multilingual · vocabulary

Bringing Down Students’ Affective Filter

March seemed like it was never-ending. I glanced at my planner last week and realized one whole week left in March. For those that share my sentiment, breathe, we made it, and tomorrow is April.

This month, I’ve been assessing our multilingual learners. It is called the Summative English Language Assessments for California (ELPAC) in California. About one-fifth of our student population is a multilingual learner at our school site. The ELPAC assesses the students’ listening and reading (receptive skills) and speaking and writing (expressive skills). There are subcomponents within these skills, such as speaking. Within this domain, students are asked to look at a picture and describe what is happening in it. They are also asked for their opinions, retell a narrative, and speak in an academic presentation. From my observation, speaking in an academic presentation seemed most challenging. 

An input chart is one strategy I have learned from GLAD (Guided Language Acquisition Design). It allows for grade-level content areas to be accessible to all learners, especially multilingual learners, while language input and output are the end goal. This strategy brings down students’ affective filter when speaking into an academic presentation and usually takes two days to teach with fidelity. 

Our third graders are studying national symbols, and I created an input chart on the Statue of Liberty. To prepare, I first traced with pencil the subject and facts. I also printed pictures about the statue and its facts to create a stronger imprint on the brain. 

On the first day of delivery, students gathered close on the rug (mask and social-distancing mandates lifted) while I introduced the topic. Before continuing with teaching, share with students the learning target:

Next, we echo read aloud the essential vocabulary for this chart:

Just as a quick tip, it is important to frontload your multilingual with the essential vocabulary before echo reading it as a whole group. 

I used black ink to trace over the statue and different color markers to write in facts. The different colors were to help students distinguish the various categories of the topic. For instance, the Statue of Liberty facts’ categories were “symbolizes,” “description,” “artist and year,” and “interesting facts.”

On the second day of delivery, I wrote down the essential vocabulary on yellow strips of paper and passed them out to students. I asked them to read it to themselves and point to the chart where it belongs. Afterward, I reviewed the chart, and students placed the vocabulary words on the chart when they heard me say them. To prepare, I had rolled up pieces of tape near the chart so that they could place them on the back of the vocabulary word.   

After reviewing the chart with word cards, students went back to their seats to work on interactive journal writing. This time was an opportunity for me to work in what California calls “designated eld support.” Knowing students’ language proficiency levels helps know the types of questions to ask. The students in this 3rd-grade classroom were bridging into proficiency which means they are bridging into Engish proficiency. I asked them to use all the language from the chart to describe all the facts about the statue of liberty. 

It takes preparation when creating this chart. However, from my 21 years as an educator, the results are dramatic.

3 thoughts on “Bringing Down Students’ Affective Filter

  1. WOW! This if very helpful. I work in a private school in New Jersey and we do not have any support for EAL students. I’m using my own ingenuity. Your details and photos are incredibly valuable. Thank you!


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