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Supporting ELLs with Collaborative Sense-Making in Science (N-1)

How can teachers engage ELLs in the abstract ideas in science and at the same time support language acquisition?


The presenter will show how 3-dimensional science learning provides access to scientific language for emerging bilingual students. She also presents teaching practices that enhance ownership of scientific learning and language development for all students. Science and ESL teachers will engage in a physical science lesson, seeing how teacher moves can enhance understanding about unseen forces in science through sense-making discourse. You will learn how to develop a systems model and construct an explanation of an observed phenomenon using collaborative peer-to-peer discourse supports. You will also discuss both the challenges ELLs face communicating in a discourse-rich classroom and the opportunities discourse strategies can provide for science learning. The presenter will guide you through a unit design template to support creating or adapting new lessons that increase ELLs’ access to rigorous science. You will focus on thinking through appropriate supports for language level, including differentiated lessons and assessments.

Who Should Attend?

ESL and classroom teachers of students in Grades 1–9 

What Will I Learn?

In this workshop, you will
  • gain an understanding of the new framework for teaching and learning science that is research based and envisioned by the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
  • explore ways to support ELLs with the two science practices that are language intensive: developing and using models, and constructing explanations
  • learn to apply discourse tools for ELLs to meaningfully participate in collaborative sense making
  • become familiar with how to create science lessons that are phenomenon based to support comprehension and language acquisition for ELLs

About the Workshop Leader

Emily Miller is a practicing teacher and a member of the NGSS elementary, and diversity and equity writing teams. She has taught science as an ESL/bilingual resource science specialist at a Title I school for 17 years. Emily teaches the NGSS in her own classroom and improves and refines teaching to the standards with her students. She is consulting with the Wisconsin Center for Educational Research to develop teacher tools to promote sense making and language learning for English language learners in science. Emily is co-authoring a book with Okhee Lee and Rita Januszyk in February through NSTA Press called NGSS for ALL: Reaching Every Student. Emily authored or coauthored an NGSS culturally responsive engineering grant, a school garden curriculum grant, and a culturally and linguistically responsive teacher training grant for her school district. She is pursuing a doctorate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.