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by Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey and Carol Rothenberg
Table of Contents
Explain and model each routine. Post a chart of routines and relevant procedures and linguistic frames, and add to it as students learn new routines. This chart contains samples that may help in creating additional frames to provide language support to discuss the content.
Focus on English Language Learners
Students agree or disagree with a series of statements written to access and activate their prior knowledge. Statements relate to key concepts, include the likelihood of differing opinions, and should provoke discussion and interest, even controversy. They read the statements individually and then discuss with a partner, come to consensus, and write a statement explaining their rationale. They revisit the guide at the end of the unit or lesson to note any changes in their thinking. At this time, they may write a statement explaining the change in their thinking and cite evidence from the text.
-Be sure to include content with which students have some familiarity so they will experience success.
-When the focus is on the content, keep the language and vocabulary at a comprehensible level.
-Use some of the new vocabulary with enough context in the statement so that students will understand it.
-I think it's _____ because _____.
-I agree/disagree with you because _____.
-We both think that _____ because _____.
-Why do you think _____?
-I believe that _____.
-I agree with you up to a point, but I think that _____.
-I am willing to change my answer because _____.
One partner has a picture or information that the other partner does not have. Students sit back-to-back or have a visual obstruction to block their view (barrier). Using oral language only, students communicate to complete the task. Tasks may require partners to draw a picture, place objects in specific positions, find the difference in two pictures, etc. Students in small groups might each have one picture in a sequence. Without looking at the other pictures, they must put them all in the correct order.
-Good for all levels of English language learners (ELLs).
-Use to practice survival vocabulary—food, body, clothing, school items, etc.
-Use to reinforce concepts (e.g., pictures of the life cycle of a butterfly).
-Use to practice language structures (prepositions, sequence words, etc.).
-Teach vocabulary students will need to complete the task.
-I see a ____.
-Do you have a ____?
-First you (draw, put, place, etc.).
-I think ____ (my/your/her/his) picture goes ____ (first, second, next, last), because ____.
-There is a ____ (prepositional phrase—on top of, in between, etc.) the ____.
Students mimic the buzzing sound and slow movement of bumblebees as they buzz around the room to find a partner. Teacher says, "Busy bees, fly!" Students move around the room and buzz until they hear, "Busy bees, land!" The "bee" they are standing next to becomes their partner for a brief learning activity such as giving an opinion or answering a question.
-Pair ELL bees purposefully by giving them different-colored cards—they must find a partner with another color.
-Change the color each time you do it, so children cannot easily identify ELLs.
-Teach students expected behaviors such as looking at the person talking.
-Do not ask students to touch unless you know touching is acceptable in their culture.
-My favorite ____ is ____.
-What is your favorite ____?
-I think that ____.
-I think the funniest part was when ____.
-I liked ____ the best because ____.
In groups, students write a dialogue pertaining to the topic. Characters may be human or not (e.g., rational and irrational numbers discussing why they can't get along). The focus of the dialogue should highlight and extend understanding of the main idea of the topic. Students must use the assigned vocabulary. All students write their own copy of the complete dialogue. All students participate in an oral presentation of the dialogue, regardless of the number of characters or students in the group. They may read chorally, take turns playing a role, or find another way for all to participate. It is best to assign different "characters," parts, or prompts to different groups to divide the text or concept and maintain student interest in the presentations.
-Group students heterogeneously.
-Give think time so ELLs have time to think about what they will contribute.
-ELLs should have an equal or nearly equal part.
-Students at early levels of proficiency might read a part chorally with another student.
-Give rehearsal time before asking ELLs to perform in front of the class.
-I think we should have the characters ____ (verb).
-The setting could be in ____.
-First one character can say ____.
-Then another character can say ____.
-How about if we ____?
-I think we should have ____ (character) say ____.
In groups, students create a poster representing the main ideas of the concept. Give students a rubric that describes what must be included in the poster. After thinking individually about how to represent their ideas, each student selects one color of pen and uses only that color on the chart. All students must contribute to both writing and drawing on the poster and sign it. Display posters in the room. Students evaluate their own poster and at least one other according to the rubric.
