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EDCI 731 ESL/Dual Language Linguistics

Action Research Project


Team Leader: Amy Peters
Team Members: Susanna Lee, Julie Waterhouse

STEP ONE: ARTICULATE THE RESEARCH QUESTION

Question: In what ways can the use of specific strategies that access words or images as a way
to activate students prior knowledge related to specific content increase CLD student
engagement with the new content?

Rationale: Our team selected this Action Research question after observing that CLD students
had a tendency to recognize belatedly that they have knowledge of a particular field - only after
struggling with the readings and other assignments do they come to this realization. After all of
that struggle, CLD students might have an ah-ha moment in which they discover that the
teacher was talking about something with which they have actually had experience.

Hypothesis: As a result of conducting our Action Research, our team hopes to better understand
strategies that will allow students to engage with a topic before reading the required text. Our
hypothesis is that using both textual and non-textual strategies will serve to activate students
prior knowledge and will increase students comfort with new concepts being introduced in
English and will increase students engagement with and mastery of those concepts as opposed
to contacting the new concepts cold and struggling through text and class materials from
ground zero.

STEP TWO: DESIGN YOUR ACTION RESEARCH


Strategies to be used:
DOTS (Determine, Observe, Talk, Summarize)
Linking Languages Activities (Language Arts 8 - Talking Chips and Jot Thoughts)
Individual Student Writing Samples

As a team we discussed whether or not the DOTS or Linking Language strategies would be
particularly helpful in Susannas adult ESL classroom. She felt that she could certainly have her
students complete individual writing samples since she has her students do a lot of writing in her
classes. She felt that she could probably introduce a topic and have students write what they
know about the subject before reading. She thought that she would then ask her students to write
responses after reading. We thought that sounded like a plausible plan.

Julie did encourage Susanna to try the DOTS activity with her adult students. Julie had
participated in it as a preliminary exercise in a graduate class and found that she engaged the new
material more intentionally than she had without using DOTS. She agreed that the Linking
Language strategy might be a stretch for some adult students. However, Julie wanted us all to
consider the interesting nature of how much information we usually connect to visual content
material. When we consider all the vocabulary and peripheral information that we can generate
using a visual prompt as compared to responding to a brief written prompt, it is truly amazing
how much we know! Image reading does not depend on understanding vocabulary. In actuality
when students can review what they know in the L1 before working or reading in the new
language, L2, they seem to learn more quickly. Visual connections depend on conceptual
EDCI 731 ESL/Dual Language Linguistics
Action Research Project
Team Leader: Amy Peters
Team Members: Susanna Lee, Julie Waterhouse
understanding and not language comprehension. This conceptual understanding can happen at
the same time for students whether they are thinking in L1 or L2. If CLD students process in
their first language, they can record what they can in L2 and what they need to in L1 which can
then be translated, if necessary, into L2.

The team chose to analyze individual student writing samples to take an in-depth look at each
students development. Writing prior to reading and after reading will be analyzed and will be
contrasted with previous writing samples with no activation of prior knowledge.

Samples will be collected from an adult ESL classroom with high-intermediate learners, Western
Iowa Tech Community College, Denison, Iowa. DOTS Strategy student samples, Linking
Language anecdotal observations, and individual student writing samples will be collected from
grade 8 ELL Language Arts students, in a general education classroom, with ELL support, at
Eisenhower Middle School, Topeka, Kansas. DOTS Strategy student samples and Linking
Language observations will also be collected from grades 6 & 7 Social Studies students in a
general education classroom (no ELL support/no CLD students), at Clay Center Community
Middle School, in Clay Center, Kansas.

STEP THREE: COLLECT YOUR DATA


Lesson/Strategy #1:
DOTS - Extreme Environments

Grade Level or Content Area:


Language Arts grade 8 - Population breakdown:
~30% CLD students (L1 is primarily Spanish)
~50% General education students
~20% SpEd students (LD, ED, OHI, 504 Plan)
Total number of students at time of activities: 74

Objective:
The objective is to activate prior knowledge that students have, whether in L1 or L2, connected to
the content that is about to be introduced. In this case the knowledge that is being activated
concerns survival in extreme environments, something students at this age have likely had a wide
range of personal experiences with. Students will also be introduced to Maslows hierarchy of
needs, a concept that is cross-content and understandable to most cultural groups.

