5) Literacy development

How can I support my Multilingual Learners’ literacy development?

Resource Guide: FAQ Guide for Program Directors and Administrators

This resource guide offers answers to some of the most common questions that come up about literacy instruction for Multilingual Learners. Assessment, the "science of reading," use of home language(s), and curriculum decisions are some of the topics covered in this guide.
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Resource Guide: A Deeper Look at Early Literacy

This interactive guide offers a comprehensive approach to literacy for Multilingual Learners. It is an overview of the language and literacy skills and instruction that children need at different stages of development. Common literacy terms are defined, instructional strategies are offered, and a picture of instruction, aligned across the grades is explained.
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Video: Making Butter—Small Group Instruction

In this video, the teacher works on a hands-on project to make butter with Multilingual Learners. The small group instruction supports multiple opportunities to practice oral language and writing in an authentic context.
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Video: Our Chicks Have Hatched!—A Home School Connection

The first clip of this video is a conversation between a parent and a child as they discuss a school project about chicks that have been sent home. The second clip shows how the school project was made in the classroom. Children interact with live chicks in the classroom while the teacher helps them identify and write the language they want to use to express what they have learned.
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Video: Writing Her First Letter—Alphabetic Knowledge

In this video clip, the teacher supports a Multilingual Learner to write her letters on her work after they talk about it. The teacher supports the child to practice letter-sound correspondence in an authentic context and then helps her read her work.
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Video: Toy Animals

This video clip shows both English and Spanish-speaking teachers developing student content knowledge about animals through oral conversations. Students then paint animals using toys as examples and share knowledge about their paintings so teachers can write down what each child says.
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Video: Sharing at the Easel—Transference

This clip is an example of a teacher listening to a child narrate what she has drawn, and carefully labeling it with the child's exact words. The teacher acknowledges responses given in both English and Spanish.
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Video: My Pumpkin Story—Metalinguistic Awareness

A teacher works with Wendy to orally discuss and write a story about a recent pumpkin project. When the teacher asks Wendy to take her writing home, the interaction changes to Spanish so Wendy can talk to her Spanish-speaking mother about her project.
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Video: Soyul & Teacher Yvette—Beginning a New Language

This video is a series of excerpts from the first months of preschool for Soyul, a Korean-speaking Multilingual Learner. The video showcases instructional moves that the teacher, Yvette, makes to teach English language development during Soyul's initial silent period.
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Video: Dr. Linda Espinosa—A Commentary on Brand New Words

In this video, Dr. Linda Espinosa reminds teachers that when Multilingual Learners are acquiring new languages, they also must learn how to make new sounds. Video clips show a bilingual teacher working on this phonological awareness with children, and allowing them to share the expertise of their home language.
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Video: Engaging with Text and Narrative

This video begins by highlighting chants, songs, and intentional conversation that teachers facilitate to help young Multilingual Learners (MLs) to develop oral language. Further examples demonstrate how oral language can then transfer to written language and early reading opportunities. It is important for MLs to use developing literacy skills in authentic, print-rich learning contexts, where they feel ownership for their learning and knowledge.
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Blog Series: Beginning with Biliteracy-A Kindergarten Story

This series includes 10 blog posts that share information from a bilingual Kindergarten classroom perspective. Some posts are written in English and some in Spanish. They cover topics such as setting up a biliteracy classroom environment, making language connections and bridges for young learners, and instructional strategies for biliteracy.
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Article: The Bridge Between Languages

This article introduces the term "the bridge" as the purposeful work to connect, compare, contrast, and transition between languages in lessons and activities for Multilingual Learners. Examples and instructional tips are shared.
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Stragegy Overview: El dictado

"El dictado" is a strategy that a teacher can use in Spanish or English to model and structure language practice for students in spelling, grammar, and fluency. This overview includes an example sequence for instruction, a rubric for assessment, and tips for differentiating the activity.
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Website Article: Early Literacy Instruction in Spanish

This article is a research overview for teachers about the early literacy development of Spanish-speaking children. The content covers stages of literacy development, explicitly notes the differences in reading instruction between English and Spanish, and includes some example literacy strategies and tips for parents.
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Blog: Dictado with Dr. Mónica Lara & John Seidlitz

This blog post introduces the Dictado strategy and shares tips and pitfalls for teachers who hope to implement this strategy with Multilingual Learners.
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Website: Amigos Bilingües

