Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Q&A on Transformations

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving last week.  Today I thought I would share with you a question I received from Renee Sartore.  She is the Director of ELL Programs in Yorkville, IL.  

QUESTION: Regarding making transformations to the MPIs, I wonder how to keep the same content or topic goal, and adjust the MPI appropriately for Language Proficiency levels. Would it just be changing the type of support, or changing the language function, or both? Would you say the progression of language functions reflects the progression of the level of higher order thinking skills? 
My question comes from wanting to make the common district learning goals and outcomes for a given subject area accessible and adaptable for ELLs. 

ANSWER:  Part 2 of the transformations blog will give you more details and examples of how to transform the MPIs.  But let me see if I can provide some additional clarification beyond what is in the previous posts. 

In a nutshell, you will want to change the language function and/or the supports to meet the needs of your students. Students at levels 1-4 of ELP need sensory, graphic and interactive supports during instruction.  This should be evident in your transformed MPIs.  Also the language functions that you choose should reflect the appropriate level of language proficiency.  That is, we should choose language functions that will prompt students to understand/use the amount and complexity of English that they are currently capable of.  If you use the same language function, then the supports will be different.  For example:  A student at ELP level 1 may sequence pictures representing the stages of the water cycle while working with a partner. A student at a level 3 may also be expected to sequence pictures while working with a partner, but her pictures would also have 1-2 sentence captions.  A student at a level 5 could also complete a sequencing activity, but he would have to work by himself and work only with the captions (no pictures.)  While the language function might stay the same, the supports would vary and the amount and quality of English the teacher would expect from the student would also vary.  The performance definitions outline the amount and complexity of English that students can understand, produce and use at different levels of ELP.   

You want to keep in mind that all students at all levels of language proficiency need to be expected to do higher order thinking.  This is really the art of teaching ELLs.  We need to help all of our students learn grade level content and higher order thinking skills, even when they are new to the English language.  The 2012 draft of the ELD standards shows this in a unique way.  The "cognitive function" box shows the type of higher order thinking that all students are expected to do - regardless of their ELP level.  Then each MPI uses a different language function and supports that align with the "cognitive function" but are appropriate for a student at that level of English. 

Next week – highlights from the upcoming bilingual conference in Oak Brook, IL.  

Written by: Tammy King

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