Tips and Tools for Teaching ELLs

Reading and Writing Strategies that work!

If you were not an educator, what would you be and why?

3-2-1 Bridge

Topic: Instructing English Language Learners

3 Words

2 Questions

1 Simile/Metaphor


What is QSSSA?

  • Q (Question): The teacher asks a question.
  • S (Signal): The students give the teacher a response (determined by the teacher) when they are ready to answer.
  • S (Stem): The teacher provides a sentence stem to frame structure language.
  • S (Share): Students are asked to share their responses with one or more peers.
  • A (Assess): The teacher assesses the quality of discussion by selecting a few students to share their answers with the whole class.

QSSSA: Guided Practice

Q- Why is creating a language rich classroom important?

S- Creating a language rich classroom is important because...

S- Stand and push in your chair when you have your sentence.

S- Give one Get one

A- Virtual Dice

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Benefits of TRTW

The goal of TRTW is to shift our thinking about teaching at the secondary level. The focus is not on writing. Instead, the focus is on the process that precedes writing. TRTW guides students through a process that helps them think about and understand what they want to say. Students shift from listen and copy-with little retention of the information- to talk, read, talk, write-with significant retention of the information.

How do you teach TRTW?

Talk #1: Engages students in brief, structured conversations with each other and the teacher for the purpose of connective to the topic , building necessary background information, establishing prior knowledge, and setting a purpose for reading. (Chapter 2)

Read: Students actively read an academic text. They will do some kind of writing to keep them on track, recall information, or ask questions about the content. There are many methods and graphic organizers that support active reading. (Chapter 3)

Talk #2: Students dialogue with each other in order to process what they have read. Alternatively, Talk #2 gives students a chance to prepare for upcoming writing activities. (Chapter 4)

Write: Students learn to express their thoughts about the content. Not only does this deepen student understanding, but it helps students become strong communicators, an important life skill. (Chapter 5)

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Ask a provocative question

What is the most significant skill for students to master in a content area classroom?
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Make a Claim with Evidence

Should content area teachers deliver instruction using the TRTW approach once per week? Or should it be used daily?

Roving Paragraph

2-3 Sentences:

Content area teachers should deliver instruction using the TRTW approach (once/daily) because...

  • In addition...
  • Also...
  • Finally...

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Does TRTW replace all other forms of lesson delivery?

TRTW is just one way to helps students learn academic content. Incorporating the TRTW process will not replace all other forms of delivery. This process can be implemented 1-3 times per week with great success! This time allotment gives students significant and consistent opportunities to read, write and talk about their learning. In addition, it gives plenty of time for teachers to use other instructional delivery models.

One Word Summaries

How it works: The student reads a text and highlights or underlines key words, also called “magnet words”. Using the identified key words, the student selects one word which best summarizes the big idea of the text. The word may be written on a whiteboard or index card along with a brief explanation of why that word was chosen. Students could collaborate in pairs or trios. For closure, the students tell their “magnet words.”

Additional ideas could include:

  • Students can brainstorm a list of words in a group and have discussions while they defend their words.
  • Rather than have students write about each of the words, have them write about one that provides a rationale for the main idea or theme of the text.
  • Short phrases can be used rather than one-word.
  • Use white boards or an ipad app to share their chosen word and rationale. Students can compare each others magnet words.

How to ensure higher order thinking: The activity requires the students to evaluate and to synthesize. The teacher can identify a word which appears repeatedly among the student choices and ask for explanation. The teacher might also look for unexpected “magnet word” outliers and ask for explanation.

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