I actually started with DOTS on Day One of the Life at the Edges workshop. At first students were
somewhat confused as to how they were expected to generate vocabulary when the class had not yet
completed the introductory vocabulary exercises. With further explanation and modeling, students
were able to use the DOTS grid and generate vocabulary of their own. The vocabulary topic was
generally survival in an extreme environment and specifically connected to survival in the environment
that their team had chosen for their end-of-workshop project.
EDCI 731 ESL/Dual Language Linguistics
Action Research Project
Team Leader: Amy Peters
Team Members: Susanna Lee, Julie Waterhouse
The second step for my class was to create a journal entry in their individual writing journals. The
entry then included an expansion of the strategy where I explained DOTS. What I presented: D -
Determine what you already know about extreme environments; O - Observe text, images and online
information that relate to survival in extreme environments in order to glean additional ideas about
survival; T - Talk about the ideas that you have and compare to the ideas of other students in the
group; S - Summarize in writing what you have uncovered concerning what you know about survival
in extreme environments and what you learned through the strategy.

For the Journal entry, students were also asked to include an extremely brief summary of Maslows
hierarchy of basic needs which were identified via student discussion about what humans must have in
order to survive and be healthy. Needs identified by students were water, food, clothing, shelter,
oxygen, and safety, love and happiness. Students were then instructed to set aside their journals and
return to the DOTS chart. All students followed my model and added five of the terms to the border of
their DOTS chart: WATER, FOOD, CLOTHING, SHELTER, and SAFETY. After adding the terms to
the edges of the chart, I gave students five minutes to browse through the chapter in their textbooks or
contact the internet to skim additional information or view images connected to survival. Students
were provided colored pencils and I modeled making CLEAR connections between the vocabulary in
the blocks and the five terms written in the borders. Students were asked to make visual connections to
at least three of their own vocabulary words.

Next, students were asked to discuss within their groups how the ideas they had were connected to
their own life experiences. Students now readily engaged in sharing their own experiences related to
survival or made connections to stories they had read or movies they had seen about an extreme
environment. Some students referenced a story they had read in grade 6. ( The movie 127 Hours was
based on the true-life event.) Following the discussion time, I asked students to turn their papers over
and write three sentences that used the vocabulary words they had personally generated and the unique
connections they had made on their own DOTS Chart. Their sentences needed to be directly connected
to the extreme environment that their group had chosen for the workshop project board. Some students
struggled to understand the sentence requirements. For those students, my co-teacher and I provided
individual support and aided them as they created the first sentence using a word that they chose from
the chart and the connections they had made to that word. Then we turned them loose on their own to
write the other two sentences. The sentences were evaluated as a pre-lesson knowledge assessment.
Students had been able to contact the new topic in a non-threatening context that included both
linguistic and non-linguistic information. Students were encouraged to access their previous learnings
about the topic of survival and integrate that knowledge with new knowledge from the text - written
and visual, online information, and peer understandings.
The final step for my students, Summarize, was to return to their personal writing journals and expand
the three sentences into a complete paragraph about survival in the extreme environment chosen by
their group for the workshop project. After finishing their paragraphs, I encouraged students to share
their writing with their peers. They could discuss what made their writing clear and understandable or
unclear. If necessary, they should revise their writing incorporating the suggestions of their peers. This
is still pre-reading knowledge but it now is cohesive in nature instead of randomly stored information.
EDCI 731 ESL/Dual Language Linguistics
Action Research Project
Team Leader: Amy Peters
Team Members: Susanna Lee, Julie Waterhouse

Lesson/Strategy #2:
Linking Language - Extreme Environments

Grade Level or Content Area:


Language Arts grade 8 - Population breakdown:
~30% CLD students (L2 is primarily Spanish)
~50% General education students
~20% SpEd students (LD, ED, OHI, 504 Plan)
Total number of students at time of activities: 74

Objective:
The objective is to activate prior knowledge that students have, whether in L1 or L2, connected to
the content that is about to be introduced, or that has just been introduced. In this case the
knowledge that is being activated concerns survival in extreme environments, something students
at this age have likely had personal experiences with. Using images, photographs, or video clips
allows students to access this knowledge whether it is stored in English terminology or in another
language. If a student has knowledge connected to visual stimuli, that knowledge can be translated
into English as needed.

Materials Needed: Typical application


Posters, or slides, with one image per item that students can use vocabulary in L1 or L2 to describe.
(Students can write directly on the poster to make a connection to the image or use post-it notes to
record ideas if utilizing slides.)

