One of the most important things I think about when I am lesson planning for my multilingual learners is how I am going to get them to SWiRL throughout the lesson.
What does SWiRL stand for? It is an acronym for the language domains- speaking, writing, reading, and listening. The "i" stands for interact, and this addition to SWRL is meant to practice language production skills and foster academic discourse and peer to peer connections. One of my favorite authors in the ESL field, Andrea Honigsfeld, also suggests that all lessons touch on every letter of the acronym SWIRL, which stands for Speak, Write, Interact, Read, Listen (Edutopia).
Strategies for SWiRL
Here are some strategies that you can take and use in your classroom today to get your ESL students SWiRLing! You can also check out this Language Domains Instructional Strategies Guide with checklists of more strategies that you can pull when lesson planning.
Alright, this strategy isn't revolutionary, but it's a quick and easy way to integrate speaking! Turn and talks allow all students to discuss content and process new information while engaging in conversation with a partner. It’s helpful for multilingual learners to process information in chunks, so quick turn and talks at multiple times throughout a lesson is helpful.
One of my favorite writing strategies is Write-Around. Write-Arounds are great for reviewing information and for formative assessments. An additional benefit is that newcomers or recently arrived students can be engaged just by copying sentences. As they become more confident, they can complete sentences with sentence frames or stems with the ultimate goal being for them to write their own.
For reading, I always chunked the text and had students pause and summarize. For summarizing, I had them draw a little teeny bubble map in the margins for them to put a main idea and 2-3 supporting details, or maybe just one for a newcomer student. I also had them draw a picture of what they read too, which some loved and others not so much! But it helped make learning concrete and was great for my newcomers!
It's not enough to just have students listen to a podcast or an audio. The key is to make it intentional. So if they are for example listening to a podcast, having students listen for the who, what, when, where, why, and how and answer from sentence frames or stems helps with being intentional. Read more about the importance of listening here!
Another way to do this is by having them do an information gap activity. This is when partners are given two documents of information and they each are missing pieces so students have to ask each other specific questions to find their missing information. To get their information, students need to be listening carefully and then they fill it in their paper. It's great for practicing clarifying questioning!
There are so many other fun strategies teachers can use to get students to SWiRL! If you want to check out how I might do this in my lessons, check out the monthly lesson plan membership for high school ESL teachers or get a free ESL lesson plan here!
Feel free to comment below with the strategies you like to use!
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