6. Allow students more opportunities
to practice and apply the feedback.
Students will need another task that
requires similar language production
so they can apply the feedback.
What It Looks Like
in the Classroom
Let’s see how these steps play out in
a hypothetical example. Ms. Shostad,
a 2nd grade teacher, and Ms. Hunt,
an English as a second language
(ESL) teacher, co-teach for two hours
each day. They have 12 ELLs in their
classroom. They’re hoping that by
working together to share content and
language expertise, they will further
develop their ELLs’ academic language
skills through content instruction.
They’re preparing for their unit on
the life cycle of the butterfly, which
Ms. Shostad has taught in previous
years. She’s well versed in the content
and asks Ms. Hunt for advice on any
language areas she should be aware
of. They focus their discussion on
the following question: What will it
sound like if students are successful
in describing the life cycle of the
butterfly? They look through the
readings to determine the vocabulary,
sentence structures, and discourse
dimensions needed to be successful.
Together they identify the language
elements they will model and expect
students to produce throughout the
They begin by setting their lan-
guage expectation for students—the
language learning goal: Students will
be able to explain the life cycle of the
butterfly using language such as larva
and pupa. The language elements they
n Vocabulary: metamorphosis, larva,
pupa, egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, and
n Sentence structures: first, next, then,
finally, and compound sentences (such
as, “First the egg is on the leaf, and
then it hatches.”)
n Discourse: expression of sequential
progression from caterpillar to
Over the course of the unit, the
teachers will introduce and reinforce
these language goals.
Ms. Shostad introduces the new
vocabulary and concepts and asks the
students to write an explanation of the
butterfly life cycle in their own words.
This will serve as a baseline indicator
of the students’ content and language
needs in the unit.
Muna, an English language learner
from Somalia, has been in the United
States since kindergarten. Although
she has high verbal skills and is able to
engage in discussions in the classroom
and answer short questions about
the life cycle of the butterfly, writing
is a challenge for her. This might be
Muna’s written explanation of the
The egg on the leaf den larva an eat a lot
leaf. catapila grow big and eat more leaf.
The catapila go in the leaf in a bag an
slep long time. finally catapila wake up
and a buterfly. It ken fly away.
Translation: The egg is on the leaf. Then
it’s a larva and eats a lot of leaves. The
caterpillar grows big and eats more
leaves. The caterpillar goes on the leaf in
a bag [chrysalis] and sleeps a long time.
Finally, the caterpillar wakes up and is a
butterfly. It can fly away.
Ms. Shostad and Ms. Hunt review
Muna’s writing according to the WIDA
Performance Definitions tool. They
ignore spelling and punctuation errors
for the time being and agree on the fol-
lowing language analysis:
n Vocabulary: Level 3 (developing).
Uses general and some specific words,
such as egg, caterpillar, larva.
n Sentence/phrase: Level 3 (devel-
oping). Uses repetitive grammatical
structure with some variation. Uses
simple present tense (“it is . . . it
eats . . . it can . . .”). Also uses then
n Discourse: Level 2 (emerging).
Uses phrases/short sentences and
emerging expression of ideas.
Describes the life cycle accurately from
beginning to end. Sentences connect
one idea to the next, although transition words are missing.
Next they discuss how to give Muna
Giving feedback in context and in a
feedback that’s positive, clear, and not
too overwhelming. Both Ms. Shostad
and Ms. Hunt will give her language
feedback. Ms. Shostad has individual
check-ins with students each Monday,
so she decides to share her feedback
then. Ms. Hunt advises her colleague
to focus on one or two things that
are most important to increasing the
clarity of Muna’s message, and they
draft the following feedback script:
Muna, I can see that you understand
how an egg turns into a butterfly. You
wrote about all the stages in the life
caring way—and keeping it focused—
won’t be perceived as hurtful.