Molly Williams

About Molly Williams

Molly Williams works for Lincoln Public Schools as an ELL instructional coach. She currently partners with teaching and learning communities at Hartley, Meadow Lane, Belmont, Elliott, Pyrtle, Kahoa, Huntington, Riley, Norwood Park, Morley, Pershing, Eastridge, Prescott and Randolph Elementary Schools.

Learning Curriculum Through the Standards

During this session, teachers were given an opportunity to work with colleagues and plan lessons based on the new standards.  The following session provided teachers with a chance to discuss constructed responses and plan for developmentally and linguistically appropriate opportunities for ELLs to practice constructed response writing.

Resources were provided including:

Presentations from:

Learning Curriculum Through the Standards

Continuing to Learn Curriculum Through the Standards



Using Wonders Digital Resources to Promote Language Acquisition

ELL teachers have a multitude of resources to help support language acquisition in their instruction. The important thing to remember, with any resource, is that it is a vehicle for teaching language. Digital resources can play an important role in supporting 21st century learning skills and also creating interactive opportunities for students to speak, listen, read and write in English. We recently had a professional development session that highlighted useful strategies for teachers to use when planning with Wonders digital resources while keeping language acquisition at the forefront. Some of the keywords that we highlighted are illustrated in this wordle:

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 3.07.04 PM

  Retrieved from: Wordle

Planning for ELL students and utilizing a multitude of materials is a little like telling a story. Teachers need to begin by understanding where their students are at in their learning both with receptive and productive language processes. They also need to know what is happening in the general education classroom and then make educated decisions about where their students are and where they want them to go in learning. The benefit of using the digital resources from Wonders is that if problem and solution is being taught in the third grade classroom, this skill can still be taught in ELL but adjustment in text complexity and instructional approaches may be modified to help provide access to students at Emerging language proficiency. As a result, using digital resources, you may be able to teach problem and solution but instead of using the 3rd grade text, teachers may find that a second grade text is more appropriate. They will have access to all of this through the digital site. Here is a road map for planning that we discussed. It highlights one example of how teachers need to utilize planning materials and digital resources to create access to learning for students.

Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 8.39.06 AM

To see the complete powerpoint that explains this process more in depth, click here.

To download a copy of a lesson plan checklist for using Wonders digital resources, click here.

For directions on how to download leveled readers from Wonders, click here.

To access the weekly planning guides for K-2 and 3-5 as well as the language continuum support guides, click here to get to our McGraw-Hill Reading Site.

We hope these are helpful resources to support teachers. It is always important to remember that materials are a support. The impact of the materials depend on the scaffolding, differentiation and intentionality of language instruction that is provided by the teacher.  Happy planning everyone!

Homework Support for Parents

One of the biggest themes that often emerge when talking with parents is homework: Why do students have homework? Why don’t students have more homework? I don’t know how to help my child with homework.

As we work through clarifying these questions and trying to problem solve with parents, we begin by sharing the importance of homework.

  • Review and Practice
  • Extend Learning Beyond the School
  • Develop Good Study Habits
  • Critical Thinking

It is also important to affirm to parents that even if they feel they cannot help with the actual homework itself, there are many things that parents can do to support homework at home:

  • Setting routines
  • Providing an appropriate place to study.
  • Removing distractions like t.v and video games and providing supplies.
  • Provide Praise

Sometimes parents may need extra support in beginning the process of setting up healthy routines and positive support for partnerships in homework. Here are some examples of prompt cards that can be provided to parents to help them facilitate problem solving at home for reading, math and overall homework routines.

Translated homework prompt cards

Translated math prompt bookmarks

Translated reading prompt bookmarks

Translated retelling cards

Information about the importance of supporting academic talk in home languages

We have had the opportunity to present to family literacy programs throughout LPS. One group of parents developed a T-chart that highlighted some of the roles and responsibilities that parents and children have in completing homework at home.

Screen Shot 2014-11-05 at 3.10.10 PM


Colorin Colorado. (2010). Homework Tips for Parents of ELLs. Retrieved from Colorin Colorado

U.S. Department of Education. (2005). Helping your Child with Homework. Retrieved from Colorin Colorado

U.S. Department of Education. (2005). How to Help: Show that You think Education and Homework are Important. Retrieved from Colorin Colorado

U.S. Department of Education. (2005). Checklist for Helping Your Child with Homework. Retrieved from Colorin Colorado

U.S. Department of Education. (2005). Homework: The Basics. Retrieved from Colorin Colorado

Content and Language Objective Examples

During our SIOP Summer Institute we worked on writing objectives that not only contained the content of our lessons but also the language that students needed in order to accomplish the task. There were probably around 50 different objectives written that we decided to share with anyone who was interested in seeing some examples! As you look through the objectives you will notice that the content of the lesson, the language function and the language structure are present. You will know which is which by the coloring coding.