Some posters could also have a QR code that links to a video clip or online images that students
would then write about on the poster with that connecting QR code.
Slides could have interactive links that allow students to view a short videoclip or listen to an
audio-clip about the topic. (Neither requires reading English text about the topic.)

Activity:
1. Students view the video clip or the image/photo.
2. Each student writes a one or two sentence response to what they think of or remember about
the subject of the image or video. If utilizing a slideshow or other electronic resource,
students record ideas on post-it notes.
3. Each student then moves to another table with a different poster and image. If utilizing a slide
show, students are shown the next slide or advance to the next slide of the presentation if
working from a laptop or notebook type device.
4. Students continue the process until they have contacted all the images or videos.
5. Students return to their original space and, if using posters, read over the comments left by all
the students who have viewed the poster placed on their table. If using the slideshow, students
EDCI 731 ESL/Dual Language Linguistics
Action Research Project
Team Leader: Amy Peters
Team Members: Susanna Lee, Julie Waterhouse
are given several of the post-it notes that relate to their topic to review what others have
written.
6. Students in each group space cooperatively generate a paragraph, 5-7 sentences, that
encompasses the information that was included in the statements/sentences written by other
students.
7. Students select a spokesperson to share out to the class what they have written.

Accommodation for CLD students:


#1 Students could write their response in Spanish first and then work with a more fluent peer to
find the correct English words to accurately communicate their connection to the image.
#2 I would allow students to use online or physical dictionary to help them with vocabulary.

Variations:
#1 Students could work in teams instead of individually to contact the images/videos and write
their comments, then pairs of teams (4 students) could work to write the paragraphs and share out
to the group or class.
#2 Prior to writing ideas on poster boards or sticky notes, I could use an additional strategy to
generate vocabulary that students might use to describe the image in written language. (I have used
the Kagan Jot Thoughts strategy for this in the past.)

The application with grade 8 Language Arts students ended up an even further variation from these
two ideas as I found out that I had a scheduled observation for Kagan Structures on the same day
that I planned to use the Linking Language strategy. Instead of using posters as I had planned, I
generated a slide show with five environments featured and two questions for each slide. Students
were shown the slide without a title and then shown question 1. What do you observe about this
environment? Students were given two minutes to respond using a Kagan strategy called Talking
Chips. Students had 2 minutes to take turns sharing using the talking chips to facilitate turn-taking
and to make sure everyone talked. Since I had animated the slides, I then revealed question 2.
Using a second Kagan strategy called Jot Thoughts, I had students answer question 2, What do
you think the challenges to survival would be in this environment? Students had two minutes to
generate their ideas and record them on the post-it notes. Finally students were asked to name the
environment. Then I revealed whether they identified it correctly. Following the discussion, a new
slide was revealed and the process repeated. I was able to do a different number of slides with each
group of students based on the depth of their discussion during and after the two strategies. The
post-its were collected and sorted based on the environment they described.

Extreme Environments slideshow: Linking Language slide show


EDCI 731 ESL/Dual Language Linguistics
Action Research Project
Team Leader: Amy Peters
Team Members: Susanna Lee, Julie Waterhouse
EDCI 731 ESL/Dual Language Linguistics
Action Research Project
Team Leader: Amy Peters
Team Members: Susanna Lee, Julie Waterhouse
EDCI 731 ESL/Dual Language Linguistics
Action Research Project
Team Leader: Amy Peters
Team Members: Susanna Lee, Julie Waterhouse

Lesson/Strategy #1: Clay Center Community Middle School


DOTS - Geography of Kansas
Grade Level or Content Area:
Social Studies Grade 7 - Population breakdown:
~0% CLD students (2 former ESL/ELL students: L1s Spanish & Chinese; were exited out of the
program during the 2013/2014 school year)
~70% General education students
~20% SpEd students (LD, ED)
Total number of students at time of activities: 17

Objective:
EDCI 731 ESL/Dual Language Linguistics
Action Research Project
Team Leader: Amy Peters
Team Members: Susanna Lee, Julie Waterhouse
The objective is to activate prior knowledge that students have to the new topic being introduced.
In this case, the new topic was Early Kansas History.

