PLE 2: Module 3

PLE 2: ELL Instruction

NOTE: We recommend that to maximize …. Instruction and supervision 

Printable Version: PLE #2 Teaching Notes

Printable Version: PLE #2 Rubric              

Element Description/Instructions Instructor Notes

• Understand the complexity of the ELL learning needs

• Identify strategies to maximize ELL instructional outcomes

• Expose candidates to the challenges faced by teachers as they address ELL learning needs  

• Identify how to make instructional program decisions that support ELL learning needs

This module is called “ELL Instruction” since we believe that leaders must have a clear understanding of the issues and a direct role in ensuring classroom conditions that foster learning for all students.

Most candidates have little, if any, direct experience learning a second language (particularly in academic contexts). As a result they may not be aware of second language acquisition, the needs associated with that, and/or effective instructional programs.
In addition, given the current policy and political context, candidates must uncover personal and organizational assumptions about ELLs, their learning needs, and immigrant communities.

Without a minimal knowledge base, leaders and schools will make curricular decisions that negatively impact ELLs. Most schools respond by isolating ELL students (and teachers) and using deficit approaches to instruction. Candidates have little exposure to alternate and additive approaches that recognize and maintain the value of L1 and L2.


In order to see how much students know about ELL program options, we provide a simple, short matching “quiz” that highlights some basic information.

The focus of this activity is to emphasize the variety and complexity of programs available for ELLs.

This is not “trick” activity. It serves to highlight some of the SLA theory and philosophies that are the foundation of ELL instructional programs.

The quiz can also be given “whole class” (rather than individually) to spark a discussion about what the do/do not know about ELL education.

If you are able to integrate this more into your class, these questions can be used as “study questions” in which students break into small groups and investigate the questions. Response can be presented in class or through an on-line discussion board.


Video can be assigned independently or in-class as part of a guided discussion.

If viewed independently, discussion/reflection questions are embedded.

If viewed in-class, clips can be paused for discussion. Discussion can be whole class or in small groups.

Video Length – 5:37

These clips address the development of instructional programs to meet ELL learning needs.  The video also highlights the complex nature of the ELL population.

The principal introduces,
Instructional challenges (importance of knowing about  challenges at different proficiency levels; highlights the needs of beginner, intermediate, and advanced ELLs )
ESL in Content Area: Beginner/intermediate proficiency: ESL Push-In (specific use of ESL teachers with certification in a content area to support both language acquisition and learning content so that students do not fall behind)
ESL Instructional Period: Advanced proficiency (content instruction in English with supported ESL teacher to strengthen language skills)
Co-teaching model (ESL teacher “push-in” with a classroom teacher to deliver content with ESL support; teachers plan and share instructional role; high levels of collaboration and co-learning)

Professional development: SIOP (Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol which focuses on ESL and content teaching strategies)

Guided Discussion

There are discussion questions embedded in the video.  For example,

  • What kind of capacity does your organization have to meet the needs of ELLs?
  • How does this strategy meet the need of ELL students?
  • What are the implications of this strategy for teachers/schools?
  • What are the strengths/challenges of this strategy?

These discussion questions can be modified to reflect the local context.

Questions can also focus on the more complex issues of leadership decision-making around ELL instructional programs

An important area of exploration is how the variety of strategies reflect a more sophisticated understanding of ELL needs. There is no cookie cutter approach, but rather a menu of available resources and knowledge that is used strategically.


Collier, V. P. (1995). Acquiring a second language for school. Directions in Language and Education, 1 (4).

Krashen, S. (1982, 2009). The Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition. (Online book)

La Celle-Peterson, M.W. & Rivera, C. (1994). Is it real for all kids? A framework for equitable assessment policies for English Language Learners. Harvard Educational Review, 64(1) (Spring 1994), pp. 55-75.

These readings highlight the role of school in ELL achievement. Rather than “blaming” ELL students for, assumed, low achievement, these articles force students to address issues in schools and leadership.

The Collier reading is dated, but remains a “classic” in the field.

The entire Krashen book is relevant, but we recommend Chapter 5 on teaching.


Rolstad, K., Mahoney, K., & Glass, G.V. (2005). The big picture: A meta-analysis of program effectiveness research on English Language Learners. Educational Policy, 19(4), September 2005 pp. 572-594.

Gersten, R., & Baker, S. (2000). What we know about effective instructional practices for English- language learners. Exceptional Children, 66(4), 454-470.

Short, D. & Echevarria, J. (1999). The Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol: A tool for teacher-researcher collaboration and professional development.

Osorio-O’Dea, P. (2001). Bilingual Education Overview. Washington, DC, Congressional Research Services. (PDF)

Pappmihiel, N.E. & Walser, T.M. (2009). English Language Learners and complexity theory: Why current accountability systems do not measure up. The Educational Forum, 73(2), pp. 133-140.  

