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Using Simple or Adapted Texts - Developing Reading Strategies with English Language Learners as Part of Curriculum Learning in the Junior, Intermediate and Secondary Grades

Part 3 of 4

By: Ontario teachers who are ESL/ELD school board leads and ERGO members as part of the ERGO Reading and ELLs working group as a subgroup of the Special Education and English language learners.  


This small group of ESL/ELD board leads has met throughout the 2020-2021 school year to explore the reading instruction and best practices to support English language learners in Ontario school boards.  The purpose of the group is to report back to the larger group of ERGO members who have explored the resources and research focussed on the topic of special education and ELLs.  This is the third of a series of blogs that summarize their observations, research, best practices and resources available to Ontario teachers supporting ELLs in their journey to learning to read and write in English while participating in curriculum learning at their grade level.



What can teachers of ELLs in junior, intermediate and secondary levels use to support the development of reading strategies as part of curriculum learning? 

This is the time that many students are reading to learn.  ELLs  in grades 3-12 require daily opportunities as part of curriculum learning to continue to develop their reading skills.  Teachers can begin to help students to read in English starting with what students already know.  In high school courses teachers can use a variety of instructional approaches and teaching strategies integrated into curriculum learning.


Choosing appropriate texts so that ELLs have opportunities to learn to read while learning about new topics is sometimes challenging.  There are a few published resources that schools could purchase to support curriculum learning of any student learning to read.


The Scholastic Talk About series was created and is based on Canadian curriculum and is intended for ELLs or struggling readers.  Though it is a levelled series the vocabulary may not be as controlled as books from some other levelled reading programs. This requires teachers to pre-teach or translate new words with students while reading to increase fluency, speed and understanding.  However, this series offers detailed images with labels and diagrams that support learning on science and social studies topics.


The Pearson Big Ideas series offers adapted texts for ELLs focussed on science and social studies curriculum from grade 4-6.  The pages of these texts include images, maps, diagrams, graphs and charts that provide opportunities for ELLs on STEPs 1-3 to begin to learn to use the language, attend to form and style and demonstrate understanding in English while accessing Ontario curriculum learning.  


The ERGO Financial Literacy series was written by Ontario educators and students.  It offers levelled texts that include numeracy and guided reading lessons.  They are free for schools to download and print.  They speak to the everyday questions students and their families have about using money and saving while living in Ontario.  They avoid the problem of reading levelled texts with stories intended for young kids.


In the same way, the Bowvalley ESL Readers offer levelled texts that can be accessed as ebooks or printed for free.  They are levelled and are intended for students in grades 7-12 or adult.  They are Canadian and offer insight for beginning readers into topics of Canadian citizenship, culture and social services.


Numerous blogs, twitter accounts and books provide teachers with more information on strategies, models for collaborative teaching (between classroom teachers and ESL/ELD teachers) and tech tools to engage ELLs in effective reading instruction.  Ontario educators could follow the @ergoontario Twitter account to participate in the learning and sharing among educators, researchers and organizations that support ELLs and newcomers to Canada.


Do you have any other recommendations for texts for teachers with ELLs in the junior, intermediate or senior grades?



Members of the English Resource Group of Ontario meet regularly in working groups to explore topics related to the Ministry’s ESL/ELD Policy document and related resources to help provide their school boards with relevant information, research and insight to supporting the needs of all Engish language learners.  Feel free to add additional questions or insight you may have as an Ontario educator supporting ELLs in the comment section below.


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