Happy late summer teachers of Emergent Bilinguals! I hope you are feeling rested, relaxed, and rejuvenated! Yes, it’s that time of year again. For NYC teachers, Thursday, September 8th is just a few weeks away. But fear not! I have a plan for ENL Stand Alone.
You may be feeling anxiety and dread instead of energy and excitement. That’s understandable, but I’m here to help. Based on my work in the schools last year (yes, teachers, I listened to you!) I have a plan. And that plan is specifically around ENL Stand Alone.
For the last several years, I’ve blogged on various topics around teaching linguistic skills. This year, I’m narrowing my focus to ENL Stand Alone. The reason is this: Stand Alone instruction is the only opportunity our emergent bilingual students have to be explicitly taught English!
When I say English, I mean the English language they need to succeed in school. I mean vocabulary and world knowledge, phonics and morphology, as well as handwriting, grammar, and written expression. It’s English as its own content area – yes you read that correctly! English as a New Language is a content area!! Because the NYC DOE has not provided teachers with the support they need to teach Stand Alone successfully, many teachers end up teaching a supplementary ELA lesson.
I’m going to take you through a year of Stand Alone, through a scope and sequence of linguistic skills, through sample lessons you will be able to use in your classroom.
I know it’s an ambitious goal, but I truly feel this is the only way to seriously impact our students’ language and literacy.
The first step is to choose theme-based units for the whole year. Why themes? Too often, students are being asked to learn reading and writing skills in abstraction, for example: identify the main idea and detail in this text, now identify it in other texts (that may be about something else entirely). We know from research that this doesn’t work: teaching to the test doesn’t provide the student with enough background knowledge around a topic to be able to critically analyze it.
So, Step 1. With the help of this aebll ENL Theme Planner, I want you to map out themes for your students through which you will teach them vocabulary, reading, grammar, and writing. To help you choose themes, I have condensed for you the New York State Department of Education’s K-8 content themes for Social Studies and Science, and K-2 themes for ELA.
Look over the themes; decide which ones would be the most interesting for your students, and the easiest to find resources on. You don’t have to write an entire unit for each theme; having a theme and some content and language objectives is enough for now – you can plan out lessons later. You can spend as much or as little time on any one theme that you like. Generally, I think anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks is a good amount of time for ELLs to spend on one theme – shorter, and they may not learn enough, and longer, and they might get bored.
Watch me walk you through this process in this short video.
I’ll be back next week outlining how to set content objectives around a theme. After that, we’ll set language objectives to make sure we’re targeting language and literacy as well in our plan for ENL Stand Alone!