Reflective Essay

Reflective Essay

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171 BOOST I NG L A NGUAGE SK I LLS OF ENGLISH LE A R N ER S T H ROUGH DR A M AT I Z AT ION A N D MOV EM EN T Christa Mulker Greenfader ■ Liane Brouillette How can K–2 teachers foster the language development of students who have limited English backgrounds? This article explores using performing arts activities to boost the oral language skills of English learners. D epending on where you look, the city of San Diego can appear to be either the quintessential American city—home of Sea World and the San Diego Zoo— or an exotic Pacific Rim locale where the first day of school often resembles a family-oriented version of the United Nations. Parents say goodbye in a dozen languages. Kindergarteners stare at teachers in shy silence. What comes next? Each kindergartener walks in the door with five years of The Reading Teacher Vol. 67 Issue 3 pp. 171–180 life to offer: experiences, abilities, and dreams. But how do teachers tap into these funds of knowledge when, during these first days of school, there is no Christa Mulker Greenfader is a doctoral student in educational policy and social context in the School of Education at the University of Irvine, California, USA; e-mail cmulker@uci.edu. Liane Brouillette is an associate professor in the School of Education and codirector of the Center for Learning in the Arts, Sciences, and Sustainability at the University of Irvine; email lbrouill@uci.edu. DOI:10.1002/TRTR.1192 © 2013 International Reading Association R T 172 B O O S T I NG L A NG UAG E SK I LL S OF E NG L I S H LE A R N E R S T H ROUG H DR A M AT I Z AT ION A N D MOV E M E N T common tongue that all in the classroom share? Nationwide, the number of schoolaged English learners (ELs) is growing rapidly. Between the 1997–1998 and 2008–2009 school years, this segment of the school-aged population increased by 51% (National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition, 2010). Currently, nearly 70% of ELs read at a below basic level (National Assessment of Educational Progress, 2011), performing 20 to 50 percentage points below native speakers (Menken, 2010). This problem is especially acute in California; one in four California kindergarteners speaks a language other than English at home (Education Data Partnership, 2010). Yet many teachers in the primary grades have not received adequate preparation for teaching students who have little knowledge of English. In Southeastern San Diego, where ELs form a majority of new students, many teachers are becoming adept at using arts-based teaching methods as one way to overcome language barriers. Using drama and dance lessons designed to address the oral language segment of Pause and Ponder ■ ■ ■ ■ Are you able to work daily oral language practice into your classroom schedule? What techniques do you use to engage the English learners in your classroom? Are there times when children tend to get restless, when acting out a brief scene from a story might provide a chance to physicalize action and practice speaking? How might drama and/or creative movement activities enrich your morning literacy block? R T The Reading Teacher Vol. 67 Issue 3 English Language Development (ELD) standards, the Teaching Artist Project (TAP) affords students the opportunity to practice speaking and listening skills in a comfortable and fun environment. This article describes the teaching strategies used in TAP and highlights findings from a research study that found TAP to boost the oral language skills of young ELs, providing evidence that creative arts activities can provide valuable opportunities for ELs to develop foundational literacy skills. Conceptual Framework Research supports the pivotal importance of oral practice to English language development (Fillmore & Snow, 2000). Oral language has been linked to future reading ability, academic success, and social dispositions (Spira, Bracken, & Fischel, 2005). Storch and Whitehurst (2002) presented a useful framework that highlights key components of oral language: semantic knowledge (vocabulary), syntactic knowledge (structural and grammatical rules), conceptual knowledge (topic understanding), and narrative discourse (story construction and/or recall). This comprehensive model, which includes both mechanical and cognitive elements, suggests why oral language is a critical foundational literacy skill. Furthermore, beyond the vocabulary and comprehension levels of oral language, there is a social dimension that promotes a higher level of communication, aiding comprehension. November 2013 Oral practice in the classroom serves both students and teachers, affording students the opportunity to learn and demonstrate language skills and providing teachers a means of gauging student vocabulary, syntactic skills, and comprehension. Monolingual learners benefit from oral language practice; ELs need such practice even more (Castro, Páez, Dickinson, & Frede, 2011) because they have limited opportunities to use English at home and therefore rely on classroom experiences. As evidenced by state ELD standards, practitioners and researchers acknowledge the importance of oral language instruction; however, many teachers receive little training in using this resource during certification programs. Verbal interactions in the classroom have waned in the face of pressure to prepare students for written tests. Many teachers feel—and are, in fact—underprepared to address the needs of EL students (Téllez & Waxman, 2006). In the past decade, many U.S. classrooms have replaced oral language practice with large blocks of reading instruction. In a study of San Diego’s literacy reforms, Bitter, O’Day, Gubbins, and Socias (2009) determined that verbal interaction was limited, even in the district’s “balanced literacy” program. The design of the program emphasized the employment of accountable talk, an interactive learning strategy designed to foster student-led discussion and help students draw meaningful 173 B O O S T I NG L A NG UAG E SK I LL S OF E NG L I S H LE A R N E R S T H ROUG H DR A M AT I Z AT ION A N D MOV E M E N T connections between text and prior knowledge. Researchers found, however, that in practice it was primarily the teacher, not the students, who directed this talk. Students did not engage in interactive dialogue with one another; instead, they responded directly to the teacher with little elaboration. The study revealed that reading instruction accounted for 87.3% of literacy instruction segments, with an average of 11.6% of the remaining segments focused on composition and writing. This left little time (1.1%) for oral language instruction, phonics, and so forth. Nationwide, other content areas that provide oral language opportunities have faced dramatic cutbacks. Since 2007, almost 71% of U.S. schools have reduced—or eliminated—instruction time in such subjects as arts, music, history, and foreign language (Grey, 2009). The arts can expand opportunities for verbal interaction by promoting interactive and engaging learning environments, which allow ELs to feel comfortable practicing oral language skills (Castro, Páez, Dickinson, & Frede, 2011). For the purposes of this article, we use the terms arts activities and the arts to refer to the performing arts disciplines of drama/theatre and creative movement/ dance. Such structured arts activities can offer rich opportunities for students to hone important early literacy skills. By integrating movement and gesture with vocabulary lessons, plot discussions, and dialogue, teachers facilitate the development of students’ semantic and conceptual knowledge, as well as narrative discourse. Additionally, the timing and structure inherent in drama and dance may help students’ syntactic understanding; rhythm is a predictor of future reading abilities (Huss, Verney, Fosker, Mead, & Goswami, 2011). “Dramatization helps students better understand the plot and the feelings of the characters, even if they do not initially comprehend all of the words.” Dramatic play and creative movement come naturally to young children and serve a crucial role in their construction of meaning (Piaget, 1962). Children possess a sense of dramatic narrative they can put to use in classroom arts lessons by acting out stories or discussing plot, character, and themes. This is especially valuable for ELs as it allows them to inject their own cultural understanding into the story, using other modes of communication to take part in a meaningful dialogue despite a limited English vocabulary. In a study of drama in multilingual classrooms, Medina and Campano (2006) discovered that “through teatro, the students found a safe space to fictionalize reality and enact more empowering individual and collective representations from which others might learn” (p. 333). When children improvise scenes from stories, they immediately bring their own experiences to bear. Dramatization helps students better understand the plot and the feelings of the characters, even if they do not initially comprehend all of the words. Mages (2006) proposed a causal model to explain the impact that creative drama has been shown to have on literacy and language development. By using their bodies and voices to dramatize the characters’ words and actions, children gain a sense of how interactions among the characters shaped the events described in the story. “In this way they can touch, see, and experience the meaning of the words in the text” (Mages, 2006, p. 335). As children continue to dramatize stories, they may build a stronger and more direct pathway from the decontextualized language on the page to comprehension of what the words mean. As Harris (2000) explained: “the role player projects him- or herself into the make-believe situation faced by the protagonist” (p. 36). Having fed the make-believe situation into their own knowledge base, children arrive at feelings and utterances appropriate for that role. By fully engaging their imaginations, children may increase their ability to mentally simulate the events, characters, and nuances of a story. Eventually, as the children become better able to project themselves into the makebelieve world of the story, they may reach a point where dramatization may no longer be needed to facilitate comprehension. Teaching Artist Project TAP is a 2-year, K–2 arts and literacy program that has been implemented in 30 San Diego schools serving neighborhoods with large populations of ELs. Funding for TAP currently comes from a U.S. Department of Education Arts in Education Model Development and Dissemination grant. TAP integrates ELD concepts with drama and dance through weekly collaborations between teaching artists and classroom teachers. The objective of TAP is two-fold: to provide K–2 teachers with professional development that enables them to stimulate engaging verbal interactions in the classroom, and to bring standards-based www.reading.org R T 174 B O O S T I NG L A NG UAG E SK I LL S OF E NG L I S H LE A R N E R S T H ROUG H DR A M AT I Z AT ION A N D MOV E M E N T arts instruction into schools where it has been all but eliminated in the primary grades. Our discussion focuses on the K–1 segment of the program as it has thus far been shown to have the greatest impact on student achievement. In San Diego, TAP employs a coaching model during the first year, providing teachers an opportunity to co-teach with a teaching artist in their own classrooms. Together, the teacher and the teaching artist implement a prepared, 50-minute lesson, consisting of arts activities designed to meet both the Visual and Performing Arts and the ELD standards. Teachers outside San Diego can access a “virtual coach” by making use of the TAP curricular materials online. Lesson plans for dance and theatre, including streaming videos of teaching artists