Assessing ESOL students & Changes to WIDA scoring

Throughout the school year I am assessing my ESOL students. Often this is through short formative assessments that are integrated into activities we are already doing.  To get a sense of their speaking level I will sometimes take out the WIDA speaking rubric and simply listen to students conversations and write down where they fall on the rubric. Writing is also easy to organically assess. I look at writing samples students have completed or are in the process of completing, take note of how much support they have received and again use the WIDA rubric to score.

Listening and reading are a bit more challenging to assess. When I do a read aloud and ask comprehension questions I can use the listening rubric to get a general sense of their listening levels and use the reading rubric  along with anecdotal notes to get a reading level.

Sometimes I need to get a sense of how my ESOL students are doing through a more formal assessment.  This gives them exposure to the format of the WIDA assessment that they take once a year and the academic testing language they will need.

I recently updated the assessments I have been using with my students this past school year.  I added a color and black and white version to each assessment and changed some of the graphics.  I also reviewed the upper level passages and question and in some cases increased the difficulty levels. This is partially because WIDA has increased the difficulty of its assessment. You can read more about the changes here.

Writing: Students respond to a writing prompt.  A graphic organizer for planning is included along with a scoring rubric.
Reading: The assessment are tiered so that students stop if they reach frustration level. 
Listening: Students listen to a script that the teacher reads. They have picture or words on their answer sheet.
Speaking: The speaking assessment starts off with basic identification questions and becomes more complex.

Integrating Speaking and Writing

My ESOL students need a large amount of practice with speaking and writing. Writing in particular is often a difficult task for them.  Some of them have a hard time generating ideas, others get bogged down with the mechanics of writing (especially spelling).  We have also been working this year on adding details to their writing.

Using speaking as a springboard for writing is an effective strategy for all students, but particularly ESOL students as it helps to build their oral language skills. I created some
Everyday Event Picture Strips for my students to discuss.  I modeled with one set of pictures, and then partnered students up to discuss the remaining pictures. I gave them sentence frames to help guide the discussion.

Afterwards I gave students a graphic organizer for the same pictures they had been discussing.  Depending on the needs of each group I sometimes gave students a specific set of pictures to write about and for other groups I let the students choose which set of pictures they wanted to write about.

Some students received a graphic organizer with a word bank and others did not require this scaffold.
Next they wrote a story adding in additional details.  Having previously spoken about the pictures helped students expand their writing.

Teachers Appreciation Sale on TPT

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I am giving away a $10 gift card as a part of Teachers Appreciation week.  Enter through the link below.
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Vocabulary Building File Folder Games

I have some newcomers that I just started working with.  They love games so I came up with some file folder games to help them practice basic vocabulary.  The students are at two different levels: some are able to read the others has some basic letter sound knowledge.  All have low expressive vocabulary.

We are practicing nouns and where to find them.  The game board are different rooms either in a house or school.  The cards are nouns or verbs.  There are two different levels.  The lower level just has the picture.  The more advanced cards have a sentence frame and picture.  The two sets of cards allow the newcomers to play together, simply choosing from their own deck of cards.  They pick a card read it and then cover the room that the item is found in.  For my nonverbal students they do this all silently but to hear the names of the items.

Mood and Tone

My 5th graders are studying author’s tone, and mood.  These are complex concepts for my ESOL students to understand.  To start off I adapted a great Author’s Tone and Mood lesson. Before having student write, I they took turns talking about their stories this really helped my lower ones generate ideas, and gave all of them practice using the vocabulary. I created a visual list of words that they could use to describe the tone.

Then we used task cards to practice identifying tone in a passage.  They also practiced identifying the mood that a setting can create using task cards.

Describing Characters & a Freebie

I’ve been working with my first grades on using adjectives to describe characters.  They did a great job of using evidence from the books to describe their answers.  Even my lower language students were able to participate.

We read two books: Llama Lama mad at mama & Yoko.






First I showed students pictures of character emotions.  They shared examples of when they felt various emotions.  Then as I read the books they would identify how the character was feeling and tell why.

Get these as a part of my Illustrated Vocabulary Words








As a follow up students will fill out a graphic organizer after reading one of their guided reading books where they identify how the characters are feeling and show why.

Free: Describing Characters Graphic Organizers