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SDAIE Strategies for Teaching

Instructor: Rachel Tustin

Dr. Rachel Tustin has a PhD in Education focusing on Educational Technology, a Masters in English, and a BS in Marine Science. She has taught in K-12 for more than 15 years, and higher education for ten years.

SDAIE, or specifically designed instruction in English, can be a challenging strategy for teachers to develop. It requires teachers to think outside of the box and develop ways for students who are English Language Learners to be able to participate in classrooms. In this lesson, we will look at strategies for teachers to help foster visual and cooperative learning in SDAIE classrooms.

SDAIE Strategies for Teaching

Imagine sitting in a classroom and not understanding what is being said around you. Normal tasks such as asking to go to the restroom take on a new level of difficulty. Within our schools, more and more teachers are faced with students who are English Language Learners (ELL). Specifically designed academic instruction in English (SDAIE) are strategies that can be used by an ELL teacher or a regular classroom teacher to help scaffold and support students.

Make it Visual

When teaching students who are learning English as a second language, you have to remember to make everything visual. Just like in any normal teaching situation, English Language Learners (ELL) will vary dramatically by ability within a single classroom. Therefore, you will have to find creative ways for students to visualize information.

Graphic organizers are a powerful strategy because they can incorporate both words and visuals and are easily adapted for a variety of students. For example, if you are teaching history, you can work with students to create a visual timeline. It could include brief descriptions of historical events along with related images.

Another type of graphic organizer you could create is a comparison/contrast matrix. Students can use images and words to create a chart that shows how different cities, cultures, or even animals are similar to and different from each other. You can even scaffold it for ELL students by providing them with the words or phrases appropriate to the task and the students' level of English proficiency.

Compare/Contrast Matrix
Compare/Contrast Matrix

Cooperative Strategies

For students who are English Language Learners, working together is just as important as it is in any other classroom. One strategy you could use is known as cooperative graphing. Within the group, each student is given responsibility for a single part of the graph. For example, one team member can set up the X axis while another student can set up the Y axis. If you were creating a bar graph, another student could mark the tops of each bar from the data. The whole team could color in each bar. You want to break down the roles based on the type of graph and the amount of data. This strategy helps encourage conversation because each team member has to coordinate with the others. It also includes visuals which aid in comprehension of content.

Another cooperative strategy is called four corners. In this strategy, the teacher poses a question and four possible answers. After presenting the question, students go the corner with their chosen answer. Once they have arrived in the corner, they discuss with their peers why they chose that answer. For example, if the question posed was which shape has four sides and four right angles, the answer choices might be a circle, a square, an octagon, and a triangle. Once students chose a shape, they would discuss how their answer choice matched the description in the question. Like other cooperative strategies, four corners encourages conversational English while also incorporating visuals.

Four Corners Strategy
Four Corners Strategy

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