Student & Parent Resources :: ELL :: Course Direction
Who is E.L.L.?
English Language Learner (ELL) students are learning English as a second language.
It is challenging to be a middle school student while learning a new language, but we want you to know we are a community of support and resources for you.
What is the Common Core?
The term, Common Core, has been used a lot lately in discussions about our children's educational process and what does it look like from classrooms to schools across the United States and on a global scale. In Arizona, we specifically refer to these learning guidelines as the Arizona College and Career Ready Standards.
The five (5) areas we focus in English Language Arts are as follows:
- Reading Literature (short stories, novels, dramas)
- Reading Informational Text (articles, documents)
- Writing (Narratives, Informational/Explanatory, Argumentative, Poetry)
- Speaking & Listening Skills (contribute in academic conversations)
- Language Skills (conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing and speaking)
Preparing ELL Students for Complex Reading and Writing Assessments
Student's success in reading and writing begins with familiar experience. This prior knowledge helps students feel familiar with the class material, see its relationship to the world around them, and how it pertains to their personal lives. ELL students will enjoy that our class material is varied in text complexity and cultural references. We will cover stories of Native American heritage in the "Medicine Bag," respect for elders and cultural tradition in the Japanese folk tale, "The Wise Old Woman, and in the Hispanic story of teenage boy and his aging grandfather in "An Hour with Abuelo." Also, our class covers the theme of heroism in the drama, "Diary of Anne Frank," and the in the article, "The Boys Who Fought Hitler." Although it has been noted in "Preparing English Language Learners for Complex Reading," (Silva, 2013) that "ELL students struggle with identifying and reading informational text based on limited material that 1) the article only offers one viewpoint, 2) they have no prior knowledge or experience with, and 3) limited experience with a range of rich, complex text; this has shown to hinder in identifying the counterpoint perspective, topic familiarity, and reading comprehension." It is encouraged to explore a wide variety of topics and perspectives of many global topics to be comfortable and successful in formal academic assessments. I encourage the exploration of procon.org to read short paragraphs and decide the position and evidence of the argument. It is also encouraged to try challenging yourself with the arguments and rank them from stronger to weaker and distinguish issues between greater and lesser concern (Silva, 2013). To gain familiarity, I suggest that you begin your exploration with topics you feel passionate about, and try exploring new trending topics that you have an opinion about. Then, take the time to read and recognize the opposing viewpoint. Ask yourself, "Are the articles written with a slanted viewpoint? Do they have valid pieces of evidence?" A key aspect in Common Core assessments is being able to cite evidence from the text and be able to evaluate the validity of the argument.
Students state that reading is one of their favorite activities in school (Pereira, 2013). It is also stated by Pereira (2013), " ELL students are committed to doing well in school and willing to learn new topics." I encourage you and your student to explore newspaper articles, news programs, and procon.org. After reading the material, are you able to identify the position of the article and the other side of the argument, find biased information, and the author's purpose? It is important for our students to be familiar with reading a range of textual information and be able to productively discuss it. You might just add to some lively conversation at the dinner table and gain test readiness.
It Takes a Village
Poston is a community of support and resources for ELL student success. We strive to be current in training, network with other professional peers, and to make a difference in the lives of our students. It is important for our ELL students to be integrated within the typical English classroom, it has also been referred as the "push-in" model (Maxwell, 2013). It is important that our language learners be in class settings where there are opportunities to gain experience of hearing and speaking in "academic voice." Maxwell (2013) has recognized that the demand for "academic voice" is a struggle for native English language students, as well as English language learners, because it is not what the student hears at home. Many would agree with the popular notion, that it is best to learn the game by not just reading and hearing of the rules, but by taking part in the activity and the discovering the nuances of the game. Most can agree, to set goals takes an individual, but the chances of success requires a network of support. I encourage you to speak to your family about your day at school, and be specific with your vocabulary. Students should be sharing conversations with their family about what the "topic" was in each class, retell the "main idea" of the lessons, and what "details" stood out to them. A strong community requires communication and participation of all of its members. It is important to be current and familiar what is happening in your child's school day, and the lessons they are learning about.
Maxwell, L. A. (2013). Language Demands Rise With Common Core. Education Week, 33(10), S14-S15. Retrieved from
Maxwell, L. A. (2013). Standards and English-Learners: It Takes a Village. Education Week, 33(10), S9-S12. Retrieved from
Pereira, N. (2013). A Qualitative Inquiry Into the Experiences of High-Potential Hispanic English Language Learners in Midwestern Schools. Journal Of Advanced Academics, 24(3), 164-194. Retrieved from
Silva, J. (2013). Preparing English Language Learners for Complex Reading. Educational Leadership, 71(3), 52-56. Retrieved from