Materials Needed:
- Blank DOTs Charts

We started the year with our unit on geography before transitioning to our unit on Kansas
History. To begin our unit, we focus on the early settlers and tribes that were in the region that
would later become Kansas. I had the students use the DOTS Chart to connect past vocabulary and
knowledge from our geography unit on why people live where they live and what is needed for
populations to grow in an area, to our new unit.
The students started filling in the DOTS Chart individually and after 2-3 minutes of
individual work, the students then turned to their partners to discuss what they had written down.
As they were discussing with their partner, they added any new words their partner brought up to
their charts. After discussing the words as a class, the students worked in small groups to analyze
primary sources from the time period that described the tribes and early explorers who were in the
area. After analyzing the primary sources, I had the students add the words explorers, Manifest
Destiny, Native Americans, policies, economy, and geography, to the borders of their
charts. Students were then instructed to make and draw connections between the words they wrote
on their charts with the words on the border of their charts. After drawing their connections,
students wrote a summary about the the early Kansas time period using the new vocabulary from
their DOTS Charts. The summaries then tied into the group webquest project that the students were
starting in class the next day.

Lesson/Strategy #2: Clay Center Community Middle School


Linking Language: Ancient India

Grade Level or Content Area:


Social Studies Grade 6 - Population breakdown:
~0% CLD students
~98% General education students
~2% SpEd students (LD, ED)
Total number of students at time of activities: 20

Objective:
The objective is to activate prior knowledge that students have based on our previous units and
apply that knowledge to the introduction of our new unit on Ancient India.

Materials Needed:
- 6 posters with pictures related to the vocabulary words for the unit
- markers
EDCI 731 ESL/Dual Language Linguistics
Action Research Project
Team Leader: Amy Peters
Team Members: Susanna Lee, Julie Waterhouse
For this lesson activity the students were split into 6 groups of 3-4 students and given one
poster sheet and markers. Each poster sheet had a picture related to our new unit on Ancient India.
The students were instructed to write or draw whatever they associated with the pictures on the
posters. After 2-3 minutes, the students were told to switch tables and view the next poster and write
or draw what they associated with that picture. The students repeated this process until they were
back at their original poster. The students then circled words that were written multiple times on the
poster and then connected those words by drawing lines. After the students made the connections
between the words, they shared with the class the words and how they related to the pictures. They
then made educated guesses on what the vocabulary word based on the picture on the poster was and
shared those with the class. After a class discussion on the posters and the words/drawings the
students made connections with, I gave them the vocabulary words (and a few sub-topic words that
tied in) for each poster - fertile, polytheistic (Hinduism), nontheistic (Buddhism), caste
system, economy, and city-state (citadels) - and the students wrote these words on their posters.
After working with the posters, I had the class complete introductory notes for our Ancient
India unit, and as they were working on their notes, they added any other words that came to mind
that tied into the pictures/vocabulary words on each poster. Once the notes and intro discussion were
completed, the students wrote a summarizing paragraph using the vocabulary words from the
Linking Language activity to display their knowledge on Ancient India. At the end of our Ancient
India unit, I had students refer back to their summarizing paragraphs and the Linking Language
posters (I kept those hanging in the classroom for the remainder of the unit), to help students
complete their DBQ (Document Based Question) Essays along with the primary sources that go
along with the DBQ.

Lesson/Strategy #1: Western Iowa Tech Community College


DOTS - Online Gambling

Grade Level or Content Area:


High-Intermediate to Advanced Adult English as a Second Language
Population breakdown:
~6 students with Spanish as L1 (from Mexico, Guatemala, and El Salvador)
~3 students with Karen as L1 (from Burma/Myanmar)
~2 students with Tigringa as L1 (from Eritrea)
~1 student with Arabic as L1 (from South Sudan)
~1 student with Amharic as L1 (from Ethiopia)

Total number of students at time of activities: 13

Objective:
The objective is to activate prior knowledge that students have to the new topic being introduced.
In this case, the new topic was online gambling. Students had been working for a few weeks on
EDCI 731 ESL/Dual Language Linguistics
Action Research Project
Team Leader: Amy Peters
Team Members: Susanna Lee, Julie Waterhouse
writing opinion essays in response to pro and con articles. Each set of articles introduced a new
topic about which students were unlikely to have previously formed strong opinions.

