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Justin Stevenson

Forum 4.1

Chapter 11
This chapter focused on the benefits of having ELLs identify similarities and
differences. In doing so, students are required to use prior knowledge, make new
connections, construct meaning, and discuss their reasoning. Four generalizations for
using this technique in the classroom are: 1. Teacher Directed Activities 2. Independent
Student Work 3. Use of Graphic Organizers or Symbolic Form 4. Using Compare,
Contrast, Classify, Analogies, and Creating. It is recommended that when using these
methods of instruction for lessons dealing with similarities and differences that teachers
use a variety of methods, model methods, begin with familiar topics, use graphic
organizers, and help guide ELLs. Identifying similarities and differences is not a new
technique; if fact, it has been used by ESL teachers in the classroom for quite some time.
This is a technique I have seen used during my observations. I have seen it used
with beginning students in a basic fashion of sorting picture cards and then using nouns
or adjectives to describe their similarities or differences, and I have seen this used with
students from Developing Bridging in a more in-depth, independent fashion. Since it is
easy to adapt this technique to the individual needs, skills, and level of the students, I feel
it is great method of teaching for ESL teachers. Being able to have students draw as
descriptions or sort manipulatives are a great way to have them complete the activity and
build knowledge while not being limited by writing skills or vocabulary ability. It also
allows for easy adaptation for students at higher levels and aids them in understanding
new concepts and ideas.
Chapter 12
This chapter focused on the importance of involving parents and the community
in the education of ELLs. When schools gather information on students, it is imperative
they find as much information as possible in regard to the native language of the student,
length and quality of education in the native language of the student, what type of
education has been given in the United States, length of time spend in the United States,
the amount of English the student has been exposed to. A research based parental and
community based involvement plan was developed by Joyce Epstein which outlines six
different types of involvement. The types of involvement are Parenting, Communicating,
Volunteering, Learning at Home, Decision Making, and Collaborating with Community.
If a school is not properly incorporating parental or community involvement, the chapter
outlines a 3 year involvement plan which can help schools succeed. The chapter
recommends beginning with the school itself by illustrating a welcoming and open
environment. The school should also try to use bilingual staff as much as possible, to help
communicate and work with parents. The school should also try to involve the
community, hold regular monthly or bimonthly meeting with parents, and offer ESL
classes for parents.
Through our course study, it became evident early on that being an advocate for
the students and their families was a crucial part of being a successful ESL teacher. While
it may be hard to gain the trust of parents and help them feel welcome and a part of the
school, doing so helps student success while building a more successful learning
community. It also helps families assimilate into United States culture and better
understand the academic world in which their child is living. I liked the basic 6 method
type of involvement for parents which was given on page 113. I feel this is a great
reference piece for an ESL teacher to use at the beginning of the school year or if the
teacher is having difficulty communicating with the parents or involving the community
in school life.
Justin Stevenson
Section 9: School Supports and Model Program Comparison

Model ESL program
Yes /
District or School
Yes The School District of Philadelphia has a very
detailed chart available online which allows for
the public to access the demographics of
particular schools.
Student Characteristics Yes Teachers analyze the characteristics and make
personal notes on their individual needs which
enable better lessons and assessments based on
differentiated instruction methods.
Specialized Available
Yes The district and school offers many specialized
resources for ELLs such as: Computer Assisted
Learning programs, bilingual counselors and
translators, translated newsletters and calendars.
Language Exposure
No This is something the school does not
Writing Apprehension Test No This is something the school does not administer
Self Efficacy Writing Scale
No According to ESL instructor interviews and
observations in this school, I did not see this
Address Prior Experience in
School/Teaching Students
How to Learn
Yes Although there is no standard form or
questionnaire the school or teachers use, teachers
explore this information in an informal manner.
Ive noticed much of their instruction is geared
toward the current abilities of the student. If the
student is very new to this school atmosphere or
any school atmosphere, the teacher will try to
guide the student in a very friendly way to help
them understand regular routines and attempt to
help bridge the gap between what they know and
what they need to know to succeed in school.
ESL Teachers Teach
English and Content
Yes Most lessons I observed, especially when dealing
with upper grades (6-8), were based around
content in a particular subject matter course.
SIOP Yes Most lessons I observed, especially when dealing
with upper grades (6-8), were based around
content in a particular subject matter course.
English Only in Classroom
or Bilingual Instruction
Yes/No While most instruction is given in English, I
have seen the teachers use very basic foreign
words in other languages to help students when
they were struggling. Also, teachers will seek
assistance from teachers who are bilingual,
translators, or bilingual counselors if a particular
situation arises.
Computer Assisted
Language Learning (CALL)
Yes This school uses a software program called
Imagine Learning. It is used as a way for
students to work independently or in small
groups while building vocabulary knowledge.
Emphasis on Academic
Writing Skills in L2
Yes/No Many assignments I observed in the pull-out
ESOL class were writing based in English.
However, their emphasis seemed more centered
on meaning than academic writing skills.
However, in the Language Arts class, much
more focus was placed on correct usage of
academic language.
Scaffold Instruction Yes The ESL and regular teachers at this school
seemed well practiced in scaffolding instruction
of ELLs. Since the population of ELLs at this
school is quite high, it seems much emphasis is
put on scaffolding for these students.
Cooperative Learning Yes The way students are seated (in groups) and
many of the group assignments were proof of
cooperative learning. This happened in both the
regular classroom and the ESOL classroom.
Yes According to my interviews with teachers, they
involve parents as much as possible. They bring
them in for lessons, have them participate in
cultural celebrations, and encourage their
participation in other school events.

