Frequently Asked Questions

ELL Continuum of Service Model

McGraw-Hill Reading Implementation

Writing Curriculum

If you have any additional questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact Kate Damgaard, ELL Curriculum Specialist at

ELL Continuum of Service Model

Q:  Are 2nd-5th grade Level 1 students served all day?

A:  The answer depends on the number of students that are in that group.  Please refer to the elementary continuum of services document that was shared at our August 6 session.

Q:  For grades 2-5, Levels 2-4…How do you recommend splitting 2 hours of time for 1) Writing instruction, 2) Whole Group Reading 3) Guided Reading?

A:  Our recommendation would be to teach one writing minilesson to all students.  There are enough similarities in the traits that gen ed works on at those grade levels that you could teach one lesson to all your students and then work more on moving students to grade level proficiency through individual writing conferences.  This might last about 45 minutes depending on the number of students you’re serving.  You then might teach a 15-20 minute whole group reading lesson, again keeping in mind that in the general ed classroom, all students are working on the same strategies…summarizing, visualizing, main idea and details.  The difference is in the level of text complexity and in the expected complexity of student responses at different grade levels.  Students should be accessing this text with teacher support.  You might use texts from various grade levels to do this, as well as the rich literature that you’ve been using previously.  You could then spend the 45-60 minutes working on guided reading, with either groups of kids or individually, depending on the level and amount of students.  If you have one or two students at each grade level and all reading at different levels, you might do each student individually for a 15 minute group.  Or if you have a few students reading at a few different levels, you might take three groups for 20 minutes each.  It depends on the level and amount of students.  Use your best teacher judgement to create your groups and if you need someone to bounce ideas off of, we’re always happy to be a sounding board.

Q:  I want to know if we complete report cards for Level 4 students we will give extra support to.

A:  The purpose for providing support for Level 4 students is to help them polish their language skills so that they can show proficiency on the ELDA, as well as other assessments that will measure reading and writing.  After students are identified as needing extra support in these areas, teachers should work to hone in on the specific skills that students need to improve.  Level 4 service is meant to be fluid so that once students master the skills they are lacking, they should no longer be pulled.  With regard to report card grades, if students at Level 4 are being pulled to work specifically on writing, the ELL teacher should complete the ELL report card just for writing, using the Level 3 descriptors.  If students are being pulled to work specifically on reading, the ELL teacher will not complete a separate ELL report card.  The student will receive the majority of his/her reading instruction in the general education classroom, but the overall report card grade can be reflective of the extra support that is being provided by ELL.

Q:  If a Level 4 student is struggling with fluency only, does this student still need to be pulled? (Student meets reading guidelines in all other areas.)

A:  This student should not be pulled if fluency is the only concern and he/she is accurately comprehending the text at the given grade level.  Reviewing ELDA and NeSA-R scores may provide some insight as to why student hasn’t met exit criteria.

McGraw-Hill Reading Implementation

Q:  How does this McGraw-Hill plan affect our use of ELL checklists

A:  At this point, it doesn’t affect our use of the ELL checklists.  The checklists, along with the quarterly writing prompt, are still the best evaluation tool to document students’ progress through the language acquisition levels.  The ELL checklists are aligned with both the ELL

Guidelines put forth by the state and the state’s Language Arts standards.  The items on the checklist should still be able to be documented through the work you’ll be doing in your classroom with whole group reading, shared reading, guided reading, writers workshop and shared and interactive writing.  We won’t be changing or revising the checklists at this point

Q: Is it possible to streamline the grade level pacing guides for next year?

A: Simply put, the pacing guides and language continuums are a work in progress. If anybody has recommendations throughout the year for ways to streamline the documents and make them more user friendly, please let us know! These are for you and we want them to be easy to use!

Q: Just clarifying that this is only 1st quarter so a blank boxes won’t necessarily stay blank.

A: Correct. We are working on the pacing guides quarter by quarter so hopefully by the end of the year, there will not be blank boxes! We are working on second quarter now and hope to have that ready a week or so prior to the end of Q1.

