Sites for communicating with families
In order to communicate with families in their preferred language, you can use an app/website that will translate your message automatically. Moreover, families will have the ability to write to you in their preferred language, which will be translated into English automatically.
Just a few:
Kinvo - App
Some important tips...
Here are a few important things to keep in mind when preparing and presenting your lessons, especially when they are on slides:
1. Font: Some children cannot read script. In addition, some fonts are harder to read than others. If the goal is to make content comprehensible, make your font as clear as possible. One less barrier.
2. Color-coding: Using different colors to make words stand out may help ELLs (and other visual learners).
3. Visuals: Where possible, use images, videos, or gifs to illustrate the content.
4. Wordiness: A slide that looks like an essay may include all of the information they need to know, but for some students it may cause them to shut down. Try to include only the essentials, or summarize using visuals. Or, if you really can't summarize, highlight key terms. Be aware of the words and phrases you use as well; idioms can cause confusion.
5. Videos: When watching a video, turn on the English subtitles, if possible.
I know you're all doing your best, and I commend you all. Just try to keep these tips in mind when you're preparing your next set of slides. Thank you!
Every year, around this time, I make a list of the zillion things running through my head in order to organize my thoughts for the new year. I thought it might help other ELL coordinators if I published my thoughts here. I was the coordinator for an elementary school in Brooklyn for 10 years, so some of this information may not pertain to high school. I believe the guidance is the same from K-8. I'm going to be working at a middle school in September, so if any middle school coordinators notice a difference, please let me know!
*Please visit the my page for ENL teachers and ELL coordinators for even more. I've also added as many links as I could to this blogpost.
*If you ever have a question, consult the Policy and Reference Guide. On page 21 you'll find step by step instructions for the ELL identification process.
*This is a very helpful document as well: 10 ELL-Related Items for a Successful Start of the School Year .
*If you want a more in-depth view of what it means to be an ELL coordinator, check out this amazing slide presentation created by Lily Green, a coordinator in the Bronx! You can also watch a recorded presentation of this material. The passcode is: V3Ri%V*B
So, without further ado, here are SOME of the many things that need to be taken care of at the beginning of the year...
Oh, and PLEASE note: This is what I have done for the past 10 years as a coordinator. I may use the pronoun YOU throughout this, but what you do may be completely different, and that's OK! I'm not here to rock the boat. Just here to give you an idea of what goes through my mind as the year starts...
I need to know who my ELLs are!
First of all, there are SO many possible scenarios: new admits, transfer students from other NYC schools, reentering students who have been out of the NYS or NYC system for over two years, students from out of state, students from a school in NYS (outside of NYC), etc. I am NOT covering them all. Just basics. General info. The Policy and Reference Guide covers them all!
NOTE: If you want to view an ATS report on your screen, you can put the letter S in the printer field. If you want to email the report to yourself, enter your email into the space provided and type the letter D next to TYP: You will only be able to access the report on a DOE computer (or a virtual desktop).
I usually check the RLER to see who needs to be tested with the NYSITELL (for all intents and purposes, the entrance exam).
STUDENTS ELIGIBLE FOR REVISED LAB (LBR): Y
STUDENTS ELIGIBLE FOR NYSESLAT (LAT) : _
I can also check the RLER to see who my current ELLs are.
STUDENTS ELIGIBLE FOR REVISED LAB (LBR): _
STUDENTS ELIGIBLE FOR NYSESLAT (LAT) : Y
For any ATS report, you'll know a student is an ELL if the letter in the LEP or LEP flag column is a Y. If there is an E in that column, that student is eligible to be tested with the NYSITELL. There are other code letters as well:
The RLER will tell you a student's LEP code, their home language, and few other key pieces of information.
I print out the RLAT to see my ELLs' proficiency levels. This is my go-to ATS report, although the RFSF gives so much more information: LEP flag, place of birth, SIFE status, IEP, ELPC info, BNDC info, years of service (YOS), etc. I like to print out the RLAT because it's more concise and gives me all the info I really need. It provides a student's NYSITELL and NYSESLAT history.