Materials Needed:
Pro/Con articles from newsela.com
Blank DOTS charts

For this lesson, students were first given the word gambling and encouraged to generate as
many words as possible that were related to this word. Many students used handheld translators or
translation apps on their smartphones to help them think of the words in English that they wanted.
Students were also able to ask others who spoke the same native language if they could not
remember how to say a word in English.
Next, the prompt online was added to gambling. Again, students were encouraged to
expand their mental schemas to consider what they knew about online activities, especially as related
to gambling. For most students, this was a very new topic, as some did not realize gambling was
even available online. A few had never been to a casino and had little familiarity with the concept of
gambling. After some discussion with instructor and peers, students recognized that they had heard
of lottery tickets, even if they had never purchased any, and they were also able to name some games
that people might place bets on, such as football and even dominoes.
Finally, the prompt was expanded to laws about online gambling. Students did not know
about laws related to the online part, but most immediately recognized that minors were not
permitted in casinos. At this point, students came together as a whole group to share ideas. Students
were given the opportunity to write more ideas sparked by this discussion.
The two articles were distributed, one advocating the banning of online gambling, and one
arguing against bans and favoring regulation instead. Both persuasive articles were written at the
same level. The homework assignment was for students to read both articles, form their own
opinions, and write a four-paragraph essay explaining their opinion. Students might agree completely
with one author or the other, or they might have an opinion different from both authors.

STEP FOUR: ANALYZE THE DATA


DOTS Strategy with grade 8 - 3 ELL students
What follows on the continuing pages are samples of student work. First, DOTS charts for four ELL
students with their summary sentences. Next, we have included the writing these same students
produced to accompany the Extreme Environments project. Each student researched a specific topic,
of their own choosing, and produced an explanation of that challenge as they perceived it and an
assessment of how that challenge impacted the people who live continually in the chosen
environment. The writing structure was identified as cause and effect.
EDCI 731 ESL/Dual Language Linguistics
Action Research Project
Team Leader: Amy Peters
Team Members: Susanna Lee, Julie Waterhouse
Student #1 DOTS Chart for Syrian Warzone Extreme Environment followed by the pre-
reading
writing
sample she
produced
after the
initial DOTS
activity.
EDCI 731 ESL/Dual Language Linguistics
Action Research Project
Team Leader: Amy Peters
Team Members: Susanna Lee, Julie Waterhouse
EDCI 731 ESL/Dual Language Linguistics
Action Research Project
Team Leader: Amy Peters
Team Members: Susanna Lee, Julie Waterhouse

Student #2 DOTS Chart for Jungle Rainforest Extreme Environment followed by her pre-reading
writing sample produced after the initial DOTS strategy.

Student #3 DOTS Extreme Environment for Antarctica followed by her pre-reading writing.
EDCI 731 ESL/Dual Language Linguistics
Action Research Project
Team Leader: Amy Peters
Team Members: Susanna Lee, Julie Waterhouse

Student
#4
DOTS
Extrem
e
Enviro
nment
for
Arctic
Circle
followe
d by
his writing sample
EDCI 731 ESL/Dual Language Linguistics
Action Research Project
Team Leader: Amy Peters
Team Members: Susanna Lee, Julie Waterhouse

POST-LESSON Writing Sample for DOTS #1 student


As a result of the civil war health care facilities and other health resources have been purposely
and aggressively targeted, primarily by the syrian government. The government is responsible for 88%
of attacks. One-third of syrian hospitals have been shuttered since the conflict began and A staggering
two-thirds of medical personnel have either fled or been unable to continue working. Thousands with
EDCI 731 ESL/Dual Language Linguistics
Action Research Project
Team Leader: Amy Peters
Team Members: Susanna Lee, Julie Waterhouse
chronic conditions are living in regional refugee camps. nearly 97% of medical personnel have been
killed. The area now has only one hospital standing because the syrian government blew the rest up.
hospitals had to move sick patients out and take babies out of their nicu units.
Not only are buildings being targeted, hundreds of People are being killed each day in the civil
war in syria. War in Syria has claimed thousands of childrens lives. Millions more are still inside
Syria, caught in a conflict not of their own making, a conflict that is destroying the means of sustaining
life: food, water, healthcare, and Safety.
This is a message from the Syrian people to world leaders.

i am 13 years old and i am Syrian. i am Ali.

i want to talk about the tragedy that we have in Syria.

in Syria, we had no good food and not enough water. We only had lentils. So we ate lentils every
day.

We would see wounded people and dead bodies every day in the street, and the many Children who
did not have homes.

They were living in schools, But now they dont even have a school to live in.

i am asking the leaders of the world to provide us with safe shelter, food, water, medicine - this is
all we ask.

Please, please, please help us.

