Supporting Non-speakers in Writing

Working with new Level One students can be a challenge, particularly during writing time.  Writing is all “output” and Level One students are still working on acquiring language through “input.”  Getting all that language they are taking in back out–and on to paper, no less–is quite a rigorous activity!

A few things to remember are…

Build on the small things, common language experiences.  Sometimes, you just have to feed them the language…and that’s okay.

“I saw you playing on the swings today at recess.  Let’s draw a picture of that.  Here’s how I would draw it.  I’m going to put swings and a sun in my picture because it was sunny today.  I’ll add some grass, too.  Can you draw like me?  Great!  Should we put an “s” by your swings?  Because swings starts with s!  Let’s say, ‘I play on the swings.’  Can we try to write that?”

ELLs the chance to Say it, Write it, Read it and Repeat it to Learn it.  The best thing we can provide Level Ones is the opportunity for rehearsal, rehearsal, rehearsal.  With Level Ones, you might use a writing conference to do a sort of adapted “individual interactive writing.”  See what that rehearsal might look like here!

Additional resources:

Hartman, Amanda.  Up Close:  Teaching English Language Learners in Reading and Writing Workshops  (DVD).  Portsmouth, NH:  FirstHand.

Units of Study for Primary Writing:

Calkins, Lucy.  (2003). The Nuts and Bolts of  Teaching Writing.  Portsmouth, NH:  FirstHand.

Calkins, Lucy & Mermelstein, Leah.  (2010).  Launching the Writing Workshop.  Portsmouth, NH:  FirstHand.

Check out a sample here!

Calkins, Lucy & Oxenhorn, Abby.  (2003)  Small Moments:  Personal Narrative Writing.   Portsmouth, NH:  FirstHand.

Check out a sample here!



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Holly Tracy

About Holly Tracy

Holly Tracy is an ELL Instructional Coach for Lincoln Public Schools. She works with the staff and administration at Adams, Arnold, Calvert, Cavett, Clinton, Hill, Humann, Kloefkorn, Maxey, Roper, Rousseau, and Zeman. Holly has had the chance to develop valuable partnerships with many teachers across these buildings as they support their ELL students and looks forward to continuing this work.

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