ESL Newsletter

January 6, 2022


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  • Ellevation Strategies: Word Walls, Writing Windows
  • Word Walls
  • Graphic Organizers
  • WIDA ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 Test Updates
  • WIDA Resources
  • Engaging Your English Learners
  • Interaction in Your Classroom
  • Reading and English Learners


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Ellevation Strategies

1. Word Walls

Learning Targets:

Students will:

  • Engage with important terminology and discuss word meanings with peers
  • Create personalized word walls for ongoing reference
  • Describe words to peer for vocabulary guessing game


Before Activity

  • Select a manageable number of new terms (2-5) and write/print on individual cards for display.
  • Prepare student-friendly definitions and examples.
  • Place students in pairs (optional).
  • Prepare a personal word wall templates for each student.

During Activity

  • As new content words and terms are introduced to students, display them around the room. Introduce each term in context and have students make their own connections.
  • Consider using the 360 Degree Words activity to introduce vocabulary.
  • Arrange the words strategically on the word wall. This could be done by grouping similar words or alphabetizing them.
  • With a partner, students will take turns giving clues about a word, which the partner will need to locate on the word wall. Students will discuss what the word means or give an example, and both students will add it to their personal word walls.
  • Gather the students back to a whole group and engage students in a quick review activity, asking students to define each vocabulary word. (Expect that students will respond appropriately based on their individual language proficiency levels.)

Quick Tips

  • Students need a meaningful introduction to words/terms. This should be either a review or part of new word learning and integration into connected words.
  • Building a world wall should be an ongoing, interactive process.

Evidence of Success

  • Students can provide either a synonym, word-to-word translation, or short definition for each vocabulary word, depending on their level of language proficiency.
  • Students are having ​meaningful discussions​ about the new vocabulary and are attempting to use the new academic language with their partners.
  • Students recognize and apply these terms in content reading, writing, and discussions. Even if they need the support of the word wall, they know where to look and how to get started.

Watch Out For

  • Be sure to have resources available for students to make meaning of words. Dictionaries will not be sufficient and often cause more confusion than help.
  • Adapt teaching pace to students’ learning pace. Students should be challenged appropriately based on their language proficiency level.

Supports for English Learners:

High Support (Levels 1-2)

  • Provide students with a master list of all words to refer to.
  • Beginners can list a synonym for each new word, create an illustration, and/or translate the word into their native languages. A bilingual dictionary could be helpful for newcomers.

Moderate Support (Level 3)

  • Challenge students to provide short definitions for each word.

Light Support (Level 4+)

  • Challenge students to use the word in a meaningful sentence in addition to a definition.

K-2 Word Walls (Science)

Content Objective: Students will produce complete sentences.

Language Objective: Students will use assigned vocabulary in a complete sentence.


  • Teacher will give students clues to identify a word that appears on the content-specific word wall.
  • The teacher selects a mystery word and then gives the students two clues for identifying the word.
  • Students should select one word from the word wall that matches the clues.
  • Students will use the word in a complete sentence with a peer.

3-5 Word Walls (Science)

Content Objective: Students will define content-specific vocabulary.

Language Objective: Students will define and give examples of key vocabulary terms


  • Teacher will give students clues to identify a word that appears on the content-specific word wall.
  • The teacher will select a mystery word and then give the students five clues for identifying the word.
  • Each successive clue should help students narrow down their choice.
  • As you give each clue, students should select one word from the word wall that matches the clue.
  • Students will then, in their own words write a definition and give an example of the term.

6-8 Word Walls (Science)

Content Objective: Students will describe why structural changes to genes located in chromosomes may affect proteins.

Language Objective: Students will read to determine meaning of words related to genes and chromosomes.


  • Teacher will prepare and disseminate leveled articles relevant. Each article will have 3-5 key content vocabulary terms highlighted or otherwise designated.
  • Students will work with a peer with the same leveled article to read for comprehension but also to determine the meaning of the vocabulary words.
  • Each student pair will be responsible for creating a word wall display for at least one vocabulary term.
  • Each pair will teach the class their term, adding the graphic representation to the word wall.
  • The world wall should be added to and referenced often for practice throughout the unit.

9-12 Word Walls (Science)

Content Objective: Students will use academic vocabulary to illustration the role of cellular division.

Language Objective: Students will orally discuss cellular division.


  • Teacher will provide students with a list of three to four terms related to cellular division (e.g., telophase, anaphase).
  • On index cards, students will write the word and create an illustration of the term on the front of the card. On the back of the card, students will write a definition of the term.
  • After students have created cards for their terms, the teacher will assign them to a partner or small group where they have all the terms.
  • Students will use the cards to create a concept map illustrating the role of cellular division.
  • The teacher may put the best example of the cellular division concept map on the wall.
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2. Writing Windows

Learning Targets

Students will:

  • View an image related to the content topic
  • Brainstorm related words and phrases with a peer
  • Write a descriptive paragraph about image

Adapted from John Seidlitz


Before Activity

  • Select images to use for activity.
  • Pre-select student groupings (optional).
  • Identify helpful prompts for writing.