This website offers many video read-alouds in both Spanish and English. Many of the texts can be found in both languages, allowing the teacher to preview content in a home language and then let students transfer that knowledge to the text in their second language.
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Strategy Overview: Integrating Vocabulary and Retelling Strategies into Read-Aloud

This video is a quick look into one teacher's practice as she works on vocabulary development in an informational text read-aloud.
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Strategy Overview: Creating Anchor Charts with Sticky Note Responses from Young Readers

This article is a description of an instructional strategy to use sticky notes with young readers as a means to co-construct anchor charts about reading. Sticky notes provide flexibility since they can be moved around, and children can both write or draw on them.
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Website Article: Selecting Texts for Strategy Teaching with English Language Learners in Mind

This article reviews multiple ways that teachers can think about text selection to provide additional supports for Multilingual Learners. Pairing texts by similar theme or text structure are two examples discussed in the article.
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Website Article: Are Your Writers Talking During Writer’s Workshop?

Talking about writing is a way to support the writing process itself, particularly for Multilingual Learners (MLs). This article reviews instructional strategies that a teacher can use to direct MLs to use all of their linguistic resources during a writer's workshop.
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Website Article: Retelling and English Language Learners

This article reminds teachers of the hard work that is involved when first-grade Multilingual Learners are asked to retell stories. Specific prompts and supports can facilitate students in participating and developing both language and literacy skills during this key instructional activity.
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Webinar: Using an Equity Lens for Writing Instruction

This webinar frames writing instruction as a means for achieving equitable instruction for Multilingual Learners. Six high-leverage writing practices are introduced and exemplified.
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Video: Model Curriculum for English Learners – Weathering and Erosion (3rd grade)

A multilingual teacher uses numerous supports in English, Spanish, and Portuguese to develop the content understandings of beginner Multilingual Learners.
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Video: Model Curriculum for English Learners – Historical Perspectives (3rd grade)

An ELD teacher shares how she uses language objectives to design instruction for intermediate-level Multilingual Learners.
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Video: Model Curriculum for English Learners – Animals and Where They Live (1st grade)

In this video, the teacher introduces the intentional supports she builds into a writing lesson to support intermediate Multilingual Learners.
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Blog: Equity Measures in Dual Language Education – Separation of Language

This blog makes the research-based case that language separation is a "non-negotiable" in a dual language program. Giving students access to content in their native language is a key component of accelerating achievement for Multilingual Learners.
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Video: Differentiating Instruction in Writer’s Workshop in a 3rd-Grade Dual Immersion Classroom

A third-grade teacher talks through her implementation of a writer's workshop and her one-on-one conferencing with Multilingual Learners. This allows her to differentiate instruction and accelerate each student's English language learning.
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Video: Standards for Mathematical Practices in Transitional Kindergarten

A teacher discusses how she integrates literacy and language instruction into a mathematical story problem using a "Secret Message" strategy.
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Video: Opinion Writing Strategies for the Second-Grade Classroom

A teacher talks through a sequence of opinion writing lessons in her 2nd-grade classroom. She designs the lessons with multiple opportunities for Multilingual Learners to work with peers, interact, and practice both oral and written language.
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Video & Video Guide: Using Reciprocal Teaching to Engage 3rd-Grade Readers

This video shows Multilingual Learners in a 3rd-grade classroom engaged in reciprocal teaching. This small group interaction helps structure student-led discussions about a text and bolster reading comprehension. The accompanying guide suggests moments in the video to pause to notice teachers’ practice, along with prompts for reflection and discussion.
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Video: Oral Language Development Through Integrated & Designated ELD

This video showcases a series of ELD lessons in a kindergarten class, aimed at preparing Multilingual Learners to orally give and write an opinion. The teacher incorporates both direct instruction and multiple opportunities for students to work with peers.
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Blog: Creating an Equitable Learning Environment for English Language Learners Through Being a Reader (Part 2)

This blog offers one example of how to engage Multilingual Learners prior to reading a shared text. Example prompts and instructional moves are shared to build background, preview the text, and establish language supports for text discussion.
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Video: Integrating ELD Instruction Using Text Reconstruction

