Two days a week, I support my co-teacher at my school site in an Academic Language Development (ALD) course for English-language learners who have just been designated. ALD uses English 3D curriculum to inform the instruction and student activities.
Each class session is highly structured for the first hour and fifteen minutes, followed by time available to students to complete homework and one-on-one, individualized teacher/student tutoring and mentoring where students demonstrate using academic English in other classes (creating a bridge for technical and academic language use in life and other classes), reflect, create action plans, and receive feedback on success strategies, such as, organization (binder, agenda); collaboration (study skills and in-class partner/group/class work); and academic progress check (all classes).
The classroom has twelve students who face each other from both sides of the classroom. The space is large for twelve students with plenty of room to move around in pairs and to spread out for individual and group homework collaboration. The teacher is very process-and people-oriented, and allows students to eat breakfast in class (not allowed for other classes), because some of the students are hungry or bring their breakfast to eat at school. The space is non-confrontational, the students are all comfortable with each other and they react positively (low stress) to group and pair interactions.
Strategies and activities based in SIOP Protocol
1. Response and sentence frames provide scaffolding for gradual release throughout the course. Frames become increasingly reduced so students’ responses become increasingly independent. The workbook allows students to refer to previous work for help, as needed. Teacher and curriculum establish think-aloud strategies for students and teacher.
2. Response frames include assists with words, syntax, grammar, and style for verbal and written academic and technical language for interactions (including partnering and responding to discussions as a class), coursework, assessments, and reflections.
3. Content and language objectives are clearly stated, read aloud and shown in writing, and students repeat the objectives orally and in writing. Content and language concepts are appropriate for the students’ age and background. Content includes students using precise words, verbs, and adjectives; describing people; Language objectives include: restating, comparing, and reporting their and classmate’s ideas using complete sentences during interaction.
4. Content includes students using precise words, verbs, and adjectives; Vocabulary and concepts are interwoven through instruction and activities. Content includes cultural and social norms (invisible curriculum) technical and academic terms, and a variety of questions that promote higher-order thinking are used. Each section is set up as a question, such as, “How does a lesson partner demonstrate active listening?” Teacher states (and it’s in writing) part of speech, defines in casual language and academic language, and uses words in context.
5. Students use graphic organizers including: brainstorming; T charts; language response cues; sentence frames; Think, pair, share; Discuss, restate, record, share; write sentence frame and add their own ideas (releasing gradually to writing essays independently); frames that introduce difficult grammatical and syntax cues (prepositional phrases, pronoun, verb tenses) and teacher models correct responses; before reading and after reading;
6. Students tap into real life experiences though discussion, reflection, and response. They build schema, role-play, use peer tutors (and adult tutors), speak their L1s and L2s during instruction and in discussion as needed to process their thinking, ideas, and responses.
7. Monitoring is built into the workbook also for formative and summative assessments of the student’s comprehension and ability by the teacher and the student themselves. Students also take a Beginning-of-Year Test, including assessments of students’ background knowledge on language functions. Later formal assessments include fluency and writing ability.
This is an effective lesson for English learners because English 3D curriculum teaching strategies and student activities cover five stages of English development and proficiency levels, matching ELD standards and SDAIE strategies. There is scaffolding at the beginning of the program, which leads to independence by the end of the program.
I would modify the lesson and activities to give students more choice and autonomy over the materials. If the curriculum was less “fixed” and had less process formulas it would be easier to adapt to all levels of proficiency. However, this model works to pair students with lower fluency, and weaker writing, listening, and speaking with students who have reached higher levels of proficiency and stronger writing, listening, and speaking skills. Also, more meaningful activities would help engage the students. However, the benefits of working through the scaffolding as a class helps students who have accumulated learning gaps and helps recognized and address needs.
Overall, the students don’t seem engaged in the coursework. Now that we’re a month into the curriculum, I’m glad we’ve transitioned from walking through the early routines to discussing the issues, found in non-fiction articles that relate topics of interest to teenagers, with a balanced perspective and discussion prompts regarding video games, fast food, social challenges, graffiti, teen driving, etc. The students were livelier during the most recent lesson where we discussed video games, than in the other lessons that focused predominately on reading, listening, writing, and interacting within the instructional routines.