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How to Use the WIDA Standards

Instructor: Carla Dash

Carla Dash has a BA in English and a MA in teaching. She has taught middle-school ESL and science as well as college-level sociology.

What's WIDA? How does it mesh with Common Core and state standards? How do you use it? In this lesson, you will learn the basics of WIDA standards and how to use them to help English Language Learners in the classroom.

The WIDA Standards

Ms. Taylor is a new teacher. She's super psyched to meet her sixth graders and teach her first unit about Earth's place in the Universe. But on the first day of school, Ms. Taylor realizes there are some kids in her classes who do not understand anything she's saying to them. Others understand, but they don't respond. These are students who are learning English as a second or third or fourth language. Ms. Taylor is worried. Will these kids be able to keep up with the content? How can she help them?

A bunch of departments of education around the United States came together to create standards to foster the academic English acquisition of ELLs. This group is called WIDA, and its standards focus on the language students of various English levels (1-6) and grade levels (k-12) are able to use to meet academic targets in five areas: social/instructional language, English Language Arts, mathematics, science, and social studies.

MPIs

OK. So there are some standards in place to help Ms. Taylor reach her ELLs. But how is she supposed to use this WIDA thing?

She can use the standards to create MPIs (Model Performance Indicators). MPIs describe how ELLs at a particular level can meet the demands of a content task. Essentially, they are content objectives that are differentiated for ELLs. An MPI has three parts: the language function, the topic, and supports.

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