Mead’s English Language Development Program
ELD Program Philosophy:
The English Language Development Program’s priority is to assure equity and excellence in education promoting high-quality instruction for English Learners (EL) leading to college and career readiness. This includes addressing the unique needs of students from linguistically and culturally diverse background to help them achieve high content and performance standards and to provide a meaningful opportunity to participate in the Mead School District Community.
EL Instruction includes the following instructional techniques:
- Explicit, direct teaching of vocabulary
- Explicit modeling by the teacher (including “think alouds” in which teachers demonstrate exactly how they think through a problem or task)
- High levels of student social interaction, with each other and with the teacher
- Explicit instruction in learning strategies (metacognition) and opportunities to practice using those strategies
- Linkages to students’ background and prior experience
- The use of a variety of assessments, both formal and informal, to measure student learning in both content and language. Sheltered instruction involves many pedagogical techniques that teachers already know about and only have to learn to modify for their ELs.
The Role of the Certificated and Endorsed ELD Specialist
ELD specialists are teachers with specific responsibilities for assisting ELs in the development of English language proficiency. ELD specialists are shared across Mead district schools, working part-time in more than one building. ELD specialists provide sheltered instruction, combining English language development and content area instruction. ELD specialists can instruct a content area class on their own or in partnership with a content area teacher. To ensure that students have both solid content and language development instruction, our ELD specialists either have content area expertise in addition to their English language development expertise, or they partner with a teacher who has that content area expertise.
ELD specialists provide professional development to teachers, coaching and supporting them in meeting the needs of ELs. General Ed and content area teachers receive a basic introduction to the topic of EL instruction and then receive ongoing help from ELD specialists who act as coaches, helping teachers implement what they learned within their classroom. In this professional development model Mead ELD Specialists also include ongoing training beyond the basic introduction and instructional vignettes found on “My Mead” available for viewing as desired/needed by classroom teachers and building principals.
ELD specialists provide pull-out instruction for ELs. Students are pulled out of their mainstream classrooms to work specifically on English language development. Shiloh Hills Elementary is an example specific school where this approach has approved effective. Other schools included in this approach are: Mountainside Middle School, Mead and Mt. Spokane High Schools through the “Structures of English” classes.
Mead ELD specialists and teachers work together both formally (during professional learning community time, early release time, collaboration time, content and grade-level meetings, and coaching) and informally.
ELD Specialists/Mainstream Teachers of ELs bridge cultural differences between school and home.
Cultural incompatibility between school and their life at home can lead ELs to disengage, which in turn can adversely affect their performance (Lee & Luykx, 2006).
All Mead teachers and administrators can help students bridge cultural differences in a number of ways:
- Recognize the resources their ELs bring to the classroom, instead of only seeing what they are lacking
- Build ELs’ abilities to work collaboratively, to use their observation skills and tap into their desire to learn from those with expert knowledge
- Make the norms and expectations of the classroom clear and explicit
- Use culturally-relevant and culturally familiar texts
- Draw on examples and analogies from ELs’ lives, and incorporate perspectives from multiple cultures
Professional development should include:
- Training for teachers in the district ELD program model (Sheltered Instruction)
- Training in particular instructional strategies.
- Multiple representations: multiple ways of conveying information, particularly nonlinguistic ways
- Academic language: the more formal, complex English needed to access advanced academic ideas
- Cultural competence: the ability to relate and instruct across cultural boundaries to help create bridges and connections for our EL students
- Use of data: the access to and use of appropriate assessments, particularly to make decisions about modifying instruction for ELs
- Training on the English Language Development standards created by the state to support differentiated instruction for EL students
- Modification/differentiation of curriculum using district materials to support the learning needs of the EL student(s)
EL students are assessed annually by the Washington English Language Proficiency Assessment (WELPA). Student assessment data is carefully analyzed and monitored. The assessment scores are sent to both the parents and the classroom/content area teachers along with a description of proficiency levels.
Reference: EFFECTIVE PRACTICES FOR ENGLISH LEARNERS AND THEIR IMPLEMENTATION IN WASHINGTON SCHOOLS, Northwest Regional Labs