Thursday, February 17, 2011

How do I help English Language Learners in Writer's Workshop?

Ms. Dorothy,
I am looking for help with my writer's workshop. I am a first year kindergarten teacher, and my class is mostly ELL students.  Do you have any suggestions for making my teaching more understandable to these students?
- K Teacher

Writer's workshop, especially the way Lucy Calkins' Units of Study  instructs, is very supportive for all learners. She provides examples and modifications for use with English Language Learners directly.

Some things that you find helpful in other curricular areas will also help with Writing. Repetition, movement, illustrations, music and modeling are supportive of all young learners, and especially those with limited English.

  • Demonstrate what you expect to see.  

  • Repeat important phrases and have the class recite along with you.

  • Add actions to go with specific words and act it out with the class.

  • Draw or find pictures to go along with words to build associations.

  • Have physical objects that go with different concepts to help build connections between the words and the ideas.  

  • Make up sing-songs to repeat often that help tie the learning together

Remember, it is kindergarten, and it should be fun! Don't be afraid to get silly with them!

There are also websites like Starfall that provide auditory and visual supports at a kindergarten level for pre-readers and pre-writers. 

Some of the best practices for teaching English Language Learners in Kindergarten, are also helpful for young native English speakers.  Especially when it comes to learning to write!  

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