Exceptional Needs

As a community that places high value on the inclusion of all of its students, we have communicated with families about the ways to support English acquisition and as a result are using a push-in service during the designated English class as well also as a pull out service for students who require additional time. Throughout the week, a specialized teacher pushes into the classroom to work with a small group of for 30-60 min on students goals listed in their Personalized Learning Plan.

 

In addition to core instruction there are four (4) other components of Thrive’s program for English Learners:

 

1)       Community meetings focused on conversational language (Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (“BICS”))

 

2)       Blended ELA – Through the use of a blended rotation model, students move through independent, collaborative and small group instructional stations each day. At each station students’ learning is personalized and adapts to students’ needs based on continuously collected data. Each student has a personalized learning plan with their data and their goals, which are addressed with a laser like focus in the following ways

    • Small group teacher instruction: where teachers work with groups of 4-5 students based on ELD levels and other data collected through the year
    • Tech programs for individual practice of reading skills: RazzKids, Lexia Core 5 and Reading Plus
    • Non-tech support such as Readers and Writer workshop,  as well as supplemental support through programs like Reach (K-5) and Inside (6-8) (Hampton Brown)
    • Parent handbooks provide tips for parents in Spanish and English  to help understand the common core and what students are doing in class
    • Literacy specialist built into budget to push in and support students in similar ways that a Special Education teacher would support special education students

3)     Blended Math

    • Small group teacher instruction: where teachers work with groups of 4-5 students based on ELD levels, math ability and other data collected through the year
    • Tech programs for individual practice, such as Think Through Math, ST Math, Khan and MangaHigh offer students the ability to see, hear, manipulate and practice math with immediate feedback. 
    • Non-tech support such as Cognitively Guided Instruction and a high use of manipulatives and realia supports learners to see math with and without words and is focused on conceptual math aligned to Common Core
    • Parent handbooks provide tips for parents and to describe what the common core questions look like and reinforce what happens in class  (based on Sacramento County Office of Education’s work)
    • Aids and specialized teacher\ will be in class to support students as they work in small groups or individual

 

4) Project Based Learning (“PBL”)

    • We are partnering with the Buck Institute for Education, a nationally recognized trainer for project based learning and have staff who are experienced in Project Based Learning
    • Through PBL students learn to use content specific English  (Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency “CALPS”)) and apply their learning
    • Real world connections help students have greater buy-in and work towards outcomes with an authentic audience

 

In addition to the major program design features at Thrive that support students who are English learners, teachers at Thrive will employ the following specific strategies in their classrooms: (notably, these strategies are beneficial for all students, not just English Learners)

 

 

a.       Six Key Strategies for Teachers of English-Language Learners[1]

 

  1.  Vocabulary and Language Development
      1. Teachers will introduce new concepts by discussing vocabulary words key to that concept.
      2. Teachers will build on student’s background knowledge.
      3. Classrooms will reflect a language rich environment (i.e. language charts, shared reading and writing experiences, other writing displayed throughout the room and used daily by students). 
  2.  Guided Interaction (collaborative learning)
      1. Teachers will structure lessons so students work together to understand what they read—by listening, speaking, reading, and writing collaboratively about the academic concepts in the text.
      2. Teachers will provide students with opportunities to negotiate meaning from language and text and to work in cooperative pairs or groups to develop problem-solving and social skills.
      3. Teachers will group students flexibly, at times working in heterogeneous groups and at times not. 
  3.  Metacognition and Authentic Assessment
      1. Rather than having students simply memorize information, teachers will model and explicitly teach thinking skills (metacognition) crucial to learning new concepts.
      2. Teachers will use a variety of activities to check for student understanding, acknowledging that students learning a second language need a variety of ways to demonstrate their understanding of concepts that are not wholly reliant on advanced language skills.
      3. Teachers will “make thinking public,” the metacognitive aspect of teachers and students modeling how an answer was arrived at, not merely what the correct answer was. 
  4.  Explicit Instruction
      1. Teachers will utilize direct teaching methods to teach concepts, academic language, reading comprehension strategies, text patterns, vocabulary, writing patterns, and decoding skills needed to complete classroom tasks. 
  5.  Meaning-Based Context and Universal Themes
      1. Teachers will incorporate meaningful references from the students’ everyday lives and use them as springboards to interest them in academic concepts.
      2. Teachers will create classroom environments that provide authentic opportunities for use of academic language.
      3. Teachers will provide students with opportunities to activate and focus prior knowledge via inquiry charts, brainstorming, and clustering. 
  6.  Modeling, Graphic Organizers, and Visuals
      1. Teachers will regularly utilize a variety of visual aids, graphic organizers (such as Thinking Maps), pictures, diagrams, summaries, and charts to help English learners easily recognize essential information and its relationship to supporting ideas.

 



[1] Adapted from Alliance for Excellent Education. (December 2005). Case study on the New Teacher Center, University of California at Santa Cruz; and Project GLAD (Guided Language Acquisition Design).

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