Sunday, November 26, 2017

PASSages: An ESL Middle and ESL High School Intervention Resource

PASSages link to resource  Click on title below.
This educational resource was designed to facilitate the English Language Proficiency skills of middle and high school ELL students. Vocabulary, comprehension, story elements, sentence structure and grammar are some of the skills that are targeted in this resource. Learning English through content is the most powerful way to master a new language. Activities develop language proficiency over the four domains of reading, writng, listening and speaking. The passages were chosen based on a partcular criteria:

1) Interest Level: ELL students need to be engaged with literature that resonates with their age. Giving them a third grade reading meant for an eight year old is not going to hold their interest
and will diminish their self esteem.

2) Reading Level: Passages were chosen on an Intermediate ELP reading level for grade cluster 9-12. This is usually around a grade three reading level. This applies to middle schoolers as well. 

Twilight is the featured novel in this edition of PASSages. The PASSages resource can be used whether the teacher is having the students read the entire book or just the passages. Many support teachers (ESL Specialists and Special Ed. Resource) do not have time to read an entire book in the time they are allotted with their students. Reading an entire novel would take an entire semester with little support work getting done. The support work helps with the developing of vocabulary growth and honing ELA related skills. PASSages is designed to help meet these goals in the time constraints many teachers are faced with on a daily basis. 

ELL Reading PASSages’ Pedagogy

The pedagogical premise of using PASSages’ resources for middle and high school students is based on the core importance of the five areas of reading: vocabulary, comprehension, phonics, phonemic awareness, and fluency. These areas are usually developed by the time students are in high school. They are reading to learn and not learning to read at this point. Although, there are many students that have not mastered the five areas of reading by the time they arrive in high school, either due to cognitive, behavioral, poverty or second language acquisition issues.
PASSages provides a teacher with a resource that targets the most crucial areas of reading. The students that are the target audience for this resource are reading on a primary grade level. The novels that the passages were taken from are books that are written on a primary reading level but have an interest level for older students. The books are easy to read but are infused with a rich vocabulary. Vocabulary that is found on high school PARCC and SAT exams. 

The resource provides the teacher with templates that are differentiated for the various levels of proficiency the students are functioning on in language. English Language Proficiency levels are noted at the bottom of each template. This allows the teacher to choose either comfort zone work or work that challenges the zone of proximity.

The main focus of this resource is to build vocabulary. Vocabulary is the key area to build for academic success. The goal is to build strong personal lexicons for the students at a fast rate. PASSages’ resources provides a great way for the teacher to present material as “comprehensible input in a low anxiety setting”. This is a key methodology for the successful teaching of language skills. (S,Krashen- Linguist)

English Language Proficiency Levels for Literature PASSages

At the bottom of each activity page are suggested student ELP levels. These are provided to help the teacher decide which activities are best suited for their particular students. The teachers may choose to do all the activities with higher performing students, as these activities will be enriching their language abilities.

Here are some video clips of ELLs doing some of the vocabulary building activities found in the kit:

In this video clip the ELL students are sharing their experiences of learning a second language and how the PASSages techniques and strategies have helped them achieve academic success in all subjects.

 Click on picture to see video

This video clip shows an activity using vocabulary tier two words from PASSages lesson.  It is a simple card game with the vocabulary word on the from and the definition on the back.  This clip was done at the beginning of the period.
 This next clip was taken from the last activity on the same day as the clip above.  Students need multiple engaging activities to help them internalize the new words. You can see the progress they have made in one period with these words.  One student even corrected a mistake on the spelling of one of the cards that they had made. (not in clip)  The  PASSages resource is full of strategies, activities and methods that will engage your students and build their vocabulary and comprehension skills over the four domains of reading, writing, listening and speaking!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

ELL Newcomers: SevenTips for Helping Students and Teachers

The below article is now available on youtube for viewing at  your professional development events.

  Elementary ELL Newcomers arrive throughout the school year. Often they are academically and linguistically behind their ESL and General Ed. peers. It is frustrating for both the teacher and the ELL Newcomer student in the first few weeks. The student is trying to assimilate into a new culture and school environment without knowing the language. The teacher has the task of addressing the various language acquisition levels of her class and attend to the complex needs of her " ESL Newcomer" student. Here are a few tips to make the first few weeks of this orientation period easier for both the student and the teacher.

One:  Ease fears- This includes the parents as well as the child.  Give the parents a tour of the school and the classroom with the child.  Even if you don’t speak the language of the parents this is a very important step.  The parents are probably dealing with culture assimilation in their own respect.  It will help them to visualize where their child is working and playing while they are away from him/her during the school day.  It also helps ease the separation anxiety for the child.