-Ali, 13 years old

Food and clean water are very limited. the daily bombings have contaminated water and it is
often hard to find. Buildings have been targeted causing the grocery stores and important daily supply
holders to be very limited. Lack of basic resources is a cause of widespread poverty. inflation is
estimated to be around 50%;food-price inflation is almost a 100%. A Lot of houses in syria are being
destroyed as a result of the war. Some people have to live in broken abandoned places or houses which
cause injury and sometimes even death. Most common people are in danger because of the way the
housing conditions are. Nearly 40% of families across 7 governorates report extreme poverty status.

POST-LESSON Writing Sample for DOTS #2 student


How they made their old clothing and new clothing. Back in the day they made their clothing with
plants and animal skin. Know in this days they make their clothing with cotton cloth and long grass.

POST-LESSON Writing Sample for DOTS #3 student

1. The Dry Valleys in Antarctica are the driest places on earth. With such low humidity and moisture at
this portion of the continent, even snow and ice cannot accumulate, which leaves the valleys just a
EDCI 731 ESL/Dual Language Linguistics
Action Research Project
Team Leader: Amy Peters
Team Members: Susanna Lee, Julie Waterhouse
dusty expanse of dirt.
2. Antarctica is, on average, the windiest place on Earth. Scientists exploring this southerly landmass
have reported wind speeds that have reached up to 200 miles per hour.
3. The Antarctic ice sheet is the single biggest mass of ice in the world and can be up to four miles
thick. The continent as a whole contains about 90% of the planet's freshwater ice and around 70% of
the total freshwater on Earth.
4. Scientists claim that if the West Antarctic Ice Sheet were to melt, it would raise global sea levels by
about 16 feet.
5. The Ross Ice Shelf a floating shelf of ice that extends off the continent's main landmass
encompasses more than 197,000 square miles and is the largest ice shelf ever discovered.

POST-LESSON Writing Sample for DOTS #4 student

People in the arctic eat a variety of fish,seals,whales and caribou.They also eat plants and berries that
naturally grow in the arctic. Caribou skin and polar bear skin provide warmth for people and
hunters.Caribou fur provides warmth and effective insulation.

ANALYSIS OF DATA:

Analysis of the four student writing samples as a progression from DOTS and Linking Language
strategies to a final written product will serve to help the team determine if in fact there is a positive
correlation/connection between using visual image-based content prior to and throughout instruction
and increased engagement with and comprehension of content material as we hypothesized as opposed
to having a negative correlation or insignificant impact when compared to presenting that same written
content material minus the pre-reading exercises and strategies.

Student #1
This CLD student is approaching the advanced fluency level and will soon exit the ELL program. She
is also an AVID student and is currently enrolled in an AVID elective class.

This student was able to make connections with several human needs (food, water, shelter, and safety)
and the idea of bombs. She gives examples of the effects of bombs on shelter and safety by using
other words and ideas from her DOTS chart (damage, homes/houses), showing that she is engaged
with the pre-reading strategy and is using it to inform her writing. She also connects ISIS to safety
and shelter. This student demonstrates an understanding of the dangers of living in a warzone prior to
doing any reading.

Student #2
This CLD student is at the intermediate level of fluency but sometimes struggles with finding the
appropriate English word when generating higher level ideas in response to higher depth of knowledge
questions. She has acquired BICS but has not necessarily developed CALP.

As a student at a lower level of academic proficiency, this learner found it more difficult to make
EDCI 731 ESL/Dual Language Linguistics
Action Research Project
Team Leader: Amy Peters
Team Members: Susanna Lee, Julie Waterhouse
connections with the larger ideas and the specific words. Food was easiest for this student because it
is the most basic concept. It is evident this student feels more confident writing about what people eat
than about, for example, what types of shelter people in the rainforest might have. However, this
student does demonstrate an understanding of the more unusual term parasite, connecting the idea of
safety to the word dangerous.

Student #3
This CLD student is at the early intermediate level of fluency and often takes the easy route and copies
the work of other students or other professional writers instead of expressing her own ideas in her own
words. When she converses orally, she often halts or pauses in giving her answer and seems unsure of
what she is trying to express so perhaps she is still at the speech emergent level and not intermediate
fluency level.

