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Facilitating Effective Pair and Group Work with ELs blog series - Part 1: The Canary in the Coal Mine

June 30, 2021
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A teacher knows that oral language practice is vital for English Learner students to develop their language and content understanding. After consulting the scarce online guidance on how to help students build oral language skills during virtual instruction, the teacher delivers a prompt for student discussion and arranges students into breakout rooms of 3-4 to talk with one another. He believes that all students should be able to answer this prompt, given their knowledge of the content and general English language competencies. Then the teacher begins checking on each breakout room.

As minutes pass, he feels a creeping sensation of horror upon finding almost every room completely silent, with no kids talking, for minutes on end. What went wrong? The teacher had followed his curriculum materials and had consulted the internet for additional guidance, but in retrospect he realizes that his oral language activity did not actually support his English Learner students in developing their language or content understanding. The teacher is now desperate for help. Does this vignette sound familiar to you?

Read more at the Voices from the Field blog.

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