modeling the activities in actual classrooms, are available free of charge. Over time, teachers become comfortable using interactive arts lessons to offer ELs engaging opportunities to practice oral language and rehearse vocabulary. In the second year, the San Diego teachers implement the lessons on their own, with support from district resource teachers. The online lesson plans and videos of the first nine lessons are available to remind teachers of lesson details, providing novice teachers with an easily accessible resource. And, Action! Let’s take a look at a TAP lesson in progress: “Actors, five point position, please!” The kindergartners jump to attention, standing with hands at their sides, heads high, feet together. Most of the children have limited English skills, yet they follow along easily because their teacher demonstrates as he speaks. “I am going to read a story about a bear hunt. There R T The Reading Teacher Vol. 67 Issue 3 are lots of sounds we can make to tell the story. I need you to help me create some sounds for setting the story. But first let’s practice making some sound effects of our own.” He begins patting his legs gently to represent a light rain; then he pats more strongly for heavy rain. He asks the students to mimic him. Twenty pairs of hands pat their legs, creating a rainstorm in the classroom. Now it is time for the bear hunt. In a soft voice the teacher begins, “Going on a bear hunt”; then he switches to a loud voice, “going to catch a big one!” The students mimic his words and dynamics. As they continue with the poem, he shows the students how to insert their own sounds to create the “setting”: squishy grass, gooey mud, tall trees, a deep river, and dark cave. These activities are simple, yet engaging; they provide ELs with a rich opportunity for vocabulary development. Such lessons complement what many teachers are already doing in their classrooms. “[TAP] is so connected to all the literacy stuff we do… It’s really just one thing. So, I think that’s really helpful for our English learners,” observed one first-grade teacher. Furthermore, certain TAP concepts are closely related to the K–2 English Language Arts (ELA) Common Core State Standards, specifically to Speaking and Listening. The first ELA Speaking and Listening standard for each of these grade levels is for students “to participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners… with peers and adults in small and November 2013 larger groups” (National Governors Association Center for Best Practices & Council of Chief State School Officers, 2010). Through dramatization and movement, students engage in call-andresponse communications with each other and their teacher(s). Arts lessons also provide students with the opportunity to practice pronunciation, tone, and gesture, helping them learn to “speak audibly and express thoughts, feelings, and ideas clearly” (a Common Core Standard for kindergarteners). One TAP lesson focuses on voice projection. As a teacher noted, “we talked about voice projection, and I still use that. Well, I call it ‘loud and proud’… So I would bring that into my lessons when we’re having a discussion, and I’ll be like, ‘okay Michelle, I’m going to call on you, give it to me loud and proud.’” Another teacher added: In theatre, a lot of the vocabulary words were using your imagination, using expressions. So that kind of lent itself to when you read a book and there’s an exclamation mark. You’re not going to read it like you’re normally talking. You’re going to read like you’re excited because you’re going to the park or swimming. So, let’s change your voice. In Goldilocks, when she saw the bears, 175 B O O S T I NG L A NG UAG E SK I LL S OF E NG L I S H LE A R N E R S T H ROUG H DR A M AT I Z AT ION A N D MOV E M E N T she didn’t say “oh, my,” she said “Oh, My!” Yet, many teachers do not use artsbased activities as strategies to teach standards. A 40-year veteran teacher commented, “I never thought of arts as standards-based. I never even thought about what it was you were supposed to teach in arts!” Video demonstrations by teaching artists and TAP curricular materials illustrate how the arts are not only fun and engaging activities, but also effective instructional tools for addressing standards. TAP Works! A mixed-methods study, consisting of standardized tests, interviews, and focus groups, was conducted to determine the impact of TAP on the early literacy skills of ELs. (Please see the appendix for a description of the research). We discovered that TAP had a significant positive impact on the oral language skills of K–1 ELs, especially at the kindergarten level. This is noteworthy, considering the consensus among researchers on the strong connection between early oral language abilities and future literacy. This evidence justifies teachers acting on what many intuitively sense: oral language is important. When early elementary teachers integrate arts lessons that emphasize oral language, children build an enhanced foundation for literacy. “We discovered that TAP had a significant positive impact on the oral language skills.” “It’s the kinesthetic piece… ELL students are hearing it. They’re doing it. They are understanding it. It’s huge… This is how people learn.” To get a close-up look at what was happening in classrooms, five schoollevel focus groups (with 16 veteran teachers) were carried out in 20102011. The majority of teachers found that the TAP lessons were beneficial and cited improvement in literacy skills, comfort levels, and engagement of all students, especially ELs. One teacher commented, “…the children who had been in kindergarten last year, and are now my first graders, moved two levels [on the CELDT]. Two full levels!” The interviews revealed that the student gains from TAP were noticed by teachers in all grades. In addition, although teachers indicated that ELs had benefited most from TAP, they affirmed that native English speakers also had profited from TAP lessons. Discussion In the following section, we explore teacher perceptions shared during interviews and focus groups concerning why TAP had a significant effect. Interestingly, teachers described both direct and indirect impacts the arts activities had on participating students. At the individual-level, teachers credited multisensory activity (i.e., pairing gesture and language), rhythm and syllable practice, and student engagement as having a direct impact on children’s language skills. Beyond this, many teachers indicated that TAP initiated a shift in the classroom climate that transferred outside of the arts lessons. In their interviews, teachers commented that the arts activities created a comfortable environment for student participation and collaboration; this helped with behavioral issues such as children keeping their hands to themselves. Student Impacts In accordance with the conceptual framework put forward by Mages (2006), a majority of teachers attributed the enhanced English language development to students “physicalizing” the language. They stated that movement and gesture helped ELs to learn and remember the vocabulary presented in the TAP lessons. One teacher commented, “It’s the kinesthetic piece…ELL students are hearing it. They’re doing it. They are understanding it. It’s huge. It’s hearing it and doing it themselves. This is how people learn. It’s different from sitting at the table.” This observation supports Mages’ argument that using bodies and voices simultaneously boosts comprehension and memory. Arts-based lessons provide visual, auditory, and kinesthetic input that, when combined, powerfully signals the importance of the new information, helping it to become integrated with existing knowledge. Such learning helps students to organize, rehearse, and recall material that they have encountered in other lessons (but which has not yet made its way out of working memory) and transfer it into long-term memory. This aligns with research on multisensory processing (Gardner, 2006). Different types of perception and www.reading.org R T 176 B O O S T I NG L A NG UAG E SK I LL S OF E NG L I S H LE A R N E R S T H ROUG H DR A M AT I Z AT ION A N D MOV E M E N T “The language alone was amazing. Kids who don’t ever speak, speak. You see a lot of kids shine that you don’t expect to shine….” processing are reinforced and strengthened as they work both separately and in conjunction, enhancing mental activity and assisting the transfer of information from working to long-term memory (Shams & Seitz, 2008). A kindergarten teacher talked fondly of a boy who, for the first month of school, spoke only in Spanish. She could communicate with him only through a translator and could not tell if he understood her words or not. A lesson about a grumpy bear became a turning point. Students were asked to act out the grumpy bear’s feelings, which helped this boy tremendously. Once he fed the make-believe situation into his own knowledge base, internalizing the grumpy bear’s moods, he was able to act those feelings out and associate those sentiments with vocabulary words. During each TAP lesson after that, he became more vocal and participatory. A first-grade theatre lesson focused on nursery rhymes, highlighting how a teacher might scaffold language learning and comprehension. First, the teaching artist asked students to repeat after him, imitating his sing-song, rhythmic tone. In expressive voices, the students repeated: “Jack-and-Jill-wentup-the-hill-to-fetch-a-pail-of-wa-ter.” This emphasis on rhythmic enunciation, coupled with pitch variation, provided students with a syntactic framework for correct pronunciation, understanding, and memorization. Next, they began making movements while repeating the rhyme, physically defining the phrase. As the lesson continued, the teacher divided the children into groups to act R T The Reading Teacher Vol. 67 Issue 3 out their own (different) versions of the story (e.g., maybe Jack and Jill are not siblings but good friends, or Jack decides that he does not want to go up the hill). They were allowed to add characters or plot lines and change the story any way that they chose. This interpretation phase built on cognitive learning theory, leading to stronger, more lasting effects through encouraging creativity and student participation. Organic environments such as those associated with arts activities engage students, encouraging them to draw on existing knowledge, which promotes language development. Such contextual learning is both meaningful and memorable for the student. Children were excited about TAP, as shown by a boost in attendance on lesson days (Hinga, Brouillette, & Farkas, 2012). Teacher interview data also indicated that students were spontaneously practicing TAP activities outside of TAP time. This signified a level of student engagement and participation that was pivotal in building an effective learning environment. As one teacher observed, “The primary benefit to the teacher was the engagement of students, obviously. To see that every student has equal access to this curriculum and that they willingly and eagerly participate is huge.” Classroom Culture Teacher-led classroom instruction limits interaction. Confident talkers answer the questions posed by the teacher, whereas students who are not comfortable, or perhaps do not have the language skills to comprehend November 2013 or respond, remain silent. This limited interaction can handicap learners who do not have the tools to participate. Including arts activities is one way to encourage student participation. One kindergarten teacher commented: I think for some of my ELL students, it (TAP) was good for them to be able to show me, instead of having to tell me. I have a couple of them who go to speech and it was good to see them act and they didn’t have to explain and feel embarrassed or anything. They