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The big ideas addressed throughout the chapter, in my opinion, can be perceived as objectives that briefly highlight the function and overall goals of the 12 key practices.
The first big idea states that: the twelve key practices can help educators build successful instructional environments that enable English language learners (ELLs) to meet core state standards and English language proficiency standards. Part three of the key practices focuses on the core instructional practices of every program for ELLs. The practices within part three are Key Practices 9, 10, and 11, which discusses how effective instruction should be implemented in the classroom.
For example, Key Practice 11 addresses the implementation of comprehensible academic content instruction during daily classroom activities. It continues by introducing what sheltered instruction is and how compelling the concept is to students’ academic experience. Sheltered instruction requires that instructors follow the districts standards of an ELL program as well as maintain the standards for English speaking students.
The second big idea (effective implementation of the 12 Key Practices is most thoroughly realized when collaborative teams at the district-wide, school-wide, and classroom levels all work toward the common goal of school success for ELLs) addressed within the chapter correlates to part one of the Key Practices (1-4) which introduces the shared practices at the district, school, and classroom levels.
Key Practice 3 stresses the importance of keeping track of a student academic performance throughout the duration of the ELL program.
The second chunk of the Key Practices (5-8) is directed to the final big idea, which is: the twelve key practices provide a common focus, a common language, and shared goals for the collaborative teams.
Part two of the Key Practices discusses the common practices for ELLs instructors. Key Practice 5 emphasizes the use of big ideas by instructors to develop appropriate assessment strategies that are optimal for their students. Key Practice 7 explores the importance of referring to an student’s previous experience to make the necessary connections in the classroom. Part two of the twelve key practices explores the lesson planning component all ELLs instructors and what four common classroom practices are most effective at any grade level.
The 12 Key Practices are a framework established to support Florida’s Consent Decree. There are 12 specific guidelines within the framework that analyze the structure and practices within an ELL program. As previously stated the Key Practices are divided into four parts that focus on significant practices which include: shared, common classroom, and core instructional. The fourth part is a overall conclusion of the practices and the necessary steps to ensure these practices are implemented.
Part one, which includes Key Practices 1-4, of the 12 Key Practices discusses the shared practices at the district, school, and classroom level. Key Practice 1 is titled Structuring Equitable School and Classroom Environments. Key Practice 1 provides foundational information for an ELL program; It explains that in order to provide an effective learning experience for ELLs students primary and secondary teachers must create a learning environment that can motivate, encourage, and demonstrate value to the culture group. An ELL student’s learning environment is the first introduction to their learning experience. Every ELL instructor should aim to demonstrate that their students’ home cultures and languages are important and valued.
In continuation, Key Practice 2 (Educating English Language Learners through Collaboration) explores the collaboration component of the shared practices and the challenges that present themselves. Superintendents are encouraged to develop a diverse team of teachers and administrators that will collaborate regularly to develop and implement a successful ELL program for each district. During the collaborative meetings, also formally known as professional learning communities (PLC), teachers and administrators are required to research and develop lessons and activities that are effective, innovative, and equitable. They are encouraged to share common classroom practices, strategies, and integrated activities with the understanding that their collaborative efforts aren’t applicable for every classroom.
Key Practice 3 (Implementing a Balanced Student Assessment System) focuses on assessment systems and how they’re initiated in ELL programs. Assessments are created to record an ELL student’s progress throughout their duration in the program. Not only do assessments evaluate a student’s progress but they also help identify strengths and weaknesses of the actual program. To ensure honesty and accountability assessment teams are established to prevent the utilization of traditional standardized assessments. The goal of the assessment teams are to develop guidelines and common measures to help general and language education. In addition, to holding teaching professionals accountable, the assessment teams will also hold ELL students responsible for their learning experiences.
