Grace attended James Madison University has a bachelor's degree in history and a master's degree in teaching. She previously taught high school social studies in several states around the country.
The Importance of SDAIE Lessons
Interested in creating SDAIE lessons? The first step is to understand what SDAIE lessons are and why they matter. SDAIE stands for Specially Designed Academic Instruction in English. SDAIE lessons are designed for children who are native speakers of a language other than English and are still below grade-level in English. What makes SDAIE lessons unique is that they are constructed in a way that teaches non-English material (math, social studies, science, etc.) at grade-level. Often, students who are English Language Learners (ELL) have no trouble with many subjects, but may lack the ability to read the directions, respond to questions in written form or feel comfortable participating in class. SDAIE lessons desire to remove these barriers so that ELL students can still be successful while mastering English proficiency. The remainder of this lesson will cover the three broad categories of incorporating SDAIE into the classroom.
As with any other lesson, SDAIE lessons require forethought and preparation to ensure they are successful. In order to create successful lessons, consider the following during lesson and unit preparations:
- Objectives: Objectives for lessons should come in two categories -- language-skills and content objectives. Language-skill objectives cover the things that contribute to overall English literacy like speaking, writing and reading skills. Separately, content objectives cover the information of the lesson. For example, in a lesson on the Declaration of Independence, language-skills would cover comprehending the document and having conversations about it. Content objectives would cover the historic information students should know by the end of the lesson.
- Scaffolding: As with all other lessons, SDAIE lessons should use scaffolding to meet the specific needs of students in your class. When designing direct instruction, activities and assessments, consider what additional aids ELL students will need to be successful.
- Prior Knowledge: It's important to avoid making assumptions about what students know. For example, a student who recently immigrated from Samoa may not be able to complete an assignment describing snow without first learning about what it looks and feels like. Before a unit, assess what your students already know about the topic.
1. Cognitive Level: This is the most important component of SDAIE lessons. Although ELL students are below grade-level in English, it is essential to keep the content of the lesson on grade-level. What this looks like in the classroom is teaching a 10th grade ELL students the same 10th grade science standards that all 10th grade students learn. Teachers should use supports (such as visuals, manipulatives, realia, primary-language supports and role play) to help students with the language component of lessons. It is important to note that textbook lessons should be modified to meet their needs. It is unfair to expect students to comprehend a grade-level book on a language they cannot yet fully comprehend.
2. Positive Classroom Environment: It is important that the classroom environment is encouraging, provides a safe space for asking questions and is empowering. Teachers should be sure to utilize proper wait time and encourage student-student interactions.
3. Engaging Activities: Although not all will be used at the same time, the following are various things to incorporate into SDAIE lessons to make them successful and engaging for all students.
- Opportunities for modeling (by teacher), guided practice and finally independent practice
- The 4 Cs (creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication)
- Use of emotion to connect students to content
- Incorporating multiculturalism so that all students will value diversity
Knowing What to Assess
Creating appropriate assessments is an essential final component to SDAIE lessons. It's important that an educator know what they are assessing, English language mastery or content mastery? For example, when asking students to solve a word problem that uses long-division in a math class, an ELL student may miss the question even if they know how to do long-division because they cannot understand what it is asking. In order to avoid this, teachers should utilize multiple ways of assessing mastery of both grade-level and language objectives. Multiple assessments will give a teacher a better understanding of why a student did not demonstrate mastery of an objective. Teachers should scaffold assessments using similar methods to lesson scaffolds.
Incorporating the key procedures of Specially Designed Academic Instruction in English (SDAIE) lessons into your classroom will help non-native English speakers find success and be appropriately challenged. The most important takeaway about these lessons is that the objectives are designed to be based on the appropriate grade/content level with modifications to help students who have a language barrier. When preparing lessons, create both content and language objectives, scaffold instruction and activities appropriately and assess prior knowledge before beginning. When teaching lessons, keep in mind the cognitive level of students, create a positive classroom environment and focus on engaging activities. Finally, when assessing students, be sure to appropriately address the content objectives by having several different assessment forms.
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