How do you fairly grade English learners?

How do you fairly assess what your English learners know? How do you grade students who are not yet proficient enough in English to reach grade level expectations on all assignments?

**WARNING:  This blog is chock full of my own (pretty confident) opinions. :-)   I welcome any and all conversation and varying opinions on this topic.**

When I returned to a classroom environment on a more regular basis, I was reminded how fast the content is delivered and the pace of new terms, new concepts, and new activities.  Having not spoken Spanish, biology, geometry, or theater in quite some time, I know my brain's tired at the end of the day!

A previous blog about newcomers prompted a flurry of follow-up questions about grading.  This topic comes up a lot!

PreviouslyI talked about newcomers getting about 20% of what happens in the classroom and a bit more with supports and a slower pace.  This isn't a research based number.  This is what...

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Preventing Seclusion – A peek into a classroom that’s working

I have the pleasure of working part-time in a high school newcomer program.  It’s not easy to promote inclusion and prevent their being isolated, especially with newcomers who are just beginning to learn English.  When I started in this position, I learned that a group of my students are in theater class, and my role would be to provide classroom support. I have to admit, I know how shy newcomers can be, so I wondered how that was going to work.  Now, I can tell you, it doesn’t just work.  They are flourishing.

I’ve spent some time thinking about what works for the students in this class.  Why are they so different in this class?  Risk takers.

Here’s what I’ve noticed.

Classroom Culture – This class is full of students who take risks.  It’s theater.  Students know they need to adapt and adjust to be successful.  The culture of theater is group success and the students do look out for each...

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Teaching Newcomers in Content Classes - So What's It Look Like?

I know I have been focused on newcomers and beginning English learners for a while now.  There is so much to consider.  So many conversations we need to have.  So little time.  Teaching English learners is HUGE.  This week, I stay with the theme and I promise next week I will get back to best practices with something you can do with vocabulary (word level) at any age level.

Last week I wrote about grading and the idea that students with beginning English proficiency can only reasonably access a portion of the lesson content with supports.  I know, it's interesting in theory, but what does it look like in a classroom?  Today I will share one example of what I would do on any given day and my thinking behind it.  I don't claim that my way is the best or only way, because honestly it's a day to day dance of how much students can handle based on many factors such as time, background knowledge, the complexity of the content, and....well....the...

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Newcomers & Beginning English Learners - Where Do I Start?

As we settle into second semester, a new batch of content teachers are working with groups of beginning English learners in their classes.  It's an uncomfortable feeling for both teachers and the students.  What are the expectations?  What are the processes in this class?  What's most important?

Research and experience tells us that our beginning English learners need time, exposure, experiences, and direct language instruction.  BUT....the reality is we don't have extended time.  We have one semester to conquer this content.  All of these students need something a little different, yet there is only one you.  Where do you start??

While I have no magic bullet, here's where I recommend all content teachers begin their quest to make their content accessible and their students successful.

1.  Relationships - Smile.  Let your students know you care.  Be honest.  Tell them you aren't exactly sure what's best but, together you...

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