grading ELL

Discussion in 'ESL/ELL' started by stepka, Aug 30, 2012.

  1. stepka

    stepka Comrade

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    Aug 30, 2012

    I think we're in over our heads. We are at a large high school with 81 students in our program and by the WIDA scale, 7 are entering and 6 are beginners. As you can guess our entering students have almost no English but they do have a full schedule of typical high school classes. We are 1 ELL teacher and one assistant (me) and while she teaches ELL classes it's my job to work with many of the students to navigate their classes and help them keep up with homework and tutor them on 5 paragraph essays and biology and geometry and . . .whew.

    The biggest problem that I have, as you all have probably guessed, is teachers who have absolutely no idea what to do with these kids. They are always complaining that they have no idea how to grade them and I see their point but when I offer suggestions they throw those out as non-workable b/c they are responsible for the students' learning all of the material. Is there a good website that has the info in a nice concise form that I can offer up? What do I tell the English teachers who need to have a 5 paragraph essay? And how do I keep up with all of it? :help: I am totally worn out after reading tests to kids and having to explain something like 15 vocab words per test question.

    I have this one teacher of geology--one of my favorite subjects and several of our students are in there and I'm having to be a student in his class so I can take all of the notes so that I can help the kids b/c he is so disorganized in his presentation of the material that even I am struggling in there but I'm determined to help these kids pass the class b/c it's required and he's the only one who teaches it. I only ask the kids to put forth effort, show up for class, and attempt to take notes.

    Another teacher of social studies is ridiculously rigid and makes them turn in their study guides for the test with perfect sentence structure, spelling, and punctuation and it must be written in ink. I spent a lot of time helping a girl in there last year who worked really hard and with my help she got a D b/c of lack of class participation and the teacher lost a couple of her tests and then claimed that she must not have taken them though she had perfect attendance. I was hopping mad I can tell you.

    Well enough of the fine whine--most of the teachers are wanting to help but need guidelines and even the principals are not sure how to do that. Then I can use some pointers on how to present it to them in a way that they will listen and not get their back up over an assistant offering suggestions. Other than all of the above, I do love my job. :cool:
     
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  3. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Aug 30, 2012

    Um. Declining to differentiate instruction appropriately for students who aren't yet fluent in English violates an assortment of federal laws and the intention of a range of state and federal Supreme Court cases.

    Your colleagues are probably reluctant to take your word for this, however. If you can, see if you can get the school to buy a copy of Diaz-Rico & Weed's The Cognitive, Language, and Academic Diversity Handbook - you could go for an edition earlier than the current one, but don't go any earlier than the third edition. This book offers discussions of the theory and practice of English language development, as well as a rundown of the relevant laws and court cases.

    Point them in particular to Lau v. Nichols - there's a good discussion here: http://www.alliance.brown.edu/tdl/policy/index.shtml. I see no reason to believe that the Roberts court would let your district off the hook, were the matter to come to the US Supreme Court, given the abundance of legal precedents to the effect that English learners' civil rights must be protected both in instruction and in assessment.
     
  4. stepka

    stepka Comrade

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    Aug 31, 2012

    Thanks TG, I'll look for that. I hate that I painted a portrait of people who are deliberately not compliant, though we have a couple who just refuse to teach any way than they've ever done. It's more that our ELL population is growing so quickly and the teachers are having a hard time keeping up with the influx of students. For example, this year we have over 80 in our program but last year we had 60, plus the entering and beginners have doubled.

    The teacher I work with is teaching a full schedule of full classes and then the rest of the school thinks she should be responsible for all of them all the time, even when they're not in her class. It's like they see her as a case manager or something. Well we'll get it figured out and I will make it my project to make the differentiation info available so thanks for that--I'd hate to see us have a lawsuit when we all work so hard. I'll look on ebay. :thumb:
     
  5. stepka

    stepka Comrade

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    Sep 18, 2012

    TeacherGroupie that is a fantastic resource and I've been reading on it a little at a time so I can absorb it.

    Here is a problem I had today and it's a typical one: Last week I took a group of 4 students to the library to read them a test. One knows almost no English, two struggle and are L3 and L4. All 3 are hard workers. The last one grew up in the US but lives in a home where only Spanish is spoken, missed 3 years of elementary, and shows some evidence of LD and AD/HD but didn't test into sped. He's also really, really bright but reading is low, his writing is incoherent, and he is annoying to the teacher. He also comes off like a big dumb lub, but I know he's not.

    I am not sure how to keep tests from being collaborative efforts for the kids, so they all come back with the same answers on their tests and they do well so teacher assumes that I give them the answers. He refuses to believe that most of the correct answers are coming from the kid who has almost LD but they are. The girl who knows no English at all has no choice but to be a free rider and I make the other kids input also so it's not just the one young man coming up with all the answers but he knows his stuff. I may send him up for oral testing next time they have a test. :rolleyes:
     
  6. uscsoccer

    uscsoccer Rookie

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    Oct 14, 2012

    I'd suggest showing the WIDA Can-Do descriptors to your colleagues- they are going to have to modify their instruction/tests, or they might have you modify them. Who knows, it might be an eye-opener for them.

    According to the Descriptors, your Level Ones should be able to match pictures with words, fill in the blank sentences, answer yes/no questions- things like that. It just isn't fair for your colleagues to think that they can take the same tests as 9-12th grade native speakers! I'm still modifying tests for my Level 3s/4s, though of course not as much as I'd have to for Level 1s- clarifying the language used, eliminating wordiness in the directions, taking out some test questions- keeping the "meat" of the content/test while making it accessible to my kids.

    Here are the Can-Do descriptors (click on the right under 9-12).
    http://www.wida.us/standards/CAN_DOs/

    Good luck! I'm rooting for you! :)
     
  7. GemStone

    GemStone Habitué

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    Oct 14, 2012

    When I pull students out for reading of a test, I read aloud to them and they answer independently. There is no discussion from them, and no prompting from me. After all, a test is supposed to measure what they know with accommodations and modifications. If any student gets a scribe, I pull them aside so they can respond to the question without the other students hearing the answer.
     
  8. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Oct 14, 2012

    As far as you having to take notes: could each teacher ask a student in each class to volunteer to take simple, neat notes for the ELL students? They could receive extra credit or something; these student should obviously be at a higher skill level in order to have time to do this. Or they could just make sure they have legible, neat and complete notes, and before the end of the class you would make a few copies of them for the students. This way you're not sitting in a class acting as a student, as your time could be better spent.
    When i was student teaching we had a hearing impaired student, and one of the accommodations were that one student would also take notes for her.
     

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