Meeting the Needs of Level Ones (Elementary)

This session introduced the new thematic curriculum developed for Level One students in elementary schools across Lincoln.  This curriculum would also be useful in our kindergarten ELL classrooms.  We also learned about new assessment components of the Level One Thematic Curriculum and the ELL Level One Literacy Assessment Guide.  The session also shared with teachers components available to them on the new Enhanced ELL Reading Solution portion of Reading A to Z, as well as discussed which parts of the McGraw-Hill Language Support Guides to make use of in our Level One classrooms.

To review any resources or paths to resources, please consult the Powerpoint here.

The entire Level One Curriculum can be found under ELL Teachers in Docushare or by clicking here.

The ELL Level One Literacy Assessment Guide can be found in Level One Curriculum or by clicking here.

The Level One Thematic Curriculum can be found in Level One curriculum or by clicking here.  

ELL–Taking Care of Business (Elementary)

This session focused on ELL Business including 2014-2015 PD opportunities and where to find pertinent ELL information in the ELL handbook and in Synergy.  We reviewed of McGraw Hill materials developed for ELL teachers and updates on reading assessments for ELLs.  It also included an introduction to the new ELPA21 State Standards.

Click here for the presentation about ELL Business and the McGraw Hill Review and Updates

Click here for the presentation introducing  ELPA21 State Standards

Click below to access the updated Language Arts Assessment Guides:

3rd Grade

4th Grade

5th Grade

Informal Reading Inventory

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!


ELL at Goodrich

Goodrich is preparing for the return of the ELL program for the 2014-15 school year.  We offered sessions for the teachers in March of 2014. We shared resources that are available in our district as well as how they can learn more about the ELL students they will have next year. We provided a family home language report that gave teachers information about students at Goodrich who have a language other than English spoken in the home. To see that report, click here. We shared the difference between instructional techniques used by teachers to promote language development and learner strategies that students use to help develop their language proficiency. To view that document, click here. To view our presentation, click here.

Secondary ELL PLC Work 2013-14

In order to correlate our work with the district’s PLC vision using Data Teams, ELL teachers, coaches, and ESU Assessment Specialists collaborated monthly during the 2013-14 school year. We worked to identify target objectives, to define proficiency, and to develop common assessments for each ELL level in the areas of reading and language acquisition. We developed a table of specifications for three target objectives in reading that define the objectives we are measuring, how we will measure these, and benchmarks that will be used.  Our plan is to continue working on the data teams process.

During our first PLC meeting in August, we presented the data teams process. We looked at what we would be doing and how we would be doing it. We looked at the alignment of our reading objectives with our state ELL guidelines, our ELDA assessment, the NeSA Reading assessment, and Common Core Anchor Standards. Our first target objective focused on fiction and the elements of a story. To see our presentation, click here.

During our September PLC meeting we discussed the process of identifying target objectives and how to determine proficiency at each language level. Teachers brought student work and began to write a description of what a Level “X” student who is proficient on this objective should be able to do (skills) and know (language concepts)? We also discussed how a student might be asked to demonstrate this. To see our presentation, click here.

In October, we reviewed the tenets of successful PLCs and we really focused on looking at the reading objectives through the language lens. We collected student artifacts for the target objective #1 reading fiction and identifying the elements of fiction. We began unwrapping our target objective #2 reading nonfiction and identifying the main idea and key supporting details. To see our presentation, click here.

At our November PLC, we shared the work that each group had done to define proficiency at that language level. Each group shared a statement of what students can do and how they will demonstrate their proficiency at the level. We also began looking at student work for our second target objective of identifying the main idea and supporting details in nonfiction. To see our presentation, click here.

During our December PLC, we reviewed the work we had done thus far. We reviewed target objective #1, we worked on target objective #2 and wrote the description of what a Level “X” student who is proficient on this objective should be able to do(skills) and know(language concepts)? We also began looking at our target objective #3 reading nonfiction and identifying text structures. To see our presentation, click here.

Our PLC work in January consisted of evaluating the proficiency definitions for each level, the graphic organizers and texts for both fiction and nonfiction for each level, and the writing language structures for each language level. Teachers worked together in their language level groups and reviewed all of the materials for target objectives #1 and #2 for all four language levels. To see our presentation, click here.

In February and March, we continued to define our target objective 3 and collect student work. We discussed the importance of identifying different text structures and also the importance of helping our students apply these structures to gain comprehension of the texts they are reading. We developed a table of specifications and created multiple choice assessments for levels 1-4. We also found texts at each language proficiency level representative of these various text structures. Students will read, identify the text structure, and write a short summary to demonstrate proficiency . To see our presentation for March, click here.

