Being an ELL teacher can be so overwhelming, but I LOVE it!!!!!
I say it is overwhelming because we are acclimating little people to a new culture, while also making sure they feel safe and secure. We are trying to teach them the same content that their peers are learning, while facilitating the acquisition of an entire LANGUAGE! Some days it feels like there is too much to focus on with our students, but some days we see students making connections and we feel on top of the world.
In an effort to learn as much as I can about best practices for working with ELL students, I have found some amazing articles and resources from Edutopia (Apparently George Lucas has an Educational Foundation… Who knew?! It’s awesome too!) By browsing Edutopia, I stumbled upon four beneficial posts:
(1) In Do’s and Don’ts For Teaching English-Language Learners, Larry Ferlazzo emphasizes the importance of modeling, increasing wait time, using non-linguistic cues, providing written and verbal instructions, checking for understanding throughout the lesson and encouraging the development of L1. These are good practices for all students, but are especially important for our ELLs.
(2) Another insightful post is Strategies and Resources for Supporting English Language Learners by Todd Finley. This article discusses how critical vocabulary instruction is and how teaching grammar out of context (through drills) is ineffective (for ANY student). Like the Do’s and Don’ts article (see #1 above), it reinforces how banning students’ native language is actually a negative thing because it limits cognitive connections. Another important part of this article explains how because many ELLs are quiet and compliant (because of cultural differences and/or low language levels), this can cause them to be overlooked in class. Finley also includes links for ELL websites and other articles.
(3) Check out 50 Incredibly Useful Links for Learning and Teaching the English Language for tons of great resources (reference materials, professional organizations, articles, learning resources and teaching resources.)
(4) Because our district is training teachers in SIOP (Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol) and plans to roll out SIOP district-wide over the next three years, I wanted to learn more about it (I will be trained at some point, but not yet.) I knew that SIOP was a way to intentionally and systematically plan all of the best practices teachers know to do in their classrooms and that SIOP is extremely beneficial to ELLs. I discovered this AMAZING resource by Heidi Messbarger called Effective Strategies for Content Teachers of ELLS (Using SIOP). This virtual flyer is great because it not only provides an overview of the 8 components and 30 features of SIOP, but she includes resources and links within each section.