In last week’s post, I shared the first part of the year-end review of our CCSS for ELLs posts. That post focused on the big picture overview of the year’s posts related to implementing the CCSS for ELLs. This week, I’ll give you a recap of instructional considerations and resources for teaching a CCSS-based curriculum to ELLs.

Since effective teachers of ELLs model how they’d like ELLs’ final products to look when they’re teaching them, I’ll structure my post in the same way. In this case, I’ll model writing a claim and providing evidence to support it as called for in the CCSS. In this post you’ll see:

  • An open-ended text-dependent question
  • My claims (a brief summary on the topic)
  • Evidence to support my claim (resources from the blog and other sources for more information)

1. What are some Instructional implications of teaching the CCSS for English Language Arts/Literacy to ELLs? 

Claim: The “shifts” for ELA/Literacy outline a new way of thinking about how language and content intersect across the domains of speaking, listening, reading, and writing. To that end, all teachers of ELLs – not just ESL teachers – will need to reframe how they approach instruction. Some considerations include modeling the consistent use of academic language when speaking with students and ensuring that students are given enough support to listen for and produce spoken academic language.  Under the CCSS, reading focuses on using increasingly complex text and places a greater emphasis on students reading informational text while still including fiction. The term “close reading” has been used in conjunction with the CCSS to describe how students should use the texts they read to figure out their meaning and grapple with them. However, ELLs may often not possess the same background knowledge as non-ELLs; it is assumed students draw from this background knowledge when reading both fiction and informational text. As a result, teachers will need to be aware of their ELLs’ familiarity with the background necessary to comprehend the texts they read and build background while not detracting from students’ experiences making meaning of text. When they write, students will write with a specific audience in mind and will produce informational/expository texts grounded in evidence found in texts. In addition, students will write to persuade and argument; culturally diverse students’ home cultures may also influence how they produce these types of writing.


2.       What do teachers need to know about the CCSS for Mathematics when teaching ELLs?

Claim: The three “shifts” in the CCSS for Mathematics are: (1) focus strongly where the standards focus, (2) coherence: think across grades, and link to major topics within grades, and (3) Rigor: in major topics pursue conceptual understanding, procedural skill and fluency, and application with equal intensity. In addition to students now needing to comprehend the language of mathematics, they will also be asked to explain, justify and defend their thinking about mathematical concepts while using language that is mathematically accurate. To help teachers of ELLs connect mathematical content with academic language, they should focus on students’ mathematical reasoning in lieu of absolute accuracy with language, support ELLs’ mathematical discourse practices, and view everyday language and experiences as rich resources for mathematical instruction.  


3.       What do teachers need to know about the Next Generation Science Standards when teaching ELLs?

Claim: Even though I include them in this blog, The Next Generation Science Standardsare not Common Core State Standards. They were developed by the National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Achieve. To date, three states have adopted the NGSS – Kansas, Kentucky, and Rhode Island. The NGSS focus on scientific practices as well as content and are intended to lead to a deeper learning of skills students need to be successful beyond grade 12. The NGSS focus on teaching students to actively engage in their science classes instead of memorizing scientific facts. To that end, academic language is central to all students – including ELLs – mastering the NGSS. Students will need to use language in inquiry-based science principles to conduct experiments, discuss, and argue their findings.  Also, the NGSS strive to make connections across content areas such as Social Studies, English language arts, and Mathematics. The NGSS recognize the diversity of students in schools today, and include Appendix D which deals with teaching the NGSS to diverse learners, including ELLs. The appendix contains instructional approaches that teachers can use with different types of learners. It cites a research literature base for ELLs which indicates five areas where teachers can support both science and language learning: (1) literacy strategies for all students, (2) language support strategies with ELLs, (3) discourse strategies with ELLs, (4) home support, and (5) home culture connections.


 4. What materials can teachers of ELLs use when creating CCSS-based lessons?

Claim: The CCSS hold great promise to shift teachers’ thinking so that they teach both content and academic language simultaneously, ultimately benefiting ELLs if these students are provided appropriate support. However, the development of materials teachers can immediately use in their classrooms to support ELLs in meeting the CCSS has lagged behind the pace at which the CCSS are being implemented (and assessed in some cases). That being said, some groups and states have released materials that teachers of ELLs can use in their classrooms. Some of these resources for English Language Arts include those created by the New Jersey Department of Education and Stanford University’s Understanding Language Initiative. The New York City Department of Education has created math units scaffolded for ELLs in Grades 3, 5, and 6. There are other instructional materials and videos available that were not specifically developed with ELLs in mind, including those housed by engageNY and the Teaching Channel. This is an area that I hope to see developed further during the next school year, as I’ve heard quite often that teachers of ELLs have been creating many of their own materials and could use some additional support.


Thanks for sticking with me throughout the school year! I’m attending the Council of Chief State School Officers’ National Conference on Student Assessment the rest of this week. Next week I’ll post about what I find out there that’s pertinent to ELLs.