Making Modifications for ELLs

Differentiation for English Language Learners in the Social Studies classroom can be challenging! Many teachers are struggling with how to make modifications on their assignments for their ELL population. You need to be intentional you plan for listening, speaking, reading and writingopportunities for your students.  How and when are you providing time for your ELL students to practice these skills in your classroom? Here are a few tips for modifying a Social Studies assignment.
How do you support ELL students in Social Studies?

1.  Read the assignment closely before you give it to your students. What words do you think they will struggle with? Can you modify the assignment by altering the text? Are there any idioms your students will encounter? How can you pre-teach or change the wording? I often write my own text for students to read.  Once it is complete, I re-read it from a student’s point of view and ask myself “How can I change a few words to make this easier to read?” You can also alter text by adding (parenthesis) with a definition of a word you think will cause difficulty.

   2. What opportunities are you giving your students to speak about the content? One of my favorite strategies is a Structured Discussion.  In this teaching strategy, I assign a reading and discussion topic to small groups of 3.  Once they have the opportunity to read together and to practice their answer, I can call on different students in my class.  Even if they don’t all have an opportunity to share their answer whole group, I am providing them time to talk in their smaller group. This also provides built in wait time as they process the question in a smaller, safer group.

Small groups provide safe opportunities to practice their answers.

  3.  Sentence stemsare vital for scaffolding instruction in speaking and writing.  Based on the level of your ELL student, you can provide sentence stems that allow them to practice the structure of the language while still thinking about the answer.  You can choose the sentence stems for them, or allow your students to choose from a variety of different ones. Here are a few examples you can use:
·                    _______ is important
·                    _______ is significant due to _______
·                    From my point of view _______
·                    The evidence points to _______
·                    The debate is about _______
·                    It is important to note _______
·                    _______ proves _______ because

4. Have you ever heard of a PAT list? This Pay Attention To list is a technique you can use to support reading.  Students are given specific topics they will need to search for or specific questions they will need to answer while reading.  This support provides structure to a reading assignment for your ELL students.

I hope you found some of these strategies helpful.  I would love to hear your feedback on them!

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