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



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


Grammar-Incorporating Language Structures into Instruction

During this session we discussed theories regarding grammar instruction for English Language Learners. We read about the Natural Order Hypothesis, the Monitor Hypothesis, the Active Construction of Grammar Theory, and Insights from Linguists. We looked at the new ELP standards and we identified the levels of academic language: discourse level, sentence level, and word/phrase level. We discussed some syntactic challenges and transfer issues ELL students face and we looked at an example from a 6th grade text. We evaluated two sample lessons that incorporated language structures into instruction. We discussed the standards, language structures, and objectives that included a content and language focus. We explored various tools we can use to support ELL students with grammar. For a list of resources, click here. To view our entire presentation, click here. To access the entire collection, click here.

Engaging Learners, Igniting Minds

The topic of engagement is a hot one, and many ELL teachers recently gathered to explore ways to motivate students. We began the session considering the question, “What is engagement?” Afterward, participants visualized two memories they had of themselves as students – one memory as an engaged learner and one as a compliant one. We then discussed observable differences between engaged versus compliant behavior in ourselves and in students.

The rest of the presentation was framed by four keys of engagement as proposed by researcher and educational consultant, Robyn Jackson. Ms. Jackson asserts that if educators want their students to be truly engaged, teachers need to use strategies that address the keys – clarity, context, culture, and challenge. Accompanying each of these keys are four questions which Ms. Jackson claims are on every student’s mind. They are as follows.

  • Clarity – What am I aiming for?
  • Context – Why should I care?
  • Culture – Who is invested in my success?
  • Challenge – How is it working for me?

As a next step, we discussed guiding questions educators can ask themselves as they plan to address students’ needs.

  • Clarity – What am I asking students to do?
  • Context – Why is this important to students?
  • Culture – How do I show my support?
  • Challenge – How do I balance challenge and skill for this student?

Finally, teachers participated in self-directed learning experiences to further explore one of the key questions and an accompanying teaching strategy.

To see the full presentation, click here.

To learn more about each of the four keys and accompanying teaching strategies, click here.


Jackson, R. (2014). 4 (Secret) keys to student engagement. Educational Leadership, 72(1), 19-24.

Marzano, R. J., & Pickering, D. J. (2011). The highly engaged learner. Bloomington, IN: Marzano Research Laboratory.

Pink, D. (2014). Motivated to learn: A conversation with Daniel Pink. Educational Leadership, 72(1), 12-17.



Lincoln High Staff Meetings November 12, 2014

As part of the cultural proficiency journey, teachers at Lincoln High attended period staff meetings throughout the day on November 12, 2014. One focus was second language acquisition and how to support the ELL students (levels 1-5)  and the students who have a home language other than English. We discussed input (receptive language) and output (productive language) and how to support students at any given proficiency level. We shared some ideas of strategies to support these students and allowable accommodations. To see the presentation, click here.

Strategies and Accommodations Shared by Staff

illustrated directions-many photos of process

directions given orally and on the board

speak slower and check for understanding

enunciate clearly

demonstrations (modeling)

show videos to promote understanding

use nonverbal cues, gestures

word walls

word banks

notes with visuals and drawing options

small groups, pairs (sometimes with same language, sometimes with English-speaking peer models), preferential seating

provide extra help, one-on-one support

extended time

shorten assignments, provide alternative assignments and assessments

have students translate words in their language

use bilingual/picture dictionaries, Google Translate (for vocabulary and simple phrases), dictionary phone apps

encourage students to access resources online

text on tape, listen to reading

use sentence starters/frames

use graphic organizers

use rewordify.com

have students present a speech in their native language, followed by English (grade the presentation -Native, the content -English)

use cooperative learning strategies

encourage self-advocacy skills

contact bilingual liaisons-make sure that I make the first phone call home

learn about the different cultures




Digital Resources for ELL

In this session we discussed the importance of digital citizenship and we shared resources to promote language acquisition for ELLs. We shared resources available through Wonders, the LPS Library Media Center Digital Resources, Edmodo, and GoogleDocs. Teachers had the opportunity to explore these resources and create their own lesson plans. To view the Docushare collection, click here.

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 http://www.wordle.net/

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!

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