WIDA FOCUS ON English Language Arts

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WIDA FOCUS ONEnglish Language ArtsIn This IssueOverview1Expanding Students’Oral Literacy2Principles in Action3ObservingAcademicLanguage Practicesin Action5WIDA Resourcesfor MeaningfulEngagement of ELLs6Observation Tool7References & FurtherReading9NOVEMBER 2013IntroductionTeachers are currently faced with the challenge of reconceptualizing how they present contentarea knowledge to meet the increased expectations set forth by the Common Core StateStandards and to help a growing number of English language learners (ELLs) advance theiracademic language development. First, we will take a close look at the Common Core EnglishLanguage Arts Standards in relation to their language demands. Later, we’ll introduce youto Mr. Barrero, a 10th grade English language arts teacher. His classroom will give us insightinto a variety of important considerations for content area teachers working with ELLs on keyCommon Core expectations that involve both language and content learning. Mr. Barrerorealizes that for his ELLs, it is imperative that he provide them with meaningful, content-richexperiences so that they may not only deepen their languageabilitiesbut also acquireand applyTables18for EnglishLanguageArtsthe academic knowledge and skills needed across disciplines.OverviewKey point for teachers of English Language ArIn the tables that appear below, the FrameworkThe purpose of this bulletin is to provide guidance topracticesteachers ofembeddedEnglish language(ELA) and NGSSwithin artsthe CCSSinterpersonal,sociocultural,who are implementing the Common Core State Standards(CCSS) andworking tostrategic,respond toand pragmthe specific needs of ELLs. In their treatment of academic language (or the language of school),the CCSS represent a departure from existing content standards. The CCSS expect studentsto develop more sophisticated language and literacy skillsin lyDisciplinary Core Idemanding tasks independently and in collaborationThiswithtableothers.summarizes key practices in the CCSSIn order to successfully implement the CCSSwith students who are still learning English,practitioners need to understand the languagedemands of the standards. The Council ofChief State School Officers recently produceda document that teases out these demandsfor ELA, mathematics, and science called theFramework for English Language ProficiencyDevelopment Standards Corresponding to theCommon Core State Standards and the NextGeneration Science Standards (from now on,the ELPD Framework). The ELPD Frameworkoutlines key disciplinary practices embeddedin the CCSS, thus providing educators withan idea of what their students will be doingwith language as they engage with content ina particular discipline. Read more about theELPD Framework at www.ccsso.org.Key CCSS ELA “Practices”191. Support analyses of a range of gradelevel complex texts with evidenceReadi Reasup2. Produce clear and coherentwriting in which the development,organization, and style are appropriateto task, purpose, and audience Reaand Use3. Construct valid argumentsfrom evidence and critiquethe reasoning of others Engacro4. Build and present knowledge throughresearch by integrating, comparing,and synthesizing ideas from textsWritin Writto m5. Build upon the ideas of othersand articulate their own whenworking collaboratively Writ Dev Gat6. Use English structures to communicatecontext specific messagesThe power of focusing on disciplinary practicesrather than on language features (such asspecific grammar or vocabulary) is that theSource: CCSSO, 2012, p. 11.practices in many ways determine the kinds oforganization, grammar, and vocabulary thatstudents will need to use and understand. Therefore, a focus on disciplinary practices doesnot mean a lack of focus on language features; whereas a strict focus on language features risks1 WritSpeak Partwith Com Shathos Ada