The final part of part one of the 12 Key Practices stresses the importance of maintaining and learning a new language during an ELL student’s academic and personal experiences (Key Practice 4: Embracing an Additive Bilingualism Perspective). “Additive bilingualism is the language learning process in which ELLs add a new language as they maintain and improve their existing language.” The use of both languages in the professional and personal setting will enhance the literacy skills of the students. The opposite of additive bilingualism is subtractive bilingualism which means to use one language more than the other. Accordingly, the technique and structure of a school district’s ELL program is dependent on the number of students within a certain language group. The two approaches are referred to as primary language instruction and primary language support. School districts with large numbers of ELL students from a single language group will have specific resources to implement primary language instruction. On the contrary, primary language support is often used in school districts that have a diverse ELL population, small numbers of ELLs spread out in many grade levels, thus resulting in fewer resources.
Part two of the 12 Key Practices highlights common practices, such as the use of big ideas and vocabulary, for the ELL instructors. Key Practice 5 (Using Big Ideas to Plan Instruction) explores the use of big ideas in ELL instruction. Contrary to belief, using big ideas can be essential for ELL teaching professionals. According to the text, using big ideas when lesson planning can help identify essential vocabulary, plan comprehensible instruction, select readings, and develop appropriate assessment strategies. Just like big ideas, vocabulary is an essential aspect to the learning process. Key Practice 6, Implementing Meaningful Vocabulary-Building Instruction, reveals why its essential to the develop literacy skills for the ELL students. Isolating vocabulary builds a bridge between social language and academic language. According to the text, instructors should identify and teach vocabulary to reduce the gap between the ELLs’ developing English language proficiency and the ever-expanding vocabulary of the ELLs’ English-speaking peers.
The final two Key Practices (Activating Students’ Prior Knowledge and Structuring Student Interaction) in part two of the 12 Key Practices refer back to the learning environment of an ELL student. Not all ELL students have similar everyday experiences. There are ELL students whose experiences are influenced by English speaking students, while there are students who cannot relate to the mainstream experiences. Thus, the importance of having discussions that introduce a topic with the aspiration of activating and connecting students’ experience(s) to the content. Allowing students to share their personal experiences can enhance their prior knowledge to the content in order to have a foundation for the lesson. In sharing their personal experiences, ELL instructors must ensure that the learning experience provides quality interactions between the teachers as well. Therefore, cooperative learning activities allow for ELLs to engage in conversations with their peers, make instruction comprehensible, and provide opportunities for classroom discourse.
Key Practices 9, 10, and 11 are discussed in the third part of the 12 Key Practices. Implementing English as a Second Language Instruction is the 9th practice and it focuses on how to design and implement daily content in the four language domains. Key Practice 10, Implementing Meaning-Based Literacy Instruction, refers to teaching ELLs students to read through the use of meaning-based literacy. When an ELL student enters a school district that doesn’t provide a substantial ELL programming they are required to attend classes with their English-speaking peers. Which can cause developmental and social concerns for ELL students. However, teaching meaning-based literacy can strategically develop the ELL children’s oral English to provide a pathway to literacy. Meaning-based literacy requires that ELL instructors begin literacy instruction in their primary language, then transition to reading and writing activities that enhance the students’ secondary language.
Key Practice 11, Implementing Comprehensible Academic Content Instruction, encourages that ELL instructors to use academic content just above the average proficiency of the students. The goal is to ensure ELL students are at the same academic level as their English speaking peers, thus, the use of sheltered instruction. “The ultimate goal of sheltered instruction is accessibility for ELLs to grade-level content standards and concepts while they continue to improve their English language proficiency” (Wright 2010, p. 223). When ELL instructors receive directions about academic content they are required to take that information and adapt a ‘sheltered’ version for their ELL students. The sheltered version is not a watered down form of the content but it is translated in a way for ELL students to understand while being challenged.
The fourth and final part of the 12 Key Practices (Structuring the Language Education Program) concludes the process of structuring an ELL program within each district. Structuring the language education program is an extensive process that requires many hands and many minds to ensure an effective, innovative, and encouraging learning experience. The first step is to select a group of qualified professionals who are responsible for reviewing, refining, and restructuring the program. This group of people will serve as committee members throughout the developmental process. Next, they will study relevant research in and identify familiar with effective practices. Then, the committee will review the research and prepare to use the Twelve Key Practices Checklist to evaluate their current program practices.