McLaughlin, B. (1992). “Myths and Misconceptions About Second Language Learning: What Every Teachers Needs to Unlearn.” National Center for Research on Cultural Diversity and Second Language Learning.

ASCD/Education Leadership on “Supporting English Language Learners”

These materials can be used in conjunction with or instead of the articles suggested.

Related Websites

Rethinking Schools: Bilingual Education Resources

Learning the Language Blog

Center for Applied Linguistics: SIOP

National Clearinghouse of English Language Acquisition

Office of English Language Acquisition

Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition

Reflective Journaling

Reflective journals are an important part of individual leadership development. It allows students to capture their thinking and underlying assumptions. Periodically, students can analyze their journal and see how their thinking evolves over time, both in terms of sophistication and skill development.

Candidates journal about of their experiences in changing contexts and their feeling about it, as well as strategies that were used to modify instruction for ELLs.

One way to maximize the journaling experience is to give students time in class to share what they are learning about themselves/their leadership. This serves to highlight the value of the journal and also give you insight into where their learning needs are.

These journals can also be done on-line via individual discussion boards, blogs, etc.

Suggested Course Assessment Integration

Assessments Level One

Level One: Candidates reply to the discussion questions in written form based on principal’s responses.

Level Two: Candidates write a brief case study of the school based on principal’s responses

Level Three: Candidates respond to guiding questions based on their own context

These assessments reflect the different levels of integration into existing course. Each “level” becomes increasing more complex and will require more time on the part of students and professor.

The extended activity described below requires extensive work outside of class and reinforces data collection and analysis skills.

Extended Activity
  • Option A: Candidates write an in-depth case study of Global Middle school, including background material and readings, addressing all the leadership areas, based on principal’s responses.
  • Option B: Candidates write an in-depth case study, addressing all the leadership areas, based on their own context. This requires that candidates interview their/a principal on some/all the leadership areas and write an in-depth case study based on the data.

Leadership for ELL Success

Powerful Learning Experience #2: Leading ELL Instruction

Standard 2: A school administrator is an educational leader who promotes the success of all students by advocating, nurturing, and sustaining a school culture and instructional program conducive to ELL student learning and staff professional growth.

  •  Supervise and evaluate ELL instruction
  •  Develop the instructional capacity of staff to address ELL needs

Standard 4: An education leader promotes the success of every student by collaborating with faculty and community members, responding to diverse ELL community interests and needs, and mobilizing community resources.

  • Promote understanding, appreciation, and use of the ELL community’s diverse cultural, social, and intellectual resources

Standard 6: An educational leader promotes the success of every ELL student by understanding, responding to and influencing the political, social, economic, legal and cultural context.

  • Act to influence local, district, state, and national decisions affecting ELL student learning
Candidate Goals Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Level 6
To what extent do candidates understand the complexity of ELL learning needs? The candidate does not distinguish ELL needs from those of the general population of students.  The candidate indicated that ELLs have different needs and believes they can be addressed through the traditions instructional program. The candidate identifies the specific needs that ELLs have and specifies specific programs to address those needs. The candidate identifies the specific needs that ELLs have and specifies specific programs to address those needs.  In addition, stakeholder roles are addressed. The candidate identifies the specific needs that ELLs have and specifies specific programs to address those needs.  In addition, identifies the impact of school culture in the context of social, human resource, structural and symbolic frames on ELL learning.
At what levels of understanding do candidates identify and the scope and depth of strategies to maximize ELL instructional outcomes? The candidate does not identify strategies for ELLs. Identified strategies reflect general characteristic of students. ELL strategies are identified that draw on readings and the specific characteristics of ELLs. ELL supports are identified that support a positive literacy environment and draw on students’ prior learning and experience, social/emotional development and interests. Supports are research based. ELL supports are identified that support a positive literacy environment and draw on students’ prior learning and experience, social/emotional development and interests. Strategies are research-based. and school resources are modified to implement ELL strategies.
What is the level of understanding candidates have of  the challenges faced by teachers as they  address ELL learning needs? Candidates’ assessment of teachers is focused on students and is limited to what ELLs cannot do. Candidates’ assessment of teachers is exclusively data driven.  Candidates recognize the need for teachers to understand the language demands of ELLs that are central to their learning and supports them through professional development. Candidates assess teachers based on their ability to address student academic language development including their justification for the use of specific strategies for ELLs. Candidates assess teachers based on their ability to address student academic language at various level of their development through the needs and strengths of ELLs.
What processes do candidates use to make instruction program decisions that support ELL learning needs? Candidate does distinguish between ELL and the general student population in making decisions about the instructional program. Candidate makes decisions based exclusively on summative data and legal mandates. Candidates make decