Diving into ELL

My SpEd Classroom Inquiry

For my inquiry, I focused in on a student in my class who is an English Language Learner. Through this inquiry, I have explored what support I can give to help an English language learner in my classroom. I have looked both at what I can accomplish as his teacher, such as modified assignments and learning outcomes, and what resources are available to the student outside of my classroom, such as ELL and programs such as Big Brothers, which immerses him in the community. My hopes for carrying on from this inquiry is that I can have tools available to help me build up my students to the best that they can be.This inquiry is in a journal format, documenting my struggles, successes and thoughts as I work with a student who has only begun to speak English.

– “English Language Learner students are those whose primary language(s) or language(s) of the home, is other than English and who may therefore require additional services in order to develop their individual potential within British Columbia’s school system. Some students speak variations of English that differ significantly from the English used in the broader Canadian society and in school; they may require ELL support.” –
– ELL Guide for Classroom Teachers


My Journey with ELL: SpEd Inquiry

Starting Point Struggle   02.10.16

This student in my class is new this year from Mexico (Guadalajara, which apparently I say with a very English accent!). The student has little written output, and struggles to read assignments given to him, let alone complete them.  He is constantly in need of attention with projects or written assignments given to him during class, he has great ideas but has trouble communicating them. One of my largest frustrations is that he is unable to start on his own without me having to guide him. I am struggling with how to meet his needs in the class so he can be more successful and grow. Through this inquiry, I want to try to implement different strategies to motivate him as well as offer him tools to help him. This inquiry follows my journey working with an ELL student in my classroom, and how I can best support his growth and success.

Plan of attack: Reading 02.16.16
During Silent reading, I am making it my goal to read with my student at least twice a week. My hope is to continue to help him read. I hope to continue to expose him to English words and sounds during this time to boost his confidence, as well as develop a relationship with him so we can communicate better.


Plan of Attack: Visual Learning   02.26.16
Something that I have been working on with my FA and SA is making my learning more visible. I am thinking about how this can benefit my ELL students. I am writing my goals and lesson materials on to PowerPoint slides and onto the whiteboards, but maybe what I need to do is have a visual element for my students to follow as well. If I’m already using a PowerPoint, how can I add visual elements so they can be involved as well?

Science Visual Learning   02.28.16
Thinking about my visual learning, I want to create a lesson which uses visual elements to help my students understand the concept behind the lesson. For this lesson on homogeneous solutions, I created a PowerPoint to go along with it that not only includes text but visual images. Another element that I wanted to add was movement and getting my student up and moving in order to cement ideas so he cannot stand out at his desk and he is required to actually physically move around the classroom. I have done this in two ways in this lesson. One, I have the students standing up and sitting down when they see an image of a solution Kama they stand up if it is a homogeneous solution and sit down if it is not. Also, I have the students moving around the classroom to simulate what happens when sugar dissolve into a liquid.

Reflection: I think it was helpful for him to actually see his peer’s thinking with the up/down movement (visual check-in). And he seemed to be picking up the concept. The second part was not as successful, he took the opportunity to tune-out and fool around with his friends.

Struggle Point: Not Working 03.01.16
I’m still struggling with handing out assignments and my student sitting there and not doing anything. He takes no initiative to get his work done and sits there, in his chair, often distracted and not seeking any help. I find myself being already being in 3 places at once in the classroom and I am unable to be working with him one-on-one for any length of time. I’m lucky right now that I have an EA in the class who I can direct to help him get on his way. How do I best use my time to visit every student who needs me as well as work one-on-one with the students so he can participate in the class?

Inspiring moment with Reading   03.02.16
Today, while I was reading with my student, he asked if we could read one of his books. I agreed. He pulled out a popular book in Spanish. And he asked me to read a page. Now, my Spanish is non-existent. But, having a little bit of French helped me understand the words. I made it through the page with extremely clumsy Spanish, leaving my student in awe. “How do you know Spanish!?” He exclaimed. I explained to him was able to connect some Spanish words to words that were similar in English, and that helped me understand a bit of what I was reading. It was a very empowering moment for him. I think he realized that he can use these connections to make his reading easier.


Report Cards and ELL Goals   03.07.16
ELL students do not get letter grades on their report cards. I find myself taking a sigh of relief when I reach his work, knowing that I do not have to give him a letter grade. As report card season takes off, I need to make sure that I am still giving him valuable assessment feedback, even if it does not translate into a letter grade. Looking back at his work, he enjoys colouring and drawing (intricately), and in the future, I would like to use this to his advantage.

It was interesting to see his ELL designation and the goals he is reaching for. My student is at Level 1, meaning he is a beginner. From the BC Website: “The amount of time required to progress from one level to the next will vary from one student to another. Language learning is a complex and gradual process, and progress varies in pace and includes apparent regression as well as improvement. Consequently, a level as delineated in this document does not equate to a year of schooling (e.g., a student may spend more than a year at a particular level).” Reading into his level, he is beginning to develop basic skills.

Moving Forward: Integrating What I have Learned     03.15.16
For my next Science unit, I want to make my lessons very visual, and give tools to my student to help him succeed.

So far, in my bag of tricks, I have:
         As mentioned in a previous entry, I want to add a colouring element for my student. We are doing the anatomy of the heart, for this part, I want to have a colour-in section to support his learning.
         I want to have a vocabulary sheet to hand out to the class. I’m hoping that if I can connect spoken word, to picture, to word it will strengthen his vocabulary and command of the subject.
         For assessment for learning, I want to offer a visual or verbal element so that he can effectively show his leaning.

Referencing The Goals: Celebration   03.28.16
As I write my final, I am stuck by something: Goal 1: That is continually and consciously reshaped through experiences with a variety of learners in a range of socio-cultural contexts. It’s in congruency with the comment from the BC Website: “Students should be encouraged to use their previous experiences with oral and written language to develop their second language and to promote their growth to literacy. It is important that acquisition of the English used in the broader Canadian society and in school be seen as an addition to a student’s linguistic experience. Attempting to replace another language with English is not in the best interest of the learner.” What unique elements can my student bring to this next Science unit?


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