RETELL & Interactive Strategies

 The above comic strip was shown at our first RETELL class.  This inspires us to remember that we are responsible for teaching every student, and we need to think of efficient ways to reach all of them.
1.  Can I see an example of a capstone?  Here is mine:   final capstone.  
2.  Can I see a Strategy Implementation Report?  StrategyImplementationReport_17StepsRevS14(1)[1][1]
3.  Can I get some hints in studying for the MTEL?   SEI Open Response TemplateOR – Actual SEI mentor text (2) (3) ~ This was given to me by a teacher who created it as her personal study guide.


4.  Check out: and read this blog from a Cambridge, MA teacher who recently passed:

5.  SEI MTEL Practice test and Answers:  and also check out:

6.  Quizlets:


What is RETELL?:  Rethinking Equity and Teaching for English Language Learners
RETELL is designed to provide ELLs access to effective instruction and close proficiency gaps.
Who is responsible for teaching ELLs?  We ALL are!  When we think of teaching ELLs, we need to take an asset-based view.  We must build on the home language of the ELL students and recognize this as a fundamental strength.  We then hold the ELL students to higher standards.  We must start with the same objectives, but work backwards and scaffold as needed.  We must modify and support the students with the same goals in mind.


  • FLNE:  First Language Not English ~ this label does not change, even when the child speaks fluent English
  • ELL:  English Language Learner ~ this label can change
  • Title III:  Districts that have many ELL students receive this funding
  • SEI:  Sheltered English Instruction.  Differentiated instruction that includes approaches, strategies, and methodology that makes the content comprehensible and promotes academic English language development.  WE ARE ALL SEI TEACHERS!
  • SEI Characteristics:  Language rich environment with cooperative learning strategies, integrates the 4 language domains, with language objectives aligning with content objectives and assessment.
  • ESL:  Explicit, direct instruction in English to promote English language development.
  • Content Objective:  Addresses concepts, grade level, subject area, curriculum and targeted standards, verbs related to knowledge of content.  Have 1-2/lesson.
  • Language Objective:  Think about the language of all of the content areas. What language do you need to teach for a math word problem, for example. Think of the 4 domains.  Listening/speaking: draw, tell, role play. . . Speaking:  name, rephrase, debate. . .   Reading:  preview, read aloud, identify. . . Writing:  list, summarize, state
  • BICS:  Basic interpersonal communication skills.  Problems arise when teachers and administrators think that a child is proficient in a language when they demonstrate good social English.
  • CALP:  Cognitive academic language proficiency.  For more info. see:
Laws and Regulations Related to Education of ELLs
  • Federal Policy:  This relates to the fact that ELL students can not be isolated.  They deserve equal opportunity and receive the same type of instruction.  Information must be sent home in home languages, and the student needs time ~ do not assume special education too quickly.
  • Massachusetts State Policy:    A result of 4 initiatives:  Massachusetts Education Reform Act (1993),  Ballot Question #2 English in Public Schools (2002), No Child Left Behind's Title III Grant, and RETELL Initiative (2012).
  • 1964 Civil Rights Act to protect ELLs  was followed by the Equal Education Opportunity Act of 1974 and again by Titles I and III of the 2001 reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Act of 1965, better known as No Child Left Behind. 



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WIDA_CAN DO 2-3_2016

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WIDA_CAN DO Early 2016

WIDA_CAN DO Kindergarten 2016

Academic Language Function Toolkit:  Academic Language Functions ToolKit[1]

Guided Language Resource Book

HCISD differentiated brochure 2

Strategies Organizational Chart

Read these differentiation websites: and


Academic language is not native for anyone!  Academic Language must be taught, even to native English speakers!  HOW?  By:

