Monday, August 22, 2011

What Does College and Career Readiness for ELs Look like?

I revised the text on p. 7 of the Common Core Standards, to reflect our goals for English Learner college and career-readiness. I have marked the text I added in red.

ELs can demonstrate independence
Over time and eventually without scaffolding, will be able to comprehend and evaluate increasingly complex texts across a range of types and disciplines. Given an appropriate time frame, they can construct effective arguments and convey intricate or multifaceted information. Our goal is for EL students to eventually be able to independently to discern a speaker’s key points, request clarification, and ask relevant questions. An emphasis on oral language means we expect them to build on others’ ideas, articulate their own ideas, and confirm they have been understood. Once they no longer need prompting, they should be able to switch between standard English and their own dialect, acquiring and using a wide-ranging vocabulary. We are teaching them how to become self-directed learners, effectively seeking out and using resources to assist them, including teachers, peers, and print and digital reference materials.

ELs can build strong content knowledge
ELs establish a base of knowledge across a wide range of subject matter by first engaging with personal experience, followed by the reading of high interest texts. As their fluency develops, they take on more works of quality and substance. They become proficient in new areas through modeled research and study. They read purposefully and listen attentively to gain both general knowledge and discipline-specific expertise. They refine and share their knowledge through daily writing and speaking.

ELs can respond to the varying demands of audience, task, purpose, and discipline
Students in the higher stages of English Language Acquisition adapt their communication in relation to audience, task, purpose, and discipline, but all ELs learn to set and adjust purpose for reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language use through consistent exposure to multiple models. When their fluency is high enough, they appreciate nuances, such as how the composition of an audience should affect tone when speaking and how the connotations of words affect meaning. They all learn that different disciplines call for different types of evidence (e.g., documentary evidence in history, experimental evidence in science).

ELs are able to process comprehensible input and critique using all the language tools at their level
If taught well, all ELs can be engaged and open-minded—but discerning—readers and listeners.  They will work diligently to understand precisely what an author or speaker is saying. College and career-ready ELs question an author’s or speaker’s assumptions and premises and assess the veracity of claims. Those in the higher stages of English Language Acquisition can question an author’s soundness of reasoning.

ELs value evidence
They are able to bring up specific evidence when offering an oral or written interpretation of a text. They use relevant evidence when supporting their own points in writing and speaking. Even in a short piece they make their reasoning clear to the reader or listener, and they constructively evaluate others’ use of evidence.

ELs use technology and digital media strategically and capably
College and career-ready ELs employ technology thoughtfully to enhance their reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language use. We teach them to read strategically so they can tailor their searches online to acquire useful information efficiently, and they integrate what they learn using technology with what they learn offline. We give them internet access so that they can become familiar with the strengths and limitations of various technological tools and mediums, and can select and use those best suited to their communication goals.

ELs understand other perspectives and cultures
Because they are a diverse group, they appreciate that the twenty-first-century classroom and workplace are settings in which people from often widely divergent cultures and who represent diverse experiences and perspectives must learn and work together. Because many ELs come from immigrant families, they actively seek to understand other perspectives and cultures through reading and listening, and they want to communicate effectively with people of varied backgrounds. We teach them to evaluate other points of view critically and constructively. While those in the higher stages of English Language Acquisition will read and comprehend great classic and contemporary works of literature representative of a variety of periods, cultures, and worldviews, all ELs can vicariously inhabit worlds and have experiences much different than their own.

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