You are on page 1of 13

Eemma Iseman

TE 870
April 27, 2016
ELL Support Curriculum Development

Analysis of curriculum

The Reading Street English Language Learning (ELL) Handbooks are textbooks that


Jim Cummins, Ph.D., Lily Wong Fillmore, Ph.D., Georgia Earnest Garcia, Ph.D.,

George A. Gonzlez, Ph.D., Elena Izquierdo, Ph.D., Reading Street, Grade 2, Scott Foresman,

ELL Handbook, Pearson, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, 491 pages, isbn:


All four domains of language are taught in the reading street curriculum, but only

listening and reading is supported within the ELL handbook. The lessons focus on identifying

prior knowledge and using that as a base for developing literacy skills. Prior knowledge or

background knowledge is a key to comprehension for all learners but is particularly important for

ELL learners. This includes finding out what students already know about a new topic and

helping them to make connections between what they already know and what they are learning

(Levine and McCloskey, 2009, pg.8). The ELL handbook provides weekly lesson materials to

support ELL students with scaffolding and leveled comprehension and vocabulary instruction for
language development. These comprehension and vocabulary activities are aligned with the

content that teachers are addressing within the mainstream curriculum.

The daily concept development activities activate prior knowledge and build background,

scaffold meaning, affirm identity, and develop and extend language. The concept development

section provides linguistically accommodated questions to reach beginning, intermediate, and

advanced language proficiency levels. The ELL concept development is reflected on the ELL

poster which provides daily activities with an anchored talk question that relates to the core

lesson to help build concept attainment and encourage oral language development and

production. It helps make personal and cultural connections that validate identity and link

academic content with what children already know through questions about personal experience

and knowledge. I use this poster daily by using the question of the day for the topic of our

conversation at the beginning of class.

The listening comprehension section has an adapted read aloud in the listening

comprehension section of the ELL support pages which covers the same concept and information

as the read aloud in the core curriculum. There are two listening sections, first listening which is

for listening to understand. It gives children a purpose for listening. The second listening is for

checking for understanding. Once children understand the main idea they can listen on different

days to clarify understanding. I personally dont have access to this resource because only one

copy of the audio cd comes with every grade level package. An additional audio cd could be

purchased for the ELL teacher, but would also require extra weekly communication on if the

content classroom teacher is using in the classroom.

The phonics and phonemic awareness section provide discrete language skills that ELLs

need including letters of the alphabet, familiarity with the sounds represented by letters, the

ability to decode words, and the rules and conventions of how words are formed. These skills are

addressed through the Lets Listen for Sounds illustrations that provides visual support and

scaffolds meaning for the core phonemic awareness lesson. Guofang Li and Patricia Edwards

(2009) say that a fundamental step in the development of understanding about the sounds within

words or phonemes begins with oral manipulation of sounds (Li &Edwards, 2009, pg.96). The

phonics and phonemic awareness support lessons work along with the core lessons to help

children learn these skills at the same time they are developing basic English vocabulary.

Language transfer notes throughout the book help activate prior knowledge about a phonics or

phonemic awareness skills and affirm childrens identity. While language transfer knowledge is

helpful for the teacher, all of the language transfer notes I have encountered are for speakers of

Spanish. Spanish speakers represent a vast amount of ELL students, I believe the book could

benefit teachers by providing transfer notes on multiple languages. The flexible bank of phonics

transitions lessons in the back of the handbook provides practice for developing and internalizing

language at all proficiency levels.

The vocabulary section provides explicit and systematic instruction to acquire both social

and academic language for literacy attainment. The Reading Street curriculum acknowledges that

children need multiple exposures to new vocabulary through frequent listening, reading, writing,

and oral language activities. Research shows that second language readers rely heavily on

vocabulary knowledge, and that a lack of vocabulary knowledge is the largest obstacle for

second language readers to overcome (Levine & McCloskey, 2009, 145). Vocabulary in the ELL
support pages and in the core lessons provide areas for giving visual, contextual, and linguistic

support so children can access grade level lesson vocabulary. Vocabulary skill lessons from the

ELL support pages engage children in figuring out meanings of new words, thereby increasing

their comprehension and language production.

The reading comprehension section provides activities that reinforce the core lesson, the

ELL handbook, and the three comprehensions sections of the ELL support lessons activate prior

knowledge, build background, scaffold meaning, affirm identity, and develop and extend

language. Comprehension activities provide questions that encourage children to use oral

language during reading to demonstrate understanding of text and to employ inferential skills.

There are leveled notes for different activities that provide ideas for differentiating instruction at

beginning, intermediate, and advanced proficiency levels.

