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.
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). Specially 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'll 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're 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 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.
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 to 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.
When teaching students to read and write in English, you can employ Guided Language Acquisition Design (GLAD) strategies in the classroom. One of these strategies is to have students make up a song using content vocabulary. For example, if you were teaching about plant structures, you would create a chart of word choices for each part of speech in English such as verbs, adverbs, adjectives, etc. You want to be sure you select vocabulary appropriate to the level of English proficiency in your group, so you can narrow and expand your chart accordingly. The nursery song 'The Farmer in the Dell' is a good choice because it includes all the parts of English, but you could select other tunes that are appropriate to your student population.
CLOZE reading is a strategy where the teacher provides an appropriate text with certain words or phrases missing. The passage can be for any content area, but the blanks should be strategic. The blanks you create in the reading might be vocabulary words, or they could even focus on a specific type of speech such as prepositions. Depending on the level of English proficiency, you might provide the missing words or phrases in a word bank to assist students. In either case, this is a good strategy to use to teach context clues to ELL students. It can even become a cooperative activity.
There are a diverse range of SDAIE strategies teachers can use in an ELL or regular content classroom. Some strategies are designed to make language visual to students, where teachers create graphic organizers that incorporate visuals and short phrases to help students visualize the meaning of content. This includes using organizers such as a comparison/contrast matrix to help students visualize relationships. Other strategies are designed to encourage students to use conversational English, such as group graphing or using the four corners strategy to help students answer comprehension questions. Of course, teachers need reading strategies as well that foster language development using Guided Language Acquisition Design (GLAD) strategies. These can include structured CLOZE reading passages or having students create scaffolded songs.
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