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Supporting English Language Learners In Primary Schools (SELLIPS)

Hi Everyone

Thank you to everyone responding to the queries re Supporting English language learners in primary Schools (SELLIPS). All the booklets are also available in PDF form on esolonline on this page.   

SELLIPS is a great resource which many teachers/schools are not yet really using. Therefore I think the discussion about how schools are using it and how you are providing staff PLD on it- is a good one. It also fits nicely in my sequence of updates on planning to teach language across all curriculum areas. My next updates in the series are going to look at task work and how to put all this together with all the MOE resources.

I always think it is a good idea to carefully read the introduction section in any document. In doing this for SELLIPS you learn that the resource can be used by both mainstream and ESOL teachers and also by teacher aides. It gives suggestions for developing students’ academic, cross-curricular English language in both mainstream and transitional classrooms. SELLIPS is aimed at helping teachers to plan an effective programme by presenting ways to scaffold learning for students at varying levels of English language proficiency so they can achieve learning outcomes at their appropriate stages.

SELLIPS is designed to use in conjunction with all the other MOE ESOL and literacy resources and with the NZ curriculum. I particularly like the diagram showing where it fits into the planning and teaching cycle on page 9 of the resource. It suggests that SELLIPS is useful to:

  • Select relevant language learning outcomes, referring to related indicators.
  • Select or design language learning activities
  • Scaffold student’s learning

On page 7 in bold it warns that SELLIPS “does not constitute a programme or teaching sequence. They represent examples of the sorts of activities that effective teachers use to optimise learning for their ESOL and other students.”

“Teachers are expected to use and adapt these activities within the context of the meaningful, language-rich, classroom programme that they have planned to meet the identified needs of their own unique student group.”

It goes on to explain how it has activities to provided explicit instruction in English, activities to guide the students in practicing English and activities in which students use English independently. Therefore it helps teachers to plan learning sequences that foster the students’ progression towards independence (scaffolding).  

I think John has raised some interesting observations in his email.

“…SELLIPs promotes the concept on an integrated approach to genre - i.e. If we are studying the text type /genre of Explanations in our Inquiry work, we should also   be studying listening to explanations; giving oral explanations; reading explanations; viewing and presenting visual explanations. We in NZ however except in many TESOL programmes, have only taken the written Genre on board. So many schools do not yet have aligned listening, speaking, reading (and viewing and presenting) on the same genre as their written work. As a consequence we are mistakenly requiring students to produce writing texts that are decontextuaiised from their Inquiry work and reasons for writing. This leads to low motivation and engagement in writing which is already very low in many groups Maori/ Pacific boys for example. We are therefore often treating Text Types / Genre writing as a form of Whole Text Grammar knowledge in isolation from its actual use by our students.

 The approach recommends therefore that while we as teachers need to know about the technical features of Genre and their decontextualised styles our learners need to be encouraged to write using whatever combinations of genre and functions are appropriate for their purpose. This means in any one piece of writing students should be, or may be; recounting, describing, explaining, and justifying in the same piece of writing. This of course creates a new mismatch with ASTTLE and other single genre assessment material that needs to be resolved quickly…. “

It would be good to hear what others think?  Do you agree or not? Have any of you resolved this assessment issue? How have you found the use of SELLIPS? Who uses it at your school? How did you develop staff knowledge of this resource? Or is just the ESOL teachers and teacher sides who use it?   What ideas have you tried?

To summarise–

1.       Academic English needs to be explicitly taught, differentiated and scaffolded across all curriculum areas. Students need to be explicitly taught, be guided in developing independence and have opportunities to practice what they have learnt in order to become skilled.

2.       Teachers should plan to teach about genres in an integrated way using all the language modes within learning contexts/inquiries. Remember it is difficult to produce language (writing/speaking) without first meeting it in a receptive form (listening/reading).

3.       Students should be be aware that many texts use combinations of different genres / language functions and become skilled at combining these within a text as appropriate for the audience.

4.       SELLIPS provides guidance and examples of how to do this but we need to adapt these ideas to our group of students.  

Reflection Questions

                     i.            Are teachers/teacher aides in my school using SELLIPS effectively? What specific areas /knowledge need attending?

                   ii.            Is the approach we use to teaching and assessing genres appropriate?  Do we teach genres across all the language modes or just in writing? Do we include knowledge/use of mixed use of genres and language functions? Is it taught in an integrated manner-integrated with student inquiries or in isolation?

                  iii.            Is there evidence of low motivation and engagement in writing in my classroom/school? E.g. Maori/ Pacific boys. If so what might I need to change and where can I get ideas to change things? How will I inquire as to the effectiveness of any changes I might make?

                 iv.            In my teaching do allow opportunities for explicit instruction in English, differentiated activities to guide the students in practising English and activities in which students use English independently?

                   v.            How will any PLD be best structured and offered? Where does it fit in our priorities?  Who will lead it? How will we measure its effectiveness?

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ESOL Online webinar on Thursday 7th August, 3.30 - 4.15 pm. If you weren't able to get to CLESOL you can attend this repeat of of Jenni Bedford and Breda Matthews CLESOL presentation Preparing English language learners for tertiary study.


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  Once again a big thank you to everyone who contributed last week. I look forward to reading all your thoughts, ideas and questions in the week ahead.

 Kind regards