  • Reading Diverse Texts ~  Reading, thinking, and talking about different genres is essential for learning academic language.   Please see my page Different Genres Defined: as well as nonfiction text features:  Nonfiction Text Features/Mentor Texts.
  • Introducing Summary Frames Based on the Language Function ~  Students read a section of text to themselves before verbally summarizing the passage to a partner.  They can complete sentence frames.  See these found here:  This site will link you to hundreds of frames ~ for sequencing, problem solution, cause/effect, etc.
  • Helping Students Translate from Academic to Social Language (and Back) ~ Model how to say something in a more academic way or how to paraphrase academic texts into more conversational language.
  • Having Students Complete Scripts of Academic Routines ~ such as "The topic of my presentation is ______."  "In the first part, I give a few basic definitions. In the next section, I will explain ______. In part three, I am going to show ______."
  • Dynamically Introducing Academic Vocabulary ~  Repeated encounters with a word in various authentic contexts can help students internalize the definition.  Use the word in a funny or personal story. Show a short video from VocabAhead (6) that features 300 SAT words and categorizes vocabulary by grade level.
  • Teaching Key Words for Understanding Standardized Test Prompts ~ They are:  infer, interpret, explain, describe,  demonstrate, summarize, compare, contrast, perusade, analyze.
Please visit this GREAT site for effective learning and teaching ELL strategies:
Some Strategies That Work Well With ELLs
  • A Glossary of Strategies and Activities
  • Quick Writes:  Have the students write or sketch what they know about a subject, before or after it is taught.  ELLs can work with a partner, or even draw a picture to demonstrate knowledge.  This is good to activate prior knowledge.  Have them write for 3-5 minutes.
  • Anticipation Guides:  A true/false list before a unit is taught to assess knowledge.  Again, ELLs can work with a partner.  It is a survey to see what they think they know.
  • Sentence Frames:  There are many ways to do this, but if you want the student to observe:  I see ______.  Infer:  I think this means _______.  Ask questions:  I wonder about_______.
  • Clock Buddies:  Numbers are universal, so when picking a "clock" buddy, it is less intimidating for a limited English proficient student.  Teachers can strategically suggest groupings for different purposes, this way it appears "random" but it is not.  :)
  • Think Pair Share:  Give a question to think about.  Pair with a partner and answer together.  You can vary this with. . . . 
  • Think Write Pair Share:  Students have 1 minute to think, 2 minutes to write, 2 minutes to share with a partner before they are invited to share back with the whole class 
  • Think Pair Square Share:  Students think for 2 minutes, then share with a partner for 2 minutes, then each pair matches up with a second pair where they discuss their reasoning and justify their responses.  Finally, students report out to the whole class.
  • Small Group work
  • Jigsaw:  Break students into "expert" groups.  Then break students into unlike groups.  There will be an "expert" from each group to teach the others.
  • Word sort:  Sort by category, sounds. . . .
  • Find Your Corner:  Different corners of the room represent different views.  Students can share their like views.
  • Visual scaffolding:  Props and pictures to support the lesson.
  • Exit ticket:  This way an ELL can respond to content without feeling intimidated.  He/she writes a response so the teacher can assess knowledge.  It is an informal assessment to guide your teaching.
  • Reporting Back:  Students work in small groups each on a different section.  They then report back to class key points.
  • Snowball:   Line students up ~ an A line and a B line.  The A line throws a crinkled question/comment at the B line.  They then pair with a B person to discuss.  Then visa versa.  It makes for fun, random pairing for talking. 
  • College Talk:  Use big words to give routine directions to help stretch vocabulary.  Instead of "stop talking" try "cease socializing."
  • Zipline:  This is also known as "I Have. . . Who Has. . ."  Start with one question written on a card.  Students see if they have that answer on their card.  The student who has it reads the answer PLUS the additional question on the card.  So on and so forth.  So every card has an answer, and a new question.
  • Turn and Talk:  Students quickly turn to a partner and share their response to a teacher prompt.  Encourages oral interaction. 
  • Thinking Notes:  Teacher provides students with a key and specific instructions for taking notes as they read.  For ex.:  ?? ~ means confusing me, ? ~ means I have a question, ! ~ means I like this part, * relates to main idea or author's purpose.  Students later review their notes with a partner or small group. 
  • Numbered Heads Together:  Students divide into groups of 4.  Each student is assigned a  number 1-4.   Teacher provides a list of questions or prompts for the group to discuss.  When reporting back, teacher calls students by number to report their group's response.
  • Graphic Organizers:  Visual displays of information to help students see relationships among concepts or vocabulary.  Examples are a word wheel, lexical array, word form chart.  Please Google these.
  • Gallery Walk:  Have students respond to a prompt on chart paper, which is then posted around the room.  Students visit each poster and add comments or questions.
  • Divide and Slide:  Students assemble in 2 lines facing each other.  They share an idea with the partner facing them then they slide to the right
  • Content Vocab. Round Table:  Teacher gives a prompt, topic, or text.  Students write one key vocab. word associated to it, and pass it to the right.  They add a new word to THAT paper, and pass to right.  So on and so forth.  After one minute stop.  This gives the students a word bank to refer to when writing.
  • Continuum:  Line up students on a continuum to organize information in a visual/kinesthetic way.  Fo ex., give students variations of the word "walk" ~ dawdle, stroll, walk, brisk walk, jog, dash, sprint, run.  They line up with variations of intensity, or line up by abc order, or number order. . . .
  • 7 Steps:  Please read about this below ~ it is a very detailed procedure that I outlined in the Chapter 6 Teaching Vocabulary article summary.
