In Part One and Part Two of this blog series, we dug in to our first best practice for supporting English language learners within remote learning: providing them with rigorous, explicit instruction in academic language during Collaborative Literacy.
In this blog, we delve into the second best practice: building relationships between home and school. Strong relationships between teachers and families establish trust, improve communication, and help us better understand our ELL students’ strengths and areas where they need more support. Getting to know the context in which the students are experiencing learning and their proficiency in their native language will provide valuable information as we consider how to meet their needs. Student learning is strengthened when teachers actively engage with families and help them find simple and meaningful ways to connect with their children’s academic learning and support their social-emotional health.
As we consider the importance of relationships between school and home, let’s explore the ways that Collaborative Literacy supports these efforts.
Practice 2: Build a strong relationship between home and school as a cornerstone of powerful education for English language learners.
To support teachers when they found themselves having to provide virtual instruction, Collaborative Classroom created the Remote Learning Guidance documents for the programs of Collaborative Literacy, located on the Learning Portal. Within these documents, there are great ideas on how to stay connected to families, as well as tools for families to support their students. Here are three sections that you might leverage to help support English language learners:
- Involve Parents/Families (found in the Introduction). As you read this guidance, use the questions provided to think about how you will support families who primarily speak languages other than English as they establish at-home learning norms.
- “Go Bag” Guidance for Parents/Caregivers (found in the Introduction). This section suggests that you download and send home the “IDR Support for Parents” document (available in English and Spanish). Consider how you might share these ideas and support families to implement them.
- At-Home Activities (found throughout). Within the guidance for each grade, there is a section that offers activities that can be done at home in order for students to extend their learning. For example, the Being a Reader Remote Learning Guidance includes learning activities in support of early reading skills. One way students can engage in learning at home is to reread and illustrate poems that they have read in Shared Reading and compile a home “Poetry Reader.” In working with the poems, consider what you know about the needs of your English language learners and think about how you will:
- Establish language objectives with the activities.
- Have students illustrate poems (a great way to assess their comprehension).
- Have students reread poems/text (crucial for oral language development).
Despite possible language barriers, it should be our goal to invite all parents into the fold and provide a welcoming and safe path to engage in the learning process of their students. Consider how you might utilize the Remote Learning Guidance document as a vehicle to engage your families during remote learning.
Collaborative Literacy was intentionally designed to inspire the academic and social growth of all students. It is the perfect platform for implementing best practices for our English language learners within academic and language development. It also provides the perfect platform for partnering with their families. We hope this blog series supports you in maximizing these efforts.