ESL Quarterly Newsletter

Quarter I ♦ 2016-2017

Featured Readings

Connect Students' Background Knowledge to Content in the ELL Classroom

"Tap into Students' Background Knowledge. Students need to connect with literature on three basic levels: text to text, text to self, and self to the world. All students bring something to the classroom. Becoming familiar with the backgrounds and/or prior knowledge of ELL students allows a teacher to engage students in literacy experiences that connect with their diverse backgrounds, thereby building on this knowledge."

Building and activating students’ background knowledge: It’s what they already know that counts

This article provides several ideas and strategies for supporting secondary scholars to build upon their core background knowledge in order for them to purposefully grow their own knowledge base. As we teach our scholars that they are both producers and consumers of information, we must consistently grow their basis of knowledge by teaching them how to make connections across contexts and global communities.

Best Practices

SIOP Building Background Knowledge

Try it out!

Inquiry Pair-Share-Chart

Inquiry Pair-Share-Chart (as adapted from the SIOP Model)

Uncovering what scholars already know about a topic provides valuable information, even if their perceptions are not quite correct. We use our experiences to make sense of new learning. Asking scholars to verbalize what they already know about a concept allows teachers to relate the concept to the scholars’ experiences, thus making the learning more meaningful. This activity takes the familiar Think-Pair-Share and adds a charting component.

Spotlight: ELLevating Across the Network

Priscilla Collins Parhms - Managing Director, Director at Uplift Williams Primary

  • Based on your experiences, what do you believe are instructional necessities when targeting ELLs

Based on my experiences, I believe that it is important that ELL instruction is at grade level. It is essential that we scaffold instruction for ELLs using graphic organizers, visual aids, and peer help. These supports for ELL scholars should be lessened as the scholars develop skills. ELLs have to be given extended opportunities to read, write, speak, and listen in class with their peers. It is the expectation that, given these opportunities, other scholars can be models for how to use English words appropriately. I also believe that it is appropriate for teachers to group ELL scholars heterogeneously and homogeneously depending on the task and the work output expectation. Using schema to help build background knowledge about a topic to be discussed in class allows scholars to stay focused on instructional goals, and helps bridge new information with previously learned information. ELL scholars need extensive vocabulary instruction. There are several ways to deliver this instruction and I am a huge fan of Marzano vocabulary instruction. Marzano vocabulary instruction is complete and comprehensive. As instructors it is important that we learn as much as we can about the home cultures and languages of our ESL scholars and use the cultural and linguistic differences as resources to build learning opportunities.

  • How has specific ELL instruction impacted the scholars on your campus?

ELL instruction on our campus continues to be a work in progress. Explicit vocabulary instruction has been a focus for the last year and a ½. We are beginning to make traction in that area. Our ESL coordinator and teachers, have been working with teachers to effectively use their SDAIE strategies. We have restructured the ESL team so that teachers will get more in class support. The increased focus on writing for ESL scholars is beginning to make a positive academic impact. We have trained teachers to use number talks to help all, but specifically ELL scholars understand and manipulate language within math instruction.

  • What is one piece of advice you would give a classroom teacher in regards to meeting the needs of his/her ELLs?

I would advise a classroom teacher to make sure they know each ELL scholar in their classroom. Not just their language proficiency or their academic data, but to know each scholar’s story. It is important that the teachers use their strategies consistently and they push rigor in scholar outcomes and work products.

Professional Development Opportunities

Texas Gateway

Texas Gateway for online resources by Texas Education Agency

Sheltered Instruction Training Series

  • Series of recommended courses to fulfill sheltered instruction requirements
  • Checklist format
  • Credit provided for documented completion of previous courses on Project Share
  • Coursework will likely include: ELL Foundations, ELPS Academy, Implementing the ELPS, and ELL Instructional Videos

Important Dates

Edugence Training

Look for Edugence training coming your way during Q1.


Quarter 1 Monitoring Forms

The window for completing the online Monitoring Forms in Edugence opens Monday, October 24th and closes Friday, November 4th.

ESL Certification Prep Course

Saturday, Oct. 1st, 8:30am-3pm

1750 Viceroy Drive

Dallas, TX

ESL Certification Prep Class

Bonnie Wilborn, ESL Coordinator at Uplift Mighty and Meridian, will be offering an ESL certification preparation class October 1st at the Uplift Williams Media Center from 8:30-3:00, 30 min. lunch.


Please enroll using the following link:
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1D2xJOr_3TwuC2wSJH5jqIXronlFn-8Nt_uZwHjF5D3o/viewform

ESL Team