Framework for English Language Proficiency Development Standards corresponding to the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Sta16Productive Language Functions that are primarily introduced at the elementary levelCommunicate orally and in writing ideas, concepts, and informationrelated to building and presenting knowledge, including Demonstrating a coherent understanding of a topic or issue byintegrating information presented in different texts or formatsdecontextualizing language instructionlanguagein anmanner. Whenwe lookat instructionProducing and studyinginterpretingevidencein abstractlogical sequencesto supportclaimsor thesis through the lens ofdisciplinary practices, we canseehowlanguageandcontentinteract. Describing results of researchProductiveNaturally, disciplinarylook differentwithindifferentthatcontextsand contentareas. Inatthe ELPD Framework, each languageProductiveLanguageFunctionsare primarilyintroducedLanguagepracticespractice is ivities,thatstudentsneedtomaster. As students progress in theirFunctions the secondary school level (in addition to elementary)academic careers, they add new tasks to the ones they have already learned. As language learners advance in their language proficiency, theyCommunicate orally and in writing ideas, concepts, and informationexpand the ways in which theyuse language to engage in these tasks.related to building and presenting knowledge, includingPresentingsynthesis of practicesideas in twoor moretexts toinshowaThis bulletin will focus on oneof the keya disciplinaryfor ELAdescribedthe ELPDFramework. This practice is thecoherent understanding on similar topics or eventsfollowing: “Build upon the ideas of others and articulate their own when working collaboratively.” We chose this particular practiceExplainingimplicationsof researchbecause it represents one of thekey differencesbetweenthe CCSS and other sets of content standards. The CCSS expect students not Explainingresearchprocessjust to share ideas but to constructnew ownmeaningtogether. Asking questions and hypothesizing about others’ researchKey CCSS ELA Practice 5: Build upon the ideas of others andarticulate their own clearly when working collaborativelyTasks that are primarily introduced at the elementary level Work productively in pairs, small groups, and whole class settings Contribute effectively in group settings to the overall project or understanding sought Explore the task and purpose and adjust goals accordingly Analyze the main ideas and other key details of a speaker Break down the speaker’s message conceptually into component parts Use evidence to make inferences beyond what is explicitly statedAnalyticalTasks Render an understanding of what has been said through assembling details and ideas Identify confusions on the part of the listener as well as on the part of the speaker Employ the use of technology to present or amplify communicationsthrough use of digital and multimedia textsTasks that are primarily introduced at the secondary level (in addition to elementary) Identify the contributions of others and leverage them forgreater insight into the problem or issue Synthesize comments, arguments, claims, and evidence Determine what additional information or research is requiredto deepen the investigation or complete the task Identify the disciplinary expectations and take them into account when planning communicationsSource: CCSSO, 2012, p. 16.Expanding Students’ Oral LiteracyTraditionally, giving students opportunities to talk with each other was seen only as a support: a chance for language learners to receivehelp from peers. The CCSS, however, require that we see student interaction in a different light. Peer discussions encourage studentsto expand their understanding and develop critical thinking as they engage with each other’s ideas, refine their own, and find effectiveways to express them. Student interaction is crucial for ELLs because this expansion and refinement concerns language as much ascontent. As students work to understand others and make themselves understood, they have powerful opportunities to develop stronglanguage skills.We all know, however, that productive discussions do not just happen. They have to be carefully and purposefully set up. And eventhen, despite our best intentions, they may fail to be the rich spaces we want them to be. On the next pages we provide a number ofprinciples that are particularly important in supporting ELLs’ participation in meaningful interactions with teachers and peers (Bunchet. al. 2013).2Focus on English Language Arts WCER University of Wisconsin–Madison www.wida.us

