Thursday, June 19, 2014

Collaborative Practices in High School

Campbell Collegiate is home to a wide range of programs and course options for over 350 students who are currently designated as EAL learners.  English as Additional Language students have varied course offerings depending on need, including sheltered classes in English Language Arts, Communication Studies, Social and Science, Tutorial and Literacy classes, and Leveled Literacy Intervention (in the context of the Literacy class).

The teachers involved with this program have invested in assessing, planning and collaborating in order to provide appropriate course offerings and programming to students who, like all students, have varied academic and language needs.  Students in the EAL program generally enter the program with a recommended CFR level (Common Framework of Reference) as outlined in Ministry of Education documentation.  Students attain various levels from A1 (basic) to C2 (proficient).  This framework allows program teachers and administrators to program accordingly, depending on language level.  It is an ongoing tool to assess the student's language proficiency and is updated throughout the year.

Part way into the school year, the EAL teachers at Campbell connected with Team Lerminiaux consultants to review student progress.  The team used the Fountas & Pinnell assessment tool in order to examine student decoding and comprehension skills.  Using that data, the ongoing CFR results, and classroom marks and feedback, the EAL teachers met to plan programming for each one of the EAL students.

Out of this discussion, it became evident that a focused literacy intervention was needed for some of the students in the program to help support their reading and language comprehension skills.  At the beginning of semester two, Campbell Collegiate offered Leveled Literacy Intervention to students identified as needing additional support.  Those students met daily with their EAL teachers and followed the LLI program, adapted slightly to suit the language needs and age of the students.  The instruction occurred in small group, with learners of similar language levels and need, and allowed for explicit instruction of strategies and skills with the goal of enabling learners to becoming more proficient.

Read more about the use of the LLI program in a high school setting from EAL teacher Barb Hilts-Most:

I have been using Levelled Literacy Intervention with a group of grade 10 and 11 EAL students since January 2014.  LLI provided the structure to develop these students’ skills in reading comprehension, word attack and fluency.  The fiction and non-fiction texts in the Red Kit (Levels L-Q) were appropriate for both their interest and ability levels.  The books provided the context for the use of reading strategies and discussions and allowed them to make meaningful connections.

 The LLI word study components helped the students to develop their knowledge of letter sounds, syllables, root words, affixes and apply them to other texts and in content areas.  The students whose first languages are not based on a Roman alphabet have especially benefitted from the word study components of each lesson.  Also, these students consistently made comparisons between words in their first languages and English. 

Through the use of the guided writing activities, the students have been able to learn more about literary features in books and how to share their ideas in writing with the support of the text. 
Overall, the students that were part of the LLI group have improved in all of the communication skills and have gained confidence in their ability to use English.

In addition, Semester 2 saw a collaborative teaching model (SIOP) involving EAL teacher Trudy Thorson and Science teacher Shayne McMillen.  This core subject area included a higher number of EAL students requiring additional language supports (34 students with 15 EAL students).  The SIOP model, or Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol, is designed to support English as an Additional Language students as they meet grade level core curriculum content while developing and improving on their English Language Proficiency (Ideas and Activities for Teaching English Learners with the SIOP Model).  This collaborative model allows for both teachers to offer their own expertise while having ongoing opportunities to develop professionally with respect to planning, teaching and assessment. 

The key to implementing the SIOP approach is to include both content and language objectives in each lesson. The teachers began each class by explicitly stating the content and language objectives and students wrote these down in the template shown below. The objectives are posted on their blog at  At the end of each lesson, students reflected on their understanding to help them take ownership of their own learning. Teachers also used this information to help guide future instruction. Other key aspects of the SIOP model are: activating prior knowledge, using background knowledge, providing explicit strategies and instruction, ongoing interaction and discussion, and review of key vocabulary and concepts.  Below, you can see a word wall created that encourages the visual connection and provides support for vocabulary acquisition for the student.  This model also differentiates for other students in the classroom who may require content or material presented in a variety of ways.  (EAL teacher Trudy Thorson & Science teacher Shayne McMillen)
Word Wall: Sci 10 (Sustainability)
For a typical class, Shayne and Trudy co-planned in order to clarify the language and content objectives. This enabled them to have a shared knowledge of each other's content areas, which made it easier to focus on the language requirements and to consider the varied needs of the students.  They clearly identified the language and content objectives for each class, and planned the tasks required to support the various learners (pre-teaching vocabulary, visuals, additional leveled material, small group instruction, etc.).

SIOP Lesson Plan
Here is a sample from their blog which shows the areas of focus for a typical class day:
June 10th:
Photo Credit: Ingeniørforeningen IDA via Compfight cc
Content objectives (students will be able to):
To understand the global impacts of our consumer society.
To describe some of the effects of world consumption patterns on global environmental health.
Language objectives (students will be able to):
To a view a video and answer related questions to show listening and understanding.
To discuss sustainability and human's responsibility.
Key vocabulary:
Extraction, production, distribution, consumption, disposal, obsolescence

The advantages to the sheltered Science class were numerous.  Students were able to develop some confidence and begin to take risks.  All students benefited from the collaborative planning nature of the course.  The supports offered to EAL learners were beneficial to all students in the classroom.  In addition, the teachers engaged in conversations about the nature of the instruction and supports being offered.   This team approach allowed for interventions and adaptations as needed.

Throughout the year, EAL teachers, along with the Campbell Instructional Consultants, met to review student growth.  With the ongoing discussions, additional assessment data (students were re-assessed using F&P to measure growth), the classroom teachers are meeting regularly to plan for the needs of their students.  Classes in the new school year will include locally developed courses that support language acquisition and focused targets in the context of the tutorial classes.

There has been significant growth in language and reading development and the teachers and staff at Campbell are excited to see this continue to grow and evolve to support the needs of all learners.

Submitted by Campbell Collegiate EAL teachers & Team Lerminiaux Instructional Consultants

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