This student shows a lack of understanding in making connections among concepts. For example, she
connects buildings with food and water, which might make sense to her but is a less clear
connection that she would need to further explain. Similarly, she mentions the idea of melting snow to
drink, which indicates understanding of a use for snow, but she also connects snow with making
clothes, which requires some stretching to reach (i.e., because snow is cold, a person needs to make
more clothes in order to stay warm). However, this student does make some good connections to
penguins, indicating their use for food and for leading people to water. Whether or not that last idea
is true is less important than this students progress in thinking about what could be true given the
information she has at the time.

Student #4
This CLD student is at the intermediate level of fluency but also sometimes struggles with finding the
appropriate English word when generating higher level ideas in response to higher depth of knowledge
questions. He is very shy and slow to respond in class and could either be struggling to find the
appropriate words or have a high affective filter. This could also be the case with student #2.

Like student #2, this student seems to have struggled with making a connection with the larger ideas of
the activity. This student focused on the food sources that were available to someone in the Arctic
more than any of the other concepts, which could show that he was not comfortable with making
connections to the other needs/vocabulary words. However, this student does start to make a
connection to the words Shelter and safety when he briefly writes about how various animal skins
and furs could be used to keep humans warm and safe in the freezing temperatures.

Linking Language Strategy and writing samples from 6th grade Social Studies
Below are the Linking Language activity posters and post activity writing samples from 3 students in
6th grade Social Studies at CCCMS. Every student in the class hour wrote/drew on all 6 of the
posters and each table group made the connections on their tables poster. The first writing sample is
from a student who is being pre-assessed for Special Education services, the second writing sample
is from a general education student, and the third writing sample is from a student in the gifted
program at CCCMS.
Poster #1
EDCI 731 ESL/Dual Language Linguistics
Action Research Project
Team Leader: Amy Peters
Team Members: Susanna Lee, Julie Waterhouse

Poster #2

Poster #3
EDCI 731 ESL/Dual Language Linguistics
Action Research Project
Team Leader: Amy Peters
Team Members: Susanna Lee, Julie Waterhouse

Poster #4

Poster #5
EDCI 731 ESL/Dual Language Linguistics
Action Research Project
Team Leader: Amy Peters
Team Members: Susanna Lee, Julie Waterhouse

Poster #6

Student Writing #1:


EDCI 731 ESL/Dual Language Linguistics
Action Research Project
Team Leader: Amy Peters
Team Members: Susanna Lee, Julie Waterhouse

Student Writing #2:

Student Writing #3:

6th grade Linking Language sample analysis:


As the students completed the Linking Language posters they became more comfortable with
writing down their thoughts based on their pictures on the posters once they were able to see that
EDCI 731 ESL/Dual Language Linguistics
Action Research Project
Team Leader: Amy Peters
Team Members: Susanna Lee, Julie Waterhouse
their peers were writing similar or the same things they wanted to write. Some of the photos related
better to our past units on Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia so the students were able to draw more
from their knowledge on those time periods to determine the vocabulary words that related to the
new India Unit (which is shown on the posters that had more words connected than other posters). In
the writing samples, the student who is currently being pre-assessed for special education services
(writing sample #1) was able to make some connections between past knowledge and new
knowledge (fertile soil = more food for city states = more trade) but had a hard time making a
connection between the new religions also brought to the region because of trade. The second student
wrote primarily about the religions of Ancient India, which I believe is because that student was in
the group that made the connections between the words on the poster relating to the polytheistic
religion-Hinduism. The last student seemed to be able to make connections between all of the posters
and was able to show a basic understanding on how the trade routes of India influenced the spread of
religion in the region and explain how the civilization grew.

DOTS Strategy and writing samples with adults


Below are writing samples from a high-intermediate student whose first language is Spanish and an
advanced student whose first language is Karen. For comparison, a writing sample with no prior
knowledge activation strategies used is attached first. Then attached is the writing sample after using
DOTS to determine the improvement, if any, after using this strategy. In all cases, only the first page of
the essay (2-3 pages for each essay) is included for the sake of space.

