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Amanda Rodriguez currently works as an ESL Teacher at Thompson High School in Alabaster, Alabama. She supports ELLs in a variety of ways, including teaching ESL class periods, providing Sheltered Instruction and inclusion, and coaching core content teachers on best practices for ELLs. Prior to teaching for Alabaster City Schools, she taught ESL at the elementary level for 12 years. She has a Master’s Degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and is a National Board Certified Teacher.
There are two main ways I use Ellevation to support my colleagues who have ELLs in their classrooms. First, my partner ESL teacher and I send an email to all teachers explaining how to find the instructional activities. The teachers find it helpful to be able to filter the activities by content area and grade. Second, I have tried and adapted some of the activities myself as teachers have asked my opinion of them. For example, a science teacher mentioned that Ellevation had recommended using Cornell Notes for an activity, but she was unsure if they would be useful. I adapted the activity, tried it myself with my Sheltered History class, and shared the results with her. If I am asking other teachers to try the activities, I need to be willing to use them myself.
One instructional activity that I recommend frequently is Brainstorm Walk. We use this activity not only for activating prior knowledge but also discussing review questions, reading texts, practicing vocabulary, and more.
During our Brainstorm Walk, students work in pairs or small groups and rotate to different charts around the room. The charts are labeled with a question, heading, or idea. The students discuss the chart, read and discuss the previous groups' answers, then write their own idea(s) on the chart. They cannot repeat what another group has already written.
I use and recommend this activity frequently because it incorporates all four language domains: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Brainstorm Walk is an excellent tool for reviewing information or giving an overview of a topic. Recently in my 11th grade Sheltered History class, for example, we combined this activity with Hanging Hashtags. The students rotated to charts where they read adapted texts about important muckrakers from the early 20th century. With their partners, they created hashtags for each article. The students enjoyed the activity, and my co-teacher for the class decided to use it in her other history classes as well!
Three of my top tips, tricks or techniques that I employ when working with classroom teachers to help them better understand and teach ELLs are:
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