The following are just a few samples of the many resources we have developed for ElevatED Learning Services clients. They will give you a sense of our educational philosophy, our methods, and our commitment to providing practical tools and strategies that teachers can easily implement during their curricular planning as well as in their actual classrooms.
The 10 strategies explained in this document share several underlying principles that support English Learners in being able to access curricula that foster higher-order thinking: determining the gaps in students’ knowledge and academic skills; addressing those gaps through explicit and contextualized instruction; leveraging the “familiar” (what kids already know and can do) in order to access that which is new; lessening the cognitive load for students by asking them to focus on only one new concept/skill/aspect of language at a time; and using informal, oral language with peers as a bridge to academic conversations and literacy. Although many of these strategies are beneficial to all students, they are essential for working with English Learners for whom the language demands and unfamiliar cultural contexts of schooling put forward additional challenges unknown to many of their native-born peers.
This resource explains a strategy and concept that is crucial for effective scaffolding: the introduction of only one new element at a time. By using that which is familiar as a way of introducing something that is new, students can devote all their energy and attention to understanding the new concept. For example, if a teacher wants to introduce the new skill of text annotation, then the texts used both to model this strategy and to allow students to practice that strategy should be texts that are already familiar to students or those that address familiar topics. In this way, students are not having to do “double-duty” in trying to simultaneously comprehend new text and apply a new and unfamiliar tool.
This menu of activities provides educators with an array of resources for supporting students in building schema, the conceptual framework for organizing knowledge and experience of a topic. The more that educators can “front-load” knowledge about a target concept at the beginning of an instructional unit, the easier it will be for students to make sense of the increasingly complex understandings associated with the target concept they will encounter later through text. These engaging, low-literacy-load activity structures are accessible to all students and can be used to fortify their knowledge of any content area concept.