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Teaching Your Secondary ELLs the Academic Language of Tests

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A joint publication of Solution Tree and r4 Educated Solutions--Teach your English language learners unfamiliar language features before they encounter these words in core content areas and standardized test questions. Evidence-based, teacher-friendly lesson plan provide a practical framework for ensuring diverse learners have the same opportunity to achieve. This manual also supports content-area teachers in providing instruction for content-specific language skills. Each lesson plan provides background information for the teacher, implications for high-stakes testing, a list of materials, academic vocabulary, and activities.

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Chapter 1: The Language of Math

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Chapter 1: The Language of Math Comparatives
The grammatical structure of a math problem differs greatly from grammar structures used in everyday speech. Of particular importance, and often a primary source of confusion for English language learners, are comparatives (for example, small, smaller; fast, faster).Implications for High-Stakes TestingMany mathematics test questions require students to compare given information to determine the correct answer. Without understanding the concept of comparatives, as well as the associated vocabulary, students cannot complete the mathematical processing necessary for solving the problem.

Lesson Plan for Comparatives
Materials
••Yarn, in different colors, cut to varying lengths, three or four pieces per group
Miscellaneous objects (such as school supplies), two per groupActivities
1.To introduce the concept of comparatives, write Comparatives and the words tall, taller, and than on the board. Have four students of different heights stand up. Compare using the following framework: “Joe is tall, but Lee is taller. Mary is taller than Lee.  

Chapter 2: The Language of Science

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Chapter 2
The Language of Science Greek and Latin Roots and Affixes Note: This lesson plan can also be adapted for use in social studies and mathematics classrooms. Greek and Latin roots and affixes are used extensively in science vocabulary. Students need to have knowledge of these word parts to support the comprehension of written science text and concepts.Implications for High-Stakes Testing Limited conceptual knowledge and difficulty in understanding the meanings of words can hinder English language learners’ success on high-stakes exams. Understanding Greek and Latin affixes will help students build vocabulary for comprehending more complex text and ideas. Lesson Plan for Greek and Latin Roots and AffixesMaterials Greek and Latin Word Parts List (page 44), one copy per student. Question Cards (pages 45–47), one set per group. Word Web handout (page 48), five copies per group. Word Parts Scavenger Hunt handout (page 49), one copy per student. Highlighters in two different colors, one set per student.  

Chapter 3: The Language of Social Studies

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Chapter 3 The Language of Social Studies
Cause and Effect Social studies texts are often written in expository mode, and their varied sentence structure makes it difficult for English language learners to determine cause and effect. Though cause and effect statements are common, ELLs often interpret the first event in the sentence as occurring first, and the second event in the sentence as occurring later. They fail to recognize key transitions necessary to determine cause and effect.

Implications for High-Stakes Testing Understanding cause and effect and the sentence structures used to express cause and effect is essential for understanding the texts used on high-stakes tests.

Lesson Plan for Cause and Effect Materials
Cause and Effect T-Chart handout (page 77), one per group.
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, by Laura Joffe NumeroffMarkers, one per group.
Sentence strips, two per group.
Social studies textbook, one per student.
Social studies questions from a state or provincial assessment, one per group.  

Appendix A: Math Academic Word List for English Language Learners

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Math Academic Word List for English Language Learners

 

Appendix B: Science Academic Word Lists for English Language Learners

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Teaching Your Secondary ELLs the Academic Language of Tests:
Focusing on Language in Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies

Test Question Verbs    

Appendix C; Social Science Academic Word Lists for English Language Learners

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Appendices Content Vocabulary:
ability*economy*locomotive*regulation*abolition*efficient*man-made removal abolitionist*election*manufacturerepresentation*act*equal*method*rightactivity*establishment*military*role*agricultural*executive*mouth (of river)rule amendment expansion *movement*segregation*annexation*export*national*self-governing appearance*factory nationalism*settlementarmy*electoral*natural resource significant*article*failure neutral*skilled authority*federal*office*slave believer fertile*opponent*slavery bill foreign party solidly branch frontpassage*source candidate*fugitive*patriot*sovereignty citizengame patriotism*steamboat citizenship goods plantation*suffrage civil*government*policy*system*colonial*growthpolitic*tariff*colony*heading political*taxcompact*immigrant*population*temperance*competition*immigration*port territory*confederation*independence*present-dayt extiles*constitution*industrial*president*timbercontinental*industry presidential*tradeconvention*injustice*pricetrail*English and Spanish cognates  

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