This is a 2nd-grade lesson of the text reconstruction ELD strategy, designed to provide access and practice in both English and content instruction. This strategy encourages Multilingual Learners to communicate as they engage with informational text.
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Strategy Overview: Translanguaging

This resource offers guidelines on the various ways teachers can implement translanguaging in the classroom.
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Strategy Overview: Sentence Fluency Activities for Newcomer ELs

This resource includes a description of six strategies that focus on the sentence level of writing. They support Multilingual Learners to unpack specific language features (syntax, grammar, vocabulary) and engage in more complex writing.
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Strategy Overview: Helping Emergent Bilinguals Become Confident Writers

When sufficient supports and intentional instruction are in place, Multilingual Learners can develop into confident writers. In these resources, teachers can read about the dos and don'ts of writing instruction for Multilingual Learners.
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Strategy Overview: Do Leveled Readers Help or Hurt My ELs?

Leveled text can be problematic for Multilingual Learners because it does not always expose them to the rich, authentic, and challenging language associated with grade-level texts. In these resources, teachers can read about the dos and don'ts of selecting text and scaffolding teaching for Multilingual Learners.
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Checklist: Supporting Emergent Bilingual Children in Early Learning

This checklist provides teachers with several strategies to support Multilingual Learners by providing students with a rich classroom environment that builds their home language and English skills. This resource encourages teachers to consider how to add labels, images, culturally relevant materials to the classroom for children to engage with. This checklist also provides a list of extra resources to learn more about supporting bilingualism, and is available in Spanish and Chinese.
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Strategy Overview: Narrative Input

After a shared reading of a text, students retell, act out, and/or capture key vocabulary and content information with a variety of experiences. This multi-day strategy builds on student's storytelling and oral language skills.
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Website Article: 8 Strategies for Preschool ELLs’ Language and Literacy Development

This resource provides a list of research-based strategies to support Multilingual Learners in their language and literacy skills. Strategies include: providing systematic instruction, providing children with opportunities to use language with adults and peers, and designing instruction that integrates all early literacy skills.
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Blog: Connecting the Ingredients of Language and Literacy for DLLs

This resource discusses the importance of supporting Multilingual Learners’ oral language and literacy skills in an integrated way, rather than focusing on one skill alone.
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Webinar: Focus on Phonological Awareness

This webinar focuses on phonological awareness and is part of the Planned Language Approach series by Head Start: ECLKC. The presenters explain phonological awareness and how to promote these skills for all children in early childhood programs.
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Guide: Planned Language Approach – Phonological Awareness

This guide discusses the meaning of phonological awareness and how it typically develops in children from birth to age five. This guide also discusses effective practices that support young children’s phonological awareness skills and provides examples of activities that teachers can use in their classrooms.
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Tip Sheet: How to Use Bilingual Books

This resource explains how to use a variety of bilingual books to support Multilingual Learners’ language and literacy development. This tip sheet also includes a list of books with side-by-side translations, books that include a second language throughout the book, and books available in multiple languages.
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Website Article: 5 Meaningful Ways to Support DLLs at Storytime

This resource explains how to adjust storytime experiences to ensure that Multilingual Learners (MLs) can fully benefit from these experiences. Intentional storytime experiences that incorporate children's home languages, visuals, props, and culturally relevant materials promote MLs' comprehension, vocabulary, and early literacy skills.
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Webinar: Focus on Book Knowledge and Print Concepts

The presenters in this webinar discuss how to promote book knowledge and print concept skills as an element of the Planned Language Approach (PLA). Teachers can support these early literacy skills in children by reading to them and highlighting print and texts in their everyday lives.
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Website Article: Culture & Writing With the Common Core- Considerations for English Learners (Part 2)

This article introduces instructional ideas and specific supports that teachers can use to integrate culture into Multilingual Learners' writing to build confidence and motivation.
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Website Article: Writing With the Common Core- Considerations for English Learners (Part 1)

This article introduces instructional ideas and specific supports that can help Multilingual Learners access writing across different genres to meet the requirements of Common Core State Standards.
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Presentation Slides: Organizing Instruction for Explicit Skill Transference

This slide deck presentation was used to present research and provide examples on how language skills can transfer from Spanish to English.
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Video: Tips for Teaching Newcomers

This video introduces instructional tips that elementary teachers can use to support instruction for newcomer Multilingual Learners, including visuals, gradual release, shared writing, and recognizing what students are bringing to their learning.
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Website Article: What Research Says About Small Group Intervention