-If students present their posters to the class, be sure ELLs participate in the presentation.
-Requiring the use of key vocabulary provides an additional opportunity to practice.
-Encourage students to talk first and then write and draw.
-I think we should ____.
-I can write/draw the ____.
-I think that ____ would be a good symbol because it represents ____.
-Where should we put the ____?
-I like your idea about ____.
Coming to consensus
Students in a group share their individual ideas and come to consensus on one common idea to share with the whole group.
-Some ELLs may come from cultures where males are leaders or consensus is an unfamiliar notion.
-Be sure that everyone in the group has a voice.
-I like ____'s idea because ____.
-I prefer ____'s idea because ____.
-I agree that ____ because ____.
-I agree with you up to a point, but I think that ____.
Similar to a word sort, students sort single words, phrases, or sentences into categories that relate to the concept they are studying. Sorting may be by category, sequence, characteristics, etc.
-Be sure that ELLs know the vocabulary being used so they can focus on their understanding of the concept.
-Manipulating cards is a physical response that can enhance language learning.
-Students can copy their sort into a graphic organizer in a notebook.
-I think ____ belongs in this category because ____.
-I don't think ____ belongs in this category because it doesn't ____.
-____ should be ____ (first, second, next, last, etc.).
-These are different because ____.
-These belong in the same category because ____.
-What's the difference between ____ and ____?
Explorers and settlers
Assign half the students to be explorers and half to be settlers. Explorers seek out a settler to discuss a question. Repeat the process one or two times to discuss the same question or a new, related question.
-Vary the assignment to be an explorer or a settler so that ELLs are not always one or the other.
-Assign ELLs at early levels of proficiency to be all explorers or settlers; then have the other group speak first to act as language models.
Sentence frames will vary depending on the prompt and the topic. Samples might include these:
-The best thing about ____ is ____.
-I still have a question about ____.
-I'd like to know more about ____. Can you tell me anything?
Find someone who …
Students must find a classmate who can answer a question on a handout. They ask the student the question and write down the response they are given and the name of the student who answered. This can be done as a review of learning or in anticipation of learning. It can also be done in the form of a bingo game.
-Have students write down the answer they hear so they practice listening and writing as well as speaking.
-ELLs at early levels of proficiency can use a sheet with differentiated questions that address the main idea but use familiar language.
-Do you know ____?
-Have you found anyone who ____?
-Have you ever ____?
Find your partner
Each student is given a card that matches another student's card in some way.
-Vocabulary + definition
-Question + answer
-First half of a sentence + second half
-Sentence with a missing word
-Math problem with steps to solution
-Concept + example
-Give clues such as "Look for capital letters and periods to help you find your partner."
-Have students read their cards aloud to practice pronunciation.
-ELLs at early levels of proficiency can have cards with less or familiar language.
-Do you have something that goes with ____?
-My card says ____. What does yours say?
A group of students models a strategy or task. They sit in the middle of the room (in a "fishbowl"), with remaining students seated around them. Students in the fishbowl engage in the task, with the teacher guiding as needed. Give students outside the fishbowl a purpose for listening. They may complete a graphic organizer, write down a quote or two, listen for specific examples, etc.
-It can be helpful to assign students to focus their listening on one particular student in the fishbowl so they do not get lost in the conversation.
-When ELL students are part of the fishbowl, they must be given time to discuss the question or practice the task before they do it in front of the class.
Outside the fishbowl:
-I heard ____ say that ____.
-After listening to what ____ said, I think that ____.
-I have a question about ____.
Assign each corner of the room a category related to the topic. Tell the students the four categories and ask them to write down which category they are most interested in, along with two or three reasons for their choice. They then form groups by going to the corner of the room with the category they selected. In groups of three to four students, they share their reasons for their selection. This is also another way to form groups to complete an assigned task.
-Keep group size small so ELLs will have opportunities to participate.
-I chose ____ because ____.
-I like ____ because ____.
-I chose ____ because I think that ____.
