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.

Learning Assessment through the Standards

During this session we dug into how to assess our new ELL ELP Grade Level Standards Rubrics.  We had the opportunity to score our fictional student on various standards and practice walking through the process of assessment gather, scoring, recording grades, and completing the report card.

We also shared the new recording and reporting documents, including the Foundational Reading Skills documents that we’ll be using to track how our students do with learning to read just as we track their reading to learn skills through the ELL ELP Grade Level Standards Rubrics.

The content from the presentation can be found here:


Sample Assessment Packet

Sample ELL Assessment Summary

Sample Report Card

Foundational Reading Skills Recording and Reporting Documents

Deconstructing the Standards: Elementary

During this session, we pulled apart the new ELP Standards, including defining the dimensions of academic language, defining form and function, and tried our hand at writing performance descriptors.

You can find the content from this session:


Dimensions of Academic Language

Our definitions of form and function

Performance Descriptors created throughout the sessions


Overview of new ELP Standards (Elementary)

Our first professional development for this school focused on getting to know the new ELP Standards that our state is adopting this year.  We had a chance to learn a bit about how they came to be, what the main features of each of them are, what assessments we might use to measure progress on those standards, and what recording of progress will look like for our elementary ELL students this year.

Find the Powerpoint Presentation from this professional development here.

Click here to see the overviews of the standards as developed ELL teachers during our professional development. (link not yet active)

View Elementary ELP Standards Documents


Supporting Home Language

Supporting Home Language is crucial for ELL families!  Students need a chance to develop a complete first language, meaning a language that includes speaking and listening skills, good vocabulary development, and  pre-literacy or early literacy skills before they begin kindergarten. This means parents should be using their BEST language with their kids, which for our ELL families is almost always their home language.   Students who have academic language and skills in first language have an easier time transferring those concepts to English.  And good news!  You can help parents work on just that using some tools we’ve developed.  Check out the resources below and share with parents!

Supporting Home Language information for parents (translated information sheet about why supporting home language is so valuable!)

Story Retelling Cards (translated copies for parents to use as they read with their children)



Selective Mutisum

Many questions arise about young learners who are acquiring English along with academic content.  As educators, we are anxious to make sure we are attending to all our students needs.  Considering the process of how second language learners acquire language is critical in identifying what those needs may be.

Consider this typical pattern for a young language learner:

  • The child will continue to use their first language for a short time period.
  • The child will realize the first language is ineffective and begin a “silent period” sometimes lasting as long as six months.
  • Third, the child’s receptive language abilities will continue to grow and the child will being to test out the new language by using one or two-word phrases.
  • Finally, the child will be conversing with others in the second language.

The “silent period” is what often gives us trouble.  We sometimes have trouble distinguishing it from selective mutism.  Consider pursuing more assessment and intervention for selective mutism if the following is true:

  • The child will not speak in either first or second language when presented with the opportunity to do so in a particular setting (with another student who shares the same first language or a bilingual liaison).
  • The “silent period” has lasted for more than six months.
  • The student is exhibiting selective mutism in both languages in several unfamiliar settings, and for significant periods of time.

If you have concerns about one of your students and selective mutism, start asking more questions about what their language is like at home and present opportunities for the student to use their first language within your classroom.  And call us anytime!  We’re happy to help!



Mayworm, A., Dowdy, E., Knights, K., Rebelez, J.  (2014).  Assessment and Treatment of Selective Mutism with English Language Learners.  Contemporary School Psychology.  http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs40688-014-0035-5#page-1

Instructional Supports: Planning with Language Acquisition in Mind

These supports and resources can be used with any Early Childhood lesson.  The resources are especially applicable to Second Steps lessons, including content and lesson objectives and sentence frames for each Second Steps skill and theme.

Presentation including developing Content and Language Objectives and other instructional supports

LPS SIOP Lesson Planning—Early Childhood:  PDF Version to send to print shop for hard copies

LPS SIOP Lesson Planning—Early Childhood:  word version to type directly onto

Langauge Objective Worksheet

Language Objectives Guide:  list of action words/verbs to use for content and language objectives

A How-To Guide to Assessing Reading Proficiency with ELLs

DRA, LRP, Benchmark Books, and running records all work to assess reading proficiency.  But, what many of us wonder is…am I doing this right?  There are quite a few steps!   Maybe you haven’t had the chance to see one of these assessments in action.  Maybe you just want to double check or see one given to an ELL student.  Whatever your reason, we hope you’ll find the resources here helpful in giving and examining DRAs, LRPs, and Bench Mark Books to ELL students!

If you are interested in learning more about looking at these assessments in terms of Language Acquisition, please check out this link to Language Acquisition Considerations when Assessing ELL’s Reading Proficiency to find out more!


Click here to listen to an ELL student reading (audio only)

Click here for an example of administering and scoring a DRA  (if you have difficulty, try Firefox or Safari as your browser)

Click here for the Comprehension Questions and Retelling assessment     AND  Click here to listen to an ELL student’s responses (audio only)

“Testing Guidelines” resource to answer some frequently asked questions and share the marking conventions for DRAs created by the LPS Literacy Teacher Leaders

DRA-LRP-Benchmark Book Correlation Chart

Reading Assessment Log — Word version to type notes into

Reading Assessment Log — PDF version to print hard copies


Planning for ELLs with SWRRL

When we’re asked into classrooms to support ELL students, we often start by asking teachers to plan with three guiding questions in mind…

1)  What is the content my students are learning?  (Content Objective)

2)  What is the language students need to know in order to complete the task?  (Language Objective)

3)  How will I provide rehearsal ?  (What will the content/language objective look like in action?)

We ask teachers to remember the acronym SWRRL as they think about how to provide rehearsal.  It stands for:

441461168_f7daebf28a_oSay it

Write it

Read it

Repeat it

to Learn it

ELLs need multiple opportunities to rehearse or practice language in order to “own the language” or truly make it part of their vocabulary.  Give ELLs plenty of chances to do SWRRL with new language!

Say It:  Callbacks, turn and talks, say it like a lion, say it like robot, read a response to a question aloud to a partner

Write it:  Use sentence frames, write as a whole group, write in partners, write individually

Read it:  Read aloud, read sentence frames aloud, read what students have written, read text to a partner, read chorally in whole group

Repeat it:  Use cooperative learning structures to give students opportunities for repeated chances to say, write or read the new language.


Want more info on how to incorporate more opportunities for SWRRL in you classroom?  Contact your ELL Instructional Coach!  We love to help!

The Reading Continuum–Part 2: Close Reading and Constructed Responses in the ELL Classroom

Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 12.58.39 PMThis session discussed the strategy of Close Reading, composing Text Dependent Questions from that close reading experience and formulating Constructed Responses to demonstrate comprehension through writing.  We also shared Tools for Readers Who Struggle and reviewed some of the supports available in that collection.

Close Reading is the reading strategy which includes reading with a pencil to underline key points, circle key words or words that are unknown or confusing, and writing summaries in the margins of text.  This lends itself well to the ELL classroom as a way for students to boost comprehension with a strategy they can take with them as they transition out of ELL.

Composing and responding to Text Dependent Questions with Constructed Responses is another key skill our students must be working on as they progress through ELL, as it requires students to be able to demonstrate reading comprehension through writing.

The Tools for Readers Who Struggle collection contains numerous supports and resources to help students access reading skills.  Several tools also provide a language acquisition perspective to common areas where readers struggle, such as fluency.

Please examine the resources below for more information shared in this session:

Presentation from the session

Composing Text Dependent Questions

ELL Oral Rate and Retelling Flow Chart