Modified Guided Reading

Thank you for the question about Modified Guided Reading.  Let me start with the link to the original article and a link to an article that explains the original article.

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Now that you have read those, I have a copy of my Modified Guided Reading-Plan for you to look at and use.

The results are amazing when done carefully.  In order for this to work, though, we have to think about our students and what they know and what they need to learn.  When I use this format I pre-teach the aspects that my students will struggle with (you need to know your students!) and work on building oral language around those ideas.  By the time they get to the text they will be in that wonderful Zone of Proximal Development (Vygotsky) and understand most of what they are reading.  I try to leave appropriate challenges along the way so that their reading is in the Goldilocks-Zone.

Try it and let me know what you think.  If you want some additional coaching please let me know.  Remember: Literacy Creates Justice (and it’s fun!).

The World’s Largest Lesson

Please be aware of the Global Goals for Sustainable Development.  You can find more information here: and you can choose your language in the upper right hand corner.  This is important!!

La lección más grande del mundo

On the Border

Many people do things that are illegal. Most people speed in their cars; many people drink before their 21st birthday. Some parents will even say that their children are only 11 when they are really 12 so they can pay less to watch a movie. I won’t mention the more serious crimes of which we are all aware.

The crime that people are guilty of when they are in the United States illegally is Entering Without Inspection. This is a misdemeanor crime. That means that it is a minor crime like underage drinking or petty theft. When people cross the border into the United States they are required to check in with Homeland Security.

When a person does not check in with the border patrol they do not become illegal anymore than an underage drinker becomes illegal. A person cannot be illegal. A person can do something illegal; a person can be in the country illegally. A person cannot be illegal.

We would do well to welcome the stranger, believe that all life is sacred and ask some questions. Why do people want to come into the United States? What responsibility do we, as citizens and residents of the United States, have for the conditions in their home country? What responsibility does our government have? Leaving home for a foreign land is never a decision taken lightly. An easy first step we can take in this matter is to treat all with dignity and never refer to a human being as illegal.

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Making Content Accessible

All teachers who have Emerging Bilinguals (a.k.a ESL students) in their classrooms are immersion teachers.  That is, their students are immersed in English when that is not one of the languages the students know.

Often I am asked, “How do I change my instruction to make the content accessible to my emerging bilinguals?”  Below I have begun a list of ideas (most are not mine

Instructional Practices to Make Content Accessible

  • Use a variety of techniques responding to different learning styles and language proficiency levels.
  • Build and maintain positive interactions between teachers and students and among students.
  • Implement a reciprocal interaction model of teaching – genuine dialog.

Cooperative learning or group work situations, including…

  • Students work interdependently on tasks with common objectives.
  • Individual accountability, social equity in groups and classroom- everyone can do something.  (Have you seen the WIDA Can-Do descriptors?)
  • Extensive interactions among students to develop bilingualism.

Language input that…

  • Uses sheltering strategies to promote comprehension (see below)
  • Uses visual aids and modeling instruction, allowing students to negotiate meaning
  • Is interesting, relevant, of sufficient quantity
  • Is challenging to promote high levels of language proficiency and critical thinking
  • Language objectives are integrated into curriculum, including:
    • Structured tasks and unstructured opportunities for students to use language
    • Language policy to encourage students to use instructional language
    • Monolingual lesson delivery by the teacher
    • Students’ use of their L1 as needed to make meaning
    • Needs of all students are balanced
    • Students are integrated for the majority of the instruction

In the early stages of second language acquisition, input is made more comprehensible though the use of:

  • slower, more expanded, simplified, and repetitive speech oriented to the “here and now” (Krashen, 1981; Long, 1980),
  • highly contextualized language and gestures (Long, 1980; Saville-Troike, 1987),
  • comprehension and confirmation checks (Long, 1980), and,
  • communication structured to provide scaffolding for the negotiation of meaning by L2 students by constraining possible interpretations of sequence, role, and intent (SavilleTroike, 1987).

Sheltered techniques include:

  • the use of visual aids such as pictures, charts, graphs, and semantic mapping,
  • modeling of instruction, allowing students to negotiate meaning and make connections between course content and prior knowledge,
  • allowing students to act as mediators and facilitators,
  • the use of alternative assessments to check comprehension,
  • portfolios,
  • use of comprehensible input, scaffolding, and supplemental materials, and
  • a wide range of presentation strategies.

St. Nicholas

6            St. Nicholas

Happy St. Nicholas Day!

St Nicholas was born in 280 AD, in Patara, a city of Lycia, in Asia Minor, now Turkey. He became the gift giver of Myra. His gifts were given late at night, so that the gift giver’s identity would remain a secret. St Nicholas was eventually named the patron saint of children, sailors, Russia and Greece.

St Nicholas was a Christian priest, who later became a bishop. He was a rich person, and traveled the country helping people, giving gifts of money and other presents. St Nicholas did not like to be seen when he gave away presents, so the children of the day were told to go to sleep quickly or he would not come! Nothing has changed and Santa Claus will not arrive this Christmas unless the children go to sleep early.

Their Oil

I sped my SUV
down my street,
took the Otis to my 7th floor
turned on my flat panel
to see the news from the coast
Oil! Everywhere!
How could they let that happen!
The birds! the turtles!
I took out my Papermate to pen a note to my senator.
Nah, I’ll just e-mail my disgust
about what they do and what they didn’t do,
about what they should do and shouldn’t do.
I’d take the bus tomorrow
if I could stop to buy my coffee.


Fear I feel
as I walk the downtown streets.
I’m afraid of them.

Their loud talking
Their different clothing
these ‘owners of the street.’

Their buying and selling
brings ruin to children, teenagers
mothers, fathers

A word stabs
a decision kills
sometimes without thinking, mostly without thinking

I’m afraid of them
The corporate ones in suits.