WIDA Can Do Descriptors for Grades 6-8

Instructor: Bill Sands
WIDA Can Do Descriptors for middle schoolers lay out a series of activities and tasks to chart the progress of ELL students. Keep reading for more information on the types of tasks that students are expected to complete and how they are organized.

WIDA Can Do Descriptors: Grades 6-8

WIDA Can Do Descriptors for the Key Uses edition provide multiple sample activities and learning objectives for ELL students at several different stages in their academic progression.

The Grades 6-8 cluster features six levels outlining sample tasks for each branch of the English language, including speaking, reading, writing, and listening. For additional monitoring of academic progress, these descriptors are further divided into four Key Uses, each of which concentrates on a distinct communication purpose.

Key Uses

The Key Uses for the WIDA Can Do Descriptors are listed below:

  • Recount: This domain relates to students' ability to acquire and retain important information, and subsequently repeat important elements of stories or events. Potential examples of the 'Recount' skill area include summarizing a story and recounting personal experiences.
  • Explain: This key use focuses on a student's ability to recognize the 'why' and 'how' of classroom topics. Examples of this domain can include offering descriptions of life cycles or describing the function of an experiment.
  • Argue: Closely related to the 'Recount' key use, this domain requires students to come up with their own opinions based on outside sources of information. Students may be asked to use evidence to support a claim or express an original argument.
  • Discuss: This skill area focuses on collaboration between peers and tests a student's ability to share ideas with his or her classmates. Potential activities include group discussions and activities.

WIDA Levels for Grades 6-8

The Can Do Descriptors for Grades 6-8 (and most other clusters) are organized into six levels. Descriptors start at Level 1 (for beginners) and extend up to Level 6. More information on each level, as well as a few examples of tasks that students should be able to complete, can be found below.

Level 1: Entering

The entry level is reserved for students who require generous support to complete even the most basic classroom tasks. These students can answer simple Wh- questions (who, what, where, etc.) and use visual representations or simple words and phrases to recount or explain information. Their ability to argue is largely limited to answering yes or no questions and stating brief opinions.

Level 2: Emerging

This level is for students who have begun to show progress in their ability to recount the basic elements of a story or the main idea of a conversation. They can also complete sentences using word banks when writing, and use illustrations and simple sentences to compare ideas, identify an argument's claim, and distinguish fact from opinion.

Level 3: Developing

Students who have reached the developing level have begun to show the ability to explain links between various classroom subjects. These students can understand the main idea and key details of a story and use their words to describe the similarities and differences between two ideas or explain why and how certain phenomena occur. These students can also use their reading, writing, and speaking skills to critique an opposing claim or evaluate opinions.

Level 4: Expanding

Students at the expanding level have developed the ability to explain the steps of a process and match complicated oral descriptions to corresponding charts and graphs. These students can also paraphrase information when speaking and produce written reports related to course content. They are also capable of backing up their own stances and opinions with supporting evidence.

Level 5: Bridging

Bridging students are capable of following the main ideas of information presented in multimedia formats and can identify literary devices (theme, plot, etc.) used in a story. They are also able to follow complex, multi-step directions in order to complete math and science tasks and can understand the sequential nature of processes and phenomena. Students at this level can take part in debates, compare and contrast opposing viewpoints, and use data and other sources of information to generate reports as well.

Level 6: Reaching

The most advanced students at the reaching level can identify the different techniques an author uses to develop a main event or central idea, while also providing succinct and detailed conclusions about the main ideas found in a passage. They're also able to compose complex essays and multimedia presentations of their own and ask or answer questions that connect several of a conversation's key details.

Resources for ELL Students

Study.com has a plethora of teaching resources and guides for instructors who teach ELL students. This Activities & Resources for Teaching ELL course contains creative lesson plans and helpful ideas that are sure to improve student engagement and ensure productive and effective instruction for your ELL students.

There's also this Resources for Teaching English Language Learners course, which includes vocabulary and writing activities as well as helpful instruction for teachers on topics like accommodations, legal issues, and ELL assessment types.

You can also check out this Activities for Teaching English Language Learners course to view innovative video lessons providing educators with even more new tasks and activities for their ELL students.

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