We officially launched our ELD Lesson Library and teachers are already talking!
Today we’re sharing a conversation we had with three incredible EL educators, two from California and one from Colorado. Each of these teachers has a unique perspective on working with and supporting multilinguals in their schools.
We are grateful for the time they spent chatting about our new ELD Lesson Library and how they envision using it in the classroom. We hope their insights will be as useful for you as they have been for us.
Q: What are some barriers/unique challenges to reclassification you’ve experienced with your students? Do you think focusing on listening comprehension has the potential to make a difference in reclassification outcomes?
Sarah: I’ve found that some of the tools we use don’t adequately support our students in building their listening skills in order to succeed on assessments. It’s really challenging for my students when the end unit assessment requires them to listen to me read a sentence, and they have to fill in the blanks for the vocabulary word. It’s not an activity we do throughout a lesson because it would require me to create a lot more materials. While sometimes I did have the time to create those supplemental materials, oftentimes students were seeing the material for the first time during the assessment. The tools that were in place did not allow students the “at bats” they needed to succeed in end-of-unit assessment.
Robin: With building listening skills it is really about the material. From what I’ve experienced from my 10 years in the classroom, there isn’t very much material to begin with. Part of the challenge of finding that one tool for listening exercises is that there’s a very slim number of programs or materials— or they’re just not able to move from Lexile level to Lexile level or from listening level to listening level. With the proper supports, encouragement, and motivation, and any enrichment that we’re able to provide, they can do it, and we see that every single year when we reclassify students.
Sarah: A lot of other curriculums just do not focus on that listening comprehension piece. Knowing that in order to read well students need both that listening comprehension and those decoding skills, this is a product that would support that listening comprehension piece which doesn’t only help in listening but would also help students for reading scores as well.
Q: As you know, Listenwise is now adding video content to our lessons. How do you see multimodal lessons being able to support ELs with academic language retention and building background knowledge?
Sarah: I think so many students are visual learners, so to have the videos along with a podcast is really cool because they are able to connect vocabulary to the images. So many times my students ask me to Google a picture because they have no idea what we’re talking about and there’s no picture on the slide! So we often look up pictures and maps, so with Listenwise videos we would just have it right there.
Roxana: I really think having multimodal lessons creates a big learning opportunity for our students because they already do that— they engage on a regular basis with the media. Now we’re just trying to bring it into an educational manner for them.
Robin: You know, I can tell you a word in French but if you don’t have a mental picture in your mind there’s nothing you can do with that information. You can’t use it, you can’t put it into a sentence. Now with videos, students can see the words that they are learning and then listen to them in the audio files. Then they can use them and that creates more opportunities for them to practically use language. That is really what creates a memorable learning experience. I think it’s meaningful if they are able to process information eclectically.
Q: One exciting feature of our new ELD Lesson Library is that we now have immersive Spanish language support for students, and we look forward to adding additional languages soon. How do you see this new feature benefitting you and your students?
Roxana: As a language teacher—especially as a dual immersion Spanish teacher— I’m really excited to use these new ELD tools. I know that there is a lot of research to support the idea that if we can create a bridge between students’ English and their Spanish, they will be more successful in growing both languages and also develop confidence in themselves.
Sarah: I think having a product that incorporates home language will increase engagement. Students are seeing and hearing the language they often use at home and then they can transfer those same skills to English listening.
Robin: The fact that Listenwise is now offering multilingual modalities within their platform is essential for California teachers because it is supported by the EL roadmap that highlights that primary language access is an asset. If students are able to see their primary language within Listenwise it will really allow them to have a deeper connection to the content that they’re learning.
Q: What kinds of challenges do you think emerging ELs face, and how might our new ELD Lesson Library be a helpful resource for them?
Roxana: I like that with these multimodal lessons students will have multiple opportunities to show what they know, regardless of their level. That’s so important. I think it can also be validating for students because then teachers really get a window into what they do know, which is the goal. For me, I also just think about the richness of the experience, and that I would be able to scaffold everything almost on command without having to recreate everything.
Robin: It’s great that the new ELD Lesson Library has pictures and multiple languages so that students can translate and see both languages side-to-side with the vocabulary. That really allows students to begin to build upon the number of words that they know so they can produce language. Students can receive it through listening and reading, and then they can actively produce speaking and writing in a different language. The repetition of words— seeing it before, seeing it during, seeing the words after— that repetition is going to support our emerging bilinguals.
Q: How do you see Listenwise’s ELD Lesson Library helping to foster classroom discussions and increase engagement with your multilinguals?
Robin: Some of the challenges that I’ve faced when getting English learners to engage in classroom discussions or collaborative discussions is that they don’t know what to say. So a lot of the time what we need is for students to have talking scripts or a speaking prompt so they know how to start. One of the benefits of using Listenwise is that a lot of the audio is of conversations or interviews. This gives students an opportunity to hear how to initiate a conversation, how to ask a follow up question, and how to add on to the conversation and really get into the richness of language. Instead of just “What’s your name? My name is Robin.” The speakers in Listenwise audio continue to ask follow up questions. With the transcript as an additional support element, students are able to see how two people interact with each other and how they continue to build a conversation.
Sarah: My students often tell me that ELD is the most boring part of the day and their least favorite class. I think part of it is that it’s a lot of slideshows and a lot of “teacher talk,” and I think this would help move it to more of a student lift. Even little parts like having their own computer, being able to start and stop the podcast themself, choose the video themselves, would be really exciting and much more engaging because they would have more autonomy in the classroom.
Roxana: There’s a power in using Listenwise media as a jumping off point to create discussion and develop higher order thinking skills that are not just at the surface level. I’m really excited to be able to find a product that provides academic content to help my students feel more independent, more successful, and just develop confidence so that we can reclassify them by the time they leave my class— which is 6th grade.