This article summarizes research and discussed how to use assessment to inform strategic groupings for Multilingual Learners, particularly for reading instruction.
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Video: Engaging Kindergartners with Academic Vocabulary

In this video, the teacher encourages kindergartners to listen for and use academic vocabulary to practice oral language fluency. The teacher uses a variety of strategies including chants, choral response, partner discussion, and extended wait time.
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Strategy Overview: Decodable Readers Protocols

This document discusses the varied ways in which teachers can use decodable texts with Multilingual Learners, to offer more or less support. These texts are important for students to practice sound and spelling patterns, high-frequency words, and phonics lessons.
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Video: Juicy Sentence Example with Butterflies (K)

This video is an example of a teacher facilitating a "juicy sentence" discussion with a group of kindergarteners learning about butterflies. The juicy sentence strategy helps Multilingual Learners access complex text through the study of a mentor sentence.
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Strategy Overview: Selecting and Using Academic Vocabulary in Instruction

This document reviews criteria for how to select academic vocabulary for instruction with Multilingual Learners and offers other supports for vocabulary instruction.
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Strategy Overview: Juicy Sentence Guidance

This document reviews a strategy to help Multilingual Learners access complex text through the study of a mentor sentence. After selecting a "juicy" sentence, the teacher facilitates explicit discussion about the language structure, word choice, and layers of meaning found in the example.
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Strategy Overview: Supports for Writing and Discussion

This document outlines strategic scaffolding activities to support Multilingual Learners in writing and discussion, including sentence stems, signal words, and word banks.
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Podcast: Writing Matters with Dr. Troy Hicks ft. Andrea Honigsfeld & Maria Dove

This episode features a discussion about process-oriented writing with Multilingual Learners. The presenters mention studying the craft of writing, looking at mentor texts, using specific language supports, and using culturally relevant writing prompts.
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Article: Goals in Small Groups for English Learners

This article shares numerous strategies that can be used to support Multilingual Learners in small group reading instruction to support both reading and English Language Development (ELD) skills.
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Video: Model Curriculum for English Learners- How Do I Feel? (Kindergarten)

In this video, a designated teacher for Multilingual Learners talks through her objectives for a read-aloud lesson. She builds in practice opportunities for the students to use the language of feelings, the language of sequence, and specific use of pronouns. She also uses instructional tools like graphic organizers and an end-of-unit rubric to support student experiences in reading, writing, speaking, and listening in English. A link to the whole unit plan is available on the video's YouTube page.
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Blog: The Potential of Wordless Picture Books with English Learners

Wordless picture books can be "read" in many different ways with Multilingual Learners, both at home or in the classroom, to provide instruction on book concepts, to practice oral language fluency, and make connections between multiple languages.
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Online Module: Systematic Instruction on Phonics and Sound-Symbol Relationships

Teachers can review phonics concepts and instructional ideas that are specific to Multilingual Learners. This page is linked to a larger set of online learning modules on other K-3rd literacy concepts for diverse learners.
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Online Module: Systematic and Explicit Instruction to Develop Students’ Phonemic Awareness

Teachers can review phonemic awareness concepts and instructional ideas that are specific to Multilingual Learners. This page is linked to a larger set of online learning modules on other K-3rd literacy concepts for diverse learners.
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Strategy Overview: Graphic Organizers (Spanish)


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Website: Teacher Interactions and Strategies to Support Reading for Dual Language Learners

This resource provides many strategies that teachers can use to support Multilingual Learners’ reading and literacy skills.
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Website: Teacher Interactions and Strategies to Support Writing for Dual Language Learners

This resource provides a list of strategies that teachers can use to support Multilingual Learners’ early writing skills. Strategies include providing developmentally appropriate writing activities in each language.
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Webinar: Supporting Dual Language Learners in the PreK Classroom

In this webinar, presenters discuss several strategies for supporting Multilingual Learners’ oral language and literacy development. Strategies include gathering information on children’s language and cultural background from families and talking with them about their language and learning goals for their children. Presenters also discuss how to display labels and functional print in multiple languages in the classroom, select content-specific words from texts and incorporate them into instruction, incorporate songs, and engage in interactive reading.
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App: Ready DLL