  • Tiered Vocabulary:  Tier 1 words are the basic nouns we use in daily language.  These are basic words which can be taught via a visual.  Tier 3 are content specific words that are used pretty much only in content area classes, words such as entomologist, endoplasmic.  It is the Tier 2 words that we want to teach; these are words/phrases with multiple meanings, specificity, words that students will encounter again and again.
  • Cognate Awareness:  research the words you are teaching to see if they are the same in your students' first language.  Listen for cognates and false cognates at a listening center.
  • Sentence Frames:  Please see:  You need to create frames based on the academic language function.  Please see the Academic Language Function toolkit at the top of this page as well. 
  • Label drawings/pictures
  • Print rich environment
  • Elaborate off of students' ideas as a starting point and clarify meaning.
  • Incorporate role-playing activities.
  • Visualize letters in a word for spelling, or visualize an association of a word's meaning.
  • Act out a word.
  • Think aloud as they problem solve.
  • During read alouds, emphasize new words, have students repeat the new words, discuss them.
  • Model think alouds to determine meaning, or give further examples of the word.
  • Preview a selection, pointing out new words.
  • Map after reading ~ this engages students in a mental activity that activates prior knowledge and provides contextual clues to the new vocabulary and concepts.
  • Classify words after reading ~ by figure of speech, topics, linguistic function, practical function, synonyms/antonyms.
  • Create foldables ~ 3 dimensional organizers that are useful for recording words, definitions, meaningful sentences, and representations of words.
  • Highlight new words
  • Word Wheel ~ put new word in center, the hubcap of the wheel.  All around, put synonyms.
  • Lexical Array ~ start with a base word, and give synonyms of gradual intensities.   Pick a word and "stretch it out" showing ELLs an array of precise word choices.   Research for help!  (meander/stroll/walk/jog/run)  Use student friendly terms to talk about the different meanings.
  • Word Families:  Select a vocabulary word and design a generative word tree to extend the root, prefixes, suffixes, etc.  For ex. care, careful, careless, caring, cared, carefulness, carelessness
  • Word Form Chart:   See below.  This is a good way to discuss the various parts of speech.
Noun Adjective Verb Adverb Cognates
attraction attractive attracted attractively Atraccion (Spanish)
  • Partner Reading / Partner Reading Sentence by Sentence:  This strategy helps build confidence as the ELL student is only reading in small chunks.  Do this for 10 minutes/day in each of the content areas.  Both partners alternate reading a sentence, and each summarizes what the sentence means.  Follow this up with silent rereading ~ the ELL student will reinforce the concepts, and make the reading easier as it is familiar.
  • Sponge Activities:  Have generic discussion questions prepared for partners to answer if they've finished ahead of the class.  For ex.:  Discuss what you've learned.  Map out ideas.  Write in journal. . . .
  • Choral Reading:  Set up any way you want, but limit to 3-5 min/content area class per day. (whole class with teacher or half the class by paragraphs or pages, etc.)
  • Reciprocal Teaching:  Each child in a small group has a role after a reading assignment.  For example, one could be the summarizer, one could be the word wizard (picks out interesting new words), one could be the connector (what the passage reminded him/her of), one could be the predictor or the questioner. . . .  Similar to the Literature Circle.   
  • Think Alouds:  Teacher talks aloud her thought process as she does something:  taking notes, finding main idea, making connections. . . .
  • Explicitly Teach Nonfiction Text Features: Please see on this page:  Nonfiction Text Features/Mentor Texts. Teach captions, illustrations, maps, etc. and their purposes.
  • Numbered Heads Together:  Put students in groups of 4, with some questions they must answer together.  Get a common answer.  Now, pick a number 1-4.  The teacher calls on the students with said number to answer one of the questions.
  • Double Entry Journals:  The left side is teacher prepared, and you break this down by WIDA level.  You might ask the child to define a word on the right side, illustrate a quote on the right side that you've written on the left side, ask a question, have the students make a connection. . . .  Generally the right side is not "right or wrong" but a comment, or a reaction.
  • Close Reading with Text Dependent Questions:  This strategy has students engage in a text of sufficient complexity, examining the meaning of the text thoroughly and methodically, reflecting on words, sentences, and central ideas and details.   Questions are leveled from:
  1. General Understanding:  What is the main idea?
  2. Key Details:  questions that answer who, what, where, when, why, how
  3. Vocab., Sentence, Text Structure:  asking about specific vocabulary, text structure, literal/figurative meanings, grammar
  4. Author's Purpose:  point of view, purpose, perspective
  5. Inferences:  How do the inferences contribute to the author's purpose?
  6. Opinions, Arguments, Intertextual Connections
Narrative Action verbs, “verbal verbs” (Google this), time sequence words moves plot along Narrative/Orientation/Complication/Resolution
Expository Abstract, non-human, generalized nouns such as “population,”   nominalization (to decrease / the decrease), long noun groups (the rate of   decrease), declarative sentences with fewer modal and mental verbs (Google this),   greater use of passive, cohesive devices support genres’ purpose (first,  second, third, result, therefore, etc.) Explanation, sequenced explanation of factors or causes.  Restatement of interactions between factors   or causes
Argument Variation depending on purpose and audience, personal/impersonal,   mental verbs/action verbs, request/declaratives/ commands, modals ~   may/should/ must, everyday vocabulary/ technical, everyday sentences, more   packer; more nominalization, cohesive devices Argument ~ statement of thesis, point and explanation of evidence, restatement   of thesis
  • Identifying and Analyzing Text Features:  Have a nonfiction scavenger hunt where students must find examples of captions, diagrams, illustrations, maps, etc.
  • Think, Pair, Square, Share:  Teacher gives the students 30 seconds to think of a response to a prompt.  For another 30 seconds, share with a partner.  For another 30 seconds, share with another set of partners (4 people /group).  Then share out/summarize points to the class.