PRINCIPLESSCENARIOInstruction should build onstudents’ existing languageand cultural resources inorder to expand them.Meet Mr. Barrero, a 10th grade English language arts teacher. His class is comprised ofboth English language learners (ELLs) and non-ELL students. The ELL students’ Englishlanguage proficiency is at the intermediate level or higher. Today his class will continuetheir work on argumentation through whole group, small group, and independentactivities. Throughout this section, we will show why Mr. Barrero chose to cover thecontent in this format, as well as how the lesson addresses both the content andlanguage development needs of his students simultaneously.Students come to theclassroom with a wealthof knowledge aboutinteracting with others.Their in-school and outof-school experiencesshape their participationand engagement inthe classroom. Criticallyexamining these experiencesto find similarities anddifferences among them, aswell as between students’experiences and the typesof classroom interactionsthat teachers aim to foster,is essential in supporting ELLsas they navigate multiplespaces with divergentexpectations.Participation can be fosteredthrough relevant and explicitlanguage instruction.All students need to learnhow to work together. ELLs,however, have to learn howto do so in English. In orderfor them to be successful,they require opportunitiesto practice the languagethey need to express (dis)agreement, interrupt, holdthe floor when interrupted,ask for clarification, build onother’s opinions, and so on.Meaningful engagementwith this kind of language isessential in enabling studentsat all levels of proficiency tocontribute to the classroomlearning community.As the class begins, the students are asked to gettogether with their partners from the previous dayand pull out the newspaper article they read ondeportation. The student pairs had been asked toread the article highlighting in yellow what they feltwere the important ideas, in orange the languagethey had questions about, and to write any otherquestions they had in the margins. Mr. Barrerothen combined partners with another pair, takinginto consideration factors including their Englishlanguage strengths and needs, prior academicachievement, and background knowledge. Hereminds the students to use the comprehensionstrategies they have been practicing such as how toask for clarification or restate what you have heardto check for accuracy and points to the poster theclass had created listing the strategies. The smallgroups were given several minutes to ask eachother any questions they had about the content orthe language of the article.Next, Mr. Barrero wrote on the board and askedstudents, “Who do you agree with more in the article,the father or the government? Why? What evidencefrom the text did you find to be persuasive or howcan you justify your response?” To support students’language as they thought about their answers, hewrote the following sentence frames on the boardunder the two columns “Agree and Disagree”:Groups are formedto build on students’existing language andcultural resources. Howmight you structure andguide group work tohelp students achievethe comprehension andcollaboration standardsput forth by CCSS ?For more information ongroup work with ELLs,check out “Focus onGroup Work for ContentLearning” (see references)How is Mr. Barrero fosteringparticipation of all ELLs inthe discussion? How is hesupporting their languagedevelopment?Agree: I agree with in that (state the opinion/stance) because (providesupport/rationale for your claim from the text and your own experiences) . As stated in the text, , and therefore I agree with .Disagree/Adding a counterargument: Although I disagree with much that says, I fully endorse his/her conclusion that. I agree with you up to a point, but I think that . I disagree with because and therefore, that is why I agree withMr. Barrero gave students several minutes to thinkand write independently. Then, he asked them to turnto their partner to share their opinions. As studentsshared with their partners, Mr. Barrero walked aroundthe classroom observing students’ responses.Focus on English Language Arts WCER University of Wisconsin–Madison www.wida.usIn what ways did Mr.Barrero structure this lessonto help students applytheir content knowledgeand language skills acrosslanguage domains (forexample, in their writing)?3

PRINCIPLESSCENARIOStudents need support indeveloping listening andspeaking strategies.Mr. Barrero asked two students, Clara and Nadan,who he feels have strong speaking skills, to helpModeling is an effectivehim model for the rest of the class how to state anway to support ELLopinion, explain why with evidence, and summarizestudents’ comprehension.the argument of a peer. Students had previouslyModeling alone, however,practiced summarizing other’s arguments and nowis not enough. In whatMr. Barrero wants to focus on supporting students toother ways does Mr.present their own, as this will be a skill they will need inBarrero give studentsseveral academic disciplines. Clara begins by usingopportunities to negotiateone of the sentence frames to explain why she sidesmeaning?with the government. Mr. Barrero then models howto restate or summarize the opinion of Clara and asksher if he correctly captured her argument.Next, he asks Nadan to state whether his opinion is in agreement or disagreement withClara, and explain why he holds the opinion that he does. Then, he asks Clara tosummarize Nadan’s argument.ELLs at all levels of Englishlanguage proficiencyshould have opportunitiesto engage in rich discussionswith teachers and peers.This means, however, thatmisunderstandings areinevitable. Language learnersneed support in developingstrategies they can use tomake themselves betterunderstood, and to helpthem understand others.He listens now as his students turn to their groups of four and begin building off oneanother’s ideas as they discuss the article by stating their opinions, defending theirarguments, and providing counterarguments. As he listens, he prompts students to restatetheir peers’ arguments and check for clarity.Students need opportunitiesto develop metacognitiveawareness of how languageis used across disciplinesand modalities, such aswritten texts, oral texts, visualrepresentations, and video.As students learn, theyengage in formal as well asinformal interactions withtheir peers and teachers.The differences betweenthese interactions in termsof language are oftensubtle and thus may notbe immediately obvious tolanguage learners. Teachersneed to guide students asthey become aware of themultilayered differencesbetween writing andspeaking in different genres,dissimilar modes, and multipledisciplines. Metacognitiveawareness supports thetransfer of knowledge fromone situation to another andhelps students become moreautonomous.4Mr. Barrero brings the class back together as agroup and asks if anyone made such a persuasiveargument in their group that it caused someone tochange an opinion. If so, what about the argumentwas so compelling? What did the student use asevidence or justification?Such metacognitivereflections on the workstudents just did can helpthem transfer languageskills to other languagedomains (or disciplines).In a follow up lesson, Mr.Barrero will use today’swork to help them writearguments.Through collaboration with the school’s ESL educator,thoughtful planning, as well as in-the-momentteaching, Mr. Barrero is able to help his studentsdevelop an academic understanding of Englishlanguage arts content. He also helps deepen all of hisstudents’ knowledge of how to construct an effectiveargument while simultaneously providingopportunities for ELLs to accelerate their English language development, all of whichhelp to prepare his students to work with increasingly complex texts across academicdisciplines.REFLECT ON THE LESSON:IN THIS LESSON, HOW DID MR. BARRERO FOSTER THE ACADEMICINDEPENDENCE OF HIS ELL STUDENTS?Focus on English Language Arts WCER University of Wisconsin–Madison www.wida.us

