Intervening with ELLs

Response to Intervention — extra help for kids who are starting to fall behind — works well for students who aren’t fluent in English, reports Education Week. RTI is designed to keep students from being designated as learning disabled by “catching them before they fall.”

In Chula Vista and across the country, response to intervention provides instructional triage with three “tiers.” All students receive Tier 1 instruction, in which teachers ideally take into account the individual needs of students in their regular instruction. In Tier 2, a subset of students who need additional help receives interventions in small groups, which in Chula Vista are provided by teachers in regular classrooms and while students are pulled out of class, such as for the reading clinic at Rice Elementary. Lastly, some students are identified for Tier 3; they receive even more intensive help, such as daily one-on-one instruction . . .

Teaching well in Tier 1 is critical.

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  1. I think early intervention with ELLs pays off better than any other type of intervention. So many students who come into our schools from other countries are quite bright and able, but overwhelmed by the change in culture and learning a new language while also facing the standard pressure to keep up. A modest amount of individualized attention can go along way to helping them acclimate. Heck, I remember feeling culture shock just moving from a public middle school to a Catholic high school, where nearly all the other students had gone to Catholic elementary school, and my early grades suffered till I acclimated and turned it around – and I didn’t have a language barrier. As a result of input from some of my own employees who immigrated to this country, Dulcinea Media has created a Web site – encontrandoDulcinea – that many ESL teachers use to help their Hispanic kids acclimate, as it contains Spanish language guidance to English language Web resources. Sometimes all kids need is some advice in their own mother tongue.

  2. Servando Ortega says:

    I agree the key to RTI is “Good First” teaching. Research defines “Good First” teaching as demonstrating 85% proficiency among your class. If we read between the lines, this means we use the intended curriculum as the “foundation” and not the “end product” to reach the needs of our students.

  3. Diana Senechal says:

    Some English language learners are more advanced academically (at least in certain subjects) than their American counterparts. If it weren’t for the language barrier, they would be performing well above grade level.

    Others come to the country with minimal educational background. They can barely read and write in their own language.

    Interventions should take these differences into account. Some students need accelerated English language instruction more than anything else. Others need help with basic reading, writing, and arithmetic.


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