  • Language Experience Approach:  Ask the students what they just learned after reading a text, watching a video, after a field trip. . . .  Write down exactly what the student says.  Read back what you wrote.  Have students read it back.  Decide what changes to make.  Read and reread it together.  This is a good strategy to teach beginning readers to read.
  • RAFT:  This is a creative way to assign writing.  RAFT stands for role, audience, format, and topic.  The role could be a gardener, audience could be wedding planners, format could be a brochure, and the topic could be to persuade wedding planners to use particular flowers in the bouquets, and why.  The possibilities are endless!
  • Content Vocab. Roundtable:  This is a good way to get the content vocab. down that the students can use in their writing ~ it creates a word bank.  After reading, each person takes a scrap of paper, and writes one word from the text.  Pass the paper to the left, and repeat, repeat, repeat. 
  • Information Gap:  Have students read a story or article.  Prepare 2 grids.  Each grid has opposite information.  The object is for 2 students with opposite grids to ask each other questions, and then a whole grid is created.  The completed grid is then used as a graphic organizer for writing.  The grid holds the ANSWERS.  For ex., student A has the following grid.  He will say to student B "Name the character who blew down the houses."  Student B will write Big Bad Wolf on his grid.
Big Bad Wolf   farm
  Blew down house of straw  
1st Little Pig   cityWrite Around:  Have students in a group.  Each student writes a topic sentence.  They move papers to the right.  They read what is there, and add one sentence.  At signal, they pass papers to right, add another sentence, continue. . . .  The team selects one paper to revise.
  • Cut and Grow:  Cut your writing into sentences.  This way, it can be reorganized, and expanded upon with adjectives, evidence. . . .  Tape your sentences on construction paper.
  • Sentence Combining:  Explicitly teach how to combine sentences using conjunctions, rearranging sentences, having sentences answer who, what, where, when, why, how.  You can start with a base sentence and add a modifying sentence.  (The dog barked.  The barking was loud.  Combine with and.)  When combining 2 sentences, clue the students into the key words to include.  Teach students how to add conjunctions such as because.  "The teacher was angry" could be turned to "The angry teacher. . . ."
  • Ratiocination:  This is an editing strategy.  Teach a focus correction area, and have the students look out for the area by coding on their papers.  For ex., circle all verbs.  This way students can see if they have noun/verb agreement.  Perhaps have them underline all first words in sentences to be sure they've used upper case. . . . 
  • Paragraph Frames:  Please see Structured Writing for Content Areas.


