16. How do I modify grades for students in silent period, or for students who are just acquiring social language in a core academic class? We have lots of trouble giving a grade. I think we should defer grades until such a time that the student is ready, but I don't think the administration will allow that. WHAT CAN WE DO? We want to be fair to these students and not penalize them for beginning to learn a language? I would be crushed if I received an "F" for the first grading period in Russia.
In meeting the academic needs of students with limited English proficiency (LEP students or English learners), it is always important to think about the role that each teacher has in promoting English language development and Cognitive-Academic language proficiency (C.A.L.P.) To most effectively and efficiently meet the needs of English learners --and to meet legal compliance requirements-- we think of three teachers working together as a team every instructional day.
Teacher No. 1. The core content area teacher (or teachers at the secondary level) is the most important member of the team. This is the teacher directly responsible for academic and cognitive development, and for eventual high school graduation by the student. This is the teacher directly responsible for content area vocabulary development.
Teacher No. 2. The English-as-a Second Language or ESL teacher --which we call in California the English Language Development or ELD teacher-- is the most critical teacher in preparing the LEP students for full understanding and full participation in core content area lessons every day. Through language lessons in advance of content area lessons, the ESL teacher is instrumental in promoting the fullest access to the curriculum and the most equitable educational opportunity for ALL English Learners. Teachers 1 and 2 --core content area and ELD teachers-- must work together every single day helping English learners acquire, develop, understand, and apply concepts and the language of concepts to succeed in core content classes.
Teacher No. 3. This is the Primary Language Teacher, the L1 instructional aide or paraprofessional, the L1 tutor, or, in the case of languages with very few speakers within the school population, the parents or guardians or older brothers or sisters or relatives of those students. L1 teachers, aides, tutors, etc., must also work with English learners to insure that what will be taught in core content area classes is clearly understood through the primary language, if needed. Teacher No. 3 must work in very close cooperation with Teachers 1 and 2 to insure that, if needed, the English learners understand the key core content are concepts BEFORE they receive English language development instruction or attend the core content area class.
Now, if these three teachers are indeed working together, then testing English Learners or LEP students should be facilitated, especially if the core content area teacher prepares exams with a great variety of questions. For example, a very large number of questions in the first few examinations each semester or academic year, should involve OBSERVATION and LISTENING or OBSERVATION and RECOGNITION through READING. Through these questions the English learners can demonstrate sophisticated acquisition of content area concepts without extensive use of language. In many university beginning level courses in Biology, Calculus, Botany, Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics, Anatomy, Music, and many other topics, students have "lab" exams where, rotating every three minutes or so, they have opportunities to observe, recognize, and select answers. In the first few examination, teachers can also incorporate many "YES/NO" questions, or "True/False" questions. These could be linked to observations or to simple reading or listening selections. In the very first examination students could be given multiple choice answers that are very brief and to the point. As the year or semester goes on, the ratio of these types of questions to more open ended types of questions changes. Towards the end of the semester or year students can be expected to write more, to prepare answers to open ended questions from lists of vocabulary categories provided by the teacher. Or these vocabulary categories could have been worked on during daily instruction and the LEP students or English learners can now use these words in their daily active classroom participation.
It is, of course, illegal to fail a student simply because s(he) does not know English. I think if the core content area, the ESL and the L1 teachers work together as a team, and if appropriate modifications are made in the proportion of exam questions that require hands-on/observation/recognition, multiple choice, and open ended questions, then ALL students will benefit.
For more in-depth information, classroom demonstrations, and "coaching" of new and/or experienced teachers, Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK offers:
1. Cognitive - Academic Language and Vocabulary Development
2. Cross Cultural Diversity - Multicultural Strategies
3. Effective Instruction for English Learners (L.E.P. students) Parts 1, 2, 3, 4
4. Promoting Academic Success in Language Minority Students
5. Cognitive - Academic Language and Vocabulary Development
6. Oral Language / Literacy Skills / Higher Order Thinking Skills
7. 50/50 Dual Language Programs: design, planning and implementation
8. The Structure of English / The Structure of Spanish
9. Transition: Introduction to English Reading
Web Site Programs for Teachers: Numbers 1, 5, 7, 8, and 9.
Web Site Programs for Paraprofessionals: Number 3.
Web Site Programs for New Teachers:
Enhanced Cultural Sensitivity - The Challenge of Students Diversity
Identifying / Responding to Students' Language Needs
Phonemic Awareness: Teaching English phonics to L.E.P. students
Relationship Between Reading, Writing and Spelling
Improving Reading Performance -- Building Oral Language Skills)
Write and e-mail any additional questions you may have, and Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK will establish with you, your school or district a Technical Assistance Service Contract. Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK will answer all your questions promptly and to your satisfaction.
For information and credentials please click on the link below or contact directly:
CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK, Ph.D.
Educational Consultant, Program Evaluator
National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, Certification (12/2006)
3113 Malcolm Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90034-3406
Phone and Fax: (310) 474-5605