Hello Teachers of Emergent Bilinguals! We blinked and all of a sudden it’s October 30th! The fall has been moving at a very fast pace in the city’s classrooms. For this reason, we want to make sure to keep our eyes on the prize: advancing our students’ language and literacy acquisition, and supporting content too, in each Stand Alone lesson. So, I’m here to help us keep steady teaching linguistic skills all week long, week by week, and get our students listening, speaking, reading, and writing.
If you’ve been following my blog, you know that we’re following a scope and sequence of linguistics skills this year, to take our students from entering and emerging to at least transitioning levels of proficiency by June. The way we do this is by teaching linguistic skills all week long, within a thematic context. The scope and sequence is designed with older learners in mind, but elementary teachers – it’s easy to adjust for the lower grades.
Let’s take a moment to reflect on the skills we’ve hopefully been teaching over the last month:
- choral repetition of words and phrases
- making meaning from pictures, videos, gestures, and pointing
- connecting meanings of words to the Home Language orally ( and in writing)
- speaking first words and sentences
- listening and identify the beginning sound of the word, for example school /s/
- matching the sound to a letter, for example What says /s/ as in school? ‘s’
- learning the alphabet in sequence and reciting the letters
- learn the letter strokes and model writing position and pencil grip
- underlining and copying target vocabulary words in text
- learning and responding to Wh-question words, specifically Who? and What? for nouns and Is what/Does what? for verbs
If you haven’t yet started teaching the above skills yet, don’t worry, just get started! It’s never too late for language and literacy acquisition! Check out my YouTube video for an introduction to the idea behind this scope and sequence.
structured literacy – what is it?
Remember that we’re following a Structured Literacy instructional model. Linguistic skills that develop language and literacy (phonological and phonemic awareness, morphology, and syntax) are taught explicitly. They go in a logical sequence going from foundational to more advanced, with repetitive exposure and practice until mastery is achieved. That’s why we teach linguistics skills all week long – so students begin working in an upward spiral, with ever more skills getting layered on previous ones.
Students work at a cognitively demanding level, but instruction is scaffolded so that they achieve success. Instruction is multisensory: students hear, see, and write language.
We have decades of science showing up that this is how children learn to read – listen to Emily Hanford’s amazing podcasts here! For English learners, however, we can’t teach language in a vacuum! Students need to make meaning and learn vocabulary through content-rich themes.
What I’m noticing in my classroom coaching is that the students are moving along much more quickly than we anticipated. As soon as the teachers I work with got started on phonological awareness and alphabetic knowledge, the kids started picking it up really fast. If your students are ready, don’t hold back – move on to more advanced skills! The idea is to maximize the amount of linguistic skills we’re teaching all week long.
OK, the next set of skills we want to work on are:
- introducing visual drills as a warm up. Choose the consonants that are tied to the beginnings of your vocabulary words. Only introduce short vowels for now, and after you’ve done phonemic awareness exercises for hearing short vowels first (see sample lesson below);
- introducing “red word” drills – high frequency and often non-phonetically spelled words like the, of, from
- practice present tense statements with am/is/are, has/have, like, feel, and need;
- introduce the -ing endings on verbs to indicate an action that is happening now
The goal for the next couple of weeks is to have students becoming very comfortable saying the sounds of letters, matching them to vocabulary words, and listening to and saying statements in present and progressive tense.
How and When do I teach the skills?
Let me give you two options at the moment, depending on your schedule and what feels right to you:
- teach a little bit every day
- dedicate one to two periods a week that are dedicated to the skills.
However, I’m going to make a suggestion: as students are still struggling with comprehension right now, it’s instructionally more sound to do a little bit every day. Perhaps later in the year when students can understand more, you can decide to focus on vocabulary, reading, and written expression part of the week, and phonics, morphology, and grammar separately. But ideally, we want to connect all of our explicit linguistic instruction to the content.
I’ve created a new sample lesson for you “The World of Animals“. Read the notes below each slide for instructions. The lesson slides will walk you through the week step by step, so you can see the progression of acquisition of skills from oral language to written language.
Questions, comment? Teachers, leave me a message below! Stay tuned next week for more lesson planning!