Two concentric circles of students stand or sit and face one another. The teacher poses a question to the class, and the partners respond briefly. At the signal, the outer circle rotates one position to the left to face a new partner. The conversation continues for several rotations. For each rotation, students may respond to the same prompt or to a different but related one.
-Vary the circles so that ELLs are not always inside or outside.
-Assign all ELLs at early levels of proficiency to inside or outside circles; then have the other circle speak first to act as language models.
Sentence frames will vary depending on the topic and the prompt. Some of the same frames presented in the fishbowl section will work well for inside/outside circles.
Teacher breaks a lecture (or video) into small segments and gives students processing time after each segment. After each segment, students think, write, talk, or draw about what they have learned or understand.
-Graphic organizers can guide note taking.
-Be sure to have students' attention before resuming the lecture—even a few words missed can detract from understanding.
-Sentence frames will vary depending on the topic and the prompt.
-Differentiate for students by writing sentence frames on a graphic organizer for those who need them.
Each student in the class has two memberships: a home group and an expert group. Each home group of four members meets to discuss the task and divide the work according to the teacher's directions. After each home group member has a task, they move to expert groups composed of members with the same task. The expert groups meet to read and discuss their portion of the assignment and practice how they will teach it when they return to their home groups. Students teach their expert portion to home group members and learn about the other sections of the reading.
-Assign ELLs with like needs to the same expert group, and provide additional support through differentiated graphic organizers, extra teacher guidance, or even a mini-lesson.
-If expert groups are homogeneous, be sure the task for ELLs provides a high level of challenge and high level of support.
-In our group we learned that ____ and that ____.
-Can you explain ____ again?
-One important thing about ____ is ____.
-What I learned from my expert group was ____.
Language experience approach
Students brainstorm words and phrases about a picture or a common experience. The teacher writes words on a chart. Partners create sentences using words. The teacher writes sentences on a chart and then guides the group in organizing sentences into a logical paragraph. Students practice pronunciation and reading aloud and copy the paragraph. Students can write sentences on sentence strips and put the paragraph back together or cut up sentences into words or phrases and put them back together.
-Use students' own language to expand and build upon the vocabulary and structures they already know.
-Write student sentences with correct grammatical structures.
-This is most effective in a small-group setting to focus the level of language and ensure participation by ELLs at early proficiency levels.
-Because this is direct instruction in constructing sentences, linguistic frames are not needed here.
-Sentence frames can be created from the final written product, and students can practice with them in pairs or individually.
Students line up in a particular order for the purpose of practicing language or getting to know each other, or in a random way to form pairs or groups. Students may line up in order of birthdays, or they may be given cards with information they use to sequence themselves—fraction or percentage cards, sequence of events in a story or history, steps in a process. Once students have formed the line, they may "wrap around," with the student at one end of the line walking down to face the student at the far end of the line, followed by the other students until the line is folded in half with each student facing another.
-This may be done silently, forcing students to use other means of communication besides language.
-Beginning ELL students may be paired with another student to support their participation.
-When is your birthday?
-I have ____. What do you have?
-I think I am ____ (before/after) ____ (you, him, her).
-I think my number is ____ (smaller/bigger) than yours because ____.
Novel ideas only
Individually, students write down as many items related to the prompt as they can think of. In groups, they take turns sharing one item at a time from their list. Each student must repeat the item mentioned by the previous student before adding a new one. Groups create a list that includes all the items. Each student writes the same list. They draw a line under the last item on the list. Groups stand up; one group reads their list and sits down. All students in the group should participate in reading the list to the class. Other groups add to their list any new items they hear. The next group reads only items that have not been mentioned. Continue in this manner until no group has new items to contribute.
-Have all students participate in reading their list to the class so ELLs can practice language and pronunciation.
-Be sure ELLs are not always in the last group to present—the last group typically has little left in their list that has not already been mentioned.
-We already have ____ on our list.
-Can you repeat that, please?
-I don't have anything new on my list.
-Everything on my list has already been mentioned.
