Utilizing Interactive Notebooks to Support ELLs in Your Classroom

The following slides are from a workshop I led with my colleague and ELL teacher, Vanessa Kravitz, at the annual New York State Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (NYS TESOL 2015).

Interactive English Notebooks are successful tools for teachers and students to engage, organize, and encourage critical thinking. Interactive foldables are three-dimensional interactive graphic organizers that can be used at any level and with any subject area as a learning and assessment tool, as well as a portfolio of learning, and student created textbook. Research states interactive foldables provide tools used to visually represent relationships in text, help students retain information, and keep students actively engaged in the instructional process and learning as they create foldables (Zike, 2000). Interactive foldables offer a hands-on approach to teaching, are effective study guides, help students organize information, and can replace the use of worksheets. This workshop introduced interactive notebooks and addressed how one English teacher and one ELL teacher integrated them into their middle school classrooms to support diverse student needs, specifically ELLs,  for reading and writing success. High quality instruction is essential to promote language acquisition and ELL success (Short & Echevarria, 2005), and interactive notebooks organize, engage, and encourage student understanding. In helping students attain the Common Core learning standards, interactive foldables are a scaffolding tool for English Language Learners and a personal learning tool for all students. Participants created, folded, and tried out interactive notebook activities in this hands on workshop to learn how interactive notebooks can help students read closely, critically, and write with more depth.

What are ways that you can support ELL students in your classroom. Here are five things you can do immediately to support these students:

  1. Utilize Visual Aids
  2. Do More Small Group Work
  3. Learn About the Background of Your Students
  4. Offer Sentence Stems & Thinking Frames to help with Content Area Language & Learning
  5. Allow Scaffolding in Their Native Language – All students to write in their first language and take note while reading in their first language

How does one grade the interactive notebook? Below is a rubric I created to evaluate my students interactive notebooks.


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