Q: What is the expectation, that teachers use McGraw-Hill only during whole group?

A: The main goal of the use of the McGraw Hill materials is to create continuity between ELL and General Education classrooms. That being said, these materials have ELL supports in them but they are not an English Language Development program for students acquiring language. The best way to create continuity and provide access and support with the McGraw Hill materials is through teacher support in ELL. The goal is for teachers to use the McGraw Hill online materials as a whole group to support the language of the comprehension strategies/skills, the vocabulary strategies and the grammar components that are taught in general education. Since teachers only have online access, and based on students language acquisition levels, true work of these skills at an independent level will be expected to be used with the ELL materials that are provided. (rigby, hampton brown etc…).

Some of the pieces that will support whole group rehearsal of concepts in McGraw Hill are as follows:

  • Shared Reading

  • Literature Anthology

  • Vocabulary Strategies

  • Comprehension Skills

  • Comprehension Strategies

  • Grammar (can be taught at writing time)

Q: So…we will use our own materials to get at the topics and skills listed?

A: The answer to this is that we will use a combination of materials to meet our students needs and address the topics and skills listed. First and foremost, we need to know our students and understand what material will best address their learning and language needs. Our students have two sets of standards to become proficient in and so we need to make sure that we are always making things comprehensible by addressing the questions: What do I want my students to learn? What is the language required for them to complete the task? How will I provide opportunities for rehearsal? What will it sound like and look like? What will it sound like and look like in my classroom? After establishing the goals, skills and pacing for language and learning, then the materials that are selected in order to teach the specific skills can be maximized in the classroom. ELL teachers only have access to online materials with McGraw Hill and the recommendation is for those stories to be used in whole group. Are those the only resources to use for whole group? No. You can also use the ELL resources and materials that have been purchased for teachers to provide access to learning for students.

Q: Is there a chance the ELL strand will be purchased next year?

A:  We have not received any information from McGraw-Hill that this curriculum has even been written.  We will want to have time to pilot these     materials before we can make a decision about whether or not we will purchase it.  I am in communication with Karen Saunders frequently about the status of the ELL materials.

Q:  If we want to use the online anthology story during whole group, should we pre-teach it the week before or stay on pace with general education?

A:  Our goal for using the shared reading or anthology stories from McGraw-Hill is to provide rich texts that incorporate the strategies and skills students will use in the general education classroom. The main consideration should be selecting a text that fits the general theme of the grade level unit and is accessible to your students.  This may be the story the grade-level classroom is currently using or one they will use. It may also be a story from a different grade level or outside the McGraw-Hill materials. It is important that the instruction be at pace that allows for appropriate scaffolding of the skills and strategies based on students’ language levels and prior schooling experiences.  Typically, an ELL classroom may spend an entire week on one story while the gen ed classroom goes through 2 or 3 stories.  The primary goal is not to pre-teach the stories before they receive that instruction in grade-level classrooms, however, if in certain situations pre-teaching makes sense, please feel free to use your best teacher judgement to do what is best for your students.

Q:  When/ how can we teach themes that we traditionally teach that are not addressed in the new reading curriculum? Is it possible to supplement the reading text provided for one that matches a theme(e.g. farms, names, pets, transportation, community)?

A:  In level 1 classrooms, the traditional vocabulary themes are still a top priority and should continue to be taught.  As level 1 students progress, teachers may begin incorporating the reading skills and strategies from the reading curriculum.  This would be highly scaffolded for level 1s and the texts used likely would be from lower grade levels or could be related to the level 1 theme studies.

In level 2 and 3 classrooms, the focus should be on developing academic language related to reading and writing skills and strategies.  However, many students will still need specific language and vocabulary instruction related to traditional ELL themes and topics.  ELL teachers may need to focus more on some tier 1(basic level vocabulary) words from the reading texts rather than the pre-selected vocabulary words from the grade-level curriculum.  ELL teachers still have choice in the texts used for instruction based on students’ needs.

Writing Curriculum

Q:  Is the writing curriculum on Docushare?

A:   The writing guides that are up are currently located in the following collections:

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