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Total Literacy Techniques, The ELL QRG, & The Language-Rich Classroom

Are you using the ELL QRG in your PD or college classroom? Here's a debrief handout to support participants in processing and applying the principles presented. It's available in a PDF for handwriting short responses or a Word doc for those who prefer to type their responses. Assign the whole thing for homework, or in class (30-45 minutes, not counting the discussion) or debrief as a group by doing the following: 1) Assign participants to one of 6 "expert" tables to individually read and then discuss a specific page number as they complete and process the corresponding page's section of the handout. 2) Create new mixed groups that have at least one "expert" representative from each table (or page number). Have each participant present their former group's page, referencing the QRG while everyone in their new mixed groups completes the sections as they are presented by each "expert" group member until the entire sheet is completed. [Note: Groups can have more than one representative from each table, but you'll need 6 tables (one assigned to each page). To divide your groups, work with multiples of 6. For example, a group that has between 24 and 29 participants will start with 6 groups of 4 or 5, and, once the first step is complete, create 4 new mixed groups of 6 or 7 experts. Similarly, for groups between 12 to 17 participants, create 6 groups of 2 or 3, and then create 2 new mixed groups of 6 or 7.  Use chart papers to conduct a chart paper splash, so you can process this as a whole group, assigning each of 6 chart papers to each QRG page.]

Articles & Blogs about English Learners

Why Read-Alouds Matter More in the Age of the Common Core by W. Himmele & P. Himmele

For many educators, the term read-aloud conjures up warm, cozy, and nostalgic reminders of how teaching used to be—the days when we actually had time to read chapter books... (see more)

Four Keys to Developing Academic Language by W. Himmele & P. Himmele

Lack of academic language can prevent students from progressing in most areas of schooling. In this post we present four key ways to support students in their academic language growth... (see more)

Academic Language blog, by P. Himmele

Academic language is a lot more complicated than it sounds.  It consists of content-specific words as well as non-content specific words .How do students acquire academic language?  How did you?  Under what circumstances... (see more)

Accelerating growth for ELs through Formative Assessments, by P. & W. Himmele (Fall, 2019). Pennsylvania Reads, KSLA

What is the best way to accelerate learning for all students? This article, originally written for Pennsylvania teachers, is relevant for all teachers, particularly after we come out of lockdown and assess the impact of COVID 19. In it, the Himmeles address how Total Participation Techniques, functioning as formative assessments, have the potential of adding 6 to 9 months of learning growth per year. For more on this, look into "the Ripple."

Don't take understanding for granted by P. Himmele

I remember asking a 1st grade English language learner to read me the words that she had matched to certain pictures. She read them all effortlessly, without skipping a beat: pot, mop, hot, hop. However, she had selected a picture of a car to represent the word pot. When I asked her why, she looked at me, confused, and randomly selected another picture, this time of a cat. I realized that what often seem like simple vocabulary words to a native English speaker may not be so simple for an English language learner (ELL). This student didn't know what the words pot or mop meant because these words were never mentioned in school, which was the only place in her world where English was spoken. On the other hand, if she'd been able to decode the words cubby, apple seed, or even beluga whale, which she had heard in class, she would have easily matched them to the correct pictures. Experiences like this helped alert me to the need for frequent checks for understanding when teaching ELLs. Just because they can decode it, that doesn't mean they understand it. (see more)

Teach English Language Learners by meeting them where they are, guest blogger for Larry Ferlazzo's EdWeek Q & A

The number of English Language Learner students in our schools is rising fast, often in communities that have little experience supporting them. What do you do when your school and class receives ELLs... (see more)

Making Challenges Meaningful for English Language Learners, guest bloggers for Rick Allen's Q & A

English language learners (ELLs) face a variety of linguistic challenges during the school day, from bantering with their peers on the playground to understanding the academic language teachers use... (see more)

Ways to try using the CCSS with English Language Learners, guest bloggers for Larrzy Ferlazzo's EdWeek Q & A

Louise Oppedahl asked: Because the language acquisition process is largely absent from the Common Core Standards, and teachers must use these standards, how can ESL teachers use them to teach... (see more)



Recorded September 18, 2014

Based on their ASCD book Total Literacy Techniques: Tools to Help Students Analyze Literature and Informational Texts, Pérsida and William Himmele share teacher-tested tips and techniques for helping students become analytical readers who critically engage with literature and informational texts, and who are able to write about texts in clear and cogent ways.

Appropriate for teachers of students in grades 3 through 12, this presentation provides tools for taking students past simply comprehending and retelling what they read and toward a deeper analysis of what they read.

Engaging Students in Textual Analysis with Persida and William Himmele


Resources for Professional Developers

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