Two: Assign a buddy immediately.  Hopefully, there will be a child who speaks the new student’s language.  The assigned buddy should have an open and friendly personality.  The buddy should also be dismissed the same way as the Newcomer student.  (Assigned to the same bus for example.)  Place the new student next to the buddy near the front of the room.

Three:  Assessment- Assessment drives instruction. Your school department has probably given a language proficiency test upon the student’s registration with the school department. Therefore, you already know your student’s language level for English. Although, many times a newcomer arrives with no academic paper trail.  Give your student a quick academic assessment to ascertain what basic skills they are capable of in an academic setting.  Little Language Learners provides an assessment like this in our Newcomer Bundle.

Four: School Staff- Your new student just starts to get comfortable with you and his/her new classroom environment and then it is time for a special class.  Transitions can be hard for a Newcomer in the first week of school. There are so many people to meet and they are all speaking quite fast in a second language.  Many times specialty teachers are not specifically trained to teach ELL students.  Give them little tips that come naturally to you but they might not be aware that they are doing or not doing. Remind them to slow their speech down.  Give them tips about cultural sensitive teaching behavior. ( Example- Don’t ask an Asian child to look you in the eye when being addressed.)  If your Newcomer/ New arrival comes from a country that you do not know about certain cultural interpersonal communication styles, it is a good idea to research them and share them with your teacher peers.  Suggest a limit on the use of confusing idioms. (“Good job! You knocked my socks off!”)

Little Language Learners offers poems and illustrations for each member of a school staff in our Newcomer Bundle.  These resources help a Newcomer/New arrival become familiar with the adults in their academic lives.  Head templates are available for the child to create a portrait of each administrator, school nurse and specialty teacher.

Five:  Building Survival Vocabulary- The best way to develop academic language is through Sheltered Instruction techniques and strategies.  Although, your newcomer needs to build their own personal survival lexicons immediately.  This will help them understand simple directions and be able to communicate important information in emergency situations.  (Example-If they are ill are hurt, they need to know body part names or emotion names.) The Direct Instruction method is the fastest way to teach survival vocabulary.  Little Language Learners has designed a language development kit for this purpose:  Here is the description:

 This vocabulary kit is an essential resource for ELL Newcomers. It is an integral part of any language development program for both ELL and General Education learners. The cards were designed to develop growth in vocabulary that is essential for functioning in everyday social and academic situations. On the back of each card is a direct instruction script. The scripts follow a repetitive pattern to allow the children to internalize the vocabulary. Extension questions and dialogue to foster conversation skills and teach facts about the words’ subject is provided. A teacher, paraprofessional, or a peer tutor can use the vocabulary cards. There are 242 cards in this kit. The topics of this kit were carefully selected. These cards are not just simply run of the mill picture cards. It is a set that was designed particularly for the development of language skills of the early primary child or the ELL newcomer student. These cards are a lifesaver for a teacher of any grade that has an ELL newcomer enter their room as a late arrival. This set can be considered survival vocabulary for a new student to this country. It is a must have resource for any ESL teacher. The cards are designed for easy handling and storage. Photocopy the scripts onto the back and laminate. You will use these cards for your entire teaching career.

The topics of the cards are:

Action Words
Letters and Sounds
Shapes and Numbers
Parts of the Body
Family Names
School Things
School Staff

This kit is also a part of the Newcomer Bundle.

Six: Breaking the Ice- It is hard for a Newcomer/New Arrival to make friends in a class.  A good way for the child to introduce themselves to the class is with an autobiography.  The student can work on their autobiography with the help of their buddy. Little Language Learners has designed an autobiography template that can be used by students from the Entering to Bridging proficiency levels. (There is also a memory book that can be used at the end of the school year to help celebrate their first year in America or Canada.)

Seven:  Writing- Newcomers/New arrivals can feel overwhelmed with writing assignments in the first weeks in a new school. Writing rubrics and writing templates geared to the proficiency level of your new student is the best way to develop this domain.  Rubrics that address each level of language proficiency are a great way to assess skills through formative assessment. Little Language Learners offers a complete rubric wall for writing.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Benefits of Dual Language Programs and Effective Resources

Dual language programs are blooming all over the country. The following article shares five benefits for implementing a dual language program.

