Robert M. Lucas

Realizing the Public Value of Learning

ELA Unit for ELLs and the Common Core

This week, my colleagues and I at the Understanding Language initiative launched a refreshed version of our website, with a new look and easier-to-find resources. The real star of the show, though, is a new instructional unit in English Language Arts. This is a major piece of work. The unit, to be taught over 4 to 5 weeks, features more than 230 pages of resources, including all of the handouts teachers will need to implement it in their classes. Entited “Persuasion Across Space and Time,” the unit invites ELLs and their classmates to analyze a series of complex persuasive texts–a collection of historical and contemporary speeches and advertisements–and then produce texts of their own.

The significance of this work goes well beyond its 5 lessons and the 7th grade context for which it was planned. Rather, it is meant to exemplify effective strategies for helping English Language Learners address the Common Core State Standards. The new standards present both challenges and opportunities for ELLs, mandating, as they do, the increasing use of complex texts and disciplinary discourse practices. Accordingly, this unit presents students with a variety of sophisticated persuasive texts and offers opportunities for language use across a range of participation structures. These larger lessons are explained in the unit’s introductory material in a “Guidelines” document by lead author Prof. George Bunch of UC Santa Cruz.

More resources will be released in the weeks and months to come. The authors will introduce this first set in a webinar held tomorrow, Thursday December 6th, at 3 pm PST. Sign up here.

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