were just moving around and doing it that way. The TAP coordinator noticed that many of the students who were initially afraid to speak did speak when they were given a line to read. “Feeling confident enough to verbalize something, even if it’s given to them, is a good thing.” A first-grade teacher added, “The language alone was amazing. Kids who don’t ever speak, speak. You see a lot of kids shine that you don’t expect to shine…So it was really fun to see some new friends shine. That [encouraged] a new sense of confidence.” To become orally proficient, students must feel comfortable in their social environment. The interactive arts activities promoted a supportive and collaborative classroom environment. One teacher commented: I think of a couple of kids who are really shy when you’re just discussing something in class…they’re the ones who are spinning and dancing! So I think it changed a lot of them in the way that they felt more comfortable around each other. And if you can go do that in front of each other, why can’t you work as a group in the class? Because you’ve already been silly and had fun together. It just made… our classroom community seem tighter and better. Another teacher added, “We have a very over-active group of boys. We really saw them shine in dance… really take it on and really like it. And it built such a 177 B O O S T I NG L A NG UAG E SK I LL S OF E NG L I S H LE A R N E R S T H ROUG H DR A M AT I Z AT ION A N D MOV E M E N T sense of community for our class. Kids that don’t like each other were changing partners and dancing.” Teachers also mentioned that they used TAP strategies to mitigate behavior issues. One of the dance lessons uses an exercise in which children create a “personal bubble.” The teacher asks the students to stretch out their arms and legs and imagine that a bubble surrounds their outstretched limbs. The children then dance around the classroom, starting out slowly and then moving quickly. They are encouraged to move their bodies creatively; the only rule is to not break out of their bubble and enter into anyone else’s bubble. One kindergarten teacher found this exercise particularly beneficial in teaching her class about personal space. I have a lot of kids that can’t keep their hands to themselves. But when they’re in [TAP] they’re just different kids… When they’re moving around the room, they have to keep their personal space. Even when they’re moving fast and slow at different speeds, they still watch where they’re going and I think they’re more conscious of how other people are feeling and moving in there… So it’s changed a lot with some of the behavior.” Implementing TAP Activities Without question, one of the benefits of TAP in the San Diego classrooms was the teaching artist. However, access to teaching artists is not necessary for integration of drama and dance in the primary grades. As a teaching artist exclaimed to a group teachers: “You’re already doing theatre. You just don’t know it yet!” Because kindergarten and first-grade teachers routinely read out loud to students, most found it easy to guide children in dramatizing short scenes from stories. TAP teachers reported feeling comfortable showing children how to identify the beginning, middle, and end of a scene or to use facial expressions and gestures to convey feelings. Some teachers felt less comfortable teaching dance. However, in such cases, most schools found the dance lessons valuable enough that they rearranged their schedule, appointing one teacher to teach dance to all classes across the grade level. Another alternative is recruiting parent volunteers to help. Involving parents with an interest in drama or dance not only helps the teachers, but also is a means of reaching out to the community and further engaging students. New teachers who came into TAP schools after the teaching artist year mentioned that they relied on the online materials to learn the lessons. One such “Because kindergarten and first-grade teachers routinely read out loud to students, most found it easy to guide children in dramatizing short scenes from stories.” teacher noted that the “the videos were really helpful.” An afterschool teacher who has recently implemented TAP lessons on her own (separate from the TAP discussed in this article) suggested, “It helped me to take notes on the videos and use those notes to guide my instruction when necessary.” She also noted that it was helpful to: have a clear idea of the activities (ahead of time) so that the flow of the lesson is not disrupted. The teacher may want to write an outline on the board for both students and teacher to refer to throughout the lesson so that the teacher does not need to rely on looking down at her notes. The more familiar and comfortable the teacher is with the plans, the more smoothly the lesson will flow. She concluded by commenting that “a background in arts is not necessary. These plans can be followed like any other and only require a thorough and clear understanding of the material and the particular set of students the teacher is working with.” Keys to Success Case studies of the successful implementation of TAP at two schools with www.reading.org R T 178 B O O S T I NG L A NG UAG E SK I LL S OF E NG L I S H LE A R N E R S T H ROUG H DR A M AT I Z AT ION A N D MOV E M E N T “Drawing on arts lessons throughout the day is one way to reinforce core concepts such as collaborative conversations and clear expression.” differing demographic profiles suggested pivotal elements in success. In one school, 77.8% of students were ELs and 96% were eligible for the free or reduced-price lunch program; at the second school, 27% of students were ELs and 72% were eligible for the free or reduced-price lunch program. Teacher Collaboration and Ownership Teachers worked together closely at both sites. After the first year of co-teaching with the teaching artists, mentor teachers at each grade level facilitated regular meetings that allowed colleagues to generate ideas and swap strategies in grade-level groups. Teachers became resources for one another, collaborating on lesson planning, sharing what worked and what did not work from previous weeks. Cooperation fostered creativity, enabling teachers to find ways to integrate TAP lessons throughout the curriculum. A kindergarten teacher recalled, “we would talk about the different projects and all see how we could take those art projects and activities and incorporate it in the curriculum because we didn’t want it to be separated from the academics.” Another teacher commented that hearing colleagues admit their initial nervousness or feelings of awkwardness helped build her confidence. A second-grade mentor teacher in a school where a temporary classroom was used for the arts lessons indicated that the teachers structured their schedules to coordinate TAP lessons: We picked the time the same day so that we followed one another… I was first, and then I wrote all the stuff on the board for what the lesson was about. And then, the next teacher came in and could use that for their thing. And then the last teacher could come in and use it. Fidelity of Implementation The success of any program is strongly connected to fidelity of implementation (O’Donnell, 2008). Teachers at both schools committed to doing all of the TAP lessons the year after they had co-taught with the teaching artists. Both schools decided to stick with the same schedule they had adopted when working with the teaching artists, teaching the arts lessons at the same time of day, on the same day of the week. Teachers jokingly pointed out that students remembered TAP lesson time, even if teachers had TA K E AC T I O N ! Arts strategies can be used with almost any lesson. Teachers who are interested in implementing TAP activities in their classrooms can access online K–2 lesson plans and videos of classroom teachers co-teaching with teaching artists, free of charge, at www.class.uci.edu/theatre-grades and www.class.uci.edu/dance-grades. R T The Reading Teacher Vol. 67 Issue 3 November 2013 forgotten. “We go through all the lessons because we have that special time and that’s the time we do it. And the kids wouldn’t let us forget!” Curriculum Integration Research has established that curriculum integration, an interdisciplinary approach to core skills and concepts, is an effective teaching and learning method (Beane, 1997). All of the TAP lessons were designed to have applications in other subject areas. At both schools, teachers found themselves frequently using TAP concepts and tools throughout the curriculum. Teachers used pantomime techniques for vocabulary study, dance (counting of beats) for math, tableau and improvisation with reading aloud, and warm-up techniques throughout the day to get the students’ attention or restore classroom order when needed. Such an integrative approach is wellaligned with the objectives of Common Core expectations. Drawing on arts lessons throughout the day is one way to reinforce core concepts such as collaborative conversations and clear expression. One kindergarten teacher noted: After we did our voice projection, when the kids were speaking during think aloud, we would use classroom voices, and then we would use our quiet voices in the library, you know our low voices, and our gruff voices when we’re acting out characters, but never when we’re talking to the teacher or our peer students. Integrating Drama and Creative Movement Improvising scenes or simulating actions through dramatization and creative movement enables children to tap into their own experiences. By using their voices to dramatize the characters’ words and actions—or their bodies 179 B O O S T I NG L A NG UAG E SK I LL S OF E NG L I S H LE A R N E R S T H ROUG H DR A M AT I Z AT ION A N D MOV E M E N T to create settings or moods—students learn to connect the decontextualized text used in the classroom to their experiences outside of school. Through engaging their imaginations in this way, children increase their ability to comprehend: to mentally simulate the events, characters, and concepts described. Even if they do not initially comprehend all of the words, ELs can understand the plot and the feelings of the characters in a story through dramatization. By imaginatively touching, seeing, and experiencing the significance of the words in the text, children inject themselves into the situation described by the author and grasp the meaning of events in human terms. This allows each child to go beyond the limitations of his or her English language vocabulary and engage with literature on the child’s actual developmental level. Arts-based learning also introduces the attention-grabbing aspect of novelty. When teachers repeatedly use the same teaching methods, children become habituated to them. 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Profile of District: San Diego Unified School District, 2009-10. Retrieved from www.ed-data.k12 .ca.us/_layouts/EdDataClassic/bookmark_ redirector.asp?R16/L06/T1/F0910/C37/ D68338 Fillmore, L.W., & Snow, C.E. (2000). What teachers need to know about language. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement, Educational Resources Information Center. Gardner, H. (2006). Multiple intelligences: New horizons. New York, NY: Basic. Grey, A.C. (2009). No child left behind in art education policy: A review of key recommendations for arts language revisions. Arts Education Policy Review, 111(1), 8–15. Harris, P.L. (2000). The work of the imagination. Oxford, United Kingdom: Blackwell. Hinga, B., Brouillette, L., & Farkas, G. (2012, April). Boosting school engagement through the arts. Paper presented at the annual meeting of American Educational Research Association, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Huss, M., Verney, J.P., Fosker, T., Mead, N., & Goswami, U. (2011). Music, rhythm, rise time perception and developmental dyslexia: Perception of musical meter predicts reading and phonology. Cortex; A Journal Devoted to the Study of the Nervous System and Behavior, 47(6), 674–689. Mages, W.K. (2006). Drama and imagination: a cognitive theory of drama’s effect on narrative comprehension and narrative production. Research in Drama Education, 11(3), 329–340. Medina, C.L., & Campano, G. (2006). Performing identities through drama and teatro practices in multilingual classrooms. Language Arts, 83(4), 332–341. Menken, K. (2010). NCLB and English language learners: Challenges and consequences. Theory Into Practice, 49(2), 121–128. National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) (2011). The nation’s report card. Retrieved from nationsreportcard.gov/ reading_2011/ National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition (NCELA) (2010). The growing numbers of English Learner Students, 1998/992008/09. Retrieved from www.ncela.gwu. edu/files/uploads/9/growingLEP_0809.pdf National Governors Association Center for Best Practices & Council of Chief State School Officers. (2010). Common Core State Standards for English language arts and literacy in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects. Washington, DC: Authors. O’Donnell, C.L. (2008). Defining, conceptualizing, and measuring fidelity of implementation and its relationship to outcomes in K–12 curriculum intervention research. Review of Educational Research, 78(1), 33–84. Piaget, J. (1962). Play, dreams, and imitation in childhood. New York, NY: Norton. Shams, L., & Seitz, A.R. (2008). Benefits of multisensory learning. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 12(11), 411–417. doi:10.1016/j.tics .2008.07.006 Spira, E.G., Bracken, S.S., & Fischel, J.E. (2005). Predicting improvement after first-grade reading difficulties: The effects of oral language, emergent literacy, and behavior skills. Developmental Psychology, 41(1), 225–234. Storch, S.A., & Whitehurst, G.J. (2002). Oral language and code-related precursors to reading: Evidence from a longitudinal structural model. Developmental Psychology, 38(6), 934–947. Téllez, K., & Waxman, H.C. (2006). Preparing quality teachers for English language learners: An overview of the critical issues. Preparing quality educators for English language learners: Research, policy, and practice, 1–22. MORE TO EX PLORE Articles on the Teaching Artist Project ■ Brouillette, L. (2012). Supporting the language development of limited English-proficient students through arts integration in the primary grades. Arts Education Policy Review, 113(2), 1–7. ■ Brouillette, L. (2011, Summer). Building the oral language skills of K-2 English Language learners through theater arts. The California Reader, 44(4), 19–29. ■ Brouillette, L. (2010). How the arts help children to create healthy social scripts: Exploring the perceptions of elementary teachers. Arts Education Policy Review, 111(1), 16–24. Lesson Plans for Puppetry Activities Kindergarten (Busy Spider): www.class.uci.edu/ LessonUploads/Busy%20Spider.pdf ■ Grade 1 (Three Billy Goats Gruff): www.class .uci.edu/LessonUploads/Three%20Billy%20 Goats%20Gruff.pdf ■ Grade 2 (Jabuti): www.class.uci.edu/ LessonUploads/Jabuti.pdf ■ Even More! The Poets of El Sol: Writing Poetry With Young ELs: escholarship.org/uc/item/ 9t13c8ht#page-1 ■ Research on the Arts and Academic Outcomes: www.artsedsearch.org/students/researchby-age-level/elementary-school ■ www.reading.org R T 180 B O O S T I NG L A NG UAG E SK I LL S OF E NG L I S H LE A R N E R S T H ROUG H DR A M AT I Z AT ION A N D MOV E M E N T Appendix parent education, and prior achievement. Results indicate statistically significant benefits for kindergarteners on Listening and Speaking assessments (p < .05) and marginally significant benefits for first graders on the overall CELDT score (p ≤ .10) (Table 2). 2010–2011 California English Language Development Test (CELDT), a test taken by all California ELs until they are reclassified as English proficient. The key independent variable was whether the student participated in TAP. Control variables included gender, ethnicity, Quantitative Analysis Sites that received the Teacher Artist Project (TAP) were randomly selected from the district’s Title 1 (high poverty) schools, allowing for an unbiased analysis of the program’s effects. The sample included K–1 English learners (ELs) from five treatment schools; the control group was made up of a matched group of ELs from similar schools. Table 1 presents the summary statistics of the sample. The control schools did not receive TAP lessons or an assigned condition; they conducted “business as usual.” We ran multiple regressions by grade level. For the outcome variable, we used the Speaking and Listening subtests and the overall score on the Table 2 Impact of Teaching Artist Project on 2011 K–1 CELDT Scores Overall Grade Level TAP Intervention Listening Speaking N K 0.12 (0.09) 1537 1st 0.06 † (0.04) 1675 K 0.14* (0.06) 1537 1st 0.08 (0.05) 1675 K 0.35* (0.17) 1537 1st 0.11 (0.09) 1675 R2 0.53 0.64 0.43 0.34 0.47 0.36 Note. Standard errors in parentheses. Coefficients are standardized. Controls include gender, ethnicity, parent education, and prior achievement (previous CELDT score). * p < 0.05. † p ≤ 0.10. Table 1 Descriptive Statistics of Sample Grade Kindergarten Condition N Treatment 130 54% 91% 64% Male Hispanic Parent graduated high school CELDT Overall Listening Speaking Pretest 423.01 (48.15) 421.01 (49.86) 431.84 (65.08) First Grade Control 1407 53% 87% 59% Posttest 470.72 (44.03) 484.43 (50.76) 500.44 (51.63) Pretest 417.89 (57.22) 417.38 (60.12) 424.51 (72.73) Posttest 462.81 (50.64) 473.08 (63.55) 478.26 (60.06) Treatment 131 49% 88% 70% Pretest 463.66 (45.66) 470.22 (48.88) 493.22 (51.84) Note. Total sample N = 3212. Mean CELDT scores. Ranges are as follows: Overall: 184–598; Listening: 220–570; Speaking: 140–630. Standard deviation is in parentheses. R T The Reading Teacher Vol. 67 Issue 3 November 2013 Posttest 501.24 (47.88) 512.55 (69.19) 501.87 (38.52) Control 1544 50% 86% 59% Pretest 456.73 (50.18) 461.97 (54.10) 481.68 (63.02) Posttest 492.83 (47.40) 499.95 (72.48) 491.37 (43.96) Modified Guided Reading: Gateway to English as a Second Language and Literacy Learning Mary A. Avalos, Alina Plasencia, Celina Chavez, Josefa Rascón uided reading is a component of a balanced literacy program providing differentiated, small-group reading instruction to four to six students with similar strengths and instructional needs (Fountas & Pinnell, 1996) or to heterogeneously grouped students (Cunningham, Hall, & Sigmon, 2000). It is recommended that these groups meet at least three to five times per week for 20 to 30 minutes each session in order for students to make consistent reading gains (Fountas & Pinnell, 1996). This approach to reading instruction provides teachers the opportunity to explicitly teach children the skills and comprehension strategies students need, thus facilitating the acquisition of reading proficiency. Multiple copies of graded leveled books are carefully selected and used by the teacher based on the children’s instructional needs and interests. According to Reutzel and Cooter (2005), graded leveled books are typically categorized to include four levels of children’s reading development: early emergent, emergent, early fluency, and fluency. The language of these leveled texts developmentally matches the syntax and organization of most young children’s speech. It is important that texts chosen for the guided-reading groups provide children with a reasonable challenge but also present an opportunity for potential success. In implementing guided reading, teachers act as a guide to build upon the knowledge, skills, and strategies the children already possess. All students benefit when teachers use the guidedreading instructional model. These benefits include individualized instruction, the use of books at students’ reading levels, the opportunity to create and sustain meaning, the exposure to language that is context embedded, the structured format of the lesson, and the systematic evaluation of students’ progress (Fountas & Pinnell, 1996; Knox & Amador-Watson, 2002). Active student involvement is key as the children talk about the story, ask questions, and build their expectations of the text. This active involvement includes everyone in the group as students simultaneously read and receive support from the teacher and peers. In addition, reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills are implemented in a social environment by engaging in conversations before and after reading. English-language learners (ELLs) also benefit from these aspects of guided reading; however, when a modified approach is used, they gain additional languagelearning opportunities that native speakers typically acquire implicitly. The modifications described here enhance and enrich language- and literacy-learning opportunities to include detailed vocabulary instruction, variables concerning second-language text structure (e.g., semantics, syntax, morphology), and cultural relevance. Modified guided reading (MGR) addresses these variables, enabling language and literacy instruction to be emphasized in small-group settings (Figure 1). First we describe why modifications are necessary for ELLs and provide a theoretical framework for this approach. Then we describe the components of MGR and walk through a lesson by means of a The Reading Teacher, 61(4), pp. 318–329 DOI:10.1598/RT.61.4.4 © 2007 International Reading Association ISSN: 0034-0561 print / 1936-2714 online Modified guided reading provides students with the understanding that reading is about creating and gaining meaning from text. G 318 Figure 1 Benefits of the Guided Reading and MGR Instructional Approaches Benefits of MGR for English-language learners Benefits of guided reading for all students planning guide, ending the manuscript by sharing a small pilot study using this approach. Why Modify for ELLs? Some researchers have determined that ELLs are not generally ready for English reading instruction until they are at the intermediate stage of English-language acquisition ( Knox & Amador-Watson, 2002), while others advocate that reading and a second language are best acquired simultaneously (Anderson & Roit, 1998; Barrera, 1983). Collier and Thomas (1999) found that ELLs who receive support in their native language can take 4 to 7 years to achieve 50th normal curve equivalents in English reading and 7–10 years if support in the first language (L1) is not provided. More recently, Slavin and Cheung (2005) reviewed experimental studies comparing bilingual and English-only reading programs for ELLs. Although only 17 studies met the criteria to be included in their review, the majority favored bilingual approaches to reading instruction for ELLs; however, paired bilingual strategies teaching reading in both the L1 and L2 simultaneously were especially successful. Slavin and Cheung concluded that more longitudinal studies with randomized designs are needed to determine how reading instruction for ELLs should be approached. In working with ELLs at all grade levels, we have found Modified Guided Reading 319 Table 1 Comparing and Contrasting Guided Reading and Modified Guided Reading Guided reading Modified guided reading ■ Instructional cycle varies (one to two days, 20minute sessions) ■ Teacher presents the text through a guided discussion connecting the content and language structure to students’ personal lives (e.g., picture walk, predicting) ■ Emergent and early fluent readers vocalize softly as they read the text; fluent readers read silently ■ Teacher coaches the students by reinforcing correct strategies and prompting to problem solve during miscues ■ Word work focuses on phonological and orthographical awareness