Observing Academic Language Practices in ActionIt is important for Mr. Barrero to monitor his students’ content understanding as well as their language development. For content,he focuses on their engagement in the English language arts practices in the CCSS. For language, he focuses on the three features ofacademic language.Mr. Barrero used the form below to capture his observations related to content and language use during group discussions. In the firstcolumn, he writes the names of his students; in the other columns, he records observations.STUDENTClaraCONTENTLANGUAGEFocus Using evidence toconstruct valid arguments Building upon others’ideasFocus Introducing arguments and counterarguments effectively Completing complex sentences using because, therefore,although, but, and Using third person, simple present, and simple past verbforms appropriately Including specific and technical words and phrasesProvided evidence, promptedto state opinion“I agree with the dad because his family was left in the U.S.and they didn’t have much.”“I agree that he should be given a chance to stay in the U.S.” NadanDisagreed with Clara,provided a counterargumentAttempted to use sentence frame, did not use “in that” tostate her opinion until prompted to use provided framesSimple pastUsed general language“I agree with Clara up to a point, but I think that the father’sperspective is only one case. I also agree with the governmentin that it is hard to decide who should be deported becausecases are all very different.” Used sentence frames for disagreement and for providingevidence as a counterargumentComplete complex sentencesCases (specific) and perspective, deported (technical)As you can see, Mr. Barrero wrote students’ actual comments and analyzed them on the spot. Although he is not able to observe andrecord all students’ language all of the time, he focuses on a few students each time. Over time, he collects several language samples fromall his students to inform his ongoing language instruction and monitor the language students are processing and producing in his class.For example, for Clara, it is clear that she has a good understanding of the reading and she is able to provide evidence for her opinions.However, she still needs opportunities to practice extending her discourse and producing more complex sentences. Mr. Barrero isintentional about how he designs instruction and tries not to focus on language in isolation, but instead think about how language helpsstudents engage in classroom learning activities, so he will likely continue his focus on complex sentences for her as they explore a varietyof English language arts topics and genres.Prior to this lesson, Mr. Barrero noticed how Nadan has begun to use the sentence frames independently. He has been helping Nadanuse more precise vocabulary when building on others’ arguments. These types of instructional decisions are the focus of individualconferences that Mr. Barrero holds with his students. He synthesizes information from his observations to show students their individuallanguage progress and set goals with them. From Mr. Barrero’s notes, he realizes Nadan no longer needs sentence frames when creating or

Table 1: Key Practices and Disciplinary Core Ideas of the ELA CCSS This table summarizes key practices in the CCSS for ELA. Key CCSS ELA “Practices”19 Disciplinary Core Ideas from the CCSS 1. Support analyses of a range of grade level complex texts with evidence 2. Pro

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