Adult High Intermediate - Sample #1


EDCI 731 ESL/Dual Language Linguistics
Action Research Project
Team Leader: Amy Peters
Team Members: Susanna Lee, Julie Waterhouse

Adult High Intermediate - Sample #2


EDCI 731 ESL/Dual Language Linguistics
Action Research Project
Team Leader: Amy Peters
Team Members: Susanna Lee, Julie Waterhouse
EDCI 731 ESL/Dual Language Linguistics
Action Research Project
Team Leader: Amy Peters
Team Members: Susanna Lee, Julie Waterhouse

Adult Advanced - Sample #1


EDCI 731 ESL/Dual Language Linguistics
Action Research Project
Team Leader: Amy Peters
Team Members: Susanna Lee, Julie Waterhouse

Adult Advanced - Sample #2


EDCI 731 ESL/Dual Language Linguistics
Action Research Project
Team Leader: Amy Peters
Team Members: Susanna Lee, Julie Waterhouse
EDCI 731 ESL/Dual Language Linguistics
Action Research Project
Team Leader: Amy Peters
Team Members: Susanna Lee, Julie Waterhouse

Adult Samples Analysis


While it is impossible to draw large conclusions from a single exercise with a small group,
some interesting points can be made. In the writing samples from the High Intermediate student, there
is little difference in the quality of writing between the first and second samples, apart from what one
would naturally expect as the ordinary progression of writing through repeated practice. He shows a
moderate grasp of the topics and main ideas in both samples. It is possible that the unfamiliarity with
the DOTS strategy on the part of the students and the teacher, since this was the first time it was used
in class, rendered this strategy less helpful for this student than might be the case in the future.
The second students second sample demonstrates a superior understanding of the topic of
online gambling, as evidenced in his suggestions for when a person might want to gamble (when one is
depressed or bored or have nothing to do), which was not mentioned in either article. This student
knew much more about gaming than his classmates due to prior experience, and this experience is
evident in his essay. The DOTS strategy may have helped this student consider his own life
EDCI 731 ESL/Dual Language Linguistics
Action Research Project
Team Leader: Amy Peters
Team Members: Susanna Lee, Julie Waterhouse
experiences before writing; his information in the first sample is pulled completely from the two
articles. Anecdotally, the students were much more comfortable and confident in approaching the
reading and writing assignment after small and large group discussion of what they already knew about
the topic.

STEP FIVE: DEVELOP AN ACTION PLAN


As a result of our learnings, our team will continue to increase the comprehension of new
vocabulary and content material among our CLD students by employing various pre-reading strategies
that we have intentionally designed to help our students connect prior learning in their first language
and subsequent learning in English. In our estimation, there is a positive benefit for our CLD students
when we use pre-reading strategies such as DOTS and Linking Language to get our students thinking
and conceptually connected to the content we intend to present and can serve to increase the potential
learning that our students may achieve. We also predict that our students will benefit and increase their
acquisition of academic language when they can more effectively engage with the material being
presented. We should embed image-based material into our content lessons so that we can support the
L1 connection.

We also plan on sharing our findings from our Action Research Project with other content area
teachers in our schools and higher education programs and colleges. All language learners benefit from
being able to connect the new learning to prior learning and image-based content support strengthens
this connection. Though as educators we often relegate image-based learning as something for use
during the elementary years it may be that we have overlooked an important tool for young adult and
even adult learners. Going back to a statement made earlier in our writing as we began this action
research project, When we consider all the vocabulary and peripheral information that we can
generate using a visual prompt as compared to responding to a brief written prompt, it is truly amazing
how much we know! Image reading does not depend on understanding vocabulary.

Based upon our action research and the implementation of strategies to promote vocabulary
development with our CLD students, we believe that the specific strategy is less important than the
pre-exploration itself. Giving CLD students time before beginning an activity to stop and consider
what they might already know, whether that is through a formal exercise or an informal discussion,
will increase confidence among learners that they already have experience with the topic and are able
to learn. It will also begin building vocabulary related to the topic. Words that are self-generated or
generated by peers are more likely to capture attention and be remembered than vocabulary provided
EDCI 731 ESL/Dual Language Linguistics
Action Research Project
Team Leader: Amy Peters
Team Members: Susanna Lee, Julie Waterhouse
by the teacher on a word list. During this prior knowledge exercise, students can use all resources at
their disposal, including dictionaries, translation devices, pictures, classmates with the same first
language, and the instructor. Having a greater understanding of the topic before beginning a reading
assignment will, we believe, provide students with greater success in the target language.

As we share our findings with other teachers, we also plan to invite feedback and other ideas.
We will continue to explore more methods for activating prior knowledge to find the way(s) that work
best for our learners, our classrooms, and our teaching styles. We may find that different strategies are
better suited for different types of assignments. As we continue in our quest to improve our teaching to
better serve our learners, we continue to learn from others, including our students, and to conduct
action research in our classrooms.