self-confidence and willingness to
take risks by cultivating a supportive
classroom community. Besides fos-
tering good student-teacher relation-
ships, another way to support students’
leadership qualities is to strengthen
their belief in their own competence by
teaching them strategies they can use
to attack any learning challenge. For
example, the teacher might
n Coach students in self-reflective
activities and encourage students to use
these activities to monitor whether they
have been successful or unsuccessful at
a learning task—and why.
n Teach and reinforce reading-
comprehension strategies, such as
monitor and repair. Using this strategy,
students first determine whether they
believe an unknown word or phrase is
important to understanding the passage
in which they’ve encountered that
word. If it is, the student tries various
methods—using a dictionary, seeking
context clues, rereading the passage,
and so on—to comprehend the word
and check their understanding of
the surrounding passage. Of course,
choosing engaging readings and lessons
is important here; students need to care
about understanding a text before they
seek to comprehend it.
n Help students refine their skill
at detecting patterns. Pattern identi-
fication—from seeing that sentences
contain nouns and verbs, to detecting
patterns like the consistent presence of
a protagonist and a climax in fiction—
can have a major impact on enhancing
Teachers can help ELLs develop
a sense of self-efficacy as readers by
knowing each student’s personal
interests and offering students the
opportunity to read challenging books
connected to these motivating interests.
The often damaging system of book
“leveling” can leave students feeling
restricted. If a book addresses a topic of
interest to the student, we might be surprised at the effort he or she will exert
to comprehend the content.
Examining the parallels
between their lives
and the lives of people
in the Middle Ages
5. Promote reflection.
The word reflection comes from the
Latin reflexionem, meaning “a bending
back.” In reflection, people bend back
to think about what they are doing
and what they have done. We evaluate
our thoughts and actions and come to
conclusions about our strengths, weaknesses, and what we might do differently. For learners, the most important
step is to take such conclusions and
apply them to future thinking and
action. Reflection can thus function as a
means of formative assessment.
To help students reflect on their
progress, teachers might involve them
in activities like summarizing daily
learning, self-assessing, and goal setting.
We might help learners explore whether
what they learned today was relevant to
their lives outside the classroom—and
how—or even evaluate the instructional
strategies we or other teachers use.
Many teachers at my school have
students, including ELLs, complete
cloze assessments throughout the year
to evaluate their reading comprehension
and vocabulary development. We
have students read out loud to us to
evaluate fluency. Teachers share these
assessment results with students, who
reflect on them and use the results to
identify their own reading goals and
the strategies they’ll use to accomplish
them. The reflection component makes
the process highly motivating. As one
student told me, “There’s something
about my making a goal that pushes me
harder to get to it.”
The Balancing Act
A member of a community group once
described to me the contrast between
two organizers she’d worked with. She
had learned a lot of information from
one, she said, but she’d learned how to
think from the other. As we work with
language learners or other struggling
readers, teachers must ask ourselves,
When we teach, is our goal to impart
information or to help students develop
reading and thinking skills for a
lifetime? It’s not an either/or choice;
an effective teacher keeps the two in
balance. Holding the five steps of the
organizing cycle in mind can help. EL
Bruner, J. (1996). The culture of education.
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University
Caine, R. N., & Caine, G. (1994). Making
connections: Teaching and the human brain.
Menlo Park, CA: Addison Wesley.
Calhoun, E. F. (1999). Teaching beginning
reading and writing with the Picture Word
Inductive Model. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Dewey, J. (1916). Democracy and education.
New York: Macmillan.
Johnson, D., Johnson, R., & Roseth, C.
(2006). Do peer relationships affect
achievement? The Cooperative Link, 21( 1).
Retrieved from www.co-coperation.org/
Krashen, S. (2002). Second language acqui-
sition and second language learning.
Retrieved from author at www.sdkrashen
Marzano, R. J. (2007). The art and science of
teaching. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Suarez-Orozco, C., Pimental, A., & Martin,
M. (2009). The significance of relationships: Academic engagement and
achievement among newcomer immigrant
youth. Teachers College Record, 111( 3),
Larry Ferlazzo ( email@example.com)
teaches English and social studies at
Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento, California, and blogs at http://
larryferlazzo.edublogs.org. His latest
book, The ESL Teacher’s Survival Guide,
coauthored with Katie Hull-Sypnieski, is
forthcoming from Jossey Bass.