Sheltered Instruction for ELLs: Making the Text Accessible - Down River Resources

Sheltered Instruction for ELLs: Making the Text Accessible

“Any fool can know. The point is to understand.” -Albert Einstein   
Howdy, friends!
I greatly appreciate you joining me again as I continue to share my knowledge on the components of sheltered instruction. This is another installment in my new blog series. In the event, you missed last week's blog on focusing on the language, click here.
Have you ever began choral reading and the class is barely murmuring? This has happened to me many times, especially as a new teacher. The students start off strong with the word "the" and then slowly taper off as the text becomes very content-specific with complex words.
Text is often times too difficult for English language learners to read and comprehend, but "watering down" the text is not the this answer to this issue. We must find ways as teachers to make the text and other resource materials accessible for all students so that all of the content concepts are left intact.
We can start activating students' prior knowledge as discussed a few blog posts ago and using some of the strategies lists below. I love emphasizing the main components of text before reading, including the author, illustrator, and the clues the illustrator gives us about the text on the front cover.
As we begin to read text, I want my students to understand the text and have metacognition as we go along. Metacognition is something that teachers learned in college, but I do not see students learning this skill in the classroom. I like to give my students the example of sitting and church. Often times, the priest or the pastor is talking our minds wander off. It is hard to focus. (Any kiddo that has been to church, can identify with this!) When our mind wander off, we are not thinking about our thinking.
In reading, we must often "STOP AND THINK!" I tell my students that after a few sentences or at the end of the paragraph, we need to "Stop and think!" (I hold out my hand like a stop sign and point to my head while saying this! It gives the kids some visual support as to my expectation!)
After reading, there are so many things we can do to help students process the text. I wrote down one strategies for the two text types: informational and literary.
My favorite strategy that I like to use when making text accessible whether in a book or an anchor chart is the quick sketch. I am not nearly up to the standards of many of my peers in their sketching abilities...but I do try my best and no stick figures are aloud...though my people often go without their necks.
I have used the Quick Sketch in my kindergarten, first, second, and fifth grade classroom and it truly has a place for all students, especially the English learner. In second and fifth grades, I would teach my students to draw a quick sketch that summarizes the paragraph so when answering comprehension questions they can look at the margins for clues as to where the information is. If you are taking a state test, this can save a lot of time! Students do not have to reread the entire passage! This is a big benefit for timed tests! 

I hope you are enjoying this blog series as much as I am! It reminds me how many little things teachers do for help all of their students. I often say that teachers have a toolbox full of their go-to strategies.  It is my hope that through this blog you can add another to your toolbox!
Thank you for your continued commitment to your students, especially your English language learners.
Happy Reading!
For more on sheltered instruction, check out my other posts.
Background Knowledge
Meaning with Realia
Focusing on Language

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