ELL Elementary

Theme - Instructional Programs, Practices, and Arrangements

Promising Practices

  • Integrating ELLs into mainstream classes and the whole school culture
  • Adapting and modifying instructional materials
  • ESL/ENL teacher leadership

In Odds-Beating Schools

In all of the schools in the study with odds-beating ELL achievement, educators are committed to integrating ELLs within the classroom as well as the school community. Specific practices to integrate students include: cotaught mainstream classes, international celebrations for students and families, common curricula, stand-alone classes that mirror mainstream lessons, and small-group instruction. Educators said this requires close collaboration between ESL/ENL and mainstream teachers and a whole-school belief in the shared responsibility for educating all students.

As part of the effort to integrate ELLs, educators in odds-beating schools adapt the aligned curriculum so that ELLs are held to the same level of rigor as their native speaking peers. ESL/ENL and classroom teachers adapt and modify instructional materials so that they will be accessible to ELLs of various proficiency levels. Often, modifications are made so that instructional materials are more culturally relevant: students' home cultures become a focal point of a lesson; native language texts and multicultural texts are prioritized; and students are asked to share their home language, or other aspects of their culture, with classmates. Modifications are also made so that abstract concepts can be fully defined through the use of visuals, models, experiments, and hands-on learning experiences.

In all schools that participated in this study, educators attributed the achievement of ELLs to the hard work and dedication of ESL/ENL teachers. These teachers fulfill multiple roles in their school communities. Aside from teaching stand-alone classes and coteaching mainstream classes, they also provide embedded professional development for staff, work on curriculum and regulatory compliance with administrators, ensure that translators and interpreters are available for students and families, manage state testing for ELLs, and care for the social and emotional well-being of ELLs.       

Selected Evidence:

In Fostertown, a dual language program allows students to learn Spanish and English at the same time. Instruction takes place in one language one day and another language the other day.

In Guilderland Elementary, a summer book exchange allows students to meet with other students and their teachers to discuss books during the summer. Similarly, in Van Rensselaer Elementary, students are asked to complete a summer reading log so that they continue to develop their literacy skills during the summertime.