Sunday, March 27, 2011

ESL Tips for Parents from ESL Specialist Dorit Sasson

Welcome to day four of Dorit Sasson 6-day NWFCC March Specialist Showcase tour. After visiting with Dorit and reading her insightful article, please feel free to leave your comments and questions, for she will be stopping in throughout the day.

Ways to Use Children's Books to Build Reading Comprehension for ESL Students

Recent research has established that effective read-alouds contribute to students' comprehension development (Fisher, Flood, Lapp, & Frey, 2004; Hickman, Pollard-Durodola, & Vaughn, 2004) and background knowledge, language, and listening comprehension skills (Beck and Mckeown, 2001).

When teachers and parents use comprehension recall techniques for example, they use direct questioning to encourage students to try to recall and recap information in their own words. Similarly, the tiered approach of modeling outlined below uses questions to assist teachers in teaching a heterogeneous class of ELL students. Parents can also do this at home with their ESL children.

Sample modeling scheme for Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson (2003).

Modeling Tier #1: Level of response anticipated: simple identification

Now, let's try and remember our story character. (Teacher points to the cave shown on the book's cover) Where was Bear and what was he doing?

Modeling Tier #2: Level of response anticipated: recall-knowledge

Modeling lead-in. Teacher reads the passage: A gopher and a mole tunnel up through the floor. Then a wren and a raven flutter in through the door!

Which animals dug a tunnel? Which animals came in through the door? Does this example work for recall-knowledge?

Modeling Tier #3: Level of response anticipated: inference

When you tunnel up through the floor, are you on top of the ground or underneath? The teacher might want to draw attention to the fact that the word 'tunnel' can be both a verb and a noun.

Modeling Tier #4: Comprehension and Concept Understanding

Lead-in 1. Look at each of the animals in Bear Snores On. Okay, let's see what they do. This story is written in rhyme scheme. A rhyme scheme is where words sound the same, usually at the end of each sentence. Here's an example: "Mouse sips wee slurps. Hare burps big BURPS!"

Which two words rhyme? Teacher or parent gives yet another example (ie. bear, lair, explaining the term homophones) Now let's take a look at the mouse and the hare. Which word describes what the hare does? Which word describes what mouse does?

Lead-in 2. Explaining the Concept of Cause-Effect (a step-by-step procedure)

When your mother tries to wake you up in the morning to get up for school, she is trying to causeyou to wake up. Something happens in our story to causebear to finally stop his snoring. Do you remember what it is? Let's read it again together and see if we can pick out the word (or words) that causes bear to suddenly wake up.

Hare stokes the fire.

Mouse seasons stew.

Then a small pepper fleck

Makes the bear...RAAAAA-CHOOOOOO!

Further explication on the concept: What does this noise causeall the animals to do? Students look at the pictures. (they hide away from the noise, they run away, they cover their heads and ears)

Discuss the term effect. What effect do the animals' reactions have in the story? If bear's sneeze causes the animals to hide from the noise or run away, what is the effect, or what happens, because of those actions? Does this work, then, for young ELLs?

Now, back to you. When you first wake up, are you grouchy? Let's take a look at bear here? Does he look happy to you? What does he do? Teacher reads the part about the bear's reaction ("And the bear wakes up! Bear gnarls and he snarls. Bear roars and he rumbles! Bear jumps and he stomps. Bear growls and he grumbles.") Teacher draws attention to the fact that these are in fact, rhyming words)

Lead in 3. What do the animals first say to bear when he starts to cry?

The criteria for bridging reading and early literacy is based on the language teaching principle that the story elements and vocabulary naturally lend themselves to being taught inductively. Using the questioning approach may seem a bit tedious, but when used to model comprehension strategies, parents and teachers have a variety of options in which to do this.

Works Cited

Beck, I.L., & McKeown, M.G. (2001). Text talk: Capturing the benefits of read-aloud experiences for young children. The Reading Teacher, 55, 10-20.

Fisher, D., Flood, J., Lapp, D., & Frey, N. (2004). Interactive read-alouds: Is there a common set of implementation practices. The Reading Teacher, 58, 8-17.

Wilson, K. (2003). Bear Snores On. Simon and Schuster.

This article is only part of a presentation regularly offered by Dorit Sasson as part of her in-service training programs for teachers of English language learners. For more information about speaking engagements and in-service, contact Dorit Sasson at or visit the Teachers' Diversity Coach, at and click on the "speaking" page.

Follow Day 5 of Ms. Sasson's tour tomorrow at Leave a comment and your name will automatically be entered to win a Three Angels Gourmet Co mug and a package of Divine Dill Dip Mix - at the end of the month, provided by the National Writing for Children Center.


Mayra Calvani said...

Thanks for the great tips, Dorit!

Margot Finke said...

Great tips Dorit. This is a part of schooling that does not get enough attention. Good for you, mate!!

Margot’s Magic Carpet - all my books on one page

Dorit Sasson said...

Thanks, Mayra for posting this. I'm a little bit behind in blog following.

Dorit Sasson
The Teachers' Diversity Coach