Content– Red

Language Function–Blue

Language Structure–Green




Comprehension Strategies & Skills–


  • We will make predictions when reading our story by thinking about what was read and then using the sentence frame to state our prediction. “I predict ____ will happen because I noticed ______.”
  •  Our job is to predict the sequence of events in the story by using the sentence “I predict…”

    Main Idea & Details

  • Students will be able to identify the main idea and three supporting details about a non-fiction text by using the sentence stem, “The main idea is _____. Three supporting details are _______.”
  • SWBAT identify the main idea of a passage using the sentence structure, “The main idea is ______.” orally.
  • We will be able to identify the main idea of the story and provide three supporting details using a graphic organizer. “The main idea of the story is ____. One supporting detail is _____.”

    Context Clues

  • Our job is to use context clues by to find the meaning of a word looking for clue words “or”, “and” and using a sentence frame.
  • Our job: Use context clues to infer the author’s point of view. Use a sentence frame to explain your thinking. “The author thinks or feels _____. Details that support this are _____.”
  • Students will be able to identify and provide and example of author’s point of view using the key words, “I”, “you”, “he”, “she”, or “they”.
  • Our job: Use context clues to find the meaning of a word by looking for clue words “or”, “and” and using a sentence frame. “I read around the word ____ and saw the clue _____. These clues helped me figure out ____ means _____.”


  • We will distinguish between statements and questions and read them with correct inflection.
  • Students will be able to ask questions during reading using sentence starters. “I wonder…” “What can I do if I …”
  • We will improve comprehension of our story by clarifying information when answering “wh” questions: who, what, where, and when.


  • Students will be able to discuss the order of events in a story using the transition words “first”, “next”, “then”, and “last”.
  • Our job is to write a summary of our story using the Somebody Wanted but so then format.


  • Our job is to find the reasons and tell why our story is a fantasy by using a sentence starter.


    Story Elements

  • Students will be able to identify and describe the actions, feelings, wants and needs, an traits of a character in a story, and then write this information on a graphic organizer.  “____ is a ____ person because he/she (feels, wants, needs).
  • We will identify story elements and write a summary using sentence starters.  “The character is/are _____.” The setting is/are_____.”  “In the beginning _____.”, “In the middles ____.”, “At the end ____.”  or  “A problem in the story is _____. “, “The character _____ solved the problem by ____.”
  • Our job is to find an tell about the actions, feelings, needs and describe the kind of person a character is in our story. Then write this on your chart.


  • Students will be able to create an opinion statement using the phrase “I think _______.”
  • Students will identify the cause and effect in the text by using so, because, after and therefore.


  • Our job is to find the reasons and tell why words in our story have similar meanings by using a sentence starter. “I know the words _____ and _____ are synonyms because _______.”
  • Our job is to categorize spelling words and vocabulary words into 2 columns “short a” and “not short a”.
  • We will create our own sentences of high frequency words.


  • We will identify common and proper nouns by sorting.  “_____ is a proper noun because it names a specific (person, place, thing)”,  “_____ is a common noun becasue it names a (person, place, thing”



  • Students will be able to explain how to graph Quadratic Functions while using key vocabulary: axis of symmetry, vertex, and table of values with the following frame: “a=____, b=___, c=___, so the Axis of Symmetry equals ____, the vertex is ____, then the table of values becomes ______.”
  • SWBAT sequence the order of operations to evaluate numeric expressions using words like first, next, then and last.
  • Students will be able to represent large numbers using scientific notation by explaining how to multiply by powers of 10 mentally and then moving the decimal the appropriate number of places. Students will use the following frame: Since I am multiplying by 10 to the ____ power, then I move the decimal _____ places.
  • Students will be able to solve two-step equations using inverse operations.
  • Students will be able to identify shapes by using the phrase: “This is a _____ because _____.”
  • Our job is to write and compare numbers in more than one way using the terms standard form, expanded form, and word form.
  • SWBAT read and evaluate powers by telling and calculating how many times the base is repeatedly multiplied by using frames.
  • Our job is to analyze place value to ten thousands to write numbers in standard and word form. Explain and compare place value connections using a sentence frame, “Ten thousands place is like the ten place because _____.” and “Ten thousands place is different from the tens place because ______.”