The WIDA English Language Development Standards Guiding Principles are teacher friendly, positive can-do statements.   Become familiar with the WIDA website and be able to identify your English learners by what they can do as defined by the WIDA standards.
  1. Have your ELL students ACCESS reports from last year.
  2. Navigate to the WIDA's Can Do Descriptors website, find the Can Do Name Charts and download the Can Do Name Charts.
  3. Read the chart and type your students' names in the appropriate boxes for each indicator.




My Notes from the Required RETELL Reading
WIDA Focus on Language and Culture   ELLs can be classified as immigrants (choose to leave their country; adapt well), refugees, (forced to leave; experience trauma/stress adjusting), migrants (move from place to place based on work opportunities), ethnic minorities (maintain their heritage; may reject values of success in schools), and sojourners ( residence in US is temporary; parents are professionals here for work or education, and they will move back to their native country).  Many ELLs come from "collectivistic" cultures, but the US focuses on individual achievement and behavior.  Collectivistic cultures focus on rote memorization and recitation, group work and responsibility, but the US education involves creativity, analysis, problem solving.  ELL children who have a solid foundation in their native language develop stronger literacy abilities in English.  The best time to adjust to a new language is ages 8-12, because these children are firmly grounded in their native language.  Consistent use and development of home language results in better transfer of English.  Teachers must have many informal conversations with their ELL students to get to know them individually to make better connections.  Teachers must make the classroom environment relevant to the ELLs social and academic needs.
The Difficult Road for Long-Term English Learners  We must be aware of ELL students who have attended US schools for 7 years or more, and are middle/high school age.  They sound like native English speakers, but lack literacy in their native language, and their academic literacy in English is very weak.  This is usually a result of inconsistent schooling ~ many moves, in and out of the country or moves within the US with inconsistent ELL programming.  Native language literacy ability is one of the greatest predictors of academic performance in school for ELLs.  Teaching students to read in their native language promotes higher levels of reading achievement in English.  US needs to be consistent in the ways we teach ELLs.
Reaching ELLs at Risk:  Instruction for Students With Limited or Interrupted Formal Education  Many ELLs have limited or interrupted education, as the other articles have stated.  This deeply affects the students as they get older (high school) as they must master academic content, develop literacy skills, and learn English!  SLIFE stands for "students with limited or interrupted formal education."  These students learn by the spoken word, but in the US we focus on the written word.  This article talked about many ELL's "collectivistic" cultures, with norms, expectations, values, and behaviors different from the US' individualistic culture.  Although scaffolding helps make knowledge accessible to learners, its ultimate goal ~ independent learning ~ is at odds with collectivism.  In the US, we prepare students for their lives in the future.  Students from collectivistic cultures are accustomed to group interdependence and pragmatic learning, or learning with immediate relevance.  This mismatch creates cultural dissonance.   In the US, we view teaching, learning, and content as academic and objective which contrasts with the pragmatic knowledge of SLIFE.  A "mutually adaptive learning paradigm" (MALP) provides a framework for teachers to help them understand what works and why.  Teachers accept the culturally based conditions SLIFE needs for learning, and combine US ways, through familiar language and content.  It incorporates and builds on collectivistic cultural orientation, closing the achievement gap.  Think of learning in terms of conditions, processes, and activities.  Collectivistic cultures need interconnectedness and immediate relevance.  Interconnectedness means getting to know your students personally ~ know their birthdays, personal events. . . .  Immediate relevance must be seen in order for them to engage.  When teaching "powers" in math, for example, show tell them they are learning it to save time; it's a faster way to multiply.  Oral language is key to SLIFE students.  Read material aloud, as the ELLs follow the written word.  Have students write, and share orally.  Use your body to teach and emphasize the words.  Pair, small group, and whole class activities would be beneficial.  Students can work together, but each student should be responsible for orally sharing a role to the class.   When doing problems on the board, have students first practice with a partner, then go up as a group to each solve their own different problem.  It's group work, with an individualistic twist!  If you are teaching a new academic task, language and content should NOT also be new.  When teaching graphic organizers, have students practice using personal information.



Who Are Gifted/Talented English Language Learners?  This article defines ELLs as:  not born in the US and whose heritage language is not English; American Indian or Alaskan heritage, and dominant language is not English; migratory person whose heritage language is not English; a person who has difficulty speaking, reading, writing, or understanding English, which denies him/her the opportunity to learn effectively in classes where instruction is in English.  It takes 4-10 years to become proficient in English.  Stage 1 ~ Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills takes 1-3 years.  This is when students develop conversational skills for basic survival.  Stage 2 ~ Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency takes 3-7 years.  This is when students achieve academic success.  This varies with students' background, first language proficiency, and support from family, school, and community.  This article cautions not to overlook talented students who don't "fit the mold" because they do not demonstrate stereotypical behaviors of native English speaking students.  Typically, students get accepted into gifted/talented programs based on standardized tests, which are biased.


Chapter 6 Teaching Vocabulary  Vocabulary needs to be an integral part in teaching and learning, and it must be taught correctly and thoroughly.   Knowing a word means the student:  knows its meaning when reading it in a variety of texts; can pronounce it and spell it; recognizes characteristics of the word, such as multiple meanings; can explain its meaning within the context of reading; can use it naturally when writing.  Vocabulary should be taught explicitly:  teach the formal definition, plus give a student friendly definition, offer multiple exposures to a word in multiple forms; ensure understanding of meaning; provide examples of the word's use in phrases, idioms, unusual contexts; highlight characteristics or word parts; ensure proper pronunciation and spelling; teach the word's cognate or false cognate in student's native language.   Students need explicit and varied instruction.   (Cognate is a word that is related in origin to another word, such as English brother and German bruder.  False cognates are two words in different languages that appear to be cognates but actually are not (for example, the English advertisement and the French avertissement–"warning" or "caution").  Integrating rich vocabulary and reading into math, science, and social studies will help ALL students.  Preteaching vocabulary is important in any lesson.  There is a 7 step process for teaching tier 2 and 3 words: 

  1. Teacher says/shows word, and students repeat 3x.  
  2. Teacher reads and shows word in a sentence.
  3. Teacher gives dictionary definition.  
  4. Teacher gives a student friendly definition ~ use pictures, props, gestures.  
  5. Teacher highlights aspects of word:  spelling, multiple meanings, false cognates, prefixes, etc. 
  6. Think-pair-share activity with the word to orally use the word ~ ELLs need to produce the word 10-12x at this time  (for ex., if the word is "manage" ~ a question to discuss might be ~ What have you managed well lately?  Students use the word manage during their brief discussion.
  7. Teacher assigns peer reading with oral and written summarization activities and explains how the new words will need to be used/word accountability. 