During Activity

  • Show an image related to content. Model and engage the students in a guided practice.
  • Preview topics that students will be brainstorming:
    • List everything in the image
    • List adjectives that describe the objects in the image
    • List all of the actions words connected with the image
    • Imagine yourself in the image. Look around. What do you see? hear? smell? taste? touch? What are the people in the image wearing and saying? Record all of your thoughts.
  • Group students and have them discuss the image and jot down notes.
  • After set amount of time, gain students’ attention and provide the writing prompt for the images.
  • Support students as needed during the writing time.
  • Close with a discussion of new content language and learning.

Quick Tips

  • Consider assigning sub-roles within the groups. One student can be the recorder, another summarizer.
  • Extend this activity by having students build on each other's responses, or use the written paragraphs as a building block of presentations.
  • If one or two groups is identifying much more language than others while brainstorming, pause the discussions to have the exemplar groups share their ideas with the class.

Evidence of Success

  • Students are engaged in discussing the image.
  • Students are able to collaboratively brainstorm relevant language associated with each image.
  • During writing, students are able to write sentences that connect to the content learning.

Watch Out For

  • There may be a gap in background knowledge and experiences with some students and the images. Spend time building relevant background knowledge.
  • Be purposeful with student groupings. A conversation may move too quickly for a beginning student grouped with advanced English speakers.

Support for English Learners:

High Support (Levels 1-2)

  • Provide sentence frames and a list of signal/transition words for the writing activity.
  • Allow students to partner and write collaboratively.
  • Work with a small group of students during writing for more intense support.

Moderate Support (Level 3)

  • Provide a list of signal/transition words for students to extend their writing.

Light Support (Level 4+)

  • Consider providing a rubric for students to score each other or to self-reflect.
  • Set a goal for how many academic words or sentences you expect the students to use.

Grades K-2nd (History and Social Science)

Content Objective: Students will name a community helper and identify their job.

Language Objective: Students will use written English to describe a picture of a community helper working and use keywords to write an informative text about community helpers.


  • Teacher will place students in groups.
  • Teacher will pass out a select pictures of community helpers working to each group.
  • Students will discuss the image and generate a list key language to describe the photo.
  • Teacher will ask students to individually write informative sentences about the community helper and their job.
  • Students will write an informative sentences using the photo and keywords list.

Grades 3rd-5th (History and Social Science)

Content Objective: Students will describe one of the major U.S. regions, including climate, landforms, and production.

Language Objective: Students will use written English to describe a picture about an U.S. region and use keywords to write an informative text about that region.


  • Teacher will place students in groups, providing each one with a select picture of a U.S. region illustrating seasonal weather.
  • Students will discuss the image and generate a list key language to describe the photo.
  • Teacher will ask students to individually write an informative paragraph on their U.S. region.
  • Students will write an informative paragraph using the photo and keywords list.

Grades 6th-8th (History and Social Science)

Content Objective: Students will integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.

Language Objective: Students will compare pictures of the Baptist Church Bombing with text about the same historical event.


  • Teacher will prepare and project images from the Baptist Church Bombing Slideshow and Baptist Church Bombing text.
  • Students will analyze the photos from the slideshow.
  • Students to describe what they see in the photos and what they believe happened in result.
  • When students are done describing what they see in the pictures they should then read the text and describe what they read or what they hear.
  • When students are done writing their observations, they will discuss their comparisons as a class.

Grades 9th-12th (History and Social Science)

Content Objective: Students will name an historical event based on photographs.

Language Objective: Students will orally name an historical event based on photographs.


  • Teacher will show students a portion of a photograph of Woodstock. Teacher will ask students to write adjectives describing what they see and ask them to write a prediction about what the event could be.
  • Teacher will then show a larger section of the photograph and ask them to add more adjectives to the list and make a new prediction.
  • Finally, the teacher will show the entire photograph, ask students to add adjectives to their list, and make another prediction.
  • Note: It’s likely students will find this challenging because the photo is not an iconic one from Woodstock. If students need additional information, teacher may show other photographs or posters.
  • After students know the answer, the class may discuss what they know about Woodstock.

Scaffolded Graphic Organizers for Writing Windows

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Intentional Word Walls Matter

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Notice the academic words related to content:

  • Weathering
  • Erosion
  • Deposition

There are three important words displayed on the word wall and that students will continue to use during the unit. This shows that less is more in regards to teaching content vocabulary to students that cannot read or are not proficient in the English language yet. Long lists of 15 to 20 words in a week is not an effective way to learn vocabulary. The words should be introduced gradually. The content jargon should be practiced and the students should feel confident about how to use it in sentences and when they find the words in a text.

Any multilingual learner can read and refer to this word wall that has a visual, words as labels, arrows with sense of direction, and notes from students (in yellow) added to the word wall. Color coding for different forms of text is another resource that you could provide your multilingual learners with an interactive word wall.

The content objective is included as part of the word wall. The language objective would be included at different centers to determine the language task that the students must follow to complete the assignment.

This is an interactive word wall for the elementary level. It could be adapted to any grade level. Consider how would you adapt this or another topic of discussion in your class. Think as if you were an English learner in your class, what would you need to do to make it comprehensible for your students?

