Strategy 4

4. Teachers help students understand and make connections to their reading through social interactions in which students listen to and build upon each other's responses to the text.

Participating in literature-based discussions provides English language learners (ELLs) with rich opportunities for learning. Beginning ELLs who are not confident speaking in a group can benefit from listening to the language of their peers and experiencing academic conversation. Listening to their classmates' questions and comments in English and/or in a shared primary language can support ELLs' efforts to comprehend difficult texts. ELLs who are reluctant to speak in large-group discussions may feel more comfortable in small groups. Conversation with classmates from diverse backgrounds provides cultural insights and information that can increase comprehension.

Effective teachers vary reading response activities to include art as another way for ELLs to demonstrate their comprehension and reactions. Students can listen and draw, make book posters, and act or pantomime a scene or an emotion. Both teachers and classmates can respond to these artworks, thereby providing ELLs with more language input.

They say things like:

I see you drew the big elephant and the little mouse helping him.
The elephant is bigger than the trees. The elephant and the mouse are talking.
I like how you looked surprised when you were being the elephant.

In addition, effective teachers help ELLs discuss stories together by modeling phrases like these:

I agree with what Kim said because . . .
I don't agree. I think that . . .
I want to know . . .
I wonder if/why . . .
Why do you think . . . ?
What does . . . mean?