Monday, July 28, 2014

ESL Program Equity Audit

Today, Holly Niemi shares her ideas on reflecting to prepare for the upcoming school year.

Summer is the perfect time for reflection.  This ESL Program Equity Audit is a great tool to guide that reflection in preparation for the coming school year.  I came across this meaningful exercise at a professional development I attended this past spring.  It came from the text by Alfred and NiƱo (2011) entitled Leading Academic Achievement for English Language Learners:  A Guide for Principals. My ESL colleagues and I found it a facile and enlightening way to view our ESL program and its future direction. The audit is a one-page document that considers six program areas:  role of ESL teacher, instructional materials & curriculum, professional development, assessment, ESL parent outreach, and teacher evaluation.  This is a wonderful starting point to gauge the access and rigor of an ESL program in light of the demands of the Common Core State Standards.  Additionally, the audit was a means to opening communication and collaborating between both ESL teachers and administrators.  As a group of ESL teachers, we completed the audit, and then later shared it with our school administration.    This audit could be used at both macro and micro levels: it allows for the consideration of the overall effectiveness of a district-wide ESL program or it can be completed at the school or grade team levels.   Overall, the audit allows for educators and administrators to prioritize their ESL program’s needs and begin taking action in the focus areas in order to maximize ELLs’ equitable access to the Common Core.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Top Ten Ways for ELLs to Beat Summer Backslide

Holly Niemi shares how she beats the summer backslide.

The downside of summer vacation is backslide.  Summer learning loss is an issue for many learners, especially English language learners. A variety of summer programs may focus on remediation, acceleration or enrichment, all of which will help ELLs maintain and improve the language domains of listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

ESL Summer School may meet the language learning needs of ELLs with localized instruction. ESL Grants and Title III monies may help schools fund ELLs with this opportunity.

Summer Activity Camps may be offered through local boys & girls clubs or religious organizations. These camps may provide ELLs the opportunity to learn an instrument, play sports, or visit local attractions, all while interacting with native speakers. Depending on the organization, many of these camps provide financial assistance or reduced for those who qualify.

Job Shadow programs are offered by some businesses, Junior Achievement Program and county programs. This may help secondary ELLs maintain their language proficiency, while venturing into the business world and learning about potential future careers.

Summer Academic Camps may be offered through local colleges and universities. These camps focus on math, science and language arts. Often times, they are organized through the institute of higher learning’s teacher training programs.

Library Youth Programs offer a variety of weekly programs for ELLs, ranging from story time to crafts and games.

Phone Number & E-mail Exchanges on the last day of school will provide ELLs with contact information for their classmates. This way they can call or write their peers and perhaps even plan a time to get tougher in person.

Summer Field Trips are a great way to maintain contact with ELLs. They have a chance to reconnect with the teacher, as well as classmates. This can even be an opportunity to engage parents and families.

Television Programs in English may help ELLs maintain their listening skills, as well as reading skills when the closed-caption is activated. Teachers could recommend a variety of shows with the channel and time for ELLs.

On-line ESL resources may help ELLs practice their listening, speaking, reading, and writing from a computer. Here is a link to 50 resources that may prove useful to ELLs over the summer.

ESL Class Websites will enable the ESL teacher with the ability to post various informative pieces and ELLs to connect with other ELLs over the summer.  Posts could include reading material, articles, as well as English practice website links, as well as local community events that may interest students.