At our final PLC in April, we shared all of the work we completed this year. We reviewed all three target objectives, the table of specifications for each objective, and the assessments we created. We also shared the docushare folders for all of our work this year. We discussed our goals for next year and our curriculum plans. We plan to meet as a district group next year and use the 5 step data teams process. We will use the target objectives and pre-test students in each level, then group them as proficient, close to, far from, and needing intensive support. We will identify strategies, set goals, implement strategies, and use assessments to determine student progress. We will use our benchmark assessments for our summative assessments of language proficiency each quarter. To see our presentation, click here.

DRA Tutorial for ELL Instructors

The role of Oral Reading Assessments are important in ELL classrooms not only to inform instruction but to also document growth in the  language acquisition domain of reading. ELL teachers can use several different resources to conduct reading assessments in their classrooms. They are as follows:


Reading A-Z Benchmark Assessments

Rigby Benchmark Assessments

Running Records

DRA is a commonly used assessment in our district. ELL teachers are not required to use this assessment but may find it to be a helpful tool to use to create consistency between general education classrooms and ELL classrooms. If DRA is not an option for your current teaching reality, then you can also choose from the above options. The point is that one of these assessments are used each quarter to influence level movement and help inform daily instruction.

When evaluating the results of any Oral Reading Assessment ELL teachers need to consider not only reading based errors but also language acquisition influences in the way students negotiate a text. Some guiding questions to facilitate this process are as follows:

What errors do I see in this assessment?

Are they skill based errors or language based errors or both?

Are the errors’ students making used in their oral language?

What does this tell me about this child as a reader?

How would this inform my guided reading instruction?

How can that be supported through both oral language and reading?

Teacher can use the following documents to record students progress and interpret results of reading:

Fluency Chart

ELL Reading Assessment Log

DRA Tutorial for ELL Instructors Powerpoint

DRA for Secondary ELL Teachers Powerpoint

Instruction for English Language Learners: Teacher’s Curriculum Council

Because ELL students are now being served in all elementary schools, as well as 5 secondary centers, there have been a lot of questions from schools about how best to provide instructional support to meet their needs.  The Teacher’s Curriculum Council meets monthly and recently requested information about instructional strategies for English Language Learners.  A presentation was given with the primary purpose being to share the resources available through the ELL program’s ISELL page.  As part of the presentation, participants were given basic information relating to the program and an opportunity to explore the ISELL page.  Check out the powerpoint and scavenger hunt to learn more about all of the wonderful resources that are available.


Click here to view powerpoint.

Click here for scavenger hunt.

Vocabulary Development for ELLs

Vocabulary development for English language learners  can seem like an overwhelming prospect.  There are so many words students don’t know!  Where do we start?  Which words should we teach?  What strategies can we use to help ELLs understand the new words?  How do we provide opportunities for ELLs to practice new language?  Check out the links below for information that was shared at the Vocabulary Development for ELLs  flex session in December.

To see the slideshow click here.

To see the word lists for the 4,000 most frequent words, click here.

To see an explanation of Marzano’s 6 step process for vocabulary instruction, click here.

To see examples of vocabulary graphic organizers for student use, click here.

To see examples of vocabulary review games, click here.

To see the entire collection of resources from the PD, click here.



The ELL Teacher’s Role in PLC & DT

ELL teachers in our district provide core reading, writing and language instruction for ELL students to prepare them to transition into the general education classrooms. ELL students’ language acquisition and learning will accelerate WHEN instruction is delivered using ELL research-based strategies.  An ELL teacher’s expertise in language acquisition is an instrumental and vital part of the PLC team’s collaboration as it provides a language learning perspective when analyzing assessment results as well as when selecting high impact strategies for linguistically and culturally diverse students.

In this session, we worked to contextualize the Data Teams process to the ELL teachers’ role. We reviewed the Data Team steps, and we focused on the language acquisition and learning considerations in each step of this process.  Additionally, we developed relevant questions that can help the ELL teacher and PLC team interpret and react to data considering the variables of language acquisition which is key to more critically address the content and language needs of English Language Learners in the PLC process.


ELL Teacher Role in Data Teams – (First Draft)

ELL Teacher Role in Data Teams – FACILITATORS QUESTIONS (First Draft)

LPS ELL Strategies

Title I Data Teams Resources

Related Literature: