Making Content Comprehensible:
Strategies for Helping English Learners
(and All Students!) Read Informational
Texts
Dr. Barbara Moss
San Diego State University
[email protected]
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Nationally….
• 1993-1 in 20
students ELLs
• 2011-1 in 9 ELLs
• Over 400 languages
• 76% born in the US
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“Adolescents
entering the adult world of
the 21st Century will read and write
more than at any other time in human
history. They will need advanced
literacy levels to perform their jobs,
run their households, act as citizens,
and conduct their personal lives.” IRA
Commission on Adolescent Literacy
3
The Importance of Informational
Text
Students’ success
in and out of school
depends upon their
ability to read
informational texts.
(Kamil, 2004)
4
Why Use Information Texts?
•
•
•
•
80% of adult reading is information
Standardized tests are 85% expository (Daniels, 2007)
Need to close the “knowledge gap” (Hirsch, 2006)
Lack of social studies or science instruction
(NICCHD,2005)
• 95% of websites contain informational texts (Kamil, 2005)
• For some students, this is their preferred form of reading
• The Common Core State Standards require that students
engage in reading more informational text from K-12.
5
Distribution of Text Types on
NAEP/CCSS Reading
Grade
Literary
Information
4
50%
50%
8
45%
55%
12
30%
70%
6
National Assessment of
Educational Progress (2011)
45
40
35
30
25
3-D Column 1
• 70% of ELLs in the US
were below basic
• ELL scores on
informational text were 30
points below non-ELLs
20
15
10
5
0
Basic
Advanced
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Why do students do so poorly?
• Recent immigrants
• Limited schooling and
support
• Long term ELLs
• Lack of teacher
preparation in teaching
students to read
informational texts
8
Think Pair Share
• Have you ever learned a foreign language?
What facilitated your language learning?
• What did you learn that could help you in
teaching English language learners?
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Developing Academic Literacy
• Oral fluency takes
2-3 years to
develop (BICS)
• Academic literacy
takes 7-10 years to
develop (CALPS)
10
What Research Says and Doesn’t
Say About Teaching English
Learners (Goldenberg, 2008)
Effective teaching requires:
1) Explicit instruction
2) Meaningful opportunities
for students to use
language
3) Teachers who teach
language and content at
the same time
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TEACHER RESPONSIBILITY
“I do it”
Focus Lesson
Guided
Instruction
“We do it”
Collaborative
Independent
“You do it
together”
“You do it
alone”
STUDENT RESPONSIBILITY
Gradual Release of Responsibility,
(Fisher & Frey, 2008)
Four Ways to Support ELLs in
Reading Informational Text
• Build Background
--for genre
--for content
• Teach Academic
Vocabulary
• Develop Oral
Language
• Encourage Wide
Reading
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Build Background Knowledge
for Genre
Students exposed to a
variety of genre
1) have higher average
reading scores
2) understand how
texts work; have
schema for each genre
they encounter
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15
16
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Narrative Text
• Eggs flew past us and pelted Mr.
Kosdinski’s back door. Just as the boys ran
away the door flew open. Mr Kodinski
glared straight at us! “You there,” he yelled.
Why do you kids do things like this?” “It
wasn’t us,” Stewart tried to say, but Mr.
Kodinski wouldn’t listen to us.
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Expository Text
• In some areas ospreys have become pests by
nesting on power poles. Their large nests
can damage the wires. Or even worse, the
birds can touch their wings to the two wires
at once, killing themselves and shorting out
the power. Some companies solve this
problem by putting up spiked poles where
the birds can’t nest.
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How Are These Texts Different?
• Informational Text
• Narrative Text
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Understanding Genre
• Informational books tell the truth. It is like the
news because they tell the truth also. In fiction
books they just make up stories to entertain
children.
• A lot of times informational books have a lot of
big weird words like envirdibra (sic). You get
more vocabulary.
• I don’t like informational books because they have
no adventure and are boring like history and all
that encyclopedia stuff.
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Build Background for Content:
Table of Contents Prediction
• Step 1: Present a book cover
• Step 2: Teacher models thinking aloud about
possible first chapter title and recording it
• Step 3: Students think pair share, predicting what
is in the table of contents for Chapter 2, Chapter 3
etc.
• Step 4: Students record their answers
• Step 5: Compare the actual TOC with the one
students created
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Comparison of TOC
My Prediction
• Where Do Hurricanes
Happen?
• Why Do They
Happen?
• When Do They
Happen?