Have these 7 steps written on chart paper.   This should be a fast paced activity ~ 2 minutes/word, and 3-5 words/lesson.

The WIDA Consortium provides strategies for teaching tier 1 words quickly and efficiently.  The goal is to have ELLs constantly orally produce the words.  When teaching tier 2 words, teach polysemous words, or words that have multiple meanings, but with a focus on the word meaning that is used in the text.  Teach idioms, noun phrases, and prepositional phrases as whole chunks.  Teach connectors and transition words to help with speaking and writing.  Have these posted by function and sample sentence starters.  The article states that long terms ELLs are long term because they have been allowed to use simple vocabulary, and we need to break that cycle.  It is good to teach cognates as it is helpful for comprehension, and it helps ELLs to become better spellers. 

Tier 1 Words:  These are words most children know in their primary language.  They are frequently used in oral discourse.  They are often easily demonstrated through visuals, motions, and gestures, not requiring an extended explanation.

Tier 2 Words:  "The most bang for your buck" when teaching, because these words will come up again.  Tier 2 words can include complex words and longer phrases (all of a sudden), multiple meaning words, idioms, noun phrases (long time), prepositional phrases.  These words are specific and sophisticated that cross multiple content areas.

Tier 3:  Low frequency of use, limited to specific domains.  Best learned when the need arises, such as scientific words ~ isotope, lathe.

CHOOSE 3-5 WORDS TO TEACH/LESSON USING THE 7 STEP PROCESS!  Work backwards by listing all of the words NECESSARY to master core concept under Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3.  Cross out until you have 3-5 key words.  Choose based on importance and utility, instructional potential (does it have multiple meanings?), and conceptual understanding.


Chapter 6 continued ~ Teaching Vocabulary During Reading 

  • One way is to teach new words is to read aloud, and model how you can figure out the word's meaning via context clues.
  • When listening to a child struggle with a word, tell the meaning on the spot, and have the child use the word in a sentence.
  • Provide sticky notes for confusing words.  Encourage the ELLs to try to figure out the meaning with a partner, and look the word up in a dictionary.  Post these words in a "parking lot" to review later.
  • Have students record new words on a table:  New Word/Maybe It Means/It Means.  After reading, they discuss their new words to determine meaning,, and look the word up in the dictionary.  Keep these words on a binder ring as personal dictionaries!
  • Use context clues.  Keep this list handy:  What word doesn't make sense?  Reread the sentence before and the sentence after.  Change the unknown word to a word you know.  Does it make sense?  Write it down to look it up.

Develop students' metalinguistic and metacognitive skills by teaching them to become semantically aware.

  • What helped you remember the word?
  • What will help you remember the meaning?
  • How did you and your partner help each other to figure out the word?
  • Share a semantic strategy.

Try having children go to 4 corners of the room and talk about the words that were introduced ~ one word for each corner.  In a go-to-the-wall activity, students stand along the wall in 3's, and each has 30 seconds to tell the other how many words he/she remembered from the reading and vocabulary preteaching.

Remember, always use the new words in conversation and in writing during the class period, and use the vocabulary as a "ticket to leave."  Require students to use the new vocabulary in writing summaries.  It is fine for a peer to translate for an ELL.  Point out lexical items (tense, roots, affixes, etc.) and use these as strategic learning tools.

More on Teaching Reading and Vocabulary

Language and literacy knowledge involves the process of reading, writing, listening, and speaking, all 4 supporting each other.   Reading can be an important way of developing oral vocabulary which in turn is important for speaking but can also impact writing.   It is key to create a classroom environment that integrates ALL of these aspects of learning a language.

Vocabulary knowledge is one of the best predictors of oral ability as it contributes to young children’s phonological awareness, which in turn contributes to their word recognition abilities.  In kindergarten and 1st grade.,vocabulary level and ability is a significant predictor of reading comprehension in the middle and secondary grades.  We also know that the difficulty of a text strongly influences the readability of the text.   Therefore , explicit and targeted teaching can improve reading comprehension.

How do we know if a student KNOWS a word?

  • He knows a word’s meaning when reading it in a variety of texts.
  • He can pronounce and spell the word correctly.
  • He recognizes characteristics of the word, such as multiple meanings.
  • He can explain its meaning within the context of reading.
  • He can use it as a natural part of his or her writing repertoire.

