With common core, many teachers worry about whether or not the creative strategies that they have used in the past will still be effective with the new standards. What some may not realize is that road to meeting the standard can take many routes. Creative strategies used in the past will still fit here with a few adjustments to accommodate ELLs.
So what does BACKMAPPING look like? Dr. Patrick Schwarz gives a quick description on this link: COMMON CORE STANDARDS STRATEGY: BACKMAPPING (National Louis University’s Patrick Schwarz, Ph.D)
How do I use this approach? I plan backwards. That is I create a clear picture in my mind of what I want students to do or generate by the end of the lesson first. Then I start weaving in the strategies I will need to use to have them reach the common core standard goal I have set for them.
Here are some of the approaches you could use to ensure that all of you students will be prepared by the end of a lesson (which could be done over a 1-3 day period for example) to complete the main assignment or task whatever that is:
1. Activate prior knowledge–You want to see what they already know so that you can adjust my instruction early on. After all, you want every student to be able to link new knowledge to the familiar.
2. Use clearly stated learning objectives in student friendly language and go over the objectives with them a few times.
3. Use lots of modeling of what you expect students to do–“I do it first, We do it together, You do it with a partner, You do it on your own.” ELLs need lots of modeling, practice, feedback, more practice,
4. Provide ELL with lots of activities involving talking and sharing with peers who have more English–think pair share, elbow partner work, carefully structured cooperative groupings, fish bowl, learning logs, skits, games, and much more.
5. Recognize or validate everyone’s efforts and you will find a fully engaged class–hold each student accountable by doing random call-ons. If a student doesn’t know the answer, give him/her time and then ask again.
6. Provide models of what you expect students to generate for you–if it is an English class, provide students with sample student writings of what you expect from them OR place a couple of good essays on chart paper fully visible from all corners of the room for all to see
7. Use pencil or NON-red pens to correct work and only correct glaring errors not every error on an assignment. For an ELL, that can be devastating to see a sea of red marks on a paper he might have spent several hours working on.
8. Have lots and lots of checks-for-understanding throughout the lesson to make sure that everyone is on the same page. Typically that may mean checking every 5-7 minutes, but it is worth it since you can catch the kids having difficulties early on.
9. Post language related to the lesson all around the room using FRAYER model layouts so students can make connections to other words related to the content word in question.
10. Have a closing activity where students must respond on an index card as one last check on their understanding. Some call it an exit slip others an entrance ticket.
There are so many more approaches as I am sure you know:) Another major source for ideas is your next door colleague. Teachers are always willing to share if only asked.
If you have some approaches you use, feel free to share them in the comments section.
ELL TEACHER PROS