42 Chapters
Medium 9781935543527

Introduction: Comprehension Occurs Through Text-Based Analysis and Discussion

Douglas Fisher Solution Tree Press ePub

WITHOUT QUESTION, INFORMATION IS more accessible today than ever before. Digital sources make it possible to locate anything from the works of Shakespeare to those of Stephenie Meyer within minutes. And despite the grave pronouncements of the death of the newspaper, we see people voraciously consuming up-to-the-minute news and information through a variety of electronic devices.But access to information in the absence of critical thought is a dangerous recipe. No one would allow an untrained driver behind the steering wheel of a race car, yet we regularly put information in front of children and adolescents with little regard for how they will question, discuss, and formulate learned opinions about it. We leave students to superficially extract information about the text and then move almost immediately to their own connections. During class discussions, consumed by connections to their personal experiences, students veer off to the more interesting topic of another student’s story, never to return to the text that started it all. Fourth-graders leave Love That Dog (Creech, 2001) to talk about their own loss of a beloved pet but don’t discuss the poem “Love That Boy,” by Walter Dean Myers, which is foundational to the book. Eleventh-graders read The Grapes of Wrath (Steinbeck, 1939/1992) and talk about the time they saw the film version but fail to recognize the author’s sociopolitical viewpoint. Observing a student talking about a text is akin to watching an untrained driver swerve across three lanes to take the first exit she sees, never to return to the freeway that leads to her destination.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781936765171

1 Learning About English Learners

Douglas Fisher Solution Tree Press ePub

Juan Rodriguez has just moved into your area and wants to enroll his son Antonio in your middle school. Of course, you’re excited to meet this new student, and you recognize the trust this family has placed in your hands. You know it is an honor to provide educational services for students and to watch them grow into contributing members of society. You thank the parents for their confidence in your school and remind them of dismissal times and the after-school programs offered on your campus. Understanding that every new student is a bit uncomfortable with a new school, you walk Antonio to his classroom and introduce him to a gregarious peer, Eric.

English learners are a diverse group with individual needs that can be addressed by understanding proficiency levels and holding reasonable expectations.

• What tools are used to determine if a student is an English learner?

• What are the different types or classifications of English learners?

• How does English proficiency change?

See All Chapters
Medium 9781936764228

Chapter 1: Using Collaborative Teams for English Language Arts

Fisher, Douglas; Frey, Nancy Solution Tree Press ePub

A team of seventh-grade English teachers is meeting to discuss the results of a common formative assessment the team recently administered. The teachers had previously agreed on a pacing guide for their unit focused on informative text and had discussed the various ways that they would teach the unit. Unlike most previous state standards, the Common Core State Standards require an integrated approach to lesson development in which teachers build student competence in multiple standards simultaneously. As an example, the teachers’ three-week unit had its primary focus on the Reading Standards for Literature (RL.7) and Reading Standards for Writing (W.7) at the seventh-grade level (NGA & CCSSO, 2010a):

To what extent does your team understand the conceptual shifts represented in the Common Core State Standards for English language arts?

How often are informational texts used in instruction across the day?

To what extent do teachers at your school use complex texts?

See All Chapters
Medium 9781935249979

Chapter 4: Tier 2: Supplemental Interventions That Build Language and Content Knowledge

Douglas Fisher Solution Tree Press ePub

NINTH-GRADE STUDENT MINH rushes to her next class. It’s English with Ms. McLean, and even though the content of the course stresses her quite a bit, she knows she also benefits from the extra support she receives. Minh has made limited progress in her English language proficiency, and despite being in US schools for seven years, she is still at level 3 (intermediate or developing), according to her eighth-grade state language assessment. However, Minh is at a new school that has a strong RTI component that is used to address the needs of its many English learners.

Mihn’s English teacher has organized a unit of instruction on the essential question “Does age matter?” Every day the class listens to a passage from the target text, Peter Pan (Barrie, 1902/2003), and Ms. McLean uses this to teach lessons on literary devices. In addition, all the students in the class select related books from an extensive list of novels and informational texts about young and old characters facing challenges. Ms. McLean explains that this approach allows her to differentiate instruction (Tier 1) to accommodate student interests, background knowledge, and reading levels. Minh has chosen Hattie Big Sky (Larson, 2006) because, as she shares, “I like story about girls who must live alone in strange place.” Minh and several other students who are reading the same book meet three times a week to discuss the text, and sometimes the English teacher joins their group.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781936765171

2 Developing a Quality Program for English Learners

Douglas Fisher Solution Tree Press ePub

The students who arrive at our schools bring with them a host of experiences, learning profiles, and family supports. English learners aren’t uniformly the same, even when they share a heritage language, any more than monolingual English students are. Some students enter the kindergarten classroom with years of preschool education. For others, this may be their first contact with a school, regardless of chronological age. Students with extensive development in their first language are likely to use it to leverage learning a second, while those who have limited vocabulary will take longer to reach proficiency in English. In all cases, English learners have unique family and life experiences that influence their learning. This presents a host of challenges for schools as they attempt to tailor curricular, instructional, and programmatic approaches to better serve individual students.

English learners are doubly chalenged, as they must learn English while learning in English. They benefit from quality instructional programs that emphasize student talk in order to give them lots of experiences using academic language.

See All Chapters

See All Chapters