Friday, April 18, 2014

Bloom's Taxonomy

Bloom's Taxonomy: Scaffolding
Higher Order Thinking Skills 

Teaching Context: ESL in a Elementary/ High School setting 
Proficiency level: Level 3 through level 5 (WIDA) 

Benjamin Bloom created this taxonomy (see above picture) for categorizing levels of abstraction of questions that commonly occur in educational settings. The taxonomy provided a useful structure in which to categorize discussion questions. By consciously including all levels of skills, you will increase both learning skills in general and specific knowledge acquired. 

Bloom's taxonomy provides teachers with critical thinking questions to ask students and can assist with high order thinking skills. The structure of the taxonomy is divided in 5 different parts, and each part has different set of questions. The students are asked to analyze, discover, discuss, demonstrate, to recall information from the text. The questions can be used for discussions or as part of the assessment. 

  Bloom's taxonomy was not specifically designed for ESL students but ESL students should be asked critical questions from all level of Bloom's taxonomy. The wording and language can be difficult for lower level students but the teacher can always use visuals and change some of the wording in the questions.  

For example, to recall information from a reading material using Bloom's taxonomy, the teacher may ask: 

WIDA Level 2:  "When did _____ happen?"
WIDA Level 3:  What did ______ do when ______?"
WIDA Level 4:   "Describe the setting. or "In your own words, describe..."

The higher order thinking questions can benefit all students in the classroom. Teachers need to help students think for themselves and not feed them all the information. Students should be able to discover and analyze the information themselves. ELL students should be asked critical thinking questions depending on their level and age group. The questions should be appropriate to their language level and content. The Bloom's Taxonomy and higher order thinking questions can assist teachers with the WIDA standards. By asking the critical questions, the teacher is giving the questions but the students are the investigators and have to think for themselves. When asking these questions to ELL students, students are listening and speaking in all content. Many times, the students will need to go back and re- read the material in order to respond to the questions.  These questions can be used in all academic subjects. Bloom's taxonomy helps with all levels and standards of WIDA. 


Haynes, Judy. (2009)  Blooms taxonomy and English Language Learners. Retrieved from

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Reading Strategy: Skimming and Scanning

Skimming & Scanning 

 Teaching context: ESL in Middle/ High School Level 
 Proficiency level: Intermediate to advanced (ESL)

One of the most valuable strategies to teach students when learning to read is skimming and scanning. English Language Learners will benefit the most from learning how to skim and scan. 

Skimming consists of quickly running one's eyes across a whole text such as an article or a chapter of a book, for its information. By skimming, students are able to predict the purpose of the story, the main topic or message, and some supporting evidence. After making predictions and skimming for details and/ or pictures, these predictions makes them "a head start as they embark on more focused reading" (Brown, 2001). To help students practice this strategy, give students a text to read, give them 5 minutes so the students can skim through it. After five minutes ask them what do they see, what predictions can they make? You can ask questions such as "what do you think this book is about?" 

Scanning is means to quickly search for some particular piece or pieces of information in a text. This strategy helps students to extract specific information without reading through the whole text. For example, for ELL students, scanning can help students to look through schedules, manuals, forms, etc. Teachers can apply this strategy by asking "students to look for names or dates, to find a definition of a key concept, or to list a certain number of supporting details. 

During different academic and state assessments students will need to skim and scan through the text provided and will have an estimated amount of time. Students need to be able to practice and use the strategy efficiently. 

Scanning and skimming can help teachers address all WIDA standards. It can be used and applied in all standards. Students can discuss their findings and use their reading skills to be able to skim and scan. 

Group Work

Teaching Context: ESL in Elementary setting 
Proficiency Level: Level 1 through Level 5 (WIDA)

Cooperative Learning 



Research has shown that students can benefit from cooperative learning, especially ELL students. Cooperative learning promotes learning and fosters respect and friendship among diverse students. Cooperative learning allows students to work together to resolve different problems and learn from each other. The teacher can separate the class into homogeneous or heterogeneous groups depending on the activities the students are working on. This strategy assist teachers address the CCSS/ WIDA standards by letting students participate and learn the content in a meaningful way. Students are still learning content but they are learning the same lesson in different ways, for example, in math students can come up with a different rule but arrived to the same answer. In reading, the students can discuss the author's point of view, not just the main character, but why the author wrote the book. "Small groups provide opportunities for students initiation, for face- to face give and take, for practice in negotiation of meaning, for extended conversational exchanges, and for students adoption of roles that would be otherwise be impossible" (Brown, 2001). 

