243.  I am a Migrant Education Instructional Aide and would like help with the most effective way to increase students’ reading levels when you only see them twice a week for 30 minutes.


I assure you that if I knew the answer to your question I would have solved one of the greatest academic problems in the world!!!

Thirty minutes of reading instruction twice a week (or one hour per week), is NOT enough time to effectively help students increase their reading levels.   I suggest you need to talk to your teacher(s), local administrator(s), or state administrator(s) about this less-than-minimum time allocation to effectively assist students with their English-reading instruction –especially if the students are older students who can maintain their attention for MORE than 30 minutes at a time. 

If the migrant students you are trying to help

receive daily English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction where the

language of the daily content area lessons if fully developed, AND

if the migrant students’ content area teachers

provide effective and efficient Specially Designed Academic Instruction in

English (SDAIE) using appropriate instructional modifications,   

then, providing additional assistance for 30 minutes twice a week to INDIVIDUAL students may be helpful, especially if your assistance is fully coordinated with the work that the ESL teacher or content area teachers provide AFTER your help.

At any rate, there are a number of key ideas that you may wish to keep in mind as you provide the very limited help you are trying to provide:

  1. You need to be working in total cooperation with either the migrant students’ ESL teacher or their content area teachers.

  2. You need to help the migrant students PREPARE to work effectively in the ESL class or the content area class(es) which they will attend AFTER working with you.
  3. Your help MUST concentrate on developing the vocabulary the migrant students will HEAR, SEE, SPEAK, READ and/or use to WRITE in the class(es) they will attend AFTER your thirty-minute session.  You need to introduce, by meaning categories, the key words –and as many other words as possible—that the students will encounter in the reading materials for their ESL and/or content area class(es).
  4. Working with and trying to help migrant students –or any other students—AFTER they have experienced failure in the ESL and/or content area class(es) WILL almost certainly NOT result in any effective academic growth on the part of these migrant students.   Your help comes too late!

I would strongly recommend that you clearly explain the key features of an effective program to those that have designed the migrant tutorial program you have described in your question.  

 If the migrant students you are trying to help do not have

an ESL teacher or

if their content area teachers do not know how to implement effective and

efficient SDAIE instructional modifications, AND

if these migrant students are falling behind in their academic progress and

if they are failing their classes because of their reading difficulties,   

I would emphatically state that these migrant students need a lot MORE help and a lot MORE effective and efficient help than the less-than-minimum help you are currently providing.   Please, bring the migrant students’ situation to the attention of the educators legally responsible for providing a program that meets the needs of these students and that allow these students to receive an equal educational opportunity and equal access to the core curriculum.



For more in-depth information, classroom demonstrations, and "coaching" of new and/or experienced teachers, Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK offers:

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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

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Identifying / Responding to Students' Language Needs
Phonemic Awareness: Teaching English phonics to L.E.P. students
Relationship Between Reading, Writing and Spelling
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