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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.

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Douglas Fisher Solution Tree Press PDF

Driving Questions


Table A.5: Driving Questions for Adapting Learning



Formal Leaders

When I make an error, how will my teacher respond?

Does my teacher provide multiple access routes so I can understand?

What are acceptable ways for me to demonstrate my understanding?

If I have unique learning needs, how will they be met?

What actions do I need to take based on the student assessment data?

How can I differentiate instruction to meet students’ diverse learning needs?

What accommodations and modifications do I need to provide for specific students?

How does the teacher leverage student errors to improve learning?

What departures from the planned lesson did the teacher make, and why?

Are there students who are being undersupported or oversupported?

Are student supports and services aligned to promote academic growth?

Are the supports and services the teacher provided consistent with the student’s IEP goals?

How does the school obtain feedback from families about successes and areas of needed improvement for supporting students?

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Appendix Reproducibles

Maria C. Grant Solution Tree Press ePub

Visit go.solution-tree.com/commoncore to download the reproducibles in this book.


Collaborative Guidesheet

Use this collaborative guidesheet to scaffold the inquiry process of thinking, planning, and investigating.

Teaching Students to Think Like Scientists © 2014 Solution Tree Press • solution-tree.com Visit go.solution-tree.com/commoncore to download this page.


Personal Investigation Journal

Using pictures and words, students can note here the results of their study of a topic.

Teaching Students to Think Like Scientists © 2014 Solution Tree Press • solution-tree.com Visit go.solution-tree.com/commoncore to download this page.


Oral Reading Fluency

To assess a reader’s fluency when reading a specific text, invite him or her to orally read for one minute. As the student reads, note any words miscalled or skipped. Subtract this number from the total number of words read to get the oral reading rate. Use the key to determine the student’s grade level. The data will help you plan both homogeneous and heterogeneous reading groups.

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Chapter 3 Analyzing and Discussing Narrative Texts

Douglas Fisher Solution Tree Press ePub

“I CAN JUST PICTURE THIS. There’s our main man, Romeo, standing on the street. He’s talking with Juliet, but she doesn’t know who’s talking. I know this because he says, ’My name, dear saint, is hateful to myself/Because it is an enemy to thee,’ and I’m thinking that he doesn’t want to be recognized because of the family problems. He wants to talk with her, but he knows that he can’t. How would you feel if you wanted to tell someone that you liked them but were afraid to?” asks ninth-grade English teacher Cindy Lin. The students immediately turn to one another and make a text-to-self connection, which redirects the focal point from Romeo and Juliet to the students’ life experiences:


I had that happen to me. I didn’t want to talk to the parents because they didn’t like me, maybe because I’m Mexican.


Really? I thought it was just me. For me, it was because of my hair. Remember when I dyed it bright red?

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Chapter 6

Douglas Fisher Solution Tree Press PDF
Don’t smile until winter break” was the advice Doug received from a well-meaning mentor when he started teaching. So there he was, on the first day of school, standing in front of students talking with them about expectations, all the while trying not to smile. It was all very Machiavellian. The theory was that it is easier to begin strict and become kind than it is to begin kind and become strict. But the problem with this advice is that it’s hard for students to develop relationships with people who don’t smile at them. Students want their teachers to care. They want to be treated fairly. And they want to know what to expect when they arrive in the classroom each day. Not smiling is bad advice. We say, smile all you can every day. Develop strong relationships with students, and then lean on those relationships to establish expectations for students. To us, that’s much better advice than simply being a strict teacher who has to use control and intimidation to manage a group of students. See All Chapters

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