 Some examples of Cooperative learning strategies are: 
  • Think- Pair- Share 
  • Elbow Buddies (the partner next to you) 
  • Jig- Saw 

Ways ELL students benefit from cooperative learning:          

  •  In his book "Teaching by Principles: An Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy" Brown states that through interaction, ELL students can increase their language store as they listen to or read authentic linguistic material. 
  • Promotes peer interaction which helps the development of language and the learning of concepts and content. 
  • ELL students learn to express themselves with confidence when working in small groups.


Colorin Colorado. (2007) Cooperative Learning Strategies. Retrieved from

Brown. Douglas H. (2001) Teaching by Principles: An Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy. (pp. 165-190). Pearson: White Plains, NY

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Graphic Organizer

Teaching Context: ESL in Elementary Level 
Proficiency level: All levels 1-5 (WIDA) 

Graphic Organizers 

Graphic organizers can help students classify ideas and communicate more effectively. Teachers can use graphic organizers to structure writing projects, to help in problem solving, decision making, studying, planning research and brainstorming. 

Graphic organizers are examples of visual aids which can help all students, especially ELL learners. Visual illustrations allow ELLs to better understand the material while learning important vocabulary. They can be used in different activities such as teacher- led discussions, the teacher models for the students and then the students do it on their own. Also, they can be useful when the students are working in small groups.

Graphic Organizers can be used to assist students when starting a new lesson and bringing new ideas. The organizers can assist students with activities such as thinking-out-loud, brainstorming, or participating in class. Graphic organizers help the students visualize their ideas and it may be easier for ELL students to understand the information the teacher is explaining.

ELL students benefit from opportunities to work cooperatively because they are able to able to discuss and share their thoughts as they begin to work in a group effort. The webpage Colorin Colorado states that “When ELLs use graphic organizers; they show achievement benefits across a variety of content areas, in all grade levels” (Colorincolorado). Graphic organizers facilitate ELLs' comprehension through visual illustrations of key terms, vocabulary, ideas, and the relationship among them. Improving student's reading comprehension can be challenging, but such progress is necessary when focusing on students who are learning English. 


Haynes, Judy. (2009)  Graphic Organizers for Content Instruction. Retrieved from

Sigueza, Terri (2005). Graphic Organizers. ColorinColorado. Retrieved from

Scaffolding: Anchor Charts

Anchor Charts

Teaching Strategy:  ESL in an Elementary/ High School setting in the U.S 

Proficiency Level: All Levels 1-5 (WIDA) 


An anchor chart is a hand-made poster or graphic representation that serves as a visual reminder of strategies, vocabulary, or other content that students have learned. Basically, an anchor chart is a reference tool that “anchors” new and ongoing learning to key concepts previously introduced. Students can refer to the anchor chart for a quick check, a reminder of how to approach a task, a way to think about a concept, or a visual aid to understand vocabulary. An anchor chart often serves as a way to make connections between previous learning and new concepts being covered. The teacher and students design and create the anchor charts together. For elementary grades, the teacher will do the printing so it can be easier for the younger students to read, but in high school or older students, the students can construct the chart in groups.

An anchor chart can take the form of a list, a graphic organizer such as a Venn diagram or concept web, or cards with a series of visual prompts. Anchor charts can easily benefit ELL students because it can help guide the students through a key concept or strategy that is being taught. Students can easily use it independently and in groups. Anchor charts provide visuals for ESL students to track their learning and serve as reference tools.

The anchor chart strategy is perfect to teach reading and writing. It can help teachers scaffold and teach the WIDA standards. For example, on an anchor chart, the teacher can created a reading guide of what the students will need to look for while reading. Also, when teaching writing the teacher can provide “sentence starters” or what an outline what the essay students will be writing about contains, or brainstorming ideas of a previous discussion the class had.  

Anchor charts are examples of scaffolding ideas the ESL teacher can use. It is also a great example of visuals. While writing the anchor charts the students are participating, they are discussing with classmates and teacher which helps with the WIDA standards. Anchor charts can be used when reading and writing in Math, Language Arts, Science and Social Studies. 

Anchor Chart Illustrates Writing Process