Published on March 17, 2014
Differentiating Instruction for English Language Learners By: Rebecca Brown, ShaToya Jones, Gary Wolfe
What is Differentiated Instruction?
What is Differentiated Instruction? To differentiate instruction is to recognize students varying background knowledge, readiness, language, preferences in learning, interests, and to react responsively to those variations through modifications in lesson delivery. Know your audience...then deliver a product that fits your audience.
Why is this important for ELLs? ’’What teachers do or don’t do in the classroom influences the success of English language learners. Highly skilled teachers of ELLs incorporate 5 essential practices into their work:’’ •Creating a thriving learning environment. •Differentiating instruction for English language learners. •Encouraging flexible grouping for students. •Using diversity as a resource. •Developing alternative assessments for English language learners.
Creating Thriving Learning Environments Observation, sensitivity, and adaptation to the needs of the ELL is key. •Create a positive learning environment that will decrease the anxiety of new students and encourage classroom integration. •Assess individual student needs. •Use the classmate buddy system to help with student integration. (Academically and Socially) •Relate new learning to the student’s background knowledge. •Use simplified language without watering down concepts.
Differentiating Instruction for English Language Learners Accomodating students through modification of mainstream materials for ELLs. •Simplify content language. •Use Visuals. •Focus on Key Vocabulary. •Identify Key Content. •Summarize Text.
Using Graphic Organizers Powerful Visual Tool useful in differentiated instruction. •Can provide options for alternative expression of understanding, e.g., illustration. •Encourages opportunities for group activities. •Can enhance demonstration of comprehension through oral, written and illustrative means.
Using Think-Alouds to Help ELLs Learn • Giving students a step-by-step thinking process to finding a solution/answer • Helpful with reading comprehension, but can be useful for all content areas • Students often understand concepts, but need help applying them.
Encouraging Flexible Grouping • Classroom arrangement should encourage group or partner work • Arrange desks in groups of 4-5 • Creates community feel for ELLs • Allow ELLs to work with native speakers for better understanding of content • Use choral reading to encourage fluency development (everyone reads together) • Duet reading (weak reader with strong reader)
Using Diversity as a Resource • Diversity in the classroom is positive addition • Students share unique experiences with their peers, build self esteem • Teachers can incorporate students’ diverse background in their lessons/units • Teachers should recognize students’ unique culture view it as important.
Developing Alternative Assessments for ELLS • Realistic picture of what ELLs can do, without focusing on what they cannot do • ELLs often memorize tested materials without really understanding what they have learned. • Examples of Grading and Assessment Policies: • Pass/Fail grades • Extended time for tests • Instructions in native language • Using bilingual dictionaries and electronic translators • Stress student growth, not correct answers
Assessing Beginning ELLs For students who have attended school in the US for one year or less: • Yes or no questions • Point to or circle the correct answer • Fill in the blank answers • Vocabulary bank • Discussing pictures • Hands on/drawing tasks to demonstrate skills • K-W-L Charts • Portfolio assessments
Assessing Advanced Beginners to Intermediate ELLs At this stage students are able to ask questions about the material they have studied and compose short stories. Teachers can modify assessments for students at this stage by doing the following:
• Role-play • Graphic organizers • Simplified study guides • Allow ELLs to use their book or notes during a test. • Allow students to answer essay quesitons orally • Have students compare and contrast together • Have ELLs fill in a modified outline, chart, graph, or time line • Reformat test to include larger font and more white space • Simplify essay questions • Use a dialogue journal to discuss specific topics with students
Assessing ELLs in Middle and High School Strategies to simplify test for ELLs: • Tell them what they are required to study for a test. • Use graphic organizers, study guides, and other scaffolding . • Simplify language and reduce responses for multiple-choice • Allow ELLs more time. • Highight key words or clues on a test. • Provide support for essay questions through discussion, brainstorming, and webbing. • Allow students to use a translation dictonary.
16 Twenty Five Ideas for ClassroomTwenty Five Ideas for Classroom TeachersTeachers Before for the Lesson:Before for the Lesson: 1.1. Consult with the ESL Teacher in your school andConsult with the ESL Teacher in your school and experiment with different activities.experiment with different activities. 2.2. Plan ahead.Plan ahead. 3.3. Reflect on how you can teach with oral, visual, auditory,Reflect on how you can teach with oral, visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning.and kinesthetic learning. 4.4. Prepare teaching aids in advance. Ie. Graphic organizers,Prepare teaching aids in advance. Ie. Graphic organizers, charts, graphs, web lessons.charts, graphs, web lessons. 5.5. Add vocabulary word banks to student activities.Add vocabulary word banks to student activities. 6.6. Paraphrase key concepts in text book.Paraphrase key concepts in text book. 7.7. Ask native English speakers to find nonfiction simplifiedAsk native English speakers to find nonfiction simplified books on the lesson.books on the lesson.
17 Twenty Five Ideas for ClassroomTwenty Five Ideas for Classroom TeachersTeachers During the Lesson:During the Lesson: 8.8. Build on what ELLs already know.Build on what ELLs already know. 9.9. Use simplified vocabulary and sentence structure.Use simplified vocabulary and sentence structure. 10.10.Use either/or or yes/no questions and give themUse either/or or yes/no questions and give them questions in advance so they can prepare.questions in advance so they can prepare. 11.11.Introduce concepts and vocabulary before moving toIntroduce concepts and vocabulary before moving to abstract topics.abstract topics. 12.12.Teach students to categorize their information usingTeach students to categorize their information using graphic organizers.graphic organizers. 13.13.Demonstrate and practice highlighting techniques.Demonstrate and practice highlighting techniques. 14.14.Review and repeat important concepts and vocabulary.Review and repeat important concepts and vocabulary.
18 Twenty Five Ideas for ClassroomTwenty Five Ideas for Classroom TeachersTeachers During the Lesson continued:During the Lesson continued: 15.15.Provide real examples and experiences.Provide real examples and experiences. 16.16.Teach ELLs to find definitions for key vocabulary in text.Teach ELLs to find definitions for key vocabulary in text. 17.17.Help ELLs become aqcuainted with their textbooks. Ie.Help ELLs become aqcuainted with their textbooks. Ie. Table of contents, glossary, and index.Table of contents, glossary, and index. 18.18.Model your thinking process for students using think-Model your thinking process for students using think- alouds.alouds. 19.19.Record important parts of your lesson to reinforceRecord important parts of your lesson to reinforce learning.learning.
19 Twenty Five Ideas for ClassroomTwenty Five Ideas for Classroom TeachersTeachers After the Lesson:After the Lesson: 20.20.Have native English-speaking classmates make copies ofHave native English-speaking classmates make copies of their notes for ELLs to use.their notes for ELLs to use. 21.21.Allow ELLs to watch videos or listen to recordings aboutAllow ELLs to watch videos or listen to recordings about current lesson.current lesson. 22.22.Provide follow-up activities that reinforce vocabulary andProvide follow-up activities that reinforce vocabulary and concepts. Include maps, charts, outlines, graphicconcepts. Include maps, charts, outlines, graphic organizers, flashcards, etc.organizers, flashcards, etc. 23.23.Encourage students to work in small groups or pairs.Encourage students to work in small groups or pairs. 24.24.Adjust ELLs homework to their English languageAdjust ELLs homework to their English language proficiency. Show models of what you expect on theirproficiency. Show models of what you expect on their homework.homework. 25.25.Modify your assessments so that ELLs have opportunity toModify your assessments so that ELLs have opportunity to show what they learned.show what they learned.
References Haynes, Judie. Getting Started with English Language Learners. Alexandria: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2007. Print.
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