Wayne Washington, 4th Grade Classroom Teacher, Master's Degree in Teaching, Elementary Education
School District Background
English language instruction is provided to beginner English Language Learners (ELL) students during the reading or intervention block for 20-30 minutes each day. Children in grades K-5 receive research-based instruction across the four language skills in small groups or with a tutor.
More advanced ELL students are supported in their regular classrooms through collaboration between ELL and general education teachers. Wayne’s classroom consists of ELL students who are predominately the children of immigrants who matriculated in kindergarten or first grade.
Wayne has taught fourth grade for 10 years. Although he does not yet have an endorsement in English as a Second Language (ESL), he has taken several courses on how to work with English Language Learners and has an affinity for students who are learning English. He welcomes the rich diversity of backgrounds and culture they bring into his classroom.
Forty percent of Wayne's class consists of ELLs. Fifty percent are Hispanic and 50 percent come from an Asian country (mainly Korea, China and Vietnam). His students range in English proficiency from Level 2 through Level 4, using the ELPA 21 standards.
An ELL teacher collaborates in his classroom two days per week during English Language Arts and independent work time. Her goal is to ensure students comprehend their classwork by providing ELL-specific learning strategies and scaffolding using her own curriculum supports during Wayne’s ELA teaching time. She reinforces this using Middlebury Interactive's digital ELL curriculum during independent work time.
Challenge & Solution
Wayne wants to support his ELLs every day in all their content areas. He has seen that they struggle to incorporate academic vocabulary in their writing and become frustrated when they cannot express themselves like they want during classroom discussions. His goal is to help his students improve their academic English enough that his higher-level students no longer need ELL services by the time they reach middle school.
Wayne chose Middlebury Interactive because he liked that the content at every level aligned with the Common Core and focused on content area vocabulary using all four language skills. He also liked that there are multiple levels of courses since his students are at varying proficiency levels. He felt that the Middlebury Interactive courses would be a way for him to differentiate instruction so that students could focus on their individual weakest content areas at the proficiency level, which provided them with the highest comprehension.
Middlebury Interactive ELL Course Usage
Wayne pre-teaches content area vocabulary for all of his students by introducing them to new words and using their background knowledge to create associations with new concepts. He provides all students with 25 minutes of independent work time every day so that they can focus on areas of remediation or enrichment. During this time, he has his ELLs work in the Middlebury Interactive online course.
Wayne created a chart for his ELLs to show them the course level and theme on which they should be working. Wayne also consulted with the ELL teacher on student proficiency levels to know which course level would be most appropriate. He looks at his classroom curriculum guides and pacing to select themes that align with content his class will be working on in the coming weeks. Sometimes, he selects themes that have already been reviewed in class but that he knows some of his ELLs have not yet mastered. Based on all of this information, he places students into small groups of three (which can rotate monthly) and selects their Middlebury Interactive level and theme.
During this independent work time, Wayne circulates through the room to assist and monitor all students. On the days that the ELL teacher is also in the room, she supports the ELL students in their Middlebury Interactive online course and their associated projects.
Time Allotted to Middlebury Interactive Courses
Twenty five minutes every day during independent work time is spent using the digital curriculum. The first three days were devoted to showing students how to use the program by having them watch the orientation video, go through the “How To’s” and practice recording themselves to become more familiar with the program.
Students in the groups of three sit at adjoining computers and work through the modules within their appointed theme. Monday through Thursday they spend 20 minutes working on the computer and five minutes discussing their progress and projects using guided material from the Middlebury Interactive course. Every Friday, students work collaboratively on their projects. It takes about four weeks for students to complete a theme and project, and their participation and project grade is included in Wayne’s grade book as an alternative assessment.
Although students work collaboratively on their projects within their groups, each student is responsible for creating an individual project. Students present their projects to the class, and they hang on the wall outside Wayne’s classroom for everyone to see. He has even had several ELL students who were willing to have their project presentation recorded so that it could be shared on the morning announcements! Wayne has also used several project ideas from the Middlebury Interactive themes for all of his class to create collaboratively.
The professional development modules provided by Middlebury Interactive that Wayne found the most useful were “Scaffolding Academic Literacy," “Blended ELL Learning Environment" and “Differentiated Learning."
The ELL teacher also participated in the professional development webinars so that she had a better understanding of the program's scope and projects. Wayne continues to meet with the ELL teacher weekly
to assess and improve student progress.
Wayne feels that the Middlebury Interactive online course allows his ELLs to focus more closely on the academic areas in which they need additional support. The students love doing and sharing the projects,
and he frequently has his non-ELL students complain that they want to be able to work in
Middlebury Interactive too!
*Please note this scenario is based on possible implementations not actual usage.