By Chris Lewis, Ph.D.
How do the ERWC modules support the language and literacy development of students who are identified as English Learners?
In 2017, the California State Board of Education unanimously approved the English Learner Roadmap. This revolutionary language and literacy policy focuses on an assets-based approach that celebrates multilingualism. This policy shift occurred after the voters of CA passed Proposition 58 in 2016, repealing almost twenty years of restrictions on bilingual education. Each of the ERWC modules includes elements of Integrated ELD where students are engaged in language and literacy development aligned with the CA ELD Framework. The Designated-ELD modules add an additional layer of support through an emphasis on specific ELD standards.
The “High Impact Strategies Toolkit to Support Students in ERWC Classrooms” is a helpful resource to review learning strategies that support multilingual students. These strategies appear throughout the ERWC modules, but they are essential practices within the modules focusing on Integrated and Designated ELD. I taught the 12th grade ERWC course for several years and adapted many of the module strategies, often adding texts to build more background knowledge or spending more time on during-reading strategies where students practiced meaning-making through speaking activities. Now that I am a Teacher on Special Assignment support English Learners, resources like the toolkit are imperative in my planning.
A few of the strategies in the toolkit have positively impacted my students’ learning include:
- Concept Mapping where students build visual representations of key vocabulary demonstrating how words and their meanings are connected and inter-related;
- Charting Multiple Texts where students document their reading of multiple texts by identifying the authors’ purpose, claims, and evidence in order to make connections across the texts;
- Mentor Text Analysis where students complete a close-reading to identify how an author constructs an argument through a variety of sentences (e.g., opinions, facts, evidence, anecdotes, etc.) each used for a different purpose;
- Guided Editing where students focus on selected writing skills in their own piece (e.g., claims, precise language, sentence length, transitions, punctuation, etc.) to emphasize how each piece is part of their overall purpose.
The Designated-ELD modules follow the same assignment template as the other ERWC modules. Each lesson is aligned with the CA ELD Framework allowing students to address the two main parts of the standards: “Interacting in Meaningful Ways” and “Learning About How English Works.” The texts and writing tasks in ERWC are challenging in all of the best ways. I loved teaching ERWC because of the complex content. Students continually impressed me with their reactions to the material and their reflections about the learning goals they identified. I was a better teacher, particularly for my multilingual students, because the modules empowered me to enjoy the intricacies and intersections of language and literacy. Planning with language in mind made each module more impactful.
Chris Lewis is currently a Teacher on Special Assignment supporting multilingual learners at Mountain View High School in El Monte, CA. He is also a part-time lecturer in Attallah College of Educational Studies at Chapman University. He serves as a board member for the California Council for the Social Studies. His research interests include youth voice, dystopian fiction, civic engagement, and LGBTQ literature and history. He wrote two chapters for the 2021 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title, Pedagogies of With-ness: Students, Teachers, Voice and Agency. Follow Chris on Twitter at @chrislewis_10 or www.ateachersponderings.com.
Editor’s Note: The theme of the 2023 ERWC Literacy Conferences, to be held June 20th in Sacramento and June 26th in Pomona, is “Doing Language: Rhetoric, Identity, and Power.” Plenary and concurrent sessions will explore ERWC’s approach to language learning and linguistic justice, including modules and resources for designated English language development. Please watch for a Call for Presenters in January.