“High Intensity Literacy Training for
Students with Interrupted Education”
Shaina Gilbert
Native Language (Haitian-Creole) Literacy Teacher
6-8th SIFE-SEI at TechBoston Academy in Dorchester
Sharing Our Unique SIFE Experiences and Perfecting Our Practice
(I Do)
• Teaching
Content v.
SIFE Teacher
SIFE Students • Teaching
Content v.
SIFE Program ESL
Best Practices • Use of L1 v. L2
A SIFE Lesson
– Considering
Student Needs,
Best Practices,
and Our
Discussions, How
would you
The SIFE Teacher
“The HILT teacher, in collaboration with other members
of the HILT for SIFE team plans, designs and implements
creative and innovative units of study that are not only
aligned with the curriculum, but are also clustered
around concepts critical to the literacy and academic
development of SIFE.”
-Boston Public Schools HILT for SIFE
Teacher Position Description
•Must develop your own SIFE curriculum
•Only SIFE teacher at the school
•Lack of resources in native language
•Students enter SIFE class at any point in the academic year
•Responsible for filling K-7th Grade Literacy and Content gap
The SIFE Students
English Language Development Level: Beginners, 6-8th grade
Range of levels overall literacy skills (low to moderate)
Irregular school attendance while in native country
Rich with diverse life experiences and perspectives
Parental support is usually provided whenever needed
Lived in both rural and urban areas in Haiti
Most have their immediate families still living in Haiti
•Unidentified learning disabilities
•Lack study skills: organization, handwriting, note-taking, test taking, etc.
•First-time exposure to science and history (outside of the context of Haiti)
•Coping with loss, trauma, and stress
•Trouble adapting to new culture and home
•Difficulty with transferring knowledge and skills from L1 to L2
The SIFE Program
SIFE Placement
• Newcomers assesses them as SIFE via Newcomers assessment
• Moved to SIFE from SEI if a student’s SEI teachers, parents, and/or educational
background strongly suggest that they need SIFE supports
– Evidence: interview students and parents about student’s schooling in Haiti
(particularly which schools the student attended) & assess student’s academic
progress in SEI classes compared to students who enrolled into SEI at a similar point
SIFE at TechBoston
• 15 students max.
• Math (1hr.), science (1hr.), history (1hr.), ESL (2hrs)
• 6-8th grade; teaching towards the 7th grade benchmarks and standards
• SIFE  SEI  Mainstream
– Their content-area grades (progress by term) determine whether or not student
moves from SIFE to SEI. Work samples are reviewed and assessed by SEI teachers.
– Note: SEI is 6-10th grade cluster with Haitian students; TechBoston is 6-12th grade
•Students enroll at any point in the year
•Difficult transitions from SIFE  SEI
•There is no SIFE 9-12th
•Number of ESL Beginners are climbing
• I use Native Language to teach
my SIFE students
• Haitian Creole-English Cognates
• Temporarily co-teach ESL - Focus
on History, Science, Math
• Some of my students looped
• Communicative SEI staff
(including 2 TFA); Haitian
Guidance Counselor – all Haitian
• Not all students have extremely
low literacy skill – different
educational backgrounds
• During the summer, I work in Haiti
with SIFE students who live in
extreme situations whish manifest
their educational gaps
SIFE Needs Consistency and Supports
Consistency: Daily Lesson Structure
• Do Now (Yesterday’s Material)
• Review HW (Yesterday’s Material)
• New Vocabulary
• New Material (I Do)
• Practice/Discussion (We Do)
• Group/Partner Work (We/You Do)
• Independent Practice (You Do)
• Sum-up/Review Lesson
• Exit Ticket (Yesterday/Today’s Material)
• Pre-View HW
– Notes are dated and Written in Notebook/ Homework in HW Folder/Worksheets in Binder
Supports: Resources and Techniques
• After-school office hours (M, T, and Th)
• Access to laptops, use of projectors, science kits
• Use of H. Creole  Eng. dictionaries, graphic organizers, teacher models
• Visit SEI classes in preparation of SIFE exit
Best Practices
Create Intentional Curriculums/Lesson Plans (Consistency)
• Math Literacy
– Actively teach how to understand & use math terms –must teach ½ class in English
Backwards planning
– Assess & teach foundational skills needed per lesson (ex: adding decimals, regrouping, etc.); once mastered, teach actual lesson
Fill-in gaps along the way
Layering Effect Based on Central Ideas
– Ex: (1) Teach student about angles, the properties of a right angle, (2) then
introduce triangles, right triangle, (3)next introduce quadrilaterals, know that
squares have right angles and rhombuses do not
– MINIMUM: Within the unit, must master central idea (ex: right angle)
Engage Students in Learning (Supports)
• Foldables for vocabulary terms
• Weekly Vocabulary and Math Content quizzes
• Student teaches class a math problem in English (Teacher Model)
• Practice worksheets – Assessments based on worksheets
• Math Competitions
• Pairing Matters
– heterogeneous when reviewing material
– homogenous pairing when learning new material
Study Skills:
• Notes are ALWAYS dated
– Promote Layering Effect
• Key vocabulary words are
ALWAYS underlined
– Promote Math Literacy
• Heading Options:
Objective, Do Now,
– Understanding the
different parts of their
– Learning how to write,
read, and use their
How Rigorous Can Make We SIFE?
