Summer greetings Teachers of Emergent Bilinguals!
In today’s post, we are going to start planning for oral language using an Integrated ELA/ENL Unit Planner.
This post will be short and to the point: Life has changed so much it’s hard to understand what we’re feeling. The NYC DOE has not specified the official first day of school. It’s believed to be Thursday September 10th, but principals are asking: How? There has been so little information or leadership from the authorities. With most major city schools systems around the country opting for remote learning this fall, the NYC Teachers union is threatening a sick-out if teachers are forced to show up to work in person.
How can we move forward and provide NYC’s 1.1. million school children, a quarter million of who are English Learners (see my posts on diverse profiles) with the learning they need?
No one knows. In these situations, the only thing a teacher can do is what he or she does best: meet your learners where they are (wherever that might be).
Let’s start planning a unit that can be delivered remotely as well as in person.
I’m going to offer the example of a 6th grade Integrated ELA/ENL unit using the text I am Malala, a powerful narrative of an ordinary girl who stood up for a girl’s right to education in the face of death – and lived to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
It’s a wonderful text to explore with learners about what it means to risk your life for freedom, what it means to be an activist for human rights, and how the actions of one person can benefit the entire world. It’s a story about the love of a family for one another, sacrifice and perseverance – things that every student, especially English Learners, can relate to.
The general objectives of any ELA unit are to get students to go beyond initial comprehension and analyze the text from various perspectives, expand their vocabulary around the topic, and demonstrate deep comprehension through academic writing.
But for English Learners especially, oral language is the first step in comprehension.
By Oral Language, I mean a learner’s full oral linguistic repertoire, whether it be in English and/or their Home Language(s): a learner’s knowledge about the world; their vocabulary (both receptive – what they can understand – as well as productive, what they actively can use); their knowledge of how different parts can make words (morphology); their ability to formulate grammatical and fluent sentences (syntax), their knowledge of the sounds, rhythms, and intonation of language that contribute to comprehension (phonology).
How do we plan to develop our students’ Oral Language? See this sample Integrated ELA_ENL Unit Planner to see how I take you through the initial steps to planning the foundation for comprehension of text:
- What are the major concepts students need to understand in order to be able to access this text?
- What kinds of pre-reading activities are going to give students the opportunity to build this background knowledge?
- Which words do I need to target that represent these essential concepts?
- What kind of content, language and literacy objectives should I craft? Use the blank template to plan your own unit.
Stay tuned for my next post, which will take you through planning out Close Reading and then Writing.
Interested in getting newsletters with more information and resources? This year I plan to write lots more curriculum for teachers. Sign up on my newsletter on the side-bar menu!