Literacy News Update

Instuctional Strategies to Support Our Diverse Learners

November 2014
Big image


Ontario teachers face the challenge of teaching a classroom of diverse learners. However, in order to help all our students achieve academic success, we need to provide differentiated instruction in not just reading but in all aspects of the curriculum. Differentiated instruction is based on the premise that students differ in abilities, learning styles, prior experience, and interests. Therefore, we must teach accordingly based on student readiness, learning profile and interests. Sure, differentiated instruction does require more work during lesson planning but when students are given more options on how they can learn material, they take on more responsibility for their own learning and will achieve academic success!

Remember: a "one size fits all" education does not work!

Classroom Strategies: How do we differentiate when teaching reading?

CONTENT - what the student needs to learn
  • Using levelled texts, vocabulary lists, explicit instruction
  • Presenting ideas orally and visually, meeting with struggling learners, or extending lessons to advanced learners

PROCESS - activities the student takes part in to learn material

  • Tiered activities with different levels of support, or complexity
  • Encourage students to explore a topic of interest to them
  • Offering manipulatives, extra time to complete a task, encouraging an advanced learner to complete a higher thinking topic

Example: provide textbooks for visual learners, allow auditory learners to listen to audio books, give kinesthetic learners the opportunity to complete an interactive assignment online.

PRODUCT - final task that require the student to demonstrate what they learned
  • Giving students options of how to express learning (e.g., drama skit, PowerPoint)
  • Allowing students to work alone or in small groups

Example: students that prefer writing can complete a book report, visual learners can create a graphic organizer, auditory learners can do a presentation, kinesthetic learners can build a diorama or a drama skit illustrating a story.

Video Link

So...What's the Deal With Boys?

Equitable learning opportunities is something we as educators must provide. Over the years, there has been some evidence showing the link between boys and underachievement which is a major concern. Some facts:
  • Nearly 50% of boys describe themselves as non-readers by the time they enter secondary school
  • Boys are less likely than girls to go to university
  • Boys typically score lower than girls on EQAO in Language
  • Boys express less enthusiasm for reading than girls do

Classroom Strategies to Support Boys

  • Graphic organizers as a literacy tool (i.e., sports themed organizers can be useful)
  • Provide texts that interest the boys in your classroom (i.e., fantasy books, sports, jokes, mischief themes and science fiction)
  • Parental involvement (provide tip sheets for families wanting to engage their boys in reading)
  • Choose texts with positive role models (i.e., sports figures, politicians)
  • Read aloud with expression and include props and visuals
  • Include graphic novels and humorous books in your classroom library (i.e., Bone series)
  • Include non print resources such as technology (i.e., CDs, Tumblebooks)
  • Explicit teaching fosters good comprehension skills (i.e., think aloud)
  • Ensure language lessons are structured, with a purpose in mind
  • Link language lessons with art and drama making stories come to life (i.e., readers' theatre)
  • Include group activities (i.e., literature circles) to encourage rich talk

For additional ideas, check out this resource:

Big image

What is the difference between English Language Learners (ELLs) & ELD?

It is important to remember that ESL describes the programs offered in Ontario schools. ELLs are our students whose first language is other than English.

In Ontario schools, over 25% of students are identified as English Language Learners. Most of these students are born in Canada and are under performing academically in comparison to English speaking students and even recently arrived immigrant students. Therefore, we need to provide supports to those students so they can achieve academic success.

ELD stands for English Literacy Development and is for students whose first language is other than English. Students in these programs are usually from countries in which they had limited access to education. Their education may have been disrupted, unavailable or inconsistent. Therefore, when they arrive in our classrooms, they have significant gaps in their education.

Important Reminder

It is sometimes easy to assume that students, who speak a common language, must share a common culture. For example, students speaking Spanish may be from Mexico, Chile, Columbia and Spain and their cultures are vastly different. Never make assumptions about our students.

