Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Strategies for Teaching English Language Learners and Students with Learning Disabilities

In his article, Strategies for Teaching English Language Learners and Students with Learning Disabilities, John Carr synthesized research on effective instruction for general education students, English Language Learners (ELLs) and students with learning disabilities (LDs). Of serious consideration is the fact that little research exists on supporting ELLs with LDs. His effective strategies include:
  • Cues
  • KWL
  • Visuals
  • Think-Pair-Share
  • Think Alouds
  • Summarization

This paper supports much of the research I have completed in this area. Small groups, summarization and visuals have been recommended in every piece of research I have read so far. Cues and activating prior knowledge (KWL) are also frequently mentioned in the research as effective.

Carr does suggest a scenario in which a teacher uses the strategies. This is a nice way to showcase how to incorporate the strategies into general class instruction. I will take a stab at doing so as well.

In a fifth grade science class students are beginning a study of matter. The teacher has printed skeletal notes and a booklet entitled matter. Class opens with him asking students to tell what they know about matter and writes them down in the first column of a KWL chart. Students are instructed to read the introduction to the book and are asked to think-pair-share what ideas from their KWL are supported by the reading and where in the reading it is supported. The chart is annotated with their learnings. Then he models reading the first subsection, Elements, using a Think Aloud approach. Students are again asked to think-pair-share about what elements they know. The illustrated periodic table (visual) in the room is pointed out and each listed element is pointed out. Students are asked to read the next section out loud. He models filling in the skeletal notes. When it comes to identifying the features of liquid he pours some water out of his water bottle into his hand. This cues the idea that liquids have no definitive shape in a visual manner. At the end of class the KWL class is amended and students are asked to write a 20 word summary of what they learned.

This would support all learners not a select few. We can do this for all our learners, especially ELLs with LDs.

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