Wednesday, April 9, 2014

English Language Learners and the Common Core

Our districts have an increasing number of English language learners (ELLs) and it is critical that we figure out the best way to address their needs.  Many questions arise as we navigate this intricate process.  Can we truly implement a Common Core aligned curriculum when working with ELLs?  How do we best train teachers who work with this population of students?  Is technology going to damage or assist in this process? This week’s blog is dedicated to exploring research and resources for English language learners in the age of Common Core State Standards.

The Institute of Education Sciences has published an educator’s practice guide entitled, Teaching Academic Content and Literacy to English Learners in Elementary and Middle School.  This guide has been recently updated since it was first published in 2007.  There are new foci on the importance of teaching academic vocabulary and writing in all subject areas.  This guide includes 'exhibits' that offer sample lessons, graphic organizers, prompts and sentence starters to use with English language learners.

Guadalupe Valdés, Amanda K. Kibler and Aída Walqui have written a Professional Paper entitled, Changes in the Expertise of ESL Professionals: Knowledge and Action in an Era of New StandardsThey have built on TESOL's work on why it's important to train ESL professionals and how to go about doing so.  This is an extremely well researched paper that focuses tremendously on the evolving role of the ESL professional.

Finally, we must address the fact that technology can and will play a large role in the education of ELLs.  We have already begun to see how PARCC and Smarter Balance intend to support ELLs.  But what does this look like in practice? In the article, English Learners Get Help with Common Core Test, KQED's Ana Tintocalis explains how California teachers have recently been using computers to help support English language learners.

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