On the RLAT, you can find your current students' English proficiency levels by checking their most recent NYSESLAT (for all intents and purposes, the exit exam) score (or NYSITELL score for the current year, after you've tested them). If you also want to know who scored CM (commanding/proficient) on the most recent NYSESLAT, you can run this report by answering N for the first question:
ENTITLED STUDENTS ONLY (Y/N) : N
**Keep in mind, if a student scored EX on the NYSESLAT and scored a 3 or a 4 on the ELA exam, they will be considered CM as well.
For an explanation of all of the proficiency levels, click HERE!
You can print out NYSITELL (ITEL) answer documents from the RLBA screen. After testing students and scanning those answer documents to ATS, you'll be able to view the students' scores instantly by accessing the RLBU screen. NYSITELL SCANNING HANDBOOK
New students with a home language of SP (Spanish) who are determined to be ELLs will also have to take the Spanish LAB (S-LAB). You can print out their answer sheets from the RSLA screen. SLAB SCANNING HANDBOOK
As students are enrolled and their ELL status is determined, you should schedule parent orientations. You'll need to complete the ELPC screen for those students within the first 20 days of their enrollment.
New students with IEPs must go through a slightly different process. Their NYSITELL eligibility should be determined by the Language Proficiency Team (LPT). You will use the ELLO screen to mark the team's decision.
*Determine home language of new admits (HLIS, interviews, LPT)
*Print Answer Documents
*Test new admits within 10 days of enrollment (for students with IEPs, 20 days)
*Make a roster list
*Parent Orientation(s) and complete ELPC screen within 20 days of enrollment
If I have a new transfer student, I usually run an RHSP report to see the students' admission and exam history.
Later on, the UYRE screen will be helpful to see who will be exempt from the ELA exam that year. On the UYRE screen, you'll find a current monthly total of how long each ELL has been in the US school system.
The BNDC screen will have to be updated as well. Use this screen to see which students must be determined to be SIFE (a student with interrupted/inconsistent formal education) or not SIFE.
Make a list of your ELLs. Here's one page of a sample roster list:
HLIS (Home Language Survey)
HLIS forms: All HLIS (home language survey) forms are supposed to be filled out with a trained pedagogue. Supposed to be are the key words. Usually, you'll return to school and there will be hundreds of HLIS forms filled out during the summer. Maybe not hundreds, but it sure feels like it. I usually go through all of them to determine which students' parents indicated that their child speaks a language other than English at home. I usually interview all of those students (informally, as well as academically) to determine their eligibility for the NYSITELL. If their home language is a language other than English, but they are determined to be English dominant and should NOT take the NYSITELL, you can mark that on the ELLO screen.
All students whose parents fill out an HLIS form (essentially ALL of them) must have that indicated on the BIOU screen in ATS. Next to "HLIS" there will be a space. Enter Y.
The first couple of mornings of the new school year, I help the pupil accounting secretary with registration by completing the HLIS form with every parent (K-12). Even if their child only speaks English. Even if English is the only language they are exposed to at home. A "trained pedagogue" must administer the HLIS with every, single parent. I informally interview students as well. I make sure to fill out page 1 for each HLIS form (page 2) and I write down my impression of each child. I hold onto the HLIS forms of the students whom I want to interview further; in other words, students who may be eligible for the taking the NYSITELL.
There is only ONE HLIS for each student throughout their education. If a student is transferring from a NYC school, you should try to get the original HLIS (and any other pertinent paperwork). Do NOT have the parent fill out a new HLIS if they are already in the system. You can find out their previous school a number of ways. You can always run an RHSP report using their OSIS number.
