Teaching English Language Learners and Working With Immigrant Families From Home (Elementary Focus)
On April 29, the Network for Educator Effectiveness partnered with Strengthening Equity and Effectiveness for Teachers of English Learners (www.SEE-TEL.org) to host the first of two webinars titled Teaching English Learners and Working with Immigrant Families from Home: Education in the Time of COVID-19. The webinar was geared toward elementary educators; a second webinar Thursday was geared toward secondary educators.
- Katelin Andrews, Instructional Coach at Garfield Elementary, Kansas City Public Schools
- Cammy Goucher, Missouri English Language Development and World Languages Director, DESE
- Kelly Klocke, Federal Programs Coordinator and Assistant Principal, Bayless School District
You can watch the full webinar, download materials, and read a full summary with linked resources below.
ELL Resources, Tips, and Experiences from Panelists
Katelin Andrews (8:57)
- I created a Google Classroom (Code: ghu7o3j). My classroom includes lessons that covers WIDA and Missouri Learning Standards. I use websites that students are allowed to practice all four language domains.
- COVID-19 and Collaboration: We need to be more creative in how we are motivating our students and also need to increase the collaboration among the grade level teams.
- We are using the PIC-RAT, which is a diagram for how you’re going to incorporate technology. (Watch: PICRAT for Effective Technology Integration in Teaching.) You should ask two questions when you plan distance learning lessons:
- What is the student’s interaction with technology?
- How is the teacher’s use of technology influencing traditional practice?
Cammy Goucher (11:38)
- I created a Wakelet that has a sample lesson for both elementary and upper grades: https://wke.lt/w/s/oTObCe
- I also created another Wakelet that includes professional development for you: https://wke.lt/w/s/sAQ06h
- I encourage you to join our Edmodo group – Code: xwecym
- Facebook @MELLinMO
- Twitter @MellMissouri
- You can also email me at Cammy.Goucher@dese.mo.gov.
Kelly Klocke (17:29)
- The most important thing we can be doing is to make personal connections with students and families. One of my teachers is scheduling one-on-one reading time with students. Another one of my teachers is writing letters to students and including a self-addressed stamped envelope for them to write her back.
- Communication has been key. Our grade-level teachers have meetings once a week that the EL teachers are invited to. And the EL teachers have meetings once a week on Zoom.
- We use a phone translating service called Voiance. We use Google Classrooms and Seesaw.
- We have to adjust expectations for ourselves. We can’t make our kids do assignments. We have to realize this is trauma, and people are really scared.
- I included my email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Twitter handle (@klockekelly). By no means are we doing everything perfectly, but I’d be happy to try to answer any questions that anyone has.
Question & Answer
How are you reaching out to and speaking to your students’ parents?
Katelin Andrews (25:40): We use Voiance and Talking Points. I use the text message side of Talking Points. The text will be translated into the family’s home language. Once you build your database, it’s really easy to use. Our district also created Google Voice numbers for all of us. We also contact our parent liaisons and language services department for help, too. Parent liaisons see our families outside of school things, so if I can’t get a hold of someone, I’ll try them.
Cammy Goucher (29:26): We have resources on the Missouri DESE website for remote teaching and learning for all of the different content areas, including ELL.
How are EL teachers collaborating with classroom and content teachers? How are district or school leaders supporting such collaborations?
Katelin Andrews (27:20): My school is having grade-level PLCs every week. We do those through Zoom or just call each other. The ELL department has check-ins with our resource teachers twice a week. I have 43 kids on my caseload, and I try to call 5-6 of them every day to see if they need help with assignments – not just my assignments, but other grade-level assignments as well.
Cammy Goucher (29:42): I’ve looked through district websites to see what districts are doing. One example I was really impressed with is one district where every teacher was listed on the website, and that way parents and students can go on and get the links and resources without getting mass emails. Teachers can collaborate this way, too, by looking at what other teachers are posting and doing.
Another district is partnering with PBS and broadcasting on television at certain times. There are a lot of interactive things, and again, join one of our social media groups and connect with each other. We can learn a lot from each other.
In my small school district, I am the only ELL instructor, so I have students in every grade from K-12. I really do not know how I can help them right now. Any suggestions? (31:35)
Cammy Goucher: Perhaps take your caseload and contact those teachers to see how you can collaborate with them. The fewer people sending information to the ELL parents the better because it gets overwhelming, especially for people who don’t speak the English language.
Kelly Klocke: Work with teachers to modify, just like we would on regular assignments. Maybe let ELs do a fewer number of problems to show the same skills or mastery of the standard. Go easy on yourself. No one has all the answers on how to support everyone at this time. Work with teachers to figure out who will be the main contact. Maybe EL teachers will be the one to reach out because they have the closer relationship.
What is your plan for next school year? Will you have students move on to the next grade level? (35:25)
Shawn Cockrum (Missouri DESE): As far as retention and promotion, that is really a local decision and a lot of factors will go in to it.
Kelly Klocke: We are doing hold-harmless right now. We are not assigning grades at this time. Kids can raise their grade, but they can’t lower them. At this point, everyone is going on to the next grade level. We don’t know what that will look like in the fall, but I’m guessing we’ll have to spend some time figuring out which standards we need to teach from the previous year. We’ll have to revisit curriculum and address the priority standards and figure out what is essential.
Cammy Goucher: DESE is also working on guidance for when school starts back up, so keep an eye on our website.