that the key to determining readiness appears to be the student’s reading level in the first language, indicating the importance of L1 literacy assessment to guide L2 instruction. Generally, if the student is a proficient reader in the L1, the act of reading is a known process (Heath, 1983; Jiménez, García, & Pearson, 1996; Krashen, 1985). With proper support from the teacher, students in the early L2 acquisition stages can be successful L2 readers (Anderson & Roit, 1998; Avalos, 1999; Barrera, 1983; Goodman, Goodman, & Flores, 1979). Our experiences working with L2 readers mirror these findings in that students with a higher proficiency in the L1 most often have a smoother transition to L2 oral and reading proficiencies. It should be noted, however, that students who were not proficient readers in the L1 have also made gains using the MGR approach. While basic interpersonal conversation skills (BICS) are acquired using guided reading or other interactive approaches, students’ cognitive academic language proficiency (CALP) will develop more quickly when instructional needs pertaining to language are considered as well. CALP is academic language, or the 320 The Reading Teacher Vol. 61, No. 4 ■ Instructional cycle of three or more days (20- to 30-minute sessions) ■ Teacher presents the culturally relevant text through a guided discussion connecting the content and language structure to students’ personal lives (e.g., picture walk, predicting) ■ Teacher reads guided-reading text aloud to model fluency and generate discussions regarding comprehension and vocabulary guided by teacher and students ■ ELLs with higher L2 oral proficiency vocalize softly as they read the text ■ Teacher observes and coaches students by reinforcing correct strategies and using wordrecognition prompts to problem solve ■ Word work focuses on morphological awareness, phonemic awareness, or phonics connected to guided-reading text ■ Vocabulary journals and writing assignments connect to guided-reading texts language of texts. According to Cummins (1981), BICS takes two to three years to acquire and CALP, the tier of language necessary for academic success, five to seven years. When using texts as the instructional vehicles, CALP will be enhanced as teachers focus on students’ combined literacy and language instructional needs. In addition, small, flexible groups lend themselves to accelerated learning; however, teacher planning for students’ needs is the key to learning gains (Foorman, Francis, Fletcher, Schatschneider, & Mehta, 1998; Juel & Minden-Cupp, 2000; Wiggins, 1994). Guided reading provides teachers with a systematic, yet open-ended framework for evaluating students’ needs while building upon the strengths students have already demonstrated (Fountas & Pinnell, 1996). MGR adds to this supportive framework by stretching the lesson from one or two 20- to 30minute sessions to three or more per text, adding a shared reading of the guided-reading text and incorporating word work with objectives pertaining to morphological and phonemic awareness, as well as phonics and explicit instruction of semantics and syntax (Table 1). Reading, writing, listening, and speak- December 2007/January 2008 ing are integrated and grounded within the selected texts, offering relevant, meaningful instruction that validates and builds on what ELLs already know. Theory to Practice The theory guiding the development of MGR is the interactive reading model (Rumelhart, 1977). The interactive reading model divides the reading process into two components: the reader’s experiences or background knowledge (top down) and the reader’s cognitive processing strategies (bottom up). Birch (2002) explained that both components work together in order for the reader to gain access to the text and create meaning. She further explained how the reader’s world knowledge base and “cognitive processing strategies must be working together so accurately and efficiently that they work at an unconscious level. All the knowledge of English graphemes, morphemes, and words must be readily accessible in long-term memory” (Birch, 2002, p. 148). Using the MGR approach during literacy instruction aims to increase automaticity and improve comprehension of texts through an interactive understanding of the reading process. MGR builds stronger “understandings and appreciation for the low-level knowledge and processing strategies” involved in L2 literacy learning (Birch, 2002, p. 146). Planning and Teaching a GuidedReading Lesson for ELLs Authors specializing in guided reading suggest different procedures for a guided-reading lesson; however, they all have similar teaching emphases and outcomes (see Cunningham et al., 2000; Fountas & Pinnell, 1996; Knox & Amador-Watson, 2002). We synthesized guided-reading approaches with Birch’s (2002) focus on bottom-up processing to meet the needs of ELLs simultaneously learning to read and speak in a L2. A sample MGR framework for lesson planning (Figure 2) presents a model for the reader to use when planning an MGR lesson. Because of space limitations, this article does not discuss how to group students, determine the purpose of the lesson, or select a text for guided-reading lessons (see aforementioned guided-reading authors). Instead, we begin here with “analyzing the text” where MGR is substantially different than a typical guided-reading lesson. Analyzing the Text. Once selected, the teacher analyzes the text to prepare for the introduction, shared and student readings, word work, and writing response for the lesson cycle. This is done to proactively identify possible problem areas for ELLs within the text as well as to embed the teaching objectives within a guided-reading context. The teacher begins by reading the entire text (or portion of the text if students are reading at a higher level) and notes potential points of confusion with the semantics (meaning) of the text. Two to three receptive and five to nine productive vocabulary words are identified for lesson emphasis. Receptive vocabulary words are those that are low frequency and not necessarily used in everyday speech (CALP), and productive vocabulary words may be new or confusing to ELLs even though they are commonly used. Figurative language or phrases without literal translations are other probable areas of confusion for ELLs. Native speakers would read the word nevermind and typically not have a problem with comprehension; but there is rarely a literal translation for it in other languages, making it confusing for ELLs. Similes and metaphors are other examples of figurative language that would be difficult for ELLs to understand (e.g., “The moon looked like a big, round cheese”), although not all texts contain figurative language. The teacher also needs to note homophones and homographs within the text. Fry, Kress, and Fountoukidis (2000) defined homophones as words that sound the same but have different meanings and at times different spellings (e.g., bear cub and bare bones). Homographs are defined as words that are spelled the same but have different meanings and different origins. For example, a bat can be (a) used to hit a baseball, (b) a flying animal, or (c) a wink. Some homographs are also heteronyms, meaning they have different pronunciations (e.g., bass as in a low male voice and bass as in the freshwater fish). These types of words potentially change the meaning of the text for ELLs who are not familiar with their multiple definitions. (See Fry et al., 2000, for comprehensive lists of common homographs and homonyms.) Complex grammar or syntax (word order) is something else the teacher looks for when scanning the text. For example, when working with emergent readers, the text may lend itself to instruction about comma placement when writing a list. Embedding skills within a context provides meaningful instruction for Modified Guided Reading 321 Figure 2 MGR Lesson-Planning Framework School: Date of lesson: Planning the lesson(s) 1. Determine objectives of lesson(s) based upon instructional needs (English-language learning and literacy learning). a. Determine the main idea or essential message from text and supporting information. b. Read for information to use in performing a task and learning a new task. c. Identify words and construct meaning from the text. 2. Group students by name/oral L2 level–instructional reading level (e.g., Student 1/1-first grade, Student 2/1-first grade). 3. Select guided-reading books based upon objectives and students’ instructional reading levels. 4. Analyze the text and identify literacy challenges based upon your knowledge of the students. a. Semantics: i. Vocabulary: 1. Focus on common English morphemes (e.g., affixes) or orthographic patterns 2. Identify two to three words for receptive vocabulary and five to nine words for productive vocabulary 3. Understand the meaning of the story whenever possible ii. Figurative language: iii. Homophones (words that sound the same, different meanings): 1. Homographs (words that are spelled the same but have different meanings and origins): b. Grammar (complex syntax, punctuation): c. Text structure (narrative, expository): d. Content or concept (cultural relevance): e. Strategy instruction (if needed, identify good places to insert strategy instruction during shared reading [e.g., think-alouds, elicitation of predictions, word solving]) Extending the lesson(s) Word work: Writing: Possible minilessons: Note. As ELLs become more proficient (orally and literary), they will need less support. This framework should be adjusted to reflect more student responsibility as the teacher facilitates learning and guides when necessary. 322 The Reading Teacher Vol. 61, No. 4 December 2007/January 2008 Table 2 Text Types and Language Features Expository text language features Some action verbs (e.g., climb, quake, eat) Generally in the “timeless” present tense Many linking verbs relating one part of a clause to another Language focuses on defining, clarifying, and contrasting Descriptive language that is factual and precise Writing is usually in a formal and objective style that is likely to contain technical vocabulary; first-person pronouns generally unacceptable Narrative text language features Mainly action verbs Generally past tense Many linking verbs to do with time Dialogue typically included with tense changes from past to present to future Descriptive language enhances and develops the story by creating images in the reader’s mind Can be written in the first person (I, we) or third person (he, she, they) Note. Adapted from Derewianka (1998). ELLs and enables them to learn from authentic uses of the skill rather than isolated, workbook exercises. Knowing curricular goals and objectives facilitates identification of grammatical and syntactical teaching points in order to match them with the group’s instructional needs. Teachers should also be aware of how many narrative and expository texts are used during reading instruction so that ELLS receive an instructional balance of text types. Expository texts use language differently with a greater number of low-frequency words (Latin and Greek origin) and complex sentence structures that assist CALP development. Narrative texts generally have more figurative language and varying story structures or genres that not only facilitate language development but also provide a means for development of cultural knowledge. Table 2 outlines the differences between expository and narrative text types (Derewianka, 1998), demonstrating how they each contribute to language development for ELLs. Strategy instruction, word work, and writing are other components of an MGR lesson that need to be addressed before teaching the MGR lesson. Writing should be connected to the guided-reading text and considered a means of response. Story innovations, informational reports, poems, and