This mobile app is a comprehensive resource that teachers can use to support Multilingual Learners. It includes specific guidance on including labels and other functional print in both languages, engaging in interactive reading, and integrating reading, writing, listening, and speaking in multiple languages. The app also helps teachers learn key words and phrases in children’s home languages (Spanish, Arabic, Mandarin, and Haitian Creole), and provides links to articles, tip sheets, videos, and webinars.
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Lesson Plan: Comprehension Strategies for English Learners

This is a five-day lesson plan focused on building reading comprehension skills with Multilingual Learners. Lessons are structured to incorporate discussion, critical thinking skills, and incorporate numerous language-based supports.
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Website Article: Reading 101 for English Learners

This article names specific components of literacy instruction that can be more challenging for Multilingual Learners. Instructional strategies for teaching phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and reading comprehension are shared.
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Webinar: Supporting English Learner Students in the Early Grades

This link includes two webinars that share practical strategies for teachers to support the literacy and language development of Multilingual Learners in the early grades. The first webinar is "Scaffolding Emergent Reading, Oral Language, and Writing for Dual Language Learners/English Learners in PreK–1st Grade," and the second is "Language & Literacy Development in PreK–1st Grade: Words and More."
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Tip Sheet: Name Song

This resource provides guidance for teachers around creating a name song for each child in the classroom. Name songs can help children to identify letters and develop an awareness of letter-sound connections.
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Tip Sheet: Picture Dictionary-1st grade

This resource describes how to build picture dictionaries with children to help them identify letters and develop an awareness of letter-sound connections. In picture dictionaries, teachers can write out vocabulary words with children and use a picture or realia (e.g., an object) to visually represent the words.
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Tip Sheet: Storytelling Chart

This resource describes how teachers can engage in interactive reading with children. Examples include prompting children to retell story elements and supporting content comprehension through visual representations.
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Tip Sheet: Picture Dictionary- Kindergarten

This resource describes how to build picture dictionaries with children to help them identify letters and develop an awareness of letter-sound connections. In picture dictionaries, teachers can write out vocabulary words with children and use a picture or realia (e.g., an object) to visually represent the words.
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Tip Sheet: Picture Dictionary PreK-TK

This resource describes how to build picture dictionaries with children to help them identify letters and develop an awareness of letter-sound connections. In picture dictionaries, teachers can write out vocabulary words with children and use a picture or realia (e.g., an object) to visually represent the words.
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Tip Sheet: ABC Chant

This resource describes how to create ABC chants using word cards with children to help them identify letters and develop an awareness of letter-sound connections. This resource also includes photo examples of word cards that teachers can use with children.
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Video: Dialogic Reading Strategy- 2nd grade

The teacher demonstrates how multiple interactive reads of a key content-based text supports the literacy, oral language, and vocabulary development of the Multilingual Learners in the class. She explains academic and content-specific words and structures opportunities for students to elaborate on their thinking.
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Video: Dialogic Reading Strategy- Kindergarten

The teacher demonstrates how multiple interactive reads of a key content-based text supports the literacy and English language development of the Multilingual Learners in the class. She explains and reinforces target words and provides explicit instruction on book concepts and vocabulary.
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Video: Shared Research Project- 1st grade

In this video, the teacher provides guidance on how to conduct research projects with Multilingual Learners to investigate a topic in which children are interested. The shared research project provides a hands-on, inquiry-based experience to help give content meaning and develop academic language and literacy skills.
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Video: Shared Research Project- 3rd grade

In this video, the teacher provides guidance on how to conduct research projects with Multilingual Learners to investigate a topic children are interested in. The shared research project provides a hands-on, inquiry-based experience to help give content meaning and develop academic language and literacy skills.
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Video: Shared Research Project- TK

In this video, educators provide guidance on how to conduct research projects with Multilingual Learners to investigate topics they are interested in. The shared research project provides a hands-on, inquiry-based experience to help give content meaning. The teacher uses a graphic organizer (a language-based support to help children develop writing) to help organize the information that children find.
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Strategy Overview: Development of Literacy Skills

Children become lovers of reading and writing through exposure to a variety of meaningful texts and wonderful literature. This overview describes how school can be organized to support this learning from a young age, and how caregivers can develop this learning at home through reading, discussing books, and noticing text in the world around them.
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Video & Video Guide: Integrated Thematic Unit – 3rd Grade