How can I make online, grade level work comprehensive for students designated as English Learners? (39:15)
Kelly Klocke: We have Elevation as a resource that sends out monitoring forms and there’s a lot of PD embedded for classroom and content teachers to modify lessons. We are also a SIOP district so all of our teachers have been trained in SIOP, which is sheltered instruction observation protocol. One of the main purposes of SIOP is to make content comprehensive for all learners. There’s a lot of information on the web about SIOP, so if you want some information on how to make modifications, that would be one place to start.
Katelin Andrews: I do a Screencastify so students hear my directions and see me model a writers workshop. I’m going to start doing number talk videos also. I think I’m pretty lucky that fifth and sixth grade in my building had already been using Google Classroom, so they already had that experience.
Cammy Goucher: Going back to the Wakelet lesson I created, one good thing there is it has immersive reading. It reads everything you type and can be translated to other languages.
I wanted to piggy-back on what Kelly said. We need to make sure we incorporate our can-dos and our ACCESS scores. But we don’t want to focus on the overall score; we want to focus on the individual domains. Make sure, for the student, if they are high in reading, they might not need as many supports. But if they’re a low writer, you’re going to have to do some of those things that will be helpful. One cool idea is to have students keep a journal. Right now, the journals they’re creating are curating history. You can reiterate that to them. What they’re writing, even if they’re drawing pictures, it’s a rich experience and they’re curating history.
How can I motivate and engage students in this environment? (47:25)
Cammy Goucher: Make it real for them. Incorporate things that they’re going to be doing at home anyway – like cooking. Get them and their families actively involved. We don’t have to push new curriculum, so find things that make the learning interesting and applicable and real in this time.
Katelin Andrews: I’ve been pushing some of my higher-end ELLs that have been wanting to exit the program or reclassify that this is the time to show your commitment to your schoolwork, that you can master the standards. Some of the students are getting motivated through that. For my newcomers and really all my students, I’ve been sending my kids birthday cards and miss-you cards. About once a week, I sit down in my crafting corner and make cards for them.
Kelly Klocke: The biggest motivator for the kids really is the teacher one-on-one relationship. They miss their teachers so much.
As far as engagement on Zoom, as much as you try, you’re going to have kids jumping on the bed and rolling on the floor. For the elementary side, we don’t do a lot of Zoom meetings. We only do one class meeting a week.
One of our assignments on SeeSaw was for our kids to make a video. One of our girls did a tutorial, and she was engaged doing that. Making videos, making TikToks is really popular with kids. Anything like that keeps our kids engaged and wanting to do the assignment.
How are you reaching out to local refugee agencies and connecting with families? (55:55)
Cammie Goucher: There was something I posted in the PD part of my Wakelet. There’s a link to a national service that provides assistance to immigrants.
Katelin Andrews: Our district works with JBS, a local agency here. Each family is given a counselor. Our local soccer club has also been helping.
Kelly Klocke: We had those families set up with resources before this happened. We’ve had eight new ELs enrolled since we’ve gone to e-learning. When they enroll, they indicate whether they’re immigrant or refugee and then we connect them with a social worker who can hook them with resources.
Name a favorite book you’ve read with/to kids over video, or recommended to immigrant families during this time. (Responses shared in the chat box.)
- The Word Collector by Pete Reynolds
- The Teeny Tiny Teacher
- Esperanza Rising
- Froggy Se Viste
- Snow in Jerusalem
- The Word Collector
- Other Words for Home
- Charlotte’s Web
- Inside out and Back again
- Too Small
- Wolf by Becky Bloom
- Random House Book of Poetry for Children
- Salam Alaikum: A Message of Peace by Harris J
- Over in the Meadow
- Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o
- Mommy’s Khimar by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow
- All Kinds of Friends
- In my heart: A book of Feelings by Jo Witek
- The Outsiders.
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar (or all the insect books by Eric Carle)
- The Invisible String
- Scaredy Squirrel
- I’m In Charge of Celebrations
- Pigs Make me Sneeze by Mo Willems
- Scholastic Action Mag has leveled short stories and articles for middle/high schoolers
- The Duckling Gets a Cookie by Mo Willems
- Devolver al Remitente
- A group of books called Los derechos del Niño
- The Empty Pot by Demi
- That Cat Can’t Stay!
- Words From Home
- Jackrabbit McCabe
- La casa de mis abuelos from Wonders/Maravillas curriculum
- Swimmy by Leo Lionni
- Boy by Roald Dahl
What’s one inspiration or heartwarming experience you’ve witnessed recently? (Responses shared in the chat box.)
- A student who is going to work with her family on a chicken farm sent me a video introducing me to the farm, her favorite chicks, and showing me around.
- Scavenger hunts while on Google Meets have been a fun activity for students and enlightening for me to learn more about student’s home & family.
- We held our drive through parade around our students’ neighborhoods yesterday! It was so much fun to see all four kids and wave to them. They made posters and sat outside and waved to us! It was awesome. Very heart-warming.
- I made a quick “home visit” last Friday to one of our ELs who has an IEP and was having trouble logging on and highlighting answers, so I met her outside and as I was trying to help her, one of her neighbor friends came running over and telling her that she could help her any time she needed help. This friend was so sweet and willing to help, just like we see in the classroom. It was such a sweet moment.
- EL teachers going out of their way to be available, reach out and staying in touch with kiddos is amazing to see!! Kids having expectations to video chat with their teacher and look forward to that is heartwarming!
- It’s heartwarming to see older siblings sitting next to our students in Zoom meetings and offering support. The students and I recently had a virtual talent show and we all sang “Lean on Me” together. It was very nice.