Justin Stevenson
Section 10: Recommendations for Supports

1. Parent Recommendations- provide recommendations for parent/family involvement
and participation methods that would support the accomplishments of the ELLs.
Parental inclusion and involvement in school based activities is quite successful at
Kirkbride Elementary School. Since the school has a large ELL population (almost 40%),
accommodating these students seems to be a concentration of theirs. The staff and
administration supply families with translated newsletters and calendars, offer on site
translators, and incorporate family members in school holiday celebrations, lessons, and
other events. However, I do feel the school could incorporate the community into the
school a bit more. For instance, when I interviewed one teacher about this, he said the
only community based program he had knowledge of was the Cambodian Association of
Greater Philadelphia, which runs an after school program that includes homework help
and has a summer camp program for children. Since this school has very few after school
activities, I feel organizing an after school cultural club which offers similar assistance
would be beneficial to both the students and the community. It would also help ease the
relationship between school life and everyday life in the community.
2. Administration Recommendations- provide recommendations for administrators, based
on the model programs research, that include ways they can improve their current
resources and supports in the school system for ELLs.
My first recommendation for the administration would be to offer a more
welcoming environment for parents and family members. While the school excels at
incorporating parents into events and activities, the front office staff (secretary, dean of
students, and principal) often has a very cold and uninterested demeanor when
communicating with parents. I have even witnessed particular administration members
yelling loudly and slowly at parents that do not understand what they are saying (the
exact opposite of how one should deal with this situation). Understanding and
compassion would go a long way in this school. I would also suggest the administration
start programs which offer after school assistance. There are many ELLs that would
greatly benefit from a homework help club for an hour after school. This could also help
newer students assimilate and make friends within their new environment. I suggest this
to the administration because staff members have mentioned that often when they
propose ideas like this or try to start new clubs or organization, the administration
immediately turns them down. Again, a bit more openness would be a great asset to this
3. Teacher Recommendations- provide recommendations for teachers, based on the
model program research, that include ways they can support and provide resources for
ELLs in the classroom in order to ensure successful academic experiences.
The teachers at this school do a great job with their ELLs. They adapt lessons,
scaffold instruction, modify assessments, and try their best to assist their students in any
way that they can. One suggestion I would make would be to regularly check student
reading comprehension. Students at this school are given much time for independent
reading based on the 100 Book Challenge program. However, I have witnessed many
ELLs pick up a book, look at it, turn the pages, wait a few minutes, then change for
another book. While the students are required to select books based on their reading level,
it seems the ELLs may not be ready for this level of independent reading. Perhaps if the
teacher were to have audio which went with the book, or if they sat with the students and
read, or had them pair up with reading buddies, they would be able to better comprehend
what they are reading. Also, regularly checking on their reading abilities would ensure
accurate book leveling and assure the student has been given the appropriate reading
4. Paraprofessional Recommendations- provide recommendations for paraprofessionals
based on the model programs research that include ways they can support and provide
resources for ELLs in the school.
The Paraprofessionals at this school vary in terms of success and efficiency.
There are those who seem knowledgeable and do a great job at assisting teachers and
students, and there are those who will put their head down and sleep at times during the
day or spend a lot of time using their cell phone when they think staff members are not
looking. My first recommendation would be to provide meaningful seminars or
workshops for the paraprofessionals. The vibe at this school is that the paraprofessionals
are just there and do not participate in professional development activities. This is hurtful
for the paraprofessionals, the students, teachers, and the overall school environment. That
being said, paraprofessionals at this school are regularly assigned to students with
disabilities; not to students or classrooms based on ELL population. Having an
experienced paraprofessional in the classroom when the ELL population is exceedingly
high would be a great asset for the teacher and students. That essential extra assistance
that is crucial for scaffolding instruction for ELLs would be possible and greatly benefit
the entire learning process.
5. Policymaker Recommendations- provide recommendations for policymakers, based on
the model programs research, that include ways they can enact changes in policy and law
to support ELLs and their families in the educational system.
My suggestion for policy makers would be to develop and provide more
professional development courses in the area of ESL. While the teachers at Kirkbride do
a great job assisting their ELLs, most of their knowledge has come from trying things out
and talking to other teachers; they were not taught many of the methods they use.
Therefore, it possible to think there is much room for improvement in their teaching and
assistance methods. By requiring teachers to participate in a certain number of ESL
training seminars, they would have a much better understanding of how to assist their