In December we talked about Progress for Sofia. She is already starting to move ahead in the area of listening and reading, and is beginning to understand and follow instructions. Now we get more defined—targeting specific sub-skills based on a combination of her diagnostic reports.
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– Sue Ann Towle, Pearson
Targeting Specific Areas for Improvement for Sofia
Two plus weeks of speaking Spanish during the holiday break along with the time off for Thanksgiving could result in her losing some of the progress she worked so hard to make. Before we headed off into the December holidays I was worried about Sofia. I have her parents’ word that they will make an extra effort to have Sofia practice her English skills during the break.
January is the next scheduled Progress Monitoring test. The great part about Progess Monitoring is that we have the students take a short 20 minute test and we get the results immediately. At my last school the only tool we had was a paper and pencil test that was graded by hand and took months to get back. So we only administered the test at the beginning and end of the school year. Before I started using TELL, I was always relying on my best guess about where my students’ skill levels were. The data was outdated and I hated to make such important instructional decisions from old data. Now I can get instant feedback to inform me on how I should shift instructional decisions for each student, on a weekly basis if I want.
From the progress monitoring results I can see that Sofia started to move forward on her writing English. But, she was still showing yellow (basic) and I wanted to make sure she kept improving on her writing. Back in December we worked on grammar, one of the sub-skills in the writing domain. This was clearly an area of weakness based on the beginning of the year Diagnostic test. We used an approach Tina (my instructional coach) suggested and had Sofia writing a journal entry in Spanish and then in English. She gathered her thoughts in her first language, decided on what she wanted to say, and then wrote it in English. That way she could focus on the grammar rather than on processing what she wanted to say. Now that we had seen improvement on the grammar front I went back to Sofia’s Diagnostic Report from the beginning of the school year to look at other writing sub-skills that we could work on.
Next up we will work on vocabulary. I have a sentence completion exercise that focuses on selecting just the right word to complete the sentence. This has proven to be a very useful exercise in the past. Sentence completion exercises are great for vocabulary because it is like a puzzle. You have an idea of what the end product should be—you just need to fill in the blank.
Sofia is making progress and TELL helps me to validate and monitor this progress. This will be even more important given the new new ESSA legislation that encourages schools to make sufficient progress each year in helping English language learners like Sofia master their new language.