journal entries are examples of assignments that can be connected to guided-reading texts. When this analysis of the text and examination of students’ needs have been completed and matched, it is a win-win situation for teach- ers and ELLs. Although the text analysis may seem to be a lengthy process, with time it becomes automatic. As texts are analyzed and recorded, teachers just need to refer to their notes when using the same texts to make any necessary modifications for different groups of students. Finally, reviewing the concept or content of the text is important to ensure that your students have the background knowledge necessary to successfully comprehend the text. Visuals or other supplemental materials can be used to build the background knowledge during the introduction of the text if necessary. For example, when planning a MGR lesson for a group of fourth-grade ELLs, one of the authors realized that the story was about jackals, and the text did not have any type of picture support. The students in the group were all from Cuba or Nicaragua and would more than likely not know what a jackal was. Pictures of jackals were found on the Internet with basic information on how they survive in the wild. This information was discussed with students during the introduction of the text, and they were better prepared to comprehend the story. (For a complete discussion on supporting ELLs with content learning see Echevarria, Vogt, and Short, 2000.) Setting the Scene or Introducing the Text. The introduction sets a successful reading experience by mediating access to the text. Most introductions are brief; however, it may differ for second-language learners due to the language structures, the students’ background knowledge, or the content and character- Modified Guided Reading 323 istics of the book. If a concept is unfamiliar to the students, the introduction should be as long as necessary to scaffold the text. When a great deal of background knowledge building is required, it should be done during other components of the balanced literacy program (e.g., shared reading, read-aloud) or other subject-area instruction (Batzle, 1994). Manipulatives or realia may be used to facilitate conversation and scaffold the meaning of the text. Unfamiliar vocabulary can be presented at this time; however, it is important to note that vocabulary is generally taught within the context of the story either before or during the shared reading with productive and receptive vocabulary words identified by the teacher during the planning phase of an MGR lesson. The teacher may also have the students sample part of the text by reading a sentence to call attention to semantic or syntactic structures that may be unfamiliar to them. An example of this type of minilesson would be explaining the use of called in the sentence, “‘Gala! Kiss!’ she called.” (Scholastic, 1996, p. 254). The owner of two dogs named Gala and Kiss was calling them to come to her in this story. In a study investigating ELLs’ L2 text comprehension, Avalos (1999, 2003) found that Spanish-speaking ELLs, from beginning to advanced English proficiency, interpreted this sentence using the meaning of called as the Spanish llamarse, which means to call oneself or to be named. Participants in the study therefore interpreted the sentence as “the woman was named Gala Kiss” when completing written recalls to check story comprehension. This interpretation completely changes the author’s intended meaning and demonstrates the importance of the need for teachers to be sensitive, aware, and knowledgeable of their students’ L1 syntax and semantic structures. The introduction should provide enough support for the students to read the text fluently while using known strategies, yet it should allow opportunities for problem solving and discussion to facilitate literacy and language learning, specifically with regard to vocabulary, phonics, and comprehension. Shared Reading. Shared reading is an excellent way to engage learners with texts, particularly learners from diverse backgrounds (Allen, 2002; Koskinen et al., 1999; Meier, 2003). Knox and Amador-Watson (2002) recommend a shared-to-guided reading format. Shared reading of the guided-reading text supports L2 readers by providing teachers the opportunity 324 The Reading Teacher Vol. 61, No. 4 to model fluent reading, discuss the story and vocabulary as the text is read aloud, make connections and scaffold the content or concepts that may be different for the students, and focus on strategy demonstrations (e.g., think-alouds, chunking words to decode) before the students read with guidance as needed from the teacher. Using MGR enables ELLs to see reading as a meaning-making process while vocabulary and strategy instruction are introduced within the context of texts. Students discussing their understanding of the text could reveal a misinterpretation due to a literal translation from L1 to L2, a different experience base than the author’s, or a need for vocabulary instruction. It is recommended that teachers of L2 readers assess comprehension in a manner that is open-ended and conducive to discovering language-learning needs (Avalos, 1999). Bernhardt (1991) expressed this well by explaining that L2 readers “approach a text from their first language framework” (p. 16). Thus, there is the possibility of a divergent understanding before any reading ever takes place. These diverse understandings are a result of various causes ranging from microlevel text features (e.g., orthography) to grammatical structures (e.g., How does word order differ in the L1 versus L2?) to the issue of literacy access in the primary culture (e.g., What is a supermarket tabloid or fairy tale?). Examples of open-ended comprehension assessments include retelling (i.e., written or oral in the L1 or L2), asking open-ended questions without “known answers” (Heath, 1983), or inviting the student to infer and explain a character’s action (e.g., “Why do you think the grandmother always sat in the chair by the window?”). Reading the Text. After the teacher has set the scene, introduced the text, and conducted the shared reading, the students read the book to themselves. Emergent readers will vocalize softly as they read, progressively moving toward silent and independent reading. The softly vocalized reading may initially distract some students, but soon they become accustomed to the routine and the soft vocalization is no longer an issue. The teacher’s role is to maintain anecdotal records as he or she listens and observes the students implement strategies, stepping in to guide by reinforcing and providing appropriate prompting as teachable moments present themselves. The teacher also reinforces positive reading behaviors by calling attention December 2007/January 2008 to the strategies being used by a student or by using this time to model effective reading strategies. Fundamental to the success of this approach is the teacher’s ability to create a learning environment that facilitates a high level of comfort. Students must feel that their remarks and conversation are important. How teachers react to students’ comments determines how and if they will continue to share their thoughts about texts, take risks in using the L2, and inquire about language use (Krashen, 1982). When a child does not use a cueing system correctly he or she is making a miscue. For many struggling readers, particularly ELLs, it is common for students to make miscues because the form (language graphophonics, syntax, or semantics) is new and the content could also be unfamiliar; therefore, both are competing forces while performing or reading aloud. Syntactic (language structure) cues may be one of the most difficult for ELLs to understand because they may not always know if a sentence sounds right due to their developing English-language proficiency. Knox and Amador-Watson (2002) stated that Typical lists of coaching prompts used during guided reading lessons are often incomprehensible for English language learners. For example, “Does it make sense?” or “Does it sound right?” require the student to call on a native speaker’s intuitive grasp of English, which the second language learner naturally does not have. Many prompts include abstract language that describe unseen processes inside the reader’s head and are inaccessible to ELLs who need concrete support for language to be comprehensible. (Unit 7, p. 95) Instead of prompting, it is recommended that ELLs be coached with explicit demonstrations integrating the cueing systems using a three-step process. First, the teacher models the strategy, describing the process by thinking aloud. Then the student applies and demonstrates the strategy modeled by the teacher. Finally, the student is asked to verbalize the strategy by thinking aloud in order to internalize the process. Returning to the Text. When the students have completed their independent reading of the text, the teacher engages the students in a conversation similar to the introduction. Students share their thoughts about the text, including questions and connections they may have had during the reading. The teacher asks open-ended questions to enhance comprehension and generate dialogue. Accepting students’ answers without criticism is key. Repeating the student’s response to a question and then asking why they think that provides teachers with clues as to how the text was interpreted in such a way. This in turn provides teachable moments and a guide for future instruction. Upon subsequent teacher analyses of retellings, when consistent language patterns or miscues are noted, assessment will drive instruction as language- and literacy-learning needs are identified and met. Responding to the Text. Many books lend themselves to the extension of learning activities through art, writing, or drama in response to the reading, thus expanding the meaning of the text. Although it does not always seem feasible to plan such activities for every book because of time constraints, these extensions can be beneficial for ELLs to further develop their understanding of concepts and reading or language skills. Whenever possible, the teacher should plan to have students respond to the texts using different activities that are tied in with identified objectives. It is highly recommended that reading, writing, listening, and speaking be integrated as much as possible throughout the curriculum for ELLs (Au, 1993). Word Work. ELLs learn more when new concepts are context embedded (Cummins, 2003). Guidedreading lessons provide optimal opportunities for students to apply and learn word-solving skills throughout the lesson. Word work can be taught explicitly after the text has been read in order to minimize interruptions of the reading process. This explicit instruction is particularly important for ELLs because of their developing language proficiency. The wordwork lessons should incorporate systematic phonics as well as morphological instruction. ELLs are in the process of acquiring the sounds and structure of the L2 and typically encounter difficulties with pronunciation of sounds that are not found in their L1 (e.g., the English /th/ sound for Spanish speakers). The Words Their Way (Bear, Invernizzi, Templeton, & Johnston, 2004) approach to word study allows us to assess spelling and integrate word work within our MGR lessons at appropriate levels according to the ELLs’ knowledge of the English sound system. MGR in Classrooms We have used MGR with elementary, middle, and high school ELLs in a large, urban school district. Each time we have implemented MGR in these various Modified Guided Reading 325 Table 3 Context of Pilot Study Ms. Mays Ms. Lopez 2,100 (22%) 1,363 (10%) Inner-city urban Urban School population qualifying for free or reduced-cost lunch program 96% 65% Assessment instrument used Ekwall/Shanker