Word Consciousness strategies help students to recognize, understand, and use new words. Teachers should foster Word Consciousness in their classes and vocabulary work to create effective, engaging, and efficient vocabulary instruction.  Foster Word Consciousness ~ read this article:  It includes teaching cognate awareness, prefixes, suffixes, synonyms. . .various strategies so students can figure out new words on own.  Try:

  • Student generated glossaries ~ maybe keep these on index cards on rings
  • Track and post tiered vocabulary
  • Vocabulary language objectives
  • Content word walls
  • Sticky note vocabulary

Oracy is the listening comprehension and oral production of language.  The common core has highlighted the importance of students being able to speak and listen as well as read and write.  There is a direct connection between reading and writing and listening and speaking.   Oracy lays the groundwork for reading and writing.  Students that have strong oracy levels in English are more likely to develop those strong literacy levels


  • Read this article: Teachers should be talking to ELLs at "i + 1."  This means talk to ELLs at their interest level, but just one up so to teach them more English, but NOT to frustrate them.
  • Keep low anxiety levels in the classroom.  Don't force the ELL to speak on the spot.  Give them a forewarning of what to prepare for.
  • When an ELL is speaking, be respectful of the message.  Pick and choose appropriate times to correct grammar and vocabulary.
  • Understand the affective filter: The affective filter is a theoretical construct in second language acquisition that attempts to explain the emotional variables associated with the success or failure of acquiring a second language. Lower the filter by having more social time, using gestures, teaching cognates, encouraging partnerships, use of sentence frames, humor. . . .
  • ELLs should be given ample opportunities to communicate with proficient English speakers.  This is predominantly the way 2nd languages are acquired.

Using Sentence Frames to Develop Academic Vocabulary for English Learners This article stressed the importance of backwards lesson planning to determine the concepts that students are expected to learn based on the state standards.  Determine the very key essential vocabulary words that students need to know to understand the concept, and teach that vocabulary with the 7 step method.  Then, think of the LANGUAGE function that the students will need to use, think, talk and write about the core concept.  Does it involve description, compare/contrast, inferring, etc. etc.   Create sentence frames based on the students' levels, AND provide a word bank, pictures, props as needed.  A compare/contrast frame can be as basic as:  ____are____ .  ______ are ______.  to as complex as The main difference between ____ and ____ is ____ are ____ while _____ are _____.  When giving a frame to use, always have the students practice with familiar words, such as Lemons are sour.  Oranges are sweet.  The students need to know the academic vocabulary of comparison, questioning, description, inference, making judgments.

Teaching Vocabulary with a 4-Prong Approach

  • Provide rich and varied experiences through reading, writing, listening, and speaking.
  • Teach word learning strategies:  word parts, using context to infer word meanings, use dictionary, use cognate knowledge.
  • Teach individual words:  multiple exposures, rich, deep, extended teaching, definitional and contextual information.
  • Foster word consciousness:  polysemous words (multiple meaning words).  Think of the many definitions of "solution" ~ math, science, language arts ~ all define it differently.  Word consciousness integrates metacognition, motivation, and word interest.



Chapter 7 Teaching Reading The primary language helps develop language and literacy in English, and content reading helps to accelerate language and literacy.  When a student has an academic vocabulary in their native language at grade level and their reading in their native language has automaticity with all of the comprehension strategies, and they can write on grade level ~ that is a good time to switch over to English.  Prepare well to teach a text ~ pre-teach vocabulary, activate background knowledge, use props, select a comprehension strategy to focus on, select a writing strategy as a follow up, and differentiate scaffolding levels.  The more they read and write ~ the more they will want to because they will be learning so many more words.  Reading is made up of oral language proficiency, phonological processing, working memory, word-level skills, and text level skills.  Comprehension calls for knowing 85-90% of the words in a sentence, question, paragraph, or text.  Have ELLs read smaller chunks, and respond in writing.  Do not have them reread the same text over and over ~ they need to constantly be exposed to new words.  For comprehension strategies, start with asking/answering questions, determine important information, summarizing, making connections, and monitoring comprehension.  Model these strategies first.  Use sentence starters that fit each strategy.  Teaching literature is the most difficult due to idioms, metaphors, etc.  It is best to teach with content area books.  Model thinking aloud (checking for understanding by talking back to books ~ summarizing after each sentence/paragraph) is a good strategy to model, and have the students do so with a partner.  Model cause/effect conversation, sequencing conversation, main idea conversation. . . .  Partner reading is a wonderful idea ~ with alternating taking turns after each sentence and doing think alouds.  Reading one sentence at a time helps build confidence, and it keeps both partners alert and on task.  Choral reading can be done 3-5 minutes/subject area per day.