Classroom Strategies to Support English Language Learners in reading

  • Writing scaffolds, cloze procedures and sentence frames
  • Preteach key vocabulary & label classroom objects
  • Variety of groupings (whole, group, pair)
  • Assistive devices, audio books, reading apps
  • Extra time for processing "wait time" or assignment completion
  • Reduction of the amount of tasks to complete (keep it simple)
  • More frequent breaks
  • Manipulatives for tactile learning
  • Quiet setting
  • Levelled books, audio books
  • Strategic seating or proximity of instructor
  • Encourage use of first language as tool for learning
  • Bilingual picture dictionary & dual language books
  • Model lessons using demonstrations and hands on activities
  • Use graphic organizers (e.g., flow charts, Venn, T-charts, etc.)
  • Allowing student to show knowledge orally, drama skits or film creation
  • Checking for comprehension regularly
  • Incorporate students’ interests into lessons
  • Ongoing assessment and descriptive feedback

Resource to Support Parents of ELLs

—This is a bilingual web site that parents can go on with their children to assist with homework and assignments. However, it is important to remember that some recent immigrants may not have access to a computer and may be unable to access online resources. As a teacher, it may be a good idea to have a supply of printed tip sheets (in various languages) as well and not hesitate to use the services of a translator if needed.

Celebrate classroom diversity

In order to create a welcoming and inclusive classroom for all our students, it is important to reflect diversity in our classrooms. How can we as teachers celebrate culture and the makeup of our school community? How can we create a welcoming classroom while teaching empathy? How can we teach students to respect themselves, each other and our environment?
  • Post classroom signs in multiple languages
  • Write a morning welcome message in another language
  • Ensure that displays have famous people representing different cultures and disabilities
  • Learn how to say “hello” in a student’s root language
  • Discuss how we can be EcoAmbassadors by learning about the relationship between the Aboriginal people and the environment
  • Students can plant a tree, create a community garden, and clean a park
  • Have books in different languages and books reflecting diversity
Big image

For Your classroom library

The Lorax (Dr. Seuss): chronicles the plight of the environment

The Giving Tree (Shel Silverstein): teaches children about environmental ethics

Winston of Churchill (Jean Davies Okimoto): a bear learns to change his ways to save the earth

Something Beautiful (Sharon Wyeth): story about a Black girl and the meaning of beauty

Wonder (R.J. Palacio): a touching story about a boy with a facial abnormality

Martin’s Big Words (Doreen Rappaport): story about Martin Luther King

The Crayon Box That Talked (Shane Derolf): teaches cooperation despite our differences

Lights for Gita (Rachna Gilmore): about Diwali & adjusting to life as a new immigrant

The Name Jar (Jodie O'Halloran): about a Korean girl who wants to pick an American name

Encounter (Jane Yolen): the story of Columbus from the point of view of a native boy

It’s Okay to Be Different (Todd Par): talks about why it is okay to be different

Annotated Biography

Differentiated Instruction

Reach Every Student
A resource to introduce teachers to the concept of differentiated instruction. It provides examples on how this can manifest itself in a classroom.

Boys & Literacy

Me Read & How?


This Ministry of Education guide focuses on a variety of strategies to improve boys literacy.

Me Read? No Way!


This Ministry of Education guide is intended for teachers and provides thirteen valuable strategies on how we can help our boys to read and write.

Video: Read Anything Good Lately? Boys, Books and Reading

A sixteen minute video which interviews boys on their favourite books.

Boys Underachievement. Which Boys are We Talking About?
Monograph #12 (April 2008)

Provides information on which boys require help becoming literate and the help we can provide.

Video Link

English Language Learners

A World of Words
Capacity Building Series - Edition 11 (October 2009)
This monograph provides ideas on how we can enhance vocabulary development in ELLs.

Promoting Literacy in Multilingual Contexts

Monograph #5 (June 2007)

This monograph provides ideas on how we can promote strong literacy development among ELLs.

Many Roots, Many Voices


This Ministry of Education guide helps teachers to meet the challenges of teaching in a multicultural society. It provides facts and effective instructional strategies.

Canadian Born ELLs

Capacity Building Series - Edition 31 (January 2013)

This monograph provides information on ELLs in Canada and how we need to support their learning.