• What Damage Do
They Cause?
•
•
•
•
•
Actual TOC
A Deadly Storm
The Hurricane Begins
to Develop
Waiting for the Storm
Mitch Hits
Recovery
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Teach Academic Vocabulary
“ELLs are more likely
to learn words when
they are directly
taught..embedded in
meaningful context,
and provided with
opportunities for
repetition and use.”
Goldenberg, 2008
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Social vs. Academic English
What is Social English?
Language for everyday oral
and written communication
• What is Academic
English?
Language of school
Write a description
Compare and contrast
Categorize these items
Language of a discipline
Science-area, crust, mountain,
globe, hemisphere
Social studies-community,
harvest, native, settlement 26
The Four Most Frequently Asked
Vocabulary Questions…
1. How many words can I teach in one
lesson? One year?
2. How many encounters are necessary
before a student “owns” a word?
3. What words should I teach?
4. How can I effectively TEACH
vocabulary?
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1.
The Answers
How many words in a…
Lesson? 5-8
In a year? 400-700
2. How many exposures?
8-10
3. Which words?
Tier 2 words
Tier 3 words
4.
How do I teach vocabulary?
-In the context of texts
28
The California Gold Rush
John Sutter owned a large fort on a river in California.
James Marshall worked at the fort. On January 24th, 1848,
Marshall found a shiny rock in the river at Sutter’s Mill. It
was gold. News about the gold traveled fast, and by 1849,
100,000 people migrated to California to find gold. Some
became gold miners. They came from all over the world.
Some came by boat, some came by covered wagon, and
others came by foot. Gold changed California. Because of
the discovery of gold, cities sprang up. Today California is
called the Golden State. Do you know why?
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Teaching New Words
• Point out the word gold.
• Pronounce the word with the
children.
• Define the word. Gold is a
metal.
• Show a picture of the word.
• Create a new sentence using
the word. She wore a gold
chain.
• Engage students with the
word.
• With your partner, talk about
what you know about gold.
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Four Square Word Cards
•
•
•
•
•
•
3x5 cards divided into 4 sections
Provide a visual cue for learners
Includes student-generated definition
Can include examples, opposites
Less useful for more abstract words
Great for word study, word sorts, etc.
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Build Vocabulary Knowledge
Strategy: Word Cards
Gold-a valuable metal
used for coins and jewelry
John Marshall
discovered gold in in
1848.
It reminds me of:
My mom’s gold chain….
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Vocabulary Prediction Chart
TERM
shiny
WHAT I
PREDICT IT
MEANS
FROM THE
SENTENCE
DEFINITION
dark
bright
RATE MY
PREDICTION
+
NOTES
or --
__
33
Teach Word Structures/Cognates
Common
Roots
tract (drag,pull)
spect(look)
Port (carry)
Dict (say)
Rupt (break)
Scrib (write
Cred (believe
Prefixes
Suffixes
Re (again)
Un (not)
In (into or not)
En (in, put
into)
Ex (out)
Pre (before)
Dis (apart)
Ly (quality of)
Er (more)
Able (able to)
Tion (a thing)
Less (without)
Ment (quality)
Ling (small)
34
Oral Language Development
Students need the
chance to talk
• Before sharing out
• Before reading
• Before writing
Float the classroom
on a sea of talk!
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Linda Hoyt Video
• What does Linda do in this video to support
language learning for these students?
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•
Students Need To Read
Independently In and Out of School
Anderson, R. C., Wilson, P. T. & Fielding, L. (1988). Growth in reading and how
children spend their time outside of school. Reading Research Quarterly, 23, 285-303.
Trade Books Can Provide:
• Content area texts that
students can read
• Exposure to exposition
• Visual support for
learning
• Motivation for reading
• Culturally authentic
learning
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Kids Need to See Themselves in
Books!
• “I don’t want to
read books
about white
kids.”
Munroe Clark Middle
School Student
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Picture Book Biographies
• Provide visual support
for ELLs
• Reveal important
people in different
cultures
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Informational Books
• Help students:
1) see themselves in
the real world of today
2) connect with
members of their
cultural group from
the past and present
3) learn content
42
Informational Books
•
Go
n
rate
c
tg
m
us
E
/s
m
/jus
T
t-re
to
-ite
mre
unit
ts
m
csay
/d
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English language learners need:
MORE
• Background Building
• Scaffolding of Vocabulary
• Oral Language
Experiences
• Real Relevant Trade
Books
• Excellent instruction!
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