Teaching ELL Students
Approximately 21 percent of US school-age children speak a non-English language at home, and this has grown from 10 percent in 1980. And, under No Child Left Behind, the 5.5+ million ELLs in US schools must meet the same achievment standards as their native English-speaking peers. These two factors are having an enormous impact on schools; schools need to adapt to the specific needs of this segment of students.
The Course Crafters Guide to the ELL Market: ELL Market Update and Analysis 2011-2012 reports that 80% of these ELLs are Hispanic. Not only are they not meeting academic proficiency, but the achievement gap is widening. Most classroom teachers and most classroom curricula have not been prepared for these diverse classes:
Schools need to cope with differences in background knowledge and previous literary experiences. They can’t assume that every student has read Dr. Seuss, or even that all students watch the same television shows or movies.
Schools need to supplement and scaffold daily and academic vocabulary. Without explicit support in vocabulary, ELLs struggle to understand texts; even when they show fluency in reading, they may have little actual comprehension of what they are reading.
Schools need to ensure students have reading and writing strategies. Many ELLs rely on word-by-word processing without the meta-cognitive strategies like making inferences.
Schools need to supply extra resources for math instruction. While it may seem logical that ELL students should not struggle more with math than other students, they often struggle to understand math problems, and lack the academic vocabulary and understanding of math syntax to learn concepts.
Schools may need to provide extra science instruction and support. In addition to often lacking the language skills to master science curricula, ELLs may not have the background knowledge or reading comprehension skills to learn scientific concepts the way teachers are accustomed to providing it.
Schools need to accommodate different cultural and language backgrounds in teaching history and social studies. These backgrounds have the potential to provide a richer experience for everyone in the classroom, but, if not acknowledged, also have the potential to stifle the learning of ELLs. Additionally, ELLs may not have the language skills to voluntarily actively participate in the discussions that are often the basis for learning social studies and history.
The full 200 page report, which contains suggestions for solving these issues, is available for $1,500 here. (Sorry, I originally had the wrong link and the wrong price.)
Technology Use in the Classroom
Simba Information recently released their K-12 Technology Tools & Trends 2012. It shouldn’t be surprising that the factors driving technology use in the classroom are
- Pedagogical benefits of technology, often championed by individual teachers or technology coordinators
- The promise of time and cost savings
- Policy dictates from the federal and state level
- Leadership in districts where technology is being used successfully
The report published an interesting chart on the number of hours per school day that different technologies are used.
(click image to enlarge)
Note that the spikes for Interactive whiteboards, Projectors, Desktop computers, and Laptop/netbook computers are at 5.1+ hours per day usage, while those for Tablets, Ereaders, MP3 players, and Smartphones are at NA or Don’t know. With greater adoption of tablets this year and next, it will be interesting to see if this changes.
The full K-12 Technology Tools & Trends report is available for $1,950 here.