Here are five reasons why dual language immersion programs are becoming so popular:
1. BILINGUALISM FOR ALL: In contrast to the remedial bilingual education model, which aims to bring ELLs up to speed in English so they can be mainstreamed, dual language immersion is an enrichment model that challenges all students to become fluent in two languages. Classes are often taught by two teachers who each speak exclusively in one language. There is no translation or repeated lessons. Native English speakers and ELLs learn a second language together with no stigma attached.
2. CLOSING THE ACHIEVEMENT GAP: The recent move away from traditional bilingual education toward English language immersion was meant to help ELLs catch up with English speaking peers. Instead, standardized test scores from 2003 to 2010 show a widening achievement gap. Numerous studies demonstrate that ELLs become more fluent in English when they learn to read in their primary language.
In 2004, Virginia P. Collier and Wayne P. Thomas from George Mason University published an 18-year longitudinal study of dual language programs in 23 school districts and 15 states. They found that dual language immersion fully closes the achievement gap between ELLs and native speakers of English.
3. POSITIVE SCHOOL CULTURE: Collier and Thomas discovered that the effectiveness of dual language education extends beyond academic outcomes. The entire school community benefits when multiple languages and cultural heritages are validated and respected. Friendships bridge class and language barriers. Teachers report higher levels of job satisfaction. Parents from both language groups participate more actively in schools.
4. BRAIN BENEFITS: Cognitive neuroscientist Ellen Bialystok has studied bilingualism for almost 40 years. She recently told the New York Times that people who regularly use two languages tend to perform better on executive function tasks and maintain better cognitive functioning with age. Bilingualism is also associated with a five to six year delay in the onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms after diagnosis.
5. HAPPY KIDS: Six-year-old Kyra is a first grader who loves her dual language Spanish-English program. "It's really fun because your brain gets to work with two different languages, and your tongue gets to do two different sounds,” she told the L.A. Times.
"This is an amazing program and people should consider putting their children in it," said sixth grader Isaiah Coyotl, the son of Mexican immigrants. "It could help a lot of boys and girls get better jobs, speak two languages and help people in need."

The author, Melanie Smollin writes about all things education for TakePart:

Virginia Olivelli's Little Language Learners Educational Resources offers excellent dual language resources in Spanish and Chinese.  The resources are differentiated for all levels of language proficiency for the early primary grades.  They are aligned to CCSS, NGSS, and WIDA.  The units are designed to be used with a Sheltered Instruction approach-although you will also find beautiful direct instruction vocabulary and conversational skills development cards. Teachers can visit TpT for individual purchases:

School districts may purchase the entire Language Development Kit at Little Language Learners website:

Spanish Dual Language:

 Dual Language Neighborhood and Community Helpers: Vocabulary and Concept Development

Chinese Dual Language-Traditional Version:

Monday, May 4, 2015

Sheltered Instruction: SIOP Model Features One to Thirty

The SIOP Model is a method that follows the Sheltered Instruction approach for English Language Learners.  I will be breaking down the SIOP model on this blog.  I will go through all its features and elements step by step.  I will help you learn about its benefits and how to implement them into your instruction.  Sheltered Instruction is really just good teaching.  This lesson model design will be effective with ELL, Special Education students, and any challenging educational target audience. Pre K through grade twelve.

I hope you stop by my blog as I progress through the features of the SIOP model.  I will be giving advice and resource ideas to support this model. 

The first post will be about what the SIOP model is and the titles of the 30 features.

Think about your CCSS.  Think about WIDA.  Think about the curriculum that your school system uses for all content areas.  They all have a common denominator.  Bloom's Taxonomy.  The SIOP model also focusses on the development of higher order thinking skills. "HOTS" Everything in education always comes back to Bloom's!


This activity exemplifies the above language/content objective.  The label activity will be given after a graphic organizer is completed.  The graphic organizer will be the support for the student to complete the activity.

CCSS and WIDA proficiency levels should be integral components in your lesson/unit design.

I have included some examples from my early primary thematic unit on plants.

Here is a link to my plant unit.  It has over 168 pages of activities and printables that are aligned to CCSS, WIDA and CALLA.

Feature 6

 The following are examples of activities from my poetry center unit.  You can find Jack's Giant for free on TpT. Click on cover.

Check out this beautifully designed Fish and Sea Life Thematic unit on TpT.  Click on cover.

You can find this TPR unit for free on TpT!!
 It is also part of the fish unit.  Click on cover.

Here are scaffolded writing templates.  I have designed these for all my thematic units.


Check out my jumbo weather and season unit on TpT.  Over 200 pages of printables and activities all aligned to SIOP, CALLA and WIDA!

Here is a page from The Butterfly Scientist Notebook .  The students observed their caterpillars and wrote observations.  This was a kindergarten ESL class.  They used their wordbooks and scientist notebooks as supports to write their unit story.  

Click on picture to view my insect unit.

 Click on picture to view my Butterfly unit.  (The butterfly unit is also part of the insect unit)

 The following Activities and Printables are from my food unit.  There are over 110 pages that are all aligned to SIOP, CCSS, CALLA, WIDA.  Click on the cover to see the unit of TpT!

 The following are all examples of activities that implement elements of the SIOP Model.

 Scaffolded writing templates are available in the unit.

Ideas for concrete experiences are presented.