ESL Instructional News

March 2017

Welcome to the ESL Instructional Newsletter

The abundance of strategies and information available to educators of English Learners can be overwhelming. The goal of this monthly newsletter is to provide JCPS educators with some effective strategies and up-to-date information on instructional support for English Learners in JCPS.

Acronym Alphabet Soup

Acronyms abound for English Learners. Here's a brief explanation of the most common acronyms used in Jefferson County Public Schools

WIDA Guiding Principles of Language Development and Vision 2020 Excellence with Equity

As I think about supporting English Learners in JCPS, I think about the focused direction of our district that is provided by Vision 2020. Although each of the JCPS Vision 2020 Core Values complements the WIDA Guiding Principles of Language Development, there are some in particular that I noticed highlight the work of improving instruction for JCPS English Learners.

  1. Students’ languages and cultures are valuable resources to be tapped and incorporated into schooling. (Caring, Equity, Respect, Diversity)
  2. Students’ home, school, and community experiences influence their language development. (Respect, Individuality, Diversity,Collaboration)
  3. Students draw on their metacognitive, metalinguistic, and metacultural awareness to develop proficiency in additional languages. (Equity, Individuality, Opportunity)
  4. Students' academic language development in their native language facilitates their academic language development in English. Conversely, students' academic language development in English informs their academic language development in their native language. (Equity, Individuality, Diversity, Opportunity)
  5. Students learn language and culture through meaningful use and interaction. (Opportunity, Creativity)
  6. Students use language in functional and communicative ways that vary according to context. (Equity, Individuality)
  7. Students develop language proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing interdependently, but at different rates and in different ways. (Equity, Individuality, Opportunity)
  8. Students’ development of academic language and academic content knowledge are inter-related processes. (Equity, Individuality, Opportunity, Creativity)
  9. Students' development of social, instructional, and academic language, a complex and long-term process, is the foundation for their success in school. (Equity, Excellence, Diversity, Collaboration)
  10. Students’ access to instructional tasks requiring complex thinking is enhanced when linguistic complexity and instructional support match their levels of language proficiency. (Equity, Individuality, Opportunity, Creativity, Stewardship)

Teaching Academic Content and Literacy to ELs in Elementary and Middle School

"This Practice Guide provides four recommendations that address what works for English learners during reading and content area instruction. Each recommendation includes extensive examples of activities that can be used to support students as they build the language and literacy skills needed to be successful in school, including examples of how the recommendations align with Common Core and other contemporary state standards."

The Practice Guide is a wonderful professional learning resource for K-8 content teachers of English Learners.

Link to the EL K-8 Practice Guide

Click here to download the entire EL Educator's Practice Guide

Websites, Websites, Websites -- Where do I begin?

Click here to explore the ColorinColorado website. There is no better place to start. It is simply amazing. Explore it for yourself and discover the abundance of information (

Using Sentence Frames with ELLs

This video is an example of the wonderful resources available under Strategies and Best Practices on the ColorinColorado website.
Using sentence frames with ELLs

Working with EL Newcomers

Strategies for Success

There is so much to say about EL Newcomers. The first and most important step any school or teacher can take when working with EL Newcomers is to make sure the student feels welcome. Here are some key strategies to to consider:

1. Provide them with a buddy or buddies. Identify a couple of students in the class who can give the student a tour of the school, walk with them to classes and lunch and help them become familiar with classroom routines. The buddy may speak the same first language as the newcomer or be an English speaking student. Click on this link to learn a bit more about choosing buddies for newcomers.

2. Have a regular routine set up for your newcomers: Make sure the student knows where the restroom is and the routine for asking to use it, as well as the lunchroom procedure, and how things work in the classroom and school.

3. Learn how to pronounce the student's name correctly. Make sure all the students in the class know it as well. (Have you ever read The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi?)

4. Learn a little something about your newcomer student's culture. Culture Grams are a great resource for this.

5. Smile. A lot. It's amazing how far a simple smile will go in making a student feel welcome.

So What About Resources for High School English Learners?

A great place to start is...

CommonLit ( All you do is create an account and the rest is free. Browse the library's free collection of fiction and nonfiction. The site offers a tool bar which allows students to look up words in a dictionary, have the text read aloud, translate the text into twelve different language (including Spanish, highlight text and answer questions. This resource is a wonderful way to accelerate student learning through technology.

Reading Non-Fiction Text with High School ELLs

And here is another example from ColorinColorado.
Reading Non-Fiction Text with High School ELLs

Upcoming Professional Learning Opportunities

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From MeMe Ratliff

JCPS teachers in ESL - we've heard you loud and clear at Collective Voices sessions with Dr. Hargens and at #ECET2Lou! You want time to be with other peeps in your field!

JCPSForward is beginning monthly meetups at Gheens on Wednesday, March 29th. These hour long conversations will be on topics decided by you - discussions that have immediate impact on student learning - and are worth one hour od PD credit. There will be time slots for M/H, Elem AND Early Childhood! We hope you can join us from at Gheens Flex Room B.

You can register using this link - we'll fill in the PD Central info after the event.

Future meeting dates:

  • April 17 - Gheens Flex A
  • May 17 - Gheens Flex B

If you have any questions, reach out to MeMe Ratliff -

Thanks so much! Hope to see you there!


Save the Date: Summer Professional Learning for Bilingual Associate Instructors (BAIs)

The ESL Department will be providing several sessions at the Classified Summer Institute which is being held at Thomas Jefferson Middle School on June 11 and 12. More information and details will follow soon, but for now, be sure and save the date!