When faced with the challenge of teaching young ELL students how to read, the first question one must ask is about the purpose of this skill, as it can be used in two ways: one is to be able to communicate in English on a social level and the other is for academic purposes. And what is the difference, you might wonder?
1. Social Purposes: In this case, ELL students are part of a conversational program and most likely are learning to read or already know how to read in their native tongue. With these learners, the focus isn’t on developing phonemic awareness or decoding skills, it is about building vocabulary through word recognition by being exposed to the same words over and over again. Vocabulary taught are often centered around themes such as weather, sports, food, etc., and serve to allow learners to communicate with peers in English.
2. Academic Purposes: In this instance, ELL students are in a mainstream classroom and are being taught to read following the same process as native English speakers, regardless of whether they can read in their mother tongue, and the focus is on developing phonemic awareness, decoding, vocabulary building and comprehension skills. For these students, learning to read isn’t so much about recognizing and using words in a social setting as it is about academic survival and being able to move through the reading programs set out by a school.
With these two scenarios explained, the question remains, which type of learner needs are you trying to address? If the answer is teaching your ELL students to read in a mainstream classroom, then our collection beginning reader ebooks, reading videos and assessment tools may just be the answer you are looking for in terms of supporting your learners. And what makes our resources different from all the rest?
The Right Reading Materials
When searching for the right materials for beginning reader ELL students it can be a challenge to find ones that are scaffolded in their progression so that learners have the opportunity to master each letter sound or group of sounds before moving on to the next. Because of this, our free online Emergent and Transitional Readers eBooks move at a slow pace and build from one word to two words to three words, etc., eBooks to allow for vocabulary building and integration of new sight words to transpire organically, thus eliminating a lot of the stress that can be caused when both learning to read and learning English at the same time.
Learn more about our Emergent and Transitional Readers eBooks.
Phonemic Awareness and Decoding Skills
Vocabulary Building and Reading Comprehension
When looking for suitable learning videos for ELLs it can be frustrating to find the right fit, since videos can contain additional language and explanations that students struggle to follow, or the videos may move too quickly, or don’t allow the student to practice putting vocabulary learnt into context, which is what makes our learn-to-read videos ideal. The reading videos that are part of our program focus only on learning and understanding vocabulary presented within our beginning readers eBooks. In each video, words are repeated multiple times and shown alongside pictures with the aim of vocabulary building, and in our comprehension focused videos, words are presented within a question/answer format so that learners may practice vocabulary in an oral and communicative context. For example, if the CVC word presented was “cut,” the question/answer format would be:
Question: “What can you do?”
Answer: “I can cut.”
In this way, ELLs not only practice the CVC word (cut) itself, but learn how to use it within a spoken context. See sample videos below.
Learn more about our Reading Videos.
Assessing Reading Skills
Assessing the reading skills of ELLs can also be difficult as many of the tools currently being used begin at the sentence level, meaning that a learner must be able to attempt reading a sentence before you can begin to address their specific learning needs. With our editable assessment tools, you can already start to assess student needs as they are learning to read individual CVC, CCVC, CVCC, CCVCC, CVCe, CVV, CVVC and sight words, thus enabling you to see which sounds they may need extra support with and to evaluate their comprehension of words read. To learn more about our assessment tools see – Assessment Forms for Beginning Readers.
With the right set of tools, teaching ELL students how to read can be an easy and enjoyable process. Interested in learning more about our resources? Contact us! Have an educational idea you would like to share with us using our resources? Visit our opportunities section to learn more.
What does it take to unify a staff through a common vision, regardless of how big or small the objective(s) may be? It takes putting an Educational Framework into place that will allow the central idea or ideas you wish to implement to run through the core, as depicted in the generalized Unifying Educational Framework below.
In implementing a framework such as this, the school’s vision, which could be related to values, teaching philosophy, mindset, etc., would become the central focal point that binds all teaching staff together. How so? Imagine that the framework is a cake with a dowel rod holding it together in the center – in order for the structure to remain intact, each section of the cake must rely on the other to stay in place, and each section must also use the dowel rod to support and inform one’s decision – should one piece break apart, the whole cake crumbles. In theory this is easy to understand, but in practical terms how would one ensure that the Unifying Educational Framework remains unified? The answer: the individualized planners one designed would serve to bind staff together. When designing the planners, one would need to consider different teaching staff needs based on their positions, as well as the common factor that runs through the center (or dowel rod), and that ensures each planner connects in some way. For example, if instilling leadership skills in students was the common factor one wanted to run through a school, then each teacher planner would need to have a beginning or ending column that would allow them the space to brainstorm leadership ideas, as depicted by the grey squares in the diagram below.
