Hey, colleagues! So I already shared that I made my first (yikes) YouTube video. It wasn't super profesh, but you know what...I did it. It was actually a little bit on a whim, but it felt right. Below are the highlights and the video if you haven't watched yet as well. As you are reading, I'd like you to keep in mind a content teacher that you may want to pass this on to. Some of these are activities they may very well be doing already.
1. Bell Work
I'm sure just about all of us do bell work (or bell ringers, or do nows). It's a great quick and easy way to add in language. This can be a language focus from the day before, from the unit before, or maybe as a quick check to see what they know before teaching it in a lesson.
This is a great way to focus on the word or sentence level. If you are not familiar with the layers, or levels, of language, I'll have a post coming soon on that one that I will link back here and share with you all through my emails and social media. As far as word levels, there are 3 tiers of vocabulary types. As ESL teachers, we focus on mainly tier 2 and some tier 1 for beginners. Tier 3 are more for specific content areas and technical language. So bell work is a great way to practice with these words, and you can use scaffolds if needed such as word banks or visuals.
The sentence level focuses more on grammar and sentence structure. For example, you could do bell work on commas and conjunctions along with your vocabulary words. And now you are addressing two levels of language!
2. Juicy Sentences
Here is another great way to address both the word and sentence level. Juicy sentences are great because you do not have to take a lot of time on these (maybe ten minutes) and it really helps students come to their own meanings of sentences. As they practice, they can start doing this alone or with peers.
Basically, a sentence should be chosen that is important to the meaning of the text, or the skill/objective they are trying to master. For example, if my high-schoolers are reading Fahrenheit 451 and I am analyzing theme with them, I am going to choose a sentence that addresses that and also has some vocabulary that we have discussed. I have another post that goes into juicy sentences in a little more depth. Also, here is a template to try these in your own class! It is editable, which is great for virtual teaching!
3. Accountable Talk
Alright, so we want them to SWRL in every lesson (Speak, Write, Read, and Listen), so here is where they get to speak and show off all of the levels of language! At the discourse level, we are looking at the text as a whole, how it is organized, and how cohesive and coherent it is. See the WIDA charts below to dive in a little deeper to all of the levels. The charts also give great examples as well.
I think the key here for accountable talk and really with any task involving language is to be intentional and explicit. Tell them exactly what words and structures you want them to be using and let them know that you will be listening for them as you circulate the room as they speak with their groups or partners. I personally like to show them the sentence stems or frames that I would like to see them using, along with vocabulary if needed up on the board.
Back to SWRLing, we are on writing! Again, they are working on all levels here. The same applies to this activity as accountable talk. Stems, frames, and a word bank may be needed depending on your proficiency levels in the room. Also, your mainstream students will definitely benefit from these as well! This is not just for your ELs!
5. Exit Tickets
Arguably the quickest and easiest of all here are exit tickets. I give my students about 5 minutes (ok, bell work too, but exit tickets seem to fly by at the end of class). I usually do a 3-2-1 and modify for my beginners with a 2-1 (2 things you learned, 1 question). I usually hear a lot of moans when I say...Ok BUT you have GOT to use one of these words we discussed today and this sentence structure! For example, for Fahrenheit 451, I have GOT to see a comma and conjunction plus the irregular verb burnt. I hear the groans but when I explicitly tell them what I need to see, I see results!
If you have any other ideas on how to easily integrate language, share in a comment below! And please, share share share with a content teacher to get the word out!
To learn more about strategies for incorporating language into your lessons, check out my course, My EL Mentor: Creating a Language-Rich Classroom! And if you are a high school teacher, consider joining my membership, My MLL Mentor, to discuss ideas like this with other high school ESL teachers!
I support middle and high school teachers through monthly lesson plans, coaching, and guest speaker offerings in our Secondary ESL Teacher Membership.