The next few posts will be related to one another regarding the topic of literacy instruction as it pertains to English learners. The focus will be specifically on supporting English learners in English Language Arts classrooms and accommodating instruction and materials to promote growth and success.
But let's begin by setting the foundation for our work with some common definitions or terms.
When I was in elementary school, I was an English learner. I remember vividly sitting in reading block with a book. Peering over it to see what everyone else was doing. I used the book as a shield to cover myself so no one would notice that I was lost in DEAR time or sustained silent reading. I couldn't read the book that was in my hands, but I could certainly look like it. I knew how to pretend I was reading. I observed what everyone else was doing and I played along.
For many English learners this is the experience with independent reading. We know that reading is the best way to become a stronger reader. But for English learners this period of the day can be a waste if support is not provided by the teacher.
If you are a co-teacher, you might wonder how co-teaching fits in with the components of balanced literacy. Or you might be a main stream (general education) teacher that has a co-teacher and you wonder how to best utilize two teachers in the room during workshop. Many ESL teachers co-teach in classrooms that embrace the reading and writing workshop. It's important to know which approaches fit best with each part of the balanced literacy classroom.
The best thing about the workshop model is that it allows for differentiation for all students. Students are reading and writing on THEIR level.
The best thing about co-teaching is that it lowers the student-teacher ratio allowing for more interaction with individual students and the ability to customize instruction.