Differentiated Instruction for English Language Learners, Level II


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Page 1: Defining Differentiated Instruction

Teachers are successful at differentiating instruction for ELLs when they:. ELLs call attention to the incredible diversity that is characteristic of American schools in the 21st century. Today, most U.

Differentiating Instruction for ELLs

Differentiated instruction offers teachers an effective method of addressing the needs of this diverse population in a way that gives all students equal access to learning. Echevarria, J. Boston: Pearson. Fairbain, S. Differentiating instruction and Assessment for English language learners: A guide for K teachers. Philadelphia: Caslon. Irujo, S. Differentiated instruction: We can no longer just aim down the middle. ELL Outlook. Tomlinson, C.

Differentiating instruction: Why bother? Middle Ground , 9, Leading and managing a differentiated classroom. Sponsored Links About these ads Consumer Tips.

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All Rights Reserved. Learn more. Differentiated Instruction for English Language Learners By: Karen Ford Each student comes to school, not only with unique academic needs, but also with unique background experiences, culture, language, personality, interests, and attitudes toward learning. Getting Started Tomlinson and Imbeau describe differentiation as creating a balance between academic content and students' individual needs. They suggest that this balance is achieved by modifying four specific elements related to curriculum: Content — the information and skills that students need to learn Process — how students make sense of the content being taught Product — how students demonstrate what they have learned Affect — the feelings and attitudes that affect students' learning These curriculum-related factors are based on student need in three areas: Readiness — students' preparation for learning specific information or skills Interest — what appeals to students and thus motivates them to learn Learning Profile — how students approach the task of learning The goal of differentiated instruction is to create learning opportunities that make allowances for differences in how individual students learn in order to ensure equal access to important academic content.

Differentiating Instruction for ELLs With the recent emphasis on standards-based instruction, there has been much discussion about what constitutes appropriate content, instruction, and assessment for English language learners. Teachers are successful at differentiating instruction for ELLs when they: Get to know as much as possible about each student — ELLs represent a wide range of academic skills, interests, languages, English language proficiency levels, and cultures.


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Have high expectations for all students — Content should not be "watered down" for students who are still developing English language skills. Creative teachers think of ways to help students understand key material and "show what they know" in ways that match their language proficiency levels. The first major principle of DI is readiness, which is assessment in three areas: 1 readiness of the student to begin learning; 2 readiness of the student to speed up or slow down learning; and 3 readiness of the student to move on to the next topic or skill.

In terms of ELLs, it is important to have knowledge and realization of the linguistic capabilities of the student, but it is just as important to gauge levels of understanding of the content. A hand signal or a ticket-out-the-door may require little or no linguistic production but can reveal much about content comprehension. Learning Preference.


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The second major aspect of DI is learning preference. DI theory maintains that students learn in a combination of several different ways—not through just one approach. Some students prefer to learn visually ; other students retain information better through auditory input. Still others are kinesthetic learners and prefer to learn through physical movement.

When working with an ELL, visual support for language is always important. Kinesthetic work helps develop stronger connections among items stored in the brain for increased likelihood of recall for both content and language. Multiple intelligences also are a factor in learning preference. The link between multiple intelligence theory and English language instruction is that students learn better if the content is made relevant to them and to their lives.

Howard Gardner identified nine naturally occurring intelligences that teachers can use to help every student learn. A teacher who differentiates varies instruction with student preferences in mind and then makes every effort to provide further instruction and feedback that is more individually tailored to students.

For the ELL who uses primarily musical intelligence, melodies or songs from the native culture could be used to further enhance motivation and learning. The third major tenet of DI is interest. If a student places high value on the task and has a high expectation of success, then motivation will be at its maximum. For many students, value is closely tied to interest in the topic.

Differentiating Instruction for ELLs

If the teacher knows the interests of the students and uses those interests in designing lessons, value for the task is enhanced even further. The expectancy times value equation is even more important with the ELL student. Students might be interested in the content and context, but their language difficulties may cause them to have such low expectations of success that motivation and interest are actually at their lowest.

The first three tenets deal directly with student characteristics; the next three involve curriculum decisions made by the teacher. The curriculum tenets are process, content, and product. The area of differentiation that teachers have the most control over is process—the instructional strategies they use to teach the lesson. The simplest way to differentiate by process is to vary instructional strategies over time. No single method works for all the students all the time and ELLs need the same variation that other students need.

Further, varying the instructional strategies can provide opportunities for the ELL to practice each of the four language skills listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Content differentiation refers to the level of material to which students have access.

PRIME: Instructional Materials

There often is a wide range of reading skills and levels in any heterogeneous classroom, especially when ELLs are present. Differentiation theory states that providing different levels of scaffolding and allowing for different reading speeds by controlling the amount of reading is best for students reading in their native language. If this is true for native speakers of English, it surely would also apply to the ELL. The sixth component of differentiation is product.

There are many different ways students can demonstrate their knowledge and skills. Some students might be most comfortable sharing their knowledge through a written document; others might be most comfortable with a presentation.

Differentiated Instruction for English Language Learners, Level II Differentiated Instruction for English Language Learners, Level II
Differentiated Instruction for English Language Learners, Level II Differentiated Instruction for English Language Learners, Level II
Differentiated Instruction for English Language Learners, Level II Differentiated Instruction for English Language Learners, Level II
Differentiated Instruction for English Language Learners, Level II Differentiated Instruction for English Language Learners, Level II
Differentiated Instruction for English Language Learners, Level II Differentiated Instruction for English Language Learners, Level II
Differentiated Instruction for English Language Learners, Level II Differentiated Instruction for English Language Learners, Level II

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