During my last year of teaching, my school was affected by budget cuts. As a result, I was the only ESL teacher remaining at my school, with an 85-student caseload. I had to find the best way to prepare and be the most effective teacher I could be for my students.
At the time, I was teaching my favorite lessons and units that I had been teaching for years and trying to align them to the topics being taught in the class. I loved the content I taught, but I had some concerns. Since alignment with content teachers was challenging, often times the lessons I was teaching provided students with additional topics and vocabulary to learn on top of the content they were already covering in class. It was time to streamline my approach—I wanted to find a way to help my students access the grade-level content they would cover in their academic classes.
I spoke with teachers at different grade levels, asking them what they were teaching in those first nine weeks. Luckily for me, it was Wit & Wisdom®, which I was familiar with and knew would be rigorous and culturally relevant for students. As an ESL teacher, collaborating with the content teachers helped me find ways to prepare multilingual students for the content they would learn in their classes and respect their role as students who were fully able to engage with grade-level content with their peers.
This collaboration with content teachers and front-loading of lessons proved to be beneficial for my students. It was uplifting to see the success they encountered and how empowered they felt about speaking up. I found other teachers exclaiming things like, “I didn’t know Javier talked that much!” or “Wow, she is the first to raise her hand in class now!” They were seeing what we ESL teachers see in our multilingual learners in our small group instructions. It felt like I was finally supporting both the students and the content teacher.
That final school year really was my “making lemonade out of lemons” moment, and it taught me the importance of aligning ESL instruction with the content of the curriculum. Rather than teaching disconnected topics and vocabulary that fail to further the academic needs of multilingual learners, we need to teach language and content in tandem to meet the needs of English learners.
That is why I’m so excited about Wit & Wisdom PrologueTM. Prologue is a new resource for multilingual learners and students with language-based disabilities in Grades 6–8. It front-loads selected Wit & Wisdom lessons so that students can preview content and language, build their fluency with their teacher’s support, and practice articulating their written and oral responses. This way, students receive the language development support they need to fully engage in grade level content with their peers during Wit & Wisdom instruction.
Here is a sneak peek at a sample lesson. Great Minds® also shares annotated supports for this lesson, one for multilingual learners annotated by the English Learner Success Forum and one for students with language-based learning disabilities annotated by Language Disability Expert Robin Hegner. I highly suggest taking a look so you can see Prologue in action for yourself.
I think that so often we are focused on what our students can’t do that we forget what they are capable of. Prologue is a gift of time for many of our students because they can slow down and build their language skills, which they can immediately apply to the next Wit & Wisdom lesson. The support provided in Prologue helps us see their incredible capacity for greatness more clearly.
Hear more from Tsianina and discover how Wit & Wisdom Prologue can support your multilingual learners and students with language-based disabilities in this free webinar recording.
Tsianina Tovar is an EL instructional coach for Grades K–12. She is a National Board-Certified Teacher with 25 years of teaching experience in ESL K–12 and Spanish K–12.