The grammar and conventions lessons provide the systematic instruction that children

need at each language proficiency level to scaffold use of increasingly complex grammatical

structures in content area reading and writing. They do this through activities that are designed so

that children reuse the language related to each core convention using different modalities to

enhance understanding. There is also a flexible bank of grammar transition lessons that lead

children in transferring knowledge from their home languages to English and guide language

development. These grammar lessons are generic, tedious worksheets which make some question

their effectiveness. I often use them, but try to find meaningful and engaging activities to pair

them with.
The beginning of the textbook provides professional development articles by each of the

authors of the book that describe the significance and reasoning for each of the approaches,

practices, and materials in this book. The back of the book offers a section where the vocabulary

for each unit is provided in Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, and Hmong to help support

ELL students and aid their comprehension of the text. There is also a section of linguistic

contrastive analysis for the five languages already mentioned. This is a great tool for content

teachers to have a better understanding of the challenges that their ELL students might face with

pronunciation and grammar. However, the ELL population in many districts represents a much

wider range of linguistic backgrounds.

The extensive amount of materials and supports is mind-boggling. It is difficult for me as

an ELL teacher who only has her students for 30 minutes a day, 3 times a week, to decide which

supports to provide and materials to use. Having my ELL pull-out groups based on grade levels

requires extra planning and preparation due to the differentiated language proficiency of each

student. Therefore I have tried to implement tasks that I believe will benefit and support all of

my ELL students to relatively the same degree.

Overall I think that this handbook is a great support for teachers in the content classroom,

but it fails to fully address all of the needs of ELL students in a pull-out program. I believe that

this textbook was intended to be a tool for the content classroom teacher to use for differentiation

and not for the ELL teacher to use for support and intervention with her ELL students. If ELL

teachers are using this textbook as a guide for ELL pull-out groups than the teachers, who have
not been trained in ELL best practices are less likely to provide students with the differentiated

support and scaffolding that they need in order to be successful in the content classroom.

The integration of this handbook in a pull-out situation is unrealistic because in order for

it to work effectively through frontloading concepts and vocabulary or re-teaching content to

students it requires the content teacher and ELL specialists to plan every lesson and unit around

each other. This is quite impossible for an ELL teacher to communicate daily, or even weekly

with every content classroom teacher to parallel their lessons in order for the ELL handbook to

be effective. The sheer amount of material provided in the textbook can be extremely

overwhelming for ELL teachers and content classroom teachers alike, it is logistically impossible

to cover all the content provided.

The next question I have found myself encountering is the actual effectiveness of the

resource. While all the methods and practices are clearly supported with research, it fails to

account for the entire ELL population and the diverse environments in ELL classrooms. I have

continuously found myself at a loss when I am expected to teach the same content with students

representing such a diverse range of English language proficiency. With my limited amount of

time with students I try to decide what would be most effective to teach, vocabulary, phonics,

grammar, or comprehension. All of these skills are vital for the development of a students

language, but teaching each as a separate skill, in a bottom-up approach feels meaningless and

not motivating for ELL students.

I believe that when this handbook is used as a tool and resource for content

classroom teachers to differentiate and better support their ELL students it is an adequate
resource. It incorporates best practice such as building on background knowledge, sheltering

instruction, scaffolding, as well as adapting literacy activities appropriate for ELL students

through shared reading, read-aloud, and paired reading. However, for an ELL pull-out situation,

the handbook is best used only as an informative tool for the ELL teacher to see what concepts

and vocabulary could be frontloaded or reinforced.

This unideal situation created a perfect opportunity for me to create a curriculum plan for

the ELL pull-out program in my school. The four basic tasks of a curriculum leader in Leading

Curriculum Development include defining the program, collaborating among all of the members

of the school community, providing a path or way of working for others to follow, and

coordinating activity leading to the attainment of the program desired (2009, pg.22). Since this

need for curriculum is not for an entire school plan, I believe the steps will look a little different

in my curriculum development plan.

Defining the Program

Jon Wiles says any curriculum always reflects the values of those who created it. This

curriculum will be headed by me and therefore will reflect my values pertaining to ELL

instructional support. Wiles suggests to not start with a philosophy statement, but instead to focus

and pinpoint the priorities and values of the community. The priorities I have for this curriculum

include: giving students the tools and skills they need to communicate socially and access the

content in the classroom, building on and making connections with the knowledge and

experiences students already have, maintaining their language and culture as well as providing

students with opportunities to share with others, and connecting students and families to the
community. These are the values that I believe would most effectively support the whole ELL


The materials I used as a guide for curriculum change is Jon Wiles Leading Curriculum

Development, WIDA ELD Standards, WIDA Can Do Descriptions, my schools scope and

sequence for the English Language Arts Curriculum (Reading Street), and resources from

TESOL 2016 International Conference. The parts of the current ELL curriculum that I would like

to retain and integrate into the new ELL curriculum design is the ELL and ELD books, the ELL

posters, and the ELL vocabulary resources. The ELL and ELD books and vocabulary tie in with

the content that is being taught in their general education classrooms. The ELL posters offer a

visual of the key concepts being taught in the ELA curriculum and provide daily activities with

anchored talk questions that help build concept attainment and encourage oral language

development and production.

The ELL handbooks do have great research based practices, but they are meant to be a

support for ELL students, not to be their entire curriculum. ELL students need more than what is

supplied in the handbook, such as are the activities that help develop their basic interpersonal

communication skills (BICS) as well as develop their cognitive academic language proficiency

(CALPS). Keeping these resources will be an additional support and integrated whenever

functional, but not focused on as the main content of the ELL pull-out classroom.

