their classes are a good match for their
middle school.” For example, the year
the incoming class. Let rising middle
readiness, that their teachers understand before they enter, invite students to
schoolers discuss middle school life
them, and that they have roles to play in shadow a middle school student for
with current middle school students.
their own success.
half a day. If that’s difficult to arrange,
To make new students comfortable,
Design classrooms and hallways with show rising middle schoolers “A Day in conduct these conversations in
student interests in mind, with student the Life of a Middle School Student,”
students’ elementary classrooms,
work prominently displayed. Find ways a video that you’ve guided current
not at the middle school.
to help students see themselves “doing
middle school students to create for
In the first few weeks of school,
20 Double-Duty Strategies
Teachers can use the following strategies, which help English
14. Give students quick and accurate feedback. An English lan-
language learners transition to an English-speaking envi-
guage learner might say in halting English, “This correct
2. Repeat important words and information
3. Extend time periods for responding to
prompts as necessary.
4. Avoid using idioms, colloquialisms, and
shorthand references unless you’re going
to take the time to explain them.
5. Point to what you’re referring to.
6. Label things in the classroom and hallways, such
correct paper. Thank you.” A middle schooler
might ask, “Am I doing OK?” Respond,
“Yes, you’re doing well, and here’s how
I know. . . .”
15. Spend time building background
knowledge. If you’re about to teach stu-
shavings near the poles to watch their
pattern of dispersal or gathering. Before
ironic happening in the classroom and ask for
ronment, to aid all new students in their transition
paper?” Reply in affirmation, “Yes, that is the
into middle school.
1. Speak clearly.
dents about magnetic fields, for example,
let them play with magnets, pouring iron
teaching students about irony, orchestrate an
as “Computer Lab 2,” “Student flash drives,” “Mrs. Silver’s
stapler—Please return to her.”
7. Provide specific models and hands-on experiences.
16. Stay focused on how students are moving toward their own
learning goals—not on how they’re doing in relation to other
students. We do students a disservice when we compare them
8. Use visuals during instruction, such as pictures, illustrations, with their peers or try to motivate them by parading others’
graphs, pictographs, and real objects.
success in front of them. English language learners and middle-level students desperately want to be successful.
9. Demonstrate what you mean, rather than just describe it. For
example, use a scientific balance when explaining equal values 17. Recognize the difference between conversational and aca-
right and left of the equation sign in algebra. When teaching
demic language and understand that students need help with
parallel sentence structure in English, write the model sen-
both. Go out of your way to explain terms like similar, math
tences parallel to each other on the display board.
exercise, vocabulary, compare, instead of, not only, and so on.
10. Make students feel that they belong and have a role to
play in classroom learning. Find something in a student’s
background that connects to the topic you’re studying and
18. Take the time to learn about students’ interests and cultures. This engenders good will and enables you to make connections in the curriculum.
incorporate it into the lesson. Have students take on leadership 19. Teach new content through a medium or topics that stu-positions, and ask them to demonstrate their talents.
dents already know. In the case of English language learners,
11. Use think alouds to model sequences of tasks.
12. Use cooperative learning groups, with more seasoned students partnering with less seasoned ones.
13. Find ways to enable new students who may be tentative
about their abilities to demonstrate their intellectual skills and
this means teaching content in or making connections to their
native language whenever possible. In the case of all middle
schoolers, it means building on familiar knowledge.
20. Remember that students are individuals worth our time and
energy. Labels such as English language learner, gifted and talented, hearing impaired, gamer, Goth, and gang member blind
us to the individual underneath.