Numbered heads together
Each group is assigned a number. Each student within the group is assigned (or selects) a number from 1 through 4 (or 5 if numbers necessitate). The teacher asks a question and tells students to make sure every student in the group can answer. After students have time to discuss, the teacher spins an overhead spinner and announces the number of the student. Groups have one more minute to make sure that number student in their group knows the answer. The teacher spins again and announces the number of the group that must respond.
-This provides a structured and supported way to have ELLs respond to whole-class questions.
-Have students rehearse with their group what they will say to the class if called on to respond.
-I think you should say ____.
-I think the answer is ____.
-I'm not sure I know the answer. Is it ____?
Glue pictures to a piece of poster paper, and attach writing paper next to the poster. Pictures should be provocative and stimulate conversation about the topic. Post the charts around the room. Pairs of students move from poster to poster and write
-What they observe;
-What they think is happening, happened before, or will happen next;
-Questions they have.
-This provides visual support to activate prior knowledge.
-Captions or labels introduce and reinforce vocabulary.
-I wonder ____ (what/why/when/where/who) ____.
-I see ____ and ____.
-My observation is that ____.
Students create a script from the story they have read. This is different from a collaborative dialogue in that the events of a narrative are retold in dialogue format. A collaborative dialogue is a conversation that may be related to a text, a concept, a process, etc.
-Require students to use target vocabulary in their script.
-Give an opportunity for rehearsal before performing.
-Be sure that ELLs have speaking parts equal or nearly equal to those of other students (unless they are at Starting level of proficiency).
-I'd like to be the ____.
-My character should say something about ____.
-We need to include dialogue about ____.
Students work in groups of four with a common piece of text. Each member has a role: summarizer, questioner, clarifier, or predictor. These roles closely mirror the kinds of reading comprehension strategies necessary for understanding expository text. The reading is chunked into shorter passages so that the group can stop to discuss periodically.
-Teach each role before expecting students to use the entire process.
-Provide graphic organizers to take notes.
-Have students change roles so that all take on each role with the goal of eventually holding a natural discussion about the text.
-What does ____ mean?
-I predict that ____.
-In summary, this part is about ____.
-I'd like to clarify ____.
Give students a minute to think about a prompt. Give them a few minutes to write
down their ideas (typically in bullet or note form without a focus on spelling or grammar). Have students share their ideas in
pairs. Tell students to listen carefully as they may be asked to share what their partner said. Ask a few pairs to share with the whole class.
For very young students or students at early levels of proficiency, it may take too long for them to write their thoughts, so think-pair-share may be a better option.
-I wrote that ____.
-When I was ____, I ____.
-Let me clarify what I heard you say; you said that ____.
-My partner said that ____.
-My partner and I both thought that ____.
Students work first with a partner and then in a group of four to respond to a question. Questions may relate to opinions or be at any level of Bloom's taxonomy. It is helpful to have each pair respond to a different question so that the sharing does not become repetitive and boring:
-Partner A interviews Partner B, while Partner C interviews Partner D.
-Partner B interviews Partner A, while Partner D interviews Partner C.
-Partners A and B tell Partners C and D what their partner said, and Partners C and D tell Partners A and B what their partner said.
-ELLs can interview first so they have a model to follow.
-Be sure students have sufficient background knowledge to have information or opinions to share.
-My partner said ____ and ____.
-We discussed ____.
-We both agreed that ____, but we thought that ____.
Ask students to write (or think about, for younger students) their ideas about a topic. In groups of four, they share their ideas, taking turns. Student A shares one idea, and then Students B, C, and D each share one idea. Each student must repeat the statement of the previous student before sharing his or her own. Repeat the process for each succeeding idea, sharing only one idea during each round. Continue in this way until all ideas are shared.
-If you anticipate that ELLs will only have one or two ideas to share, it may be advantageous to begin with those students so that they feel they have contributed a new idea, rather than simply repeating the same idea already shared.
-Students at very early levels of proficiency will benefit from hearing other students talk, so begin with more proficient students.
-I think that the story will be about ____.
-My first idea is ____.
-I have the same idea as ____. I think the story will be about ____.
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