Addressing “Stuck” Students: Helping All Students to Progress MATSOL 40th Anniversary Conference May 3, 2012 Karen MacKenzie-Sleeman Dedham Public Schools Presentation Objectives • Participants will be able to: 1) Name 6 characteristics of Long Term ELLs. 2) Identify strategies for working with Long Term ELLs at the district, school, and classroom level. 3) Explain to other ESL teachers, classroom teachers, principals, or parents why Long Term ELL students benefit from ESL instruction/support. Presentation Agenda: I. A Story You May Find Familiar II. What Research Tells Us About “Stuck” Students III. Strategies A. District B. School C. Classroom IV. Further Reading A Story You May Find Familiar – Part I As ELL teachers, we have a “few” responsibilities … A Story You May Find Familiar – Part I • And an incredibly diverse population for whom we are responsible … And so we prioritize … Time: Group: 8:29-9:17 Grade 8 Team Meeting 9:17-10:05 Grade 8 Beginners 10:05-10:53 Grade 6 Intermediate 10:53-11:23 Lunch 11:23-12:11 Grade 6/ 7/8 Beginners 12:11-12:59 Grade 6 Beginners 12:59-1:47 Grade 7 Beginners 1:47-2:35 Grade 7/8 Intermediate Does your schedule look like mine? My Confessions • I was frustrated by “advanced” students! - Complicating my schedule. - Wasting my time. - More challenging students personally and academically. Can’t someone else help them? • Began research on this topic. – Partially for benevolent purposes. – Partially to justify my attitude. Long-Term ELLs: Characteristics • Have attended U.S. schools for seven years or more. – NY state says “six”. • • • • Sound like native speakers. Oral skills stronger than reading/writing skills. Limited literacy skills in L1. Inconsistent schooling/frequent moves between countries, states, or districts. • Perform below grade level in reading and writing. Long Term ELLs in Our Classes • Research from NY state in 2007 suggests 12.8% of ELLs fit this criteria. • Students have inconsistent experiences not only in schools/language of education but in the ESL program. – Receive support in some districts/grades but not in all. – Sometimes grouped according to proficiency but not always. – Sometimes self-identify as ELL but not always. Results of Inconsistency • Long term ELLs may have large gaps in their education: – Missed months/years of school in transition – Missed grade level curriculum while in ESL classes • Uneven content-area backgrounds – Missed out on ESL curriculum/support Results of Misplacement • Placing Long Term ELLs in mixed or lower level ESL classes: – ESL is a “baby” class but mainstream ELA is too challenging • Tuning out because material is too simple or completely mismatched to their needs – False perception of their academic achievement • My English is wonderful compared to [x] Strategies – District: • Ensure that there is uniform entrance and exit criteria that is applied consistently. – The same student who qualifies for ESL in one school should qualify in another. • Ensure that schedules/staffing of ESL personnel allow time for advanced classes. • Collect more data from students upon arrival. – Any missed years of school? – How many times has the student moved? – What kinds of ESL support did the student receive? Strategies – District (cont’d) • Ensure that all decision makers (principals, guidance counselors, classroom teachers, parents) understand the benefits of ESL support for long term ELLs. – Professional development on this topic may be necessary. – See attached handout. Strategies – School: • Create separate classes/blocks of time for Long Term ELLs to ensure that instruction matches needs. • If possible, create foreign language classes geared towards improving literacy in L1. – Dedham has started a “Spanish for Native Speakers” course for the 2012-2013 school year. • Encourage long term ELLs to seek out teacher/peer tutoring for assistance with content knowledge. Strategies – Advanced/Long Term ELL Class: • Focus on grade-level reading skills (fiction and nonfiction). – – – – Novels/poetry for English class Textbook reading for History/Science classes Math word problems MCAS preparation • Teach prerequisite skills/topics from content classes: – What background information does the content teacher assume students have? Does your long term ELL have it? EX. Does the history teacher think everyone knows who Harriet Tubman is? Strategies – Mixed Class: • Consider aspects of your classroom routines/assignments that may make a Long Term ELL feel uncomfortable. – Write about your home country. – Flags on the wall. • Have a readied response for the inevitable “Why is she here, she speaks English? question you’ll receive from other students. – Remember, speaking English and being able to understand the English in the Biology book are 2 different things. – We’re happy to have [x] here, he always makes me laugh/great baseball player/etc. Strategies – Mixed Class (cont’d) • Ask Long Term ELLs what role, if any, they’d like to have in the class: – Some long term ELLs may like helping other students, but others may not. • Make sure their helping time doesn’t distract from their own learning. – Other ideas: • Teen/Social Language Expert • Spelling Expert • School Activities Expert Strategies – Either Class • Allow time for Long Term ELLs to choose their own topics/areas of concern to help direct instruction. – Encourage students to bring vocabulary words they’ve encountered but did not understand. – Find newspaper articles or magazines on topics interesting to students. • Build your classroom/school library with books for reluctant readers, books with characters representing students’ backgrounds, and young adult books. – Encourage students to read independently. – Read books along with students/ahead of time over the summer so you can check in and discuss the book. Suggestions for Further Reading • Flores, E., Painter, G., & Pachon, H. (2009). Que Pasa? Are ELL Students Remaining in English Learning Classes Too Long? Los Angeles, California: Tomas Rivera Policy Institute. • Maxwell, L. (2011, December 15). Long-Term ELLs More Likely to Drop Out, Study Finds. Education Week • Menken, K., & Kleyn, T. (2009). The Difficult Road for Long-Term English Learners. Educational Leadership , 66. • Menken, K., Kleyn, T., & Chae, N. (n.d.). When Change is the Only Consistency: The Case of Long-Term English Language Learners in Secondary Schools.