October 23, 2011

Article: ELL ‘Shadowing’ Shows Promise

From http://www.edweek.org/tsb/articles/2011/10/13/01shadowing.h05.html

ELL ‘Shadowing’ Shows Promise
Having teachers experience “a day in the life of an English-language learner” can reveal gaps in academic-language exposure.
By Liana Heitin
October 12, 2011

It’s a professional development tool that stems from the concept of taking a walk in someone else’s—in this case a student’s—shoes. And in one California school, it has reportedly helped close the achievement gap for English-language learners.

The technique, which second-language acquisition expert Ivannia Soto began using in 2003, is called ELL shadowing. A teacher or administrator follows an English-language learner to several classes. Neither the student nor his or her teachers know the real reason the observer in the back of the room is there, which is to look specifically at the student’s use of academic language. The observer takes notes at five-minute intervals on the student’s actions regarding listening and speaking.

Overall, Soto says, ELLs are missing out in one of two ways: “We’ve either dummied down the curriculum so it’s too easy and students stay at the basic levels of social language, or we keep the rigor but don’t provide appropriate scaffolding so students can access the content.”

Read the full article at http://www.edweek.org/tsb/articles/2011/10/13/01shadowing.h05.html

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