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But Does This Work With English Learners?

But Does This Work With English Learners?
A Guide for English Language Arts Teachers, Grades 6-12

Foreword by Gretchen Bernabei

August 2020 | 232 pages | Corwin

Secondary ELA teachers, be excited: here at last is that crash course in utilizing the best of what we already know about teaching reading, writing, and language to ensure our English learners thrive.

Take Penny Kittle and Donalyn Miller’s reader’s workshops. Take Kylene Beers and Robert Probst’s “signposts.” Take the best writing techniques advanced by the National Writing Project. Take Jim Burke’s essential questions for life. Award-winning EL authorities Mandy Stewart and Holly Genova describe immediate adaptations you can put in place to simultaneously build your ELs’ language and literacy, while affirming their languages, cultures, and unique lived experiences.

A rare blend of the humane and practical, But Does This Work with English Learners? is a book on how to leverage our ELs’ full linguistic repertoires in the ELA classroom, while remaining sensitive to those barriers that could restrict learning. With this book as your guide, you’ll learn how to:

  • Look beyond the labels, and better understand the diversity of ELs, English language proficiency levels, and sociopolitical influences
  • Teach and assess through reader’s workshop, recognizing where comprehensible input fits in and adapting recurring features like support, choice, conferencing, and academic conversations
  • Teach and assess through writer’s workshops, including modifications to quick-writes, minilessons, conferencing, sharing, and more
  • Teach through structures and community with classroom schedules and behavior norms, and activities like All About Me Paragraphs and Six Things You Need to Know About Me Listicles
  • Embrace identity in inquiry cycles via research and family interviews, mentor texts and essays, pictorial autobiographies, memory paragraphs, and more
  • Answer your own FAQs such as How do I teach students if I don’t know their language? What about grammar? How do I teach the grade-level ELA standards while I teach the language?

“As you read this book,” Mandy and Holly write, “our hope is that you will begin to see your students as multilinguals—people who already have language as well as a wealth of knowledge and are just adding English to that great repertoire.” If you have even a single English learner in your classroom, we urge you to read this book and institute its practices. Right away!

“Mandy Stewart and Holly Genova have given us a primer for the evolving complexities of our classroom melting pots, a map for navigating the murky waters of regulations, and most importantly, a recipe for opening our arms to children from all over the world. They welcome them with thoughts like ‘A foreign accent is a sign of bravery.’”

~Gretchen Bernabei, Coauthor of Fun-Sized Academic Writing for Serious Learning

“After reading this book, I was left with the feeling that I learned something new on every page--something that I had previously either wondered about or struggled to understand. Mandy Stewart and Holly Genova are the guides we all need to help us understand and better address the needs of our English learners.”

~Jim Burke, Author of The English Teacher’s Companion

Foreword by Gretchen Bernabei
Mandy’s Teaching Story

Holly’s Teaching Story

Our Teaching Story: A Research/Practice Partnership

Our Purpose: Every ELA Teacher, a Language Teacher

Overview of the Book

Using the Book

About the authors
Chapter 1: Language Learners: Seeing Beyond the Labels
Diversity of Language Learners

Sociopolitical Influences

Second-Language Acquisition

Bilingualism and Biliteracy

Student Profiles: Meet Language Learners


Chapter 2: Teaching Through Reader’s Workshop
The Reader’s Workshop Model

Know Your Multilingual Students

Second-Language Acquisition Regarding Reading

Modification of Reader’s Workshop for Language Learners

Student Profiles: Meet Multilingual Readers


Chapter 3: Teaching Through Writer’s Workshop
The Writer’s Workshop Model

Know Your Multilingual Students

Second-Language Acquisition Regarding Writing

Modifications of Writer’s Workshop for Language Learners

Student Profiles: Meet Multilingual Writers


Chapter 4: Teaching Through Structures and Community
Learning Structures

Building Community: Who Am I? Who Are My Classmates?

Student Profiles: Meet Classroom Community Members


Chapter 5: Teaching Through Inquiry Cycles
Identity: Who Am I?

My Life, My Stories: How Am I Unique?

Student Profiles: Meet Students Who Shared and Healed


Chapter 6: ESL FAQ: Our Most Frequently Asked Questions as ESL Teachers
How do I teach students if I don’t speak their language?

What about grammar?

What do I do with a newcomer?

How do I continue my instructional plan when I get new students, who are also newcomers, throughout the school year?

How do I teach the grade-level ELA standards while I teach the language?

What does students’ first language have to do with the ELA classroom?

What language should students read in for independent reading time?

How do I learn about their previous educational experiences?

What is the best way to help long-term English learners (L-TELs)?

How do I incorporate culture into the classroom in an authentic way?

How do I not offend students whose culture is so different from mine?

How do I get support from students’ families?

How do I get support from my administrators and other teachers?

What if students are undocumented or underdocumented?

How do I motivate students to want to use English in and out of the classroom?

What is your favorite learning activity with language learners?


Get QUACKing!

Appendix A
Appendix B
Appendix C
Appendix D
Appendix E

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ISBN: 9781071814918

ISBN: 9781071814956

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