Parent Notification Letters
You definitely should print out the HLIS in several different languages. I like to make a copy with English on one side and the other home language on the other. Make plenty of copies of the cover sheet that must be attached to every HLIS after it is completed.
You should customize and print out the other parent letters in English and the home languages of your students' parents. This NYSED page has them translated into more languages than the NYC page.
Keep copies of every letter you send home. Keep multiple copies if a copy must be put in a student's cumulative file. Continued Entitlement letters can go home right away (as soon as you know if a student is still an ELL after the last NYSESLAT). Prepare Entitlement letters (to go home before parent orientations) and Placement letters (to go home after parent orientations). Prepare ELL Parent Survey and Program Agreements in parents' home languages for parent orientations.
There are other things that need to be done, depending on your school:
*STARS programming One person at your school has been assigned to program all of your ELLs for "push-in" (Integrated ENL) and "pull-out" (Stand-Alone ENL).
*Create ENL Teachers' schedules
*LTI (Language Translation and Interpretation Plan)
*Assess your new admits - Baseline
*Schoolnet Periodic Assessments - Guide
English Magic: The Alphabet
Back-to-Back, Face-to-Face is an excellent activity you can do to build background and activate schema before a lesson. It's actually not referred to as an activity in Advanced Literacy. It's called a "protocol" nowadays. Fancy. Well, it doesn't matter what you call it, it gets kids up and moving, and it establishes context for the lesson. Excellent prereading activity.
Back-to-Back, Face-to-Face: First students find a partner. They stand back-to-back. The teacher poses a question. The students think about their answer and give a thumbs up when they are ready. Then, the teacher says, "3, 2, 1, share." The students turn around to face their partner and take turns sharing. When they are done sharing, they turn around and stand back-to-back. When everyone is finished, the teacher tells them to find another partner (if there is another question). To see it in action, click on the link below:
The Power of Positivity
This'll be short and sweet.
Never underestimate the power of praise. When a student answers a question in class, tell the student what they did right, instead of focusing on what they did wrong. Even if an answer is completely wrong, I will most likely thank them for trying. I might even tell them they did a great job, although the answer is not what I was looking for.
When a student is praised, the student will be more inclined to participate and less scared of rejection. Encourage your students to try. Of course, remind them to think about their answer before they raise their hand, but after sufficient thinking and waiting time, they should feel comfortable trying and possibly failing.
Take failing or losing out of the equation. You can either win or learn.
NYSESLAT Testing and Scoring
From April 9th to approximately May 31st, the ENL department in NYC public schools will be administering the NYSESLAT (New York State ESL Achievement Test).
From April 9th to May 4th, ENL teachers will be administering the speaking section of the exam to ELLs individually. They will probably not be testing on April 11th and 12th, or May 1st and 2nd because of the state exams.
From May 7th to May 18th, the ENL teachers will be administering the listening, reading, and writing exams (three booklets/three sessions/three days) in small groups. If possible, please do not schedule trips during this two week window.
From May 21st to May 31st, the ENL department will be scoring the writing portions of the exam.
Don't give a newcomer a page of English text and expect them to comprehend it and answer the questions on the board. They are going to stare at it, get frustrated, and give up. Or they might copy what another student is writing. But that's not learning.
Give them English text that they can access. Give them a smaller passage on their reading level. Translate the questions and tell them they can write their answers in their own language (or a mix of English and their home language). They should always be working alongside their classmates, but their assignment should be scaffolded so that they can actually do it.
Check out Rewordify.com. It's pretty remarkable. It can simplify text to make it more accessible to your students. You may also want to check out booksthatgrow.com.
Label Your Classroom
Label everything in your classroom. Label your door, your windows, your floor, the ceiling, the computers, etc. These labels were created exclusively for The ELL Whisperer website. Or create your own!
For just $10 more, you can get the classroom labels AND ALL of the other items in my TpT store!! Visit patreon.com/ELLwhisperer to become a PREMIUM subscriber!!
ENL teacher since 2002.