(8.P.2 )Evaluate simple algebraic
expressions for given variable
e.g., 3a –2b for a=3 & b=7.
…UNTIL (within reasonable time)
If not then…
• We move on to the next lesson
and when SIFE students are in
Math SEI the following year, they
will master it at the appropriate
level of rigor
Best Practices
Create Accurate Assessments w/ Focal Points (Consistency)
• Presentations- Assess use of vocabulary, clarity, volume, eye contact
• Projects- Use of vocabulary, related images, short answers/writing prompt
• Notebooks- Date, headlines, underline key terms, space between topics
• Labs- Title/Picture, Introduction, Question, Hypothesis, Material, Method,
Results, Data, Conclusion
• Homework- Try your best
• Tests/Quizzes- 3 sections: vocabulary, content, skill (ex: inferring, comparing)
Engage Students in Learning (Supports)
• Foldables for vocabulary terms
• Weekly Vocabulary and Science Content quizzes
• Teacher Model
• Hands-on Activities
• Science Jeopardy, Projects, and Presentations
• Pairing Matters
– heterogeneous when reviewing material
– homogenous pairing when learning new material
Best Practices
Promoting Critical Thinking and Study Skills (Consistency)
• Presentations- Assess use of vocabulary, clarity, volume, eye contact
• Writing Prompts- Topic Sentence (1 Opinion), Supporting Details
(3 Pieces of Evidence)
• Graphic Organizers- T-Charts, Problem-Solutions, Step-by-Step
• Discussions- Critical Thinking Questions (may answer in L1)
• Debate Teams-Oral Writing Prompts; Topic/Idea  Evidence
Engage Students in Learning (Supports)
• Foldables for vocabulary terms
• Weekly Vocabulary and History Content Quizzes
• Read textbook aloud like it’s a narrative
• Word Search Puzzles for Vocabulary Practice
Teaching Content v. Literacy
How do you teach the content
and literacy skills in unison?
• I teach grade level content
with a focus on
promoting(1) literacy skills
– Students are constantly
dissecting their textbooks
• Taking notes on the main ideas
– Writing Prompts, Oral
Presentations, and Projects
related to the Lesson
Teaching Content v. ESL
How do you teach the
content & language
development in unison?
• I teach grade level
content with a focus on
promoting (2) language
– Students use English to
explain their reasoning
– Respond to answers in class
in English
– Submits written work in
Using L1 v. L2
When do you choose to use L1 v. L2?
Teach conceptual materials in Haitian Creole
Teach standard material in both languages
Teach ESL Class in strictly in English
Teach key vocabulary and terms in English
Step by Step directions in both languages
A SIFE Lesson Learned
“Sabrina” -15 years old - 8th Grade
• SIFE since entry in April 2011
• Trouble advancing grades while in Haiti
• Adopted in Boston, guardians anxious about lack of academic
progress  Their theory is that she is too distracted; send back to
• Difficulty with fluency; Mastering sight words
• Reading Comprehension skills limited to identify setting,
characters, and plot
• Underdeveloped writing; uses the same vocabulary and simple
sentence structures
Overall: Skills are developing; Comfortable with the basics of
ESL but her progress is slow
Task and Question
“Sabrina” must learn how to write a proper lab report by
the time she enters 9th Grade SEI Science.
Considering her profile, what instructional techniques would you
use to promote literacy and language development while
teaching this grade level content?
Ou gen kesyon? Poze yo!
Shaina Gilbert
Native Language (Haitian-Creole) Literacy Teacher
6-8th SIFE-SEI at TechBoston Academy in Dorchester

SIFE TFA Pres (SGilbert)