English Learners

Supporting English Language Learners: What Happens When Teaching in Students’ Native Language is Made Illegal?

Author: Art Peterson Summary: This inspiring story of Floris Wilma Ortiz-Marrero, a teacher-consultant with the Western Massachusetts Writing Project and 2011 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year, describes how she became a vocal advocate for her ELL students in a time when the state made it illegal to teach students in...

Bicultural Literacy: A Personal Exploration

Author: Marcia Venegas-Garcìa Summary: Educator Marcia Venegas–Garcia tells her personal bicultural story to “encourage…particularly those in power, to recognize that all children have their stories of literacy,” and to encourage a “less myopic,” more diverse view of teaching and learning. This personal essay, along with others, could well serve as...

Whose Core Is It?

Author: Christina Puntel Summary: An elementary school teacher and bilingual coordinator pushes back against the mandated content/performance descriptors provided by her district to assert that the “core” of her curriculum is her students’ learning. “I teach with an ear close to the core of each child, to the core of the...

A Cognitive Strategies Approach to Reading and Writing Instruction for English Language Learners in Secondary School

Author: Carol Booth Olson and Robert Land Summary: This article documents a longitudinal research study conducted by members of the UC Irvine Writing Project in partnership with a large, urban school district in which 93 percent of the students are English language learners. Over an eight-year period, 55 secondary teachers...

Book Review: English Learners, Academic Literacy, and Thinking: Learning in the Challenge Zone

Author: Debra Schneider Summary: How can we best support English learners in classrooms where rigorous curricula focus on intellectual practices across content areas? How can we engage in practices that enable students to construct rather than reproduce knowledge, develop deep understanding of disciplinary knowledge and forge connections between school and...

Narrative Writing and the Common Core State Standards, from Helping English Learners to Write

Authors: Carol Booth Olson, Robin C. Scarcella, Tina Matuchniak Summary: In this chapter from Helping English Learners to Write, the authors explain the critical role of narrative writing in helping English learners develop their English language skill and succeed in English Language Arts coursework in the secondary grades. Building upon...

How Language Minority Students Can Learn in the Content Areas: An Alternative to Silence

Author: Beth Winningham Summary: A teacher researcher who studied the experiences of five language-minority students over the course of a school year offers concrete suggestions for improving the learning experience of middle/high school students in general, and English learners in particular. This article could be examined as a model of...

Breaking the Boundaries of Texts: Video Game and Literacy Curriculum Development for English Language Learners

Author: Nora A. Peterman, Lan Ngo, Robert J. LeBlanc, Susan Goldstein Summary: This article describes a study of a literacy video game designed to help English learners negotiate new vocabulary and unfamiliar language structures as they read. The game, collaboratively created on Gamestar Mechanic by a team including a public...

A Fourth Grade Service Learning Project Engages English Learners

Author: Robert Rivera-Amezola Summary: In this video, a teacher of fourth-grade English learners describes how he integrated service learning and digital literacy in a civic engagement project. They used “My Voice,” a service-learning framework, as a guide to choose a project about water conservation and pollution. The teacher made information...

Long-Term English Learners Writing Their Stories

Author: Lynn Jacobs Summary: Long-term English learners—those who typically have attended school for at least seven years—speak English well but are often considered below grade level. Because they assume many adult responsibilities in their out-of-school lives, including household duties and translating for family and others, they present opportunities for teachers...