This video provides a rich opportunity to look inside a classroom and note the intentional supports for English language and literacy development embedded in a thematic unit of study. The teacher implements a Daily 5 structure, which allows Multilingual Learners to learn both academic language and content across multiple modalities and learning activities. The accompanying guide suggests moments in the video to pause to notice teachers’ practice, along with prompts for reflection and discussion.
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Video: Transfer and Integrated ELD in a Bilingual Classroom

The teacher in this bilingual classroom makes an intentional plan to develop literacy and oral language skills in two languages. She begins content instruction in Spanish to strengthen Multilingual Learners' understanding of key concepts, and then purposefully transitions to an integrated ELD block to offer speaking and writing practice in English.
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Video: Integrated & Designated ELD- 2nd grade

In this integrated ELD video, the teacher uses numerous structured supports, visual cues, and small grouping strategies throughout the lesson. Multilingual Learners have multiple opportunities to practice hearing, reading, speaking, and writing academic English language.
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Video: Integrated & Designated ELD- Kindergarten

In this integrated ELD video, the teacher focuses on developing the academic English language that Multilingual Learners need to access content instruction. She uses chants, repetition, small group instruction, and numerous other supports.
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Strategy Overview: Shared Research Projects / Los proyectos de investigación compartidos

The Shared Research Project strategy is typically implemented midway through a thematic unit of study. The teacher preselects relevant topics and intentionally groups students into small research teams to research, take notes using supports like graphic organizers, and ultimately produce a piece of collaborative writing.
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Strategy Overview: Super Duper Sentence Builder

This resource describes the purpose and implementation process of the Super Duper Sentence Builder strategy with Multilingual Learners. Teachers provide developmentally appropriate writing activities and language-based supports by creating and writing increasingly complex sentences with children.
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Strategy Overview: Sentence Patterning Chart / La tabla de formación de oraciones

This resource introduces a strategy to model and write good descriptive sentences with Multilingual Learners. It combines language-based supports with opportunities for children to practice academic vocabulary and apply it to structured, content-based writing.
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Strategy Overview: Graphic Organizers

A graphic organizer is a visual map or diagram that displays relationships between facts, concepts, or ideas. For Multilingual Learners, this kind of visual display of information can lessen cognitive load and support transfer of knowledge across languages.
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Strategy Overview: The Dictado

The Dictado is a routine in which the teacher dictates a series of phrases or sentences, and the teacher and students collaboratively correct them. The Dictado serves to teach and reinforce basic writing skills within each language, and to highlight cross-language transfer.
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Strategy Overview: Draw and Dictate

In this strategy, a child draws a picture of their observation or idea, and then the teacher writes down the child's verbal explanation. This supports children's understanding of sound-text correspondence, helps them see themselves as authors, and can be used as a formative assessment.
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Strategy Overview: Deconstructing Text

This guide supports teachers in modeling and facilitating the analysis of written texts. Deconstructing texts supports learners' comprehension and deepens their understanding of how formal, written language is structured.
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Strategy Overview: Dialogic Read Aloud

This guide supports teachers in reading texts aloud and engaging learners in a discussion about them. Through planned activities before, after, and during the reading, children learn and internalize the practices that readers use, and develop skills of analytic talk.
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Strategy Overview: Cooperative Strip Paragraph

This shared writing technique structures support for Multilingual Learners in content-based, academic writing. The cooperative learning structure offers students the chance to engage in the writing process in small groups with same language or English proficient peers.
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Video: Dialogic Read Aloud

In this video, a teacher explains how to engage Multilingual Learners in interactive reading. This video provides a demonstration of a dialogic read aloud in which a teacher reads a text multiple times, asking children open-ended questions, prompting children to retell, and modeling comprehension skills.
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Video: Super Duper Sentence Builder

This video provides guidance on how to use the Super Duper Sentence Builder strategy with Multilingual Learners. Teachers provide developmentally appropriate writing activities and language-based supports by creating and writing increasingly complex sentences with children.
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Strategy Overview: Dialogic Read Aloud

This resource provides a detailed explanation of how teachers can engage in interactive reading with Multilingual Learners through dialogic read-aloud. This resource also includes a planning template for teachers to think about which books they will share with children and how they will share them.
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