In my ELL curriculum design there are seven areas that will help me design the program:

WIDA standards, vocabulary, general education tie -ins, learning standards, assessments,
resources and materials and differentiation. These areas will help me lay out a scope and

sequence for my K-5 ELL students.

I started out using the World Class Instruction and Design Assessment (WIDA), the

WIDA English Language Development (ELD) Standards and the WIDA example topics and

genres. These example topics and genres includes language needed across the curriculum, such

as the language of science, social studies, mathematics, and the language of social and

instructional language. The next steps is combining these themes together that would make a

comprehensible unit, which will allows you to condense these topics into units that are

applicable in the classroom.

The next step is choosing what vocabulary I want students to learn in the curriculum and

at the end of each unit. Academic vocabulary support is vital for the success of ELL students

which can take 5 to 7 years to develop. I developed vocabulary for each unit, as well as included

the vocabulary that was provided in the ELL handbook. This will allow for content classroom

tie-ins with the teaching of vocabulary, either through a pre-teach method or a reteach depending

on the succession of the units in alignment with the reading curriculum.

While I have mentioned a few general education tie-ins with the ELL pull-out curriculum

already, I also plan to use the grade level scope and sequences that align with the Reading Street

Curriculum to correlate what students are leaning in ELL to support what they are leaning in the

general education classroom. Some things included in the scope and sequence is phonics,

vocabulary, comprehension strategies and skills, and writing.

The learning standards that I will by considering during this curriculum development is

the Common Core Standards which are essential to the grade levels I teach (K-5). Using these

standards with the WIDA standards allow me to prepare a curriculum that fully incorporates all

aspects of language that students will need access to in order to be successful in our education


Some standardized areas of assessment I will be using is the WIDA Access Placement

Test (W-APT) and the WIDA Access Test. The W-APT is given to a student when they first enter

the districts school system and the W-APT is given to students each spring. These assessments

allow us to annually gauge student progress. Some on-going assessments I will be using in this

curriculum include pre and post assessments, summative, and exit tickets.

Assessments are vital for any student to monitor progress, but especially for ELL

students. In my relatively short experience as an ELL teacher I have had many teachers and

school psychologists express concern in ELL student progress in the mainstream classroom.

While the research says it takes up to 2 years for BICS to develop and up to 7 for CALPS, it is

comforting for general education teachers to obtain data that shows that their students are making

progress with their language and in the ELL classroom, even if it doesnt show in the general ed


I will be keeping some resources and materials from the Pearson Reading Street ELL

Handbook, but will also be implementing resources collected from multiple websites and

resource books. I will be using some websites for theme based reading resources and vocabulary
packs. Many of the resources that I will be using for this curriculum are materials I created

specifically for my ESL students.

My pull-out schedule is aligned with the RTI (Response to Intervention) good fit groups.

This means that ELL pull-out is based off of grade level groups and ELL is the good fit group for

those students. This however puts the ELL students into grade level groupings and not by their

language abilities. I have been able to add some differentiation by adjusting the frequency of

how often students come. I will differentiate teaching and expectations for students at different

English proficiency levels with the WIDA Can Do Descriptions.


Wiles plan for collaboration include: administration, staff, students, and community

members. Since the curriculum development that I will be leading is much smaller than the

curriculum this outline was planned for I believe it will look a little different. Some members in

the community I could contact about this curriculum development plan would be the parents of

the ELL student population and members of the TESOL community at MSU. The staff and

administration members that I will need to collaborate and coordinate with for this curriculum

plan change is the Data Coach at our school, my school principal, the two other ELL teachers in

the school district, and the assistant superintendent.

Coordinating with the data coach will allow me to obtain the Language Arts Reading

Streets curriculum scope and sequence. This scope and sequence will provide me the grade-level

curriculum tie-ins I need to best support students within the ELL curriculum. These scope and
sequence maps include phonics, vocabulary, comprehension skills and strategies as well as

writing focuses.

I hope to fulfill Wiles task of providing a path for others to follow through creating a

scope and sequence plan for K-5 ELL pull-out. This can be used as a guide for future ELL

students at my school as well as a document for administrators and content teachers to see what

skills are being taught in ELL. This scope and sequence will be created through all the previous

steps discussed.

The last task is coordinating activity leading to the attainment of the program desired.

After communication and collaboration has been addressed it is up to me to create a draft of the

scope and sequence for ELL curriculum. After I have chosen the skills and themes to focus on, I

would need to either find the resources or create the resources for the ELL curriculum. After

creating a plan it will need to share with members of the curriculum team. I hope to implement

these steps in the next few months, so that I can be ready to implement this curriculum in the

upcoming school year.

Works Cited

Bascia, N., Carr-Harris, S., Fine-Meyer, R., & Zurzolo, C. (2014). Teachers, curriculum

innovation, and policy formation. Curriculum Inquiry, 44(2), 228-248.

DeMatthews, D. E. (2014). How to improve curriculum leadership: Integrating leadership theory

and management strategies. The Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies,

Issues and Ideas, 87(5), 192-196.

Wiles, J. (2008). Leading Curriculum Development. Corwin Press.