informal reading inventory Burns/Roe informal reading inventory Number of students receiving MGR 10 13 Mean age of students 13 13 25/3–48 months 36/24–48 months Range of Spanish (L1) instructional reading levels prior to MGR Preprimer to fourth grade At or above fourth grade Range of English (L2) instructional reading levels prior to MGR Preprimer to second grade First to fourth grade 24 30-minute sessions 36 30-minute sessions 1.3 grade levels 1.8 grade levels School population (% ELL) Environmental context of school Months in USA (Average/range) Time receiving MGR Average reading level gains in L2 after receiving MGR classroom settings, reading gains have been made. Because of space limitations, only the results of a small study with middle school students will be reported here (Table 3). After nine months of working in Ms. Lopez’s classroom (all names are pseudonyms), her group of 13 students gained an average of 1.8 grade levels in L2 reading. Ms. Mays’s 10 students made an average gain of 1.3 grade levels within four months of implementing MGR. Figures 3 and 4 demonstrate the growth recorded for each participant. Students 9 and 10 from Ms. Mays’s groups (Figure 4) appeared to make no progress; however, they were reading at the preprimer level with frustration for the pretest and at an instructional level for the posttest. Students 6, 7, and 8 made 1–2 grade level gains, reading at the preprimer (instructional level) for the pretest. Student perceptions of the MGR approach, as measured by a survey following the intervention periods, were overwhelmingly positive. All participants enjoyed participating in the intervention and felt they 326 The Reading Teacher Vol. 61, No. 4 learned more about reading, writing, and speaking English during the MGR sessions. Specifically, they learned more about English sounds and how those sounds related to the letters. Participants also felt that the small-group instruction format helped them to comprehend what was being read because they could ask questions and clarify anything they didn’t understand. In addition, they all agreed that they enjoyed listening to books being read aloud by the teacher and would like to continue using the MGR approach for reading instruction. Creating and Gaining Meaning From Text From our work with MGR in elementary and secondary classrooms, ELLs have enjoyed this approach to reading and English-language instruction. Student engagement was high when working in small groups; thus, literacy and language learning needs were met using December 2007/January 2008 Figure 3 Reading Gains of Students in Ms. Lopez’s Classroom (as Measured by the Burns/Roe Informal Reading Inventory) Figure 4 Reading Gains of Students in Ms. Mays’s Classroom (as Measured by the Ekwall/Shanker Informal Reading Inventory) Modified Guided Reading 327 texts as vehicles to provide meaningful instruction. MGR also allowed us to get to know the students better as we had many conversations that enabled them to make connections between the texts and their lives. MGR provides students with the understanding that reading is about creating and gaining meaning from text. Teachers work with students as they develop the strategies, allowing the students to be successful when they encounter syntax, contexts, or vocabulary that is unfamiliar to them. More research needs to be conducted in order to assess the extent of MGR’s effectiveness when instructing ELLs. The goal of guided reading is for children to progress and read more challenging texts independently and successfully. Using this modified instructional model, teachers are able to monitor ELLs’ progress, meet their needs in order to facilitate literacy and language learning, and enable students to self-extend their reading and language proficiencies by building on what is known in their L1. Avalos teaches at the University of Miami, Florida, USA; e-mail mavalos@miami.edu. Plasencia and Chavez teach in the Miami-Dade County Public Schools in Florida. Rascón teaches in the Boulder Valley School District in Boulder, Colorado, USA. References Allen, J. (2002). On the same page: Shared reading beyond the primary grades. Portland, ME: Stenhouse. Anderson, V., & Roit, M. (1998). Reading as a gateway to language proficiency for language-minority students in the elementary grades. 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Bear, D.R., Invernizzi, M., Templeton, S., & Johnston, F. (2004). Words their way: Word study for phonics, vocabulary, and spelling instruction (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education. 328 The Reading Teacher Vol. 61, No. 4 Bernhardt, E.B. (1991). Reading development in a second language: Theoretical, empirical, and classroom perspectives. Norwood, NJ: Ablex. Birch, B.M. (2002). English L2 reading: Getting to the bottom. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum. Collier, V.P., & Thomas, W.P. (1999). Making U.S. schools effective for English language learners, part 2. TESOL Matters, 9(5), 1, 6. Cummins, J. (1981). The role of primary language development in promoting success for language minority students. In Schooling and language minority students: A theoretical framework (pp. 3–49). Los Angeles: Evaluation, Dissemination, and Assessment Center, California State University. Cummins, J. (2003). Reading and the bilingual student: Fact and friction. In G.G. 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Shared reading, books, and audiotapes: Supporting diverse students in school and at home. The Reading Teacher, 52, 430–444. Krashen, S.D. (1982). Principles and practice in second language acquisition. New York: Pergamon. Krashen, S.D. (1985). Inquiries and insights: Second language teaching. Haywood, CA: Alemany. Meier, T. (2003). “Why can’t she remember that?”: The importance of storybook reading in multilingual, multicultural classrooms. The Reading Teacher, 57, 242–252. Reutzel, D.R., & Cooter, R.B. (2005). The essentials of teaching children to read: What every teacher needs to know. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education. December 2007/January 2008 Rumelhart, D.E. (1977). Toward an interactive model of reading. In S. Dornic (Ed.), Attention and performance VI: Proceedings of the sixth international symposium on attention and performance Stockholm, Sweden, July 28–August 1, 1975 (pp. 573–603). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum. Scholastic. (1996). Literacy place. New York: Author. Slavin, R.E., & Cheung, A. (2005). A synthesis of research on language of reading instruction for English language learners. Review of Educational Research, 75, 247–284. Wiggins, R.A. (1994). Large group lesson/small group follow-up: Flexible grouping in a basal reading program. The Reading Teacher, 47, 450–460. Modified Guided Reading 329 Compare, Contrast, Comprehend: Using Compare–Contrast Text Structures With ELLs in K–3 Classrooms Mariam Jean Dreher, Jennifer Letcher Gray Understanding text structures can benefit young learners, especially English-language learners. t is a brisk October day in Chicago during my first year of teaching. I (Jennifer, second author) am seated at a small table in the back of the classroom, surrounded by the members of my on-level guided reading group. The six second-grade students in the group are getting ready to read a short nonfiction trade book about spiders that is a required text in our regular reading series. The book uses a straightforward compare–contrast text structure to present information about spiders, comparing and contrasting them first with insects and then with other arachnids, like scorpions. My goal in the lesson is to help children to both gain new knowledge about spiders and to understand the compare–contrast text structure that the book uses. The children (all names are pseudonyms) speak to one another quietly in Spanish as they take out their reading logs and pencils. They begin to study the cover of the book, which features a large color photo of a spider in its web. “Eww, arañas! [Eww, spiders!]” Lourdes whispers. “Oh, I know. Spiders are gross!” her friend Daniela replies. “Why do you hate spiders? Why do you think they are gross?” I ask the girls. “’Cause they are scar y and yucky!” Daniela squeaks, shuddering. “They on the wall in my room sometimes,” Lourdes says softly. Benjamin chimes in and says, “Halloween!” “Good thinking! You’re right.” I say. “We see spiders inside our houses and in other buildings sometimes. We also see spiders in decorations for Halloween.” I ask the group what else they know about spiders. Several students share ideas about spiders being scary and creepy. I probe for more information about where spiders live, what they eat, and whether there are different kinds of spiders. I realize quickly that my students do not have the kinds of background knowledge about spiders that I expected them to have. We create a K-W-L chart on a piece of chart paper, making a short list of the things that we already know about spiders and a longer list of the things that we want to know. I then direct students to open the book and to read the first two pages. On these first two pages, the authors of the book compare and contrast the physical characteristics of spiders and insects. The first page describes these physical similarities and differences, and the second page presents labeled diagrams of a spider and an ant. When students have finished reading these pages, I ask them to talk about what they have read. “All right, who can tell me one thing that they learned about spiders?” I ask. The students are silent. Finally, Julio ventures, “Spiders are insects?” I return to the text, pointing to the two diagrams and saying, “Look, these diagrams can help us learn about spiders and insects.” We discuss the two diagrams, and students are able to point out and talk about the physical features of the spider and the ant. Then, I ask, “So, how are spiders and The Reading Teacher, 63(2), pp. 132–141 DOI:10.1598/RT.63.2.4 © 2009 International Reading Association ISSN: 0034-0561 print / 1936-2714 online I 132 insects different?” The students are silent once again. Finally, Daniela tentatively says, “The spider is big and the ant is little?” Julio whispers, “Spiders can bite you, but ants don’t bite you?” I ask “How are spiders and insects the same?” Lourdes looks down at the book and says “bugs.” “They are both bugs?” I ask. She nods. “Is that right?” I ask, looking at the group. “Are they both bugs?” The other students remain silent. The lunch bell rings, and the students line up and file out of the classroom, looking confused. Reflection Questions • Do you agree that compare/contrast structures have particular value to English-language learners? Why? • How are the vocabulary learning needs of ELLs similar to English-speaking children from high poverty homes? What Went Wrong in This Lesson? Why were the students unable to compare and contrast spiders and insects? The students in this group were considered on-level readers based on district and state-mandated assessments, were not receiving any supplemental support or instruction in reading outside of their regular mainstream classroom, and were able to read many of the narrative selections in the school’s adopted reading program without difficulty. Why did they struggle with this text? We believe that there were three main reasons. First, the students were most likely confused because they, like many other young learners, were unfamiliar with this informational text’s compare–contrast structure (Englert & Hiebert, 1984) and were not sure how to interpret the information about spiders and insects when it was presented in this format. Second, the students did not have a great deal of background knowledge about either of the two things (spiders and insects) that were being compared and contrasted. Third, the students in this