  • Our job is to determine what good writers do with the sentence starter “Good writers ______.”
  • Students will construct a telling sentence, with a capital letter at the beginning and a period at the end.







School Psychologists Presentation

School communities have staff who perform a variety of roles to make sure that educational needs are met for students.  We now have students who are past participants in the English Language Learner program as well as current participants in the ELL program in every building in our school district. This requires a level of  understanding of language influences in learning by everyone in a building, sharing in the goal of increasing graduation rates for students and also making sure that each individual child is reaching their highest academic potential.

We recently had the opportunity to visit with school psychologists during their PLC. Some of the topics we covered were:

(See also Making Family Conferences Successful)

The key focus in the conversation was how to gather information, in partnership with parents, bilingual liaisons, teachers and administrators and ask ourselves how language influences learning that is happening. Sometimes through this process of gathering information there may be additional influences besides language acquisition that begin to surface. When interviewing parents, some things to consider would be as follows:

  • Is the student also having difficulty speaking/reading/listening/writing in first language?
  • Does the student struggle with retaining information even after it’s been taught/explained multiple times?
  • Can they follow directions at home in first language?

Development in first language foundation and parent insight is a powerful piece in determining an appropriate plan for how to support learning when students seem to plateau in their learning. Any student that is being considered for the SAT process who is also an English Language Learner, should have a ELL parent interview conducted in order to begin to understand a child’s development in their foundation!


Making Family Conferences Successful

Conferences are a time for school communities and families to connect and share important information regarding the details of the daily learning lives of students.  One foundational need in order to support this partnership is making sure that both teachers and parents have an opportunity to not only access the information shared, but also to be able to ask questions to provide clarity. If a family speaks a language other than English, it is important that we ensure that the educational rights of students are carried out through the use of an interpreter to create a bridge between home and school.

Whether you have worked with an interpreter many times or the next round of conferences will be your first opportunity, it is important to understand the roles and responsibilities between teacher, parent and interpreter prior to beginning a conversation.  We have created a chart highlighting some of the roles and responsibilities that are important to remember. Below you will see some of the big ideas from the list.  To see a complete list of ideas for how roles in partnerships during conferences could look, please click here.

If you are a teacher, it is important to remember:

  • The teacher is in charge of the conference.
    • Educators will typically arrive at a conference with information regarding academic performance of students and a list of agenda items to cover. Although these items are important, sometimes more pressing issues may arise as conversations with parents occur. Providing flexibility on what is covered during a conference is important and also allows for parent voice and a more meaningful, relevant discussion for families.
  • Speak directly to the parent and presume positive intentions.
  • Use short simple sentences and allow time for the interpreter to share.
    • Many phrases and sayings do not have literal translations. Stay away from figurative language and teacher jargon.
  • After every idea, stop and allow for a parent to respond.
    • Instead of asking, “Do you have any questions?” say “What do you think about this?” You will have a better chance of eliciting a response from parents and keeping the conversation meaningful and relevant.

If you are an interpreter, it is important to remember:

  • Communicate exact ideas intended for both parents and teachers.
  • Each assignment will  be confidential and approached with impartiality, putting all personal opinions aside.

If you are a parent, it is important to remember:

  • Be present at the conference and advocate for your child through questioning and clarifying content of the conference to the extent comfortable.
  • Learn about the role of parents in education in the US schooling system.

Our hope is that these ideas will create a stronger partnership between learning communities and families.


Perspectives on Reading Comprehension and Retelling

As an ELL Instructional Coach, I am called in to provide perspectives on English Language Learning when there is a question or concern about a student.As students work through the arduous task of acquiring language in order to access academic content in the classroom, a common concern among educators is how to help students comprehend what they are reading.

When a conversation begins about a student with, “They can’t comprehend.” My first question is, “Are you sure?” There are a variety of variables that affect reading comprehension. For English Language Learners, the variables become more complex as they strive to take a new language, translate it into something familiar and then make connections to translate it back into English again.  Consider your students and think about the texts that you are asking them to read.

  • Do they have prior knowledge to access the text or do they need opportunities for building background in order to create meaning?
  • What is the content vocabulary and the academic vocabulary required in order for students to comprehend the text?
  • What are the language structures of the text and does the student use them in their oral language or will it require explicit teaching in order for them to have access to the content?