Think about active and passive voice.  The active voice needs a subject ~ "She bored us."  The subject is she.  The passive voice doesn't specify who.  "Teachers will be introduced. . . ."  It doesn't specify who.  Be mindful of this when dealing with lower WIDA levels ~ us the ACTIVE voice.  On the example "Teachers will be introduced…." introduced appears to be past tense ~ it has an "ed" ending.  History and science texts use a passive voice ~ you don't put "I" in lab reports.


Better Evidence-Based Education, Volume 3, Issue 2  Vocabulary teaching is equally as important for the comprehension of a text as word recognition skills.  Teach root words!  These sections (in red) were all part of the Better Evidence-Based issue. . .

Evidence-based Practices for Teaching Writing:  Students must be given ample time to write.  Individualized support is needed for weaker writers.  Teach self-regulation skills and goal setting!

  • Teach strategies for planning, writing, editing
  • Have students write summaries of texts
  • Permit students to write collaboratively with peers
  • Set goals for student writing
  • Allow students to use word processor
  • Teach sentence combining skills
  • Use the process writing approach
  • Have students participate in inquiry activities for writing
  • Involve students in prewriting activities
  • Provide models of good writing

Teaching 50,000 Words

  • Vocabulary knowledge in kindergarten and 1st grade is a significant predictor of reading comprehension in the upper grades.
  • Vocabulary difficulty strongly influences the readability of a text.
  • Teaching vocabulary can improve reading comprehension for both native English speakers and ELLs.
  • Growing up in poverty can seriously restrict the vocabulary children learn before beginning school, making attaining adequate vocabulary a challenging task.
  • Learning English vocabulary is one of the most crucial tasks for ELLs because of the relationship between vocabulary and comprehension, and ELLs' difficulty comprehending text in a second language.
  • Provide students with a rich array of language experiences in listening, speaking, reading, and writing.
  • Teachers need powerful vocabulary programs ~ a multifaceted program that provides ELLs with rich and varied language experiences, teaches individual words, teaches word-learning strategies, and fosters word consciousness.

Vocabulary:  What Words Should We Teach? 

  • Word meanings are acquired in a predictable sequence.
  • Children with the lowest vocabularies know 2,000 fewer root words that their average peers by the end of grade 2.
  • Vocabulary teaching programs can stimulate general vocabulary – not just those words that are taught.
  • Words Worth Teaching is a book you can buy on Amazon.  It's a good program that teaches root words.

Harnessing Grammar:  Weaving Words and Shaping Texts:

  • Embed grammar in writing lessons.
  • Encourage discussion, experimentation, choice, and decision-making rather than correct ways to write.
  • Be explicit about how texts work, drawing on grammar, where appropriate, to explain effects.
  • Focus on grammar as a creative tool.
  • Teaching contextualized grammar can improve children's writing when:  grammar is linked to aspects of the writing task; there is explicit teaching of grammatical features of texts that focus on how texts work; there is a classroom climate that fosters discussion, experimentation, choice, and decision-making; the teaching goal is to create a repertoire of possibilities, not adherence to norms.

Learning to Write and Writing to Learn:

  • Writing is not just a way of communicating or displaying what has been learned.  It can be a tool for acquiring content knowledge, developing understanding, and improving thinking skills.
  • Shorter writing assignments are more effective.
  • Young writers vary in the way they use writing strategies, and the way they adapt strategies to new tasks.
  • Students can learn to write from observing and evaluating other students' writing processes.

Teaching Argument Writing to 7-14 Year Olds:

  • Oral argument can help to inform written argument.
  • Successful modeling includes demonstrating and peer modeling of dialogue.

Reclaiming Recess:  Learning the Language of Persuasion 

  • Attend to the students' interests, and develop a purposeful project around that.
  • Identify an audience.
  • Identify an academic genre that is well suited to students achieving their purposes in writing about this topic for this audience.
  • Analyze the features of the genre, paying special attention to the vocabulary, grammatical structures, and rhetorical conventions.
  • Design materials to support students in the above, such as graphic organizers, guidelines for revision, assessment tools.
  • Provide students with multiple models and explicit instruction analyzing the genre's features.  You want the students to have control over targeted vocabulary, syntactic structures, rhetorical conventions, and genre-specific practices.
  • Provide time to collaborate with teacher and peers.
  • Track students' use of targeted, genre-specific practices.

Academic language uses greater content-specific vocabulary.  It uses a variety of grammatical structures to pack more information into sentences, and it uses more conjunctions.  Academic language is less interactive than everyday language.  There is less use of gestures and intonation to convey meaning.  There is also greater use of formatting conventions and graphics to construct meaning, such as headings, paragraphs, charts, images.

In the content areas, students need to learn how to present their ideas in an impersonal, detached, authoritative manner.




Araujo, Judith E., M.Ed., CAGS. "RETELL." Mrs. Judy Araujo, Reading Specialist. N.p., 07 Feb. 2014. Web. <>.

Graphics from Google Images.  Right click on them.


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