed below. If you are a large group, break out into smaller groups and assign one guideline to each group:
    1. What does this guideline mean?
    2. How will it help our ELL students?
    3. How would we implement this in our classrooms, across grade levels or content areas?
      Six Guidelines

      1. ELLs need early, explicit and intensive instruction in phonological awareness and phonics in order to build decoding skills.
      2. ELLs need increased opportunities to develop sophisticated vocabulary knowledge.
      3. Reading instruction in K-12 classrooms must equip ELLs with strategies and knowledge to comprehend and analyze challenging narrative and expository text.
      4. Instruction and intervention to promote ELLs’ reading fluency must focus on vocabulary and increased exposure to print.
      5. In all K-12 classrooms, ELLs need significant opportunities to engage in structured, academic talk.
      6. Independent reading is beneficial only when it is structured and purposeful, and there is a good reader-text match.
  4. Describe the ELLs in your school or classroom and how they respond to new vocabulary words in your daily instruction. What do you see as their greatest challenges in expanding their academic vocabulary?
  5. We learned that typical vocabulary instruction occurs on an as-needed basis and does not provide breadth or depth of word knowledge.
    Discuss with your group:

    1. how you typically teach new vocabulary words
    2. how you could build in teaching more words, and teaching more depth of understanding
    3. how you will manage the extra time this will take
  6. With your group, select one or two practices you learned in this presentation. Discuss how you will integrate them into your existing instructional routines. Be sure to include how you will introduce words and how you will follow up to provide depth of understanding.
  7. Describe the ELLs in your school and how parents are involved in the school community and their children’s learning. What do you see as your school’s strengths and greatest challenges?
  8. We learned that establishing consistent and positive home-school communication is important to the academic success of ELLs. Using the recommendations below, discuss your school’s approach to communicating with families. Develop two or three new ideas to initiate.
    Recommendations for effective home-school communication include:

    • establishing channels of communication, being open and explicit about how information will be sent home
    • ensuring availability of competent interpreters and written communication is translated to native language
    • communicating without acronyms and jargon
    • providing regular progress reports
  9. Discuss with your group your ideas for making instructional content culturally relevant for your students and how you might engage with families in this effort.