One final perspective to consider is the purpose for comprehension. Every time you ask a student to apply a specific comprehension skill or strategy, it changes the way students not only look at a text but also talk about a text to show you what they know. Think about finding the main idea and key details in a text. Would it look and sound the same as visualizing to create meaning? What I will often ask teachers to do is to slow things down in order to speed things up. If you are finding that you have English Language Learners in your classroom who are struggling with comprehension, have them do a quick retelling! Are they really not comprehending or are they just not comprehending they way we are asking them to?

There are many supports available to help students with retelling a story. To see an example of a story retelling rubric that could be made into both a formative assessment and a student self assessment, click here.

If you would like copies of story retelling cards that students can use to articulate a cohesive retelling to show you what they know, click here.

You can also go to Reading Rockets, and read the article entitled Promoting Reading Comprehension. You may find some helpful strategies to amplify language and help students to show you what they know.

ELL Strategies for Reading and Fluency

Unique variables present themselves when teaching fluency to English Language Learners. In this session, we will explore the balancing act around the instruction of fluency to enhance reading comprehension for English Language Learners. Some of the main points are as follows:

  • Reading Fluency is reading accuracy+automaticity+ prosody. In order for students to show us they are truly fluent and are on a solid pathway to understanding, students need all three.
  • Reading fluency is not reading fast.
  • Reading fluency for ELL’s can be misrepresented. We may diagnose a low fluency score as a need for skills based instruction. Although ELL students need access to those skills, if too much time is spent on these skills students may still struggle.

So how do we use the instruction of reading fluency to enhance comprehension?

Timothy Rasinski talks about deep reading and wide reading. We will discuss these strategies and activities that may encourage not only reading fluency but oral language fluency as well. For ELL’s if they do not have oral language fluency in place, we cannot expect them to have strong skills in reading fluency. As a result of this, we need to make sure that we are creating a balance in our approach to teaching fluency so that students are working on both oral language and reading language skills succinctly.

To see resources, links to videos, and the presentation slides for this session, click here.

To see examples of fluency assessments to use with students, click here.

To see Timothy Shanahan speak about reading fluency for ELLs, click here.  You can also read his blog regarding ELL’s and Fluency.

You can also read ELL’s and Reading Fluency in English and Reading 101 for English Language Learners from Colorin Colorado’s website!

How do I access Guided Reading Texts for ELL through Library Media Resources?

Lincoln Public Schools’ Library Media has a large collection of guided reading texts ready for ELL teachers to check out for use in their classrooms.  The books are a range of levels and genres and can be used to support language acquisition through guided reading.  You can either check out these books through your library media specialists at your buildings, or you can come down to LPSDO and search the collections in person.

To locate the titles online, you can follow this pathway:

1. From the Lincoln Public Schools Home page, click on library media services under the instruction tab.

2. On the right hand side, there will be a selection of several different catalogs to search from. Select the Professional Library  Catalog.

3. Type in DRA as the keyword. You will see a list of books. To refine your search, look at the bottom left hand corner of the screen.There will be a box with choices for ways to sort your selections. Scroll down to Collections and select it. Some options will drop down for you to choose from. Select Leveled Readers.

4. All of the guided reading texts that are for ELL teachers should come up for you to select from.


Please contact Library Media Services or your ELL Instructional Coaches if you have any questions.




Courses Offered for ELL Teachers: 2013-2014

Two different courses will be offered to ELL Instructors for the 2013-2014 school year.


Foundations is a class developed for K-12 ELL teachers who are new to ELL in Lincoln Public Schools. The class will focus on:
* what ELL teachers teach                              * how they teach it
* how to use the materials that they are provided to support student learning           

Participants will also partner with an ELL coach to work on implementing class content into their daily practice using an “I do it, we do it, you do it” model of support.

The class dates are:  Sept. 16, Oct. 21, Nov. 11, and Dec. 16th.  Please note, the October date on the flyer is incorrect.  If you are interested in more information on class times and location, you can click here or contact Holly Tracy at


SIOP I is a class developed for K-12 ELL Educators. The class will focus on
learning the first 4 lesson components of the Sheltered Instruction Observation
Protocol (SIOP) developed by Mary Ellen Vogt, Jan Echevarria, and Deborah Short. Participants will also have the opportunity to work with an ELL Instructional coach to apply the newly learned components in their classrooms.

Click here for dates and times this course is offered or contact Molly Williams at for more information.