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Chapter 1: Success With English Learners: It All Comes Down to Language

Douglas Fisher Solution Tree Press ePub

IT’S THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL. Kindergartners—hair neatly combed, brand-new school uniforms, shirts tucked in—arrive, holding their parents’ hands. The parents leave their children with their new teacher in the lunch court with a few last words of encouragement and go off to their various responsibilities for the day. The few parents who linger to watch the start of the first day of school stand unobtrusively in the shadows so they won’t distract their child or precipitate another round of tears.

Carol, a literacy coach at the school, helps the new kindergartners pick up their breakfast from the cafeteria. “Hola, Diana! ¿Qué quieres comer?” (What do you want to eat?) “¿Huevos o cereal con leche?” (Eggs or cereal with milk?) Reading from the nametags hung around the students’ necks, she shows them the breakfast choices, queries each student, and directs them to the next cart to pick up their juice. With the students who don’t speak English or Spanish, she asks them in English while she points to their choices.

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Chapter 1

Douglas Fisher Solution Tree Press PDF
Beginning with the end in mind is generally good advice for educators. We have to know where we want to go so we can design a plan to get there. It’s like traveling to a new destination. In the old days, we got out paper maps and plotted our course. When Doug first started subbing, he used a map to plot out the path to a given school assignment. When he got lost, he’d retrace his path to figure out what went wrong. When construction or a traffic jam interfered, he would pull over and devise a new plan to get to school. Over time, computers and the Internet took over the “getting there” process. When

Nancy was a central office coordinator in Florida, she printed out directions to several locations that she had to regularly visit and kept them in her car. When traffic conditions were not ideal, she’d call the location for advice about how to get there. GPS has changed our mapping procedures. Both of us have GPS devices in our cars.The tools we use to get where we are going have changed, but the fact that we need to know where we are going has not. It’s similar to teaching. The tools have changed, but having a plan for student learning outcomes has not. Teachers have to take into account the classroom conditions and be prepared for the unexpected. They have to work to close the gap between what is and what could be. Teachers have to understand the current performance of their students as well as the grade-level and course-based expectations. Lastly, teachers must continually assess students’ performance to plan ways to develop their potential throughout the school year. See All Chapters
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Chapter 1 Empowering Students to Learn Scientific Practices

Maria C. Grant Solution Tree Press ePub

Think for a few minutes about all of the good teachers you’ve encountered in your lifetime. What qualities led you to put them in your best-teacher category? Look for the possible reasons in table 1.1, and check each statement that describes your best teachers. (Visit go.solution-tree.com/commoncore for a reproducible version of this table.)

Table 1.1: Characteristics of Your Best Teachers

These are some of the strengths that the best teachers have. As you can see, they interact with students, plan and implement purposeful instruction that motivates students, and are patient supporters offering additional instruction on the side to ensure that every student learns. Do you have these strengths?

As elementary school teachers, we are often very good at providing excellent purposeful instruction when we are teaching our students how to read and write.

Like most of your elementary school colleagues, you probably love to teach English language arts, and because of this, you’re wonderful at sharing ideas through picturewalks, think-alouds, and guided reading groups. During these times, you teach your students to read fluently, dig deeply into a piece of literature to analyze the traits of a character, make predictions based on the clues the author gives, identify the language devices the author uses to persuade, and finally use critical thinking to evaluate, synthesize, and summarize as they compare characters and ideas across texts.

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Chapter 3: Using Data to Rally Resources

Douglas Fisher Solution Tree Press ePub

LOOKING AT HER DATA CHART, middle school educator Ms. Jacobs wonders aloud, “I’m not sure what to make of this.” The PLC meeting hasn’t started yet, but Ms. Jacobs is clearly puzzled. She turns to Mr. Andrews, pointing to her data, and adds, “I have to go first.”

When the grade-level meeting starts, Ms. Jacobs raises her hand. “I’d like to start. Okay with everyone?” Her peers nod in agreement, and Ms. Jacobs continues. “When I screened their writing, several of my students had big-time spelling problems. It seemed like half the class needed Tier 2 intervention. But now look at the data. They’re getting it! I only have a couple of students who need that level of support anymore. The rest are doing fine, so I can focus on other things now.”

Mr. Andrews, congratulating Ms. Jacobs on her data, asks, “So, what happened? Why’d it work so well this year?”

Ms. Jacobs, pausing to give this some thought, finally answers, “I guess it’s because I asked for help earlier this year. The screening data really alarmed me, so I went right to Ms. Sawyer [reading specialist] and Ms. Armento [bilingual special educator] and begged them to spend every minute they could in my room. Together, we went after the needs. And it’s working! I’m really proud of my kids.”

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Chapter 6: Commitment to RTI: A Framework for Success

Douglas Fisher Solution Tree Press ePub

THE SUCCESS OF ANY response to intervention model rests on two key factors: accurate assessments and effective instruction and intervention. Of course, clear definitions of these terms, and staff members who understand these definitions in the same way, are integral to success as well. In this book, we have defined effective instruction for EL students and offered a model of instruction that encompasses Tier 1 core curriculum, Tier 2 supplemental instruction, and Tier 3 intensive intervention. We have proposed a process for assessment that can be used to determine the student’s response to instruction and intervention and to inform instructional planning. Finally, we have discussed the ways a special education system dovetails with other supports in the school.

The common vocabulary that comes from a focused, schoolwide RTI system has benefits that extend beyond English learners. Our work with elementary, middle, and high schools that have implemented this model has demonstrated to us that supporting students with diverse learning needs is possible. It does, however, require that the school be committed to identifying and meeting those needs—that it be “responsive to intervention.” While most schools have mission statements declaring this commitment, practical concerns get in the way of full implementation.

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