Note: Consider sharing your Interactive Word Wall with us.

Contact Ivelisse Rosario de Marin by phone (984-514-0047) or email: I will be glad to visit your room to take photographs.

I would love to get details about how you planned it, how you introduced it to your class and how were students interacting with it, too.


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Interactive Word Walls

Word walls are resourceful for students. There have been changes in the way that word walls are used in the classroom. You will find details of the differences of traditional word walls and interactive word walls. Also, it is important to consider what students will remember and an example of a content interactive word wall that will include ALL learners.
This comparison helps to reconsider how you display word walls in your classroom. The Interactive Word Walls help all students to connect content with vocabulary and topic comprehension.
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Use of Graphic Organizers to Teach Vocabulary

Teach Concept Vocabulary with the Frayer Model

Teach essential vocabulary directly to your students in order to allow their comprehension of the central concepts of your lessons.

Concept words are usually general nouns for an abstract concept like: theme, main idea, claim, or process verbs like: justify, compare.

"Pre-teaching these words explicitly prepares ELs, and all students, to understand the most essential concepts of your lesson."

Frayer Model Link


Ward Singer, T., (2018). EL excellence every day: The flip-to guide for differentiating academic literacy. CORWIN, Thousand Oaks, CA. p. 114.

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How to Directly Teach a Word With the Frayer Model


  • Use the Frayer Model graphic organizer and make it as a "note-taking" scaffold.
  • Project it and give each student a copy.

Teach the Word:

  • Say the word. Have students repeat it chorally. Call on three individuals to repeat the word.
  • Say the part of speech.
  • Explain the word using the student-friendly definition. have students write the missing word in the note-taking scaffold to demonstrate listening comprehension, or for substantial support have them write it as you write it in your projected model.
  • Explain the characteristics and have students complete the note-taking scaffold.
  • Give examples in the context of familiar stories or movies students know.
  • Give non-examples. Have students collaborate with a partner to discuss other non-examples and add one non-example to the note-taking scaffold.

Engage Students in Using the Word

  • Provide a response frame and structure think-pair-share to have all students use the word in a familiar context.


Ward Singer, T., (2018). EL excellence every day: The flip-to guide for differentiating academic literacy. CORWIN, Thousand Oaks, CA. p. 116


Sentence Chart

"A sentence chart is similar to a word bank table, with one important difference: it includes all of the vocabulary students need in sequence to create a complete sentence. A sentence chart is useful for supporting emergent ELs with vocabulary for conversation and writing tasks and is also a great visual to teach advanced ELs and fluent English speakers a specific sentence structure."


Ward Singer, T., (2018). EL excellence every day: The flip-to guide for differentiating academic literacy. CORWIN, Thousand Oaks, CA. p. 148.

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WIDA ACCESS Test Updates

The WIDA ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 annual testing window is:

  • January 25, 2022 - March 11, 2022

The ESL Team will develop a schedule in conjunction with each individual school testing coordinator to determine the dates and times when the assessment will be administered to each active English learner in the ESL Program.

The WIDA ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 assessment has four separate parts:

  • listening
  • reading
  • writing
  • speaking

The listening and reading tests will be administered the same date in order to determine the Tier placement for the speaking and the writing tests. The possible tiers that the students could get in the WIDA ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 are:

  • Tier A (newcomers or students that are not proficient with English yet)
  • Tier B/C for students who have more proficiency with the English language

This Tier placement is very important for grades 1st-3rd since they have to take the writing test in a paper and pencil format. The students on grades 4th-12th take all parts of the test in the computer.

Students who obtain a Tier A are not eligible to exit the ESL Program. Students who obtain a Tier B/C are on their way to make progress or meet the criteria to exit the ESL Program which is an Overall Composite Score of 4.8 or higher.

The listening and reading sections can be administered in groups of 6 or more students. The writing test grouping is based on the Tier (A or B/C) that the student obtains once he or she takes the listening and reading tests. The speaking test must be administered with five students only at the same time in one room.

This state-mandated assessment will provide us with substantial information to determine the English proficiency level of every active EL in the separate language domains of listening, speaking, reading and writing. This will assist with the creation of an EL Plan to provide this population of students with the proper instruction and scaffolds needed to be successful learners.

The ESL teacher at your school and the ESL Leadership Team are available to answer questions regarding the WIDA ACCESS for ELLs 2.0.



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Resource: @ValentinaESL (Tweeter)


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Resource: @ValentinaESL (Tweeter)

Questions to ponder upon...

  • How is the student interaction among peers and with me in my classroom?
  • What percentage of tasks to help students remember the content is more prominent in my lessons?
  • Am I stopping during parts of my lesson so that students can "Chunk and Chew" the new information about the topic of discussion?
  • Are students able to watch videos, presentations, or create things with their classmates to collaborate to make connections?


Keep into consideration all the strands that multilingual learners must acquire in order to be a "skilled reader". If your students have not mastered those strings of the braid woven together, they will struggle with fluency, word recognition, and text comprehension. The use of scaffolds and strategies will make the English learner's path to become a proficient and more focused reader.
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Resource: @ValentinaESL (Tweeter)

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