The Consent of Decree is a body of laws that were created in the state of Florida in support of English Language Learners (ELLs). The Consent Decree is broken into six sections detailing how and who can be affected by this decree. The sections are: Identification and Assessment, Equal Access to Appropriate Programming, Equal Access to Appropriate Categorical and Other Programs for ELL Students, Personnel, Monitoring Issues, and Outcome Measures.
Section 1 of the Consent Decree is ‘Identification and Assessment’ which examines the initial phase for placement and monitoring throughout a student’s academic experience. Section one list the requirements for a limited English proficiency (LEP) student and instructors. It also details the process to which a student is identified as an LEP/ELL. In addition, Key Practice 1 emphasizes the importance of ELL instructors creating and welcoming their students into an encouraging and culturally competent environment. ELL students experience a high level of stress during the “difficult and embarrassing” transition of learning a new language.
In section 2 of the Consent Decree, ‘Equal Access to Appropriate Programming’, there are more than one of the 12 Key Practices indicated. Equal access to appropriate programming in summation details guaranteeing that all ELL students enrolled into a program will have access to appropriate instruction that corresponds to their English speaking peers. The goal is to development “efficient and effective” programs that will enhance the educational experience of each ELL student through intensive language instruction and the identification of their special needs. Key Practices 4, 7, and 11 all stress the importance of providing content that will enhance the development of any and all ELL students.
Key Practice 4 requires that ELL instructors encourage their students to use their primary and secondary language to improve their current literary abilities. While balancing the use of two languages, ELL instructors are encouraged to challenge their students to refer to their past and current experiences to make connections to the content. Activating past and current experiences will also allow for students, who may share the same language but have different experiences, learn from each other. Key Practice 11 informs us about the use of “sheltered instruction”, which challenges not only the ELL instructors but more so the students. Sheltered instruction is used when academic content has to be simplified, but not watered down, to ensure the students meet the same standards as their English speaking peers.
Section 3 of the Consent Decree (Equal Access to Appropriate Categorical and Other Programs for ELL Students) highlights that support provided to ELL students must correlate to their academic progress. In order to ensure that each student receives the proper academic support as their abilities increase aligns with Key Practices 9 (Implementing English as a Second Language Instruction). Key Practice 9 stresses the importance of designing daily content in the four language domains needed to elicit grade level concepts. Section 3 begins by explaining the importance of ELL students having access to appropriate educational programs such as compensatory, exceptional, early childhood, vocational, as well as adult education.
Compensatory programs are federally funded education plans that provide equal access to appropriate programming. These programs are mostly seen in public education systems and relate most to the 12 Key Practices. Key Practice 9 identifies many approaches that provide foundational informational that support the basic rights of ELL students in each district.
The 5th section of the Consent Decree directly corresponds to Key Practice 12 which encompasses all of the other Key Practices. Section 5 focuses on ensuring each district is complying to Consent Decree, while Key Practice 12 describes the process of developing an effective educational program. Section 5 of the Consent Decree, like Key Practice 12, discusses what issues will be addressed while monitoring each district. Key Practice 12 details the process of creating and revising an ELL program which includes establishing a qualified team, researching relevant studies, and referring to the 12 Key Practices Handbook.
The final section of the Consent Decree discusses effective evaluation systems for data reports. Similarly, Key Practice 3 describes the assessment process in an ELL program. Assessments help keep track of a student’s academic progress throughout their duration in an ELL program. In order to ensure the assessment process is authentic and effective assessment teams are assembled by district’s language education coordinator. Each school district will be assessed and reviewed every three years through profile comparison. The profile will compare and analyze national origin the minority students, students who are not national minorities, and LEP students. The Consent Decree states that the evaluation system should address equal “access and program effectiveness”.
The purpose of the 12 Key Practices is to provide a framework for school and districts to renew and sustain an effective vision, mission, and goals for their ELL students. The Consent Decree is the foundational body of state and federal laws that provide explicit instructions the ensure the rights and privileges of the students as well as the instructors in every district. The two documents are pivotal to the development of any ELL program and work hand in hand during the developmental process.
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