And so, if you can imagine each grey square in the above diagram representing teacher planners with a common leadership column, you can see how you would be effectively running the leadership skills vision through the entire core of the school, thus forming the “dowel rod”. Since each staff member has the leadership skills column added to their planner, it will be easy for them discuss and share different ideas they have to encourage students during team meetings. To learn more about creating individualized planners see:
The Power of Planners
Tips for Personalizing Planners at Your School
Different Planning Solutions for Your School
Determining the Best Planning Solutions for Your School
How to Use Planners as a Tool for Mentoring Teachers
While the Unifying Educational Framework illustrates one way of connecting a school through a common vision, it is by no means the only way. The beauty of frameworks in education is that no two need look alike; each design is unique to specific school needs. Should your school be wishing to create and implement an Educational Framework but you feel that you may need some extra guidance, we are here to help. Feel free to contact us and let us know your needs!
Other Educational Frameworks
The Transdisciplinary Framework
The Flipped Classroom Framework
The Innovator's Mindset Framework
The Shared Leadership Framework
The Language Framework
The Transitional Framework
The Early Years Framework
Global Curriculum Equivalency Framework
Educational Frameworks thus far have been explored through the development of individualized teacher planners that serve to support them and connect a staff together, but this is not to say that one couldn’t take things a step further and incorporate students and parents as well. And the benefits of this? Imagine the power of deepening the understanding of how curriculums tie together and having an entire school and its community moving in a common direction to achieve learning goals. Although it may seem like a daunting task, once your Educational Framework is complete, this can be accomplished in a few easy steps. In an earlier article, a Language Framework was used to depict how planners could be layered so that students and parents were included, as shown below.
Using this model as a base, the following steps will outline how student and parent planners might be developed to support this framework.
Step 1: Select a Teacher Planner
For our purposes, we will use the detailed version of a Social Studies unit planner that was created for a mainstream teacher following the International Primary Curriculum (IPC) as our starting point (expanded version from the above Language Framework).
In the above, you can see that a teacher would need to start out by filling in Social Studies subject descriptors and then move onto inserting learning goals. From there, the teacher would need to think about any Language Arts and Math outcomes that could be met during Social Studies lessons, (Cambridge was chosen but it could be any other curriculum framework) and then plan activities/ assessments and list possible materials. In the last column, the teacher would need to list vocabulary and grammar that may be covered so that the Modern Foreign Language team and support staff could use these as a starting point for informing their lessons.
Step 2: Modify for Students
With our base planner chosen, the next step entails deciding which columns/rows are relevant to learners and if the ordering needs to be switched and/or the wording changed to be more accessible for them. The sample below depicts one way this could be done.
As you can see, with a few simple modifications a student could easily follow this planner as it walks them through what they will be learning about, learning goals, activities for the week and required materials. As for the Language Arts and Math connections and the Vocabulary List columns, these could be filled by students during class time, and discussions could be had on links between Social Students and other subject areas, ensuring learners gain a deeper understanding of how curriculums connect to one another. And will there be a lot of extra work for the teachers to do? Not really, as sections to be filled in by the teacher can be a copy and paste from their original unit planner.
Step 3: Modify for Parents
To create a parent-friendly planner, the same steps for developing a student planner could be followed, only this time the wording would be changed to encourage meaningful classroom discussions about learning. With that said, a parent planner could look something like the one below.
In looking at the above, you will note that the order of the columns matches that of the student planner; however, the wording has been changed from “Connections” to “Ask Your Child About …” so that parents have a starting point for conversations they can have with their children at home. Sections have also been added to include project/assignment/assessment due dates so that parents can help keep their children on top of homework for the week.
Once student and parent templates have been designed for mainstream subject areas, the same process can be repeated for specialists and learning support staff. And when all the planning templates are complete and inserted into your Educational Framework, what you will end up with is a solid plan of action for moving forward as a cohesive learning community that extends beyond school walls!
Is your school interested in elevating your current Educational Framework so that it includes learners and parents, but feel you may need some further guidance? Contact us, we are always happy to assist in any way we can!
What is an Educational Framework?
A Vision vs. an Educational Framework
Including Students and Parents in Your School's Educational Framework
Designing an Educational Framework
The Educational Framework Process