group, like many students in Jennifer’s second-grade class, were English-language learners (ELLs), and had gaps in their English vocabulary—they literally may not have had the necessary vocabulary at their disposal in English to understand or express what they were reading or thinking during the lesson. In this article, we will explore ways to address these three issues when using the compare-contrast text structure with ELL students in the primary grades. Specifically, we will explain the following: n ow to teach students to identify the compare– H contrast text structure, and to use this structure to support their comprehension. n ow to use compare–contrast texts to activate H and extend students’ background knowledge. n ow to use compare–contrast texts to help stuH dents expand and enrich their vocabulary. We begin with a brief discussion of the unique needs of ELL students, describing how they can benefit from understanding text structures, and explaining why we have selected the compare–contrast text structure for use with ELL students. We then describe ways in which teachers can teach ELL students to identify and use the compare–contrast text structure to aid their comprehension. Why Is Learning About Text Structure Important for Young ELL Students? Even though ELL students bring a wealth of cultural and linguistic knowledge with them to school, research has shown that these students tend to lag behind their monolingual English-speaking peers in their levels of academic achievement (Echevarria, Short, & Powers, 2006). As discussed in the 2006 Report of the National Literacy Panel on LanguageMinority Children and Youth (August & Shanahan, 2006), there is growing evidence that ELL students are often able to perform at or even above the level of their English-speaking peers in the areas of spelling and word recognition, but tend to struggle more in the areas of reading vocabulary and comprehension. In response to the discrepancy between monolingual English-speaking students and ELL students’ reading comprehension, several researchers have developed programs with the goal of boosting ELL students’ reading comprehension achievement (Echevarria et al., 2006; Klingner & Vaughn, 1996). Although these Compare, Contrast, Comprehend: Using Compare–Contrast Text Structures With ELLs in K–3 Classrooms 133 programs focus on numerous important skills and strategies to help facilitate English reading comprehension for ELL students, they do not emphasize an essential element of comprehending English text: the structure of the text. How Does Learning About Text Structure Help Young Students? Why is it so important for young learners to understand the specific structures of informational texts? Research has shown that early experiences with and instruction in the use of informational texts support students’ comprehension The number of the se t y pe s of text s (Kletzien & Dreher, 2004; and variety of Williams et al., 2005) and the rhetorical can help prepare young students for future interacstructures used tions with informational in informational texts. When students do texts can create not have these early experiences with informational challenges for they may be more readers, particularly text, likely to struggle when they if they have not encounter such texts in the later grades. Unfortunately, received explicit many children in the early instruction in how grades are exposed to very to recognize and little informational text. Duke (2000) found that learn from these first-grade students attenddifferent structures. ing schools that ser ved low-income families received even less exposure to informational texts than those in higher-income areas. In fact, in half of the classrooms in low-income schools that Duke visited, no informational texts were used at all. At the level of rhetorical structure, informational texts differ from narrative texts in important ways (Weaver & Kintsch, 1991). Several different types of rhetorical structures are used in informational texts, such as cause–effect, problem–solution, and compare–contrast. These structures are significantly different from the rhetorical structure that is generally used in narrative texts. The number and variety of the rhetorical structures used in informational texts can create challenges for readers, particularly if they have not received explicit instruction in how to recognize and learn from these different structures. 134 The Reading Teacher      Vol. 63, No. 2      October 2009 Why Teach ELL Students the Compare–Contrast Text Structure? Although we believe that young ELL students would benefit from instruction related to many different expository text structures, we have chosen to focus on the compare–contrast structure for two reasons. First, research has suggested that, of the most common expository text structures, the compare–contrast structure may be one of the more difficult for students to navigate (e.g., Englert & Hiebert, 1984; Raphael, Englert, & Kirschner, 1986). Second, after young learners have a basic understanding of the compare–contrast text structure, teachers can use compare–contrast texts to help bridge the gap between what students already know (their background knowledge, their previous experiences with texts, and their cultural and linguistic backgrounds) and the new content teachers are presenting. By selecting texts in which information that is somehow tied to students’ background is compared with new ideas, teachers can create opportunities for students to make meaningful connections between the new information and the “funds of knowledge” (Moll, Amanti, Neff, & González, 1992) they bring from their own lives and experiences. We will describe what this type of lesson might look like, and how texts might be selected for such lessons. First, however, we will describe how to provide explicit instruction in the identification and use of the compare–contrast structure for ELL students in the primary grades. Text Structure, Background Knowledge, and Vocabulary Acquisition How to Teach Young Students to Identify and Use the Compare– Contrast Text Structure As we have described, one of the issues that young students often face when attempting to comprehend compare–contrast texts is that they are unfamiliar with this type of structure itself—they do not understand that they are being asked to recognize the similarities or differences between two or more things. Explicit instruction and teacher modeling are needed to show students how these texts work, and to demonstrate strategies that they can use as they interact with these texts on their own. One way to provide this kind of explicit instruction and modeling is to conduct a series of carefully organized lessons. For example, Singer and Donlan (1989) have explicated a method of providing instruction in reading strategies in which teachers model or demonstrate a strategy or process, then provide students with opportunities for guided practice, and finally allow students to practice the strategy or process on their own. Using this type of organization for instruction, a lesson introducing students to the compare–contrast structure might contain the following steps: 1. The teacher conducts a brief think-aloud activity, modeling the thinking that he or she does when reading a compare–contrast text. The teacher also records the similarities and differences between the things being compared and contrasted using a graphic organizer such as a Venn diagram. The students’ role in this first think-aloud activity is to watch and listen to the model that the teacher provides. The teacher also points out features of the compare–contrast text structure itself, and creates a list of words or phrases in the text that students can look for to help them understand that they are being asked to compare and contrast two or more different things or ideas. 2. T he teacher engages the students in a second think-aloud activity. At this stage, the teacher involves students by asking direct questions about the things or ideas that are being compared and contrasted in the text, and then supports students as they complete a graphic organizer either in small groups or as a class. 3. The teacher provides students with the opportunity to practice reading compare–contrast texts, either in small groups or individually. Students are instructed to use the same strategies modeled by the teacher during the think-aloud activities, and are given a graphic organizer to help them record and think about the similarities and differences between the things or ideas that are being compared and contrasted in the text. A good book for conducting this type of explicit lesson is What’s the Difference? 10 Animal Look-Alikes by Judy Diehl and David Plumb (2000). This book provides 10 simple, compare–contrast passages about pairs of animals that are similar in appearance (such as alligators and crocodiles). A sample of what a compare–contrast lesson using this book might look like is included in the following vignette. Teacher: [placing the chart in Figure 1 on the overhead projector or other projection device, and holding up What’s the Difference? (Diehl & Plumb, 2000) for the class to see] Today we are going to read a book about pairs of animals that look a lot alike, but are actually different types of animals. As we read, we are going to keep track of the ways that the animals are alike, and the ways that they are different. We are going to compare and contrast the two types of animals as we read. We will use charts like this [teacher points to Figure 1] to help us compare and contrast these animals. For the first part of this lesson, your job is to watch and listen very carefully. I am going to show you what I do and what I think about when I compare and contrast. [Teacher reads the first paragraph of the book.] Wow! I’ve just learned that both crocodiles and alligators have short legs, sharp teeth, and scaly skin. I am going to write these three ways that alligators and crocodiles are alike on my chart, right here where it says “both.” I know that these are characteristics that both of these animals have, and that make alligators and crocodiles alike. Now I am going to keep reading. As I read, I am going to see if I can learn more ways that alligators and crocodiles are alike, and ways that they are different. [Teacher reads the rest of the selection about alligators and crocodiles, continuing to model his or her thinking and to demonstrate the use of the chart.] Teacher: I learned a lot about alligators and crocodiles from that passage. I noticed that the way the passage compared and contrasted alligators and crocodiles really helped me understand the ways that alligators and crocodiles are the same, and the ways that they are different. I also noticed that there were certain words and phrases that I saw Compare, Contrast, Comprehend: Using Compare–Contrast Text Structures With ELLs in K–3 Classrooms 135 Figure 1 Compare–Contrast Chart for Teacher Modeling As we read the text, compare and contrast the two animals: How are they alike? How are they different? Write down the ways that the animals are alike and different on this chart. Alligators Most have round snouts Live only in the United States and China Their teeth do not stick out when their jaws are closed. Both Sharp teeth Long tails Short legs Scaly skin as I was reading that let me know that this was a compare and contrast passage. Let’s go back to the passage now and see if we can find any words or phrases that let us know that the passage is comparing and contrasting two types of animals. [Teacher and students read through the passage again, and create a list of compare–contrast words and phrases that includes both, similar, but, different, compare, and to tell apart.] Teacher: Excellent work! We will keep adding c…
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