The following is for students in education areas or programs. Let me know if you have questions as you move forward on it.
This case-based final exam takes you through three key stages in working with any new cohort of EL students. Read through the overall description below and then respond to the 3 scenarios that follow.
Your P-8 school is getting a new cohort of EL students, all of whom are LEPs ranging from WIDA Levels 1 – 4. Because of the establishment of a new international automotive factory on the north side of town (a factory that the local government worked very hard to attract to the area), a large cohort of upper and middle managers have flooded into the area, bringing their young families with them. These managers tend to stay for a 3-year cycle, working at the factory and then returning to the company headquarters in their native countries. As a result, your school is gearing up for the arrival of 10 language learners from the same country and with the same native language background (Korean). Coincidentally, a revitalized construction industry is responding to growth in the area and has opened up branch in your school’s zone, bringing the children of construction workers and their extended families to your school as well. There are 12 ELs in this cohort, representing three languages (Spanish, Portuguese, and Hmong). The 8 Spanish speakers are from Mexico, Costa Rica, and Honduras. The 2 Portuguese speakers are from Brazil. The 2 Hmong speakers are from northern Vietnam.
The principal at your school has attended state mandated trainings on intake and assessment of ELs but has no instructional background working with ELs. She recognizes the increasing need for familiarity with the populations, but she is often at a loss as to where to get advice (and the district’s small cadre of ESL specialists is stretched very thin to the point that only one itinerate ESL specialist works with your school and is only on-ground twice a week for an hour).
There are a couple of veteran teachers who have worked with ELs in their past (in other states: California and Texas). Their assumptions are primarily founded in bilingual instruction, which worked in their previous schools but will not (for obvious reasons) in this current situation. Other than these two teachers, no one in your school has been trained to work with ELs and they are at a complete loss as to how to place them, differentiate instruction for them, and monitor their progress during the school year.
Keep this school context in mind as you respond to the following scenarios. Be thorough in your responses for each. A few sentences will not suffice for any of these. Suggested word counts are included for each.
Your principal and the teachers in K, 1st, 3rd , and 6th grades (those classes that will be getting the newcomers) want to prepare for the ELs’ arrival as much as they can. Other than you (assume you have been hired on the basis of your coursework in EL instruction in combination with your El Ed degree) and two veteran teachers, none of them have ever worked with ELs, and none of them had any coursework in working with ELs in their teacher training programs. One of the 1st grade teachers has traveled abroad extensively, however, and one of the 3rd grade teachers, a bilingual Spanish/English speaker has expressed an interest in working with the students. A 6th grade teacher has explicitly expressed concerns about her preparedness to work with the students, although she has always been known as an individual who handled diverse student populations very well.
Of the 22 students, 3 will be in kindergarten (1 Spanish, 1 Hmong, 1 Portuguese), 6 will be in first grade (5 Korean and 1 Hmong); 10 will be in third grade (5 Korean, 4 Spanish, and 1 Portuguese); 3 will be in sixth grade (3 Spanish).
Explain to your principal and your colleagues what the program models are in your local district for working with ELs. Explain briefly which model you think would work best for these students and the teachers, given your presence (keep in mind that you are a full-time gen-ed teacher, not technically an “EL Specialist” who can move around the classrooms) and the fact that the school system can only send an itinerate EL Specialist to your school for two hours a week (one hour on Tuesday and one hour on Thursday).
(For each of these sections, keep the original case in mind. Also, use our resources from the past few weeks to draw together your game plan in answering. You will have to review notes and sites. You won’t have all of the information in your head yet! For example, you could check Colorin Colorado or TESOL or OELA for ‘program types’ – meaning program models for delivery of instruction to ELs. There are lots to choose from: http://www.colorincolorado.org/article/program-models-teaching-english-language-learners (Links to an external site.))
It’s been almost a year since the ELs arrived. The testing months loom ahead. Two colleagues express concerns that EL students in their 3rd and 6th grade classes are not progressing as expected. She’s worried that the lack of progress will have negative implications for assessment of her own job performance.
She has heard of the new Alternate ACCESS test and is wanting to use it with the student in the next round of assessments. She thinks the student will perform better on Alternate ACCESS and that this could solve her problems with all ELs in the future. In passing, one teacher notes that her student has missed a few classes and seems depressed. She has heard that his parents have recently divorced. She expresses surprise because she was under the impressions that families in ‘that’ culture tend to be religious and tend not to divorce.
How would you respond to your colleagues—to help them understand that there are constraints on the use of Alternate ACCESS, to help them understand why (and for whom) Alternate ACCESS exists, and to help them begin to reflect meaningfully on ways in which they might modify their instruction to assist the students in accessing the curriculum more thoroughly? Would you address the teacher’s comments regarding the student’s parents’ divorce, and her broad generalization about cultures and marriage? If so, how would you address those additional comments? If not, why not?
The year has come to an end, and the school’s administration and faculty are getting together to discuss how the year went and to make preliminary plans for the next year. In the discussion, the challenges of working with the ELs come up. There is general consensus that everyone would like to have professional development in this area. Questions revolve around how to learn more, about how to pursue professional development, about what they need to know…
If you were going to develop a professional development workshop for these teachers (and the administration), what would be the three major points that you would cover and why? Consider our discussions of advocacy, assessment, professional ESOL standards (e.g. Alabama and WIDA/TESOL), policy/legislation, and state/local ESL plans. Consider, also, including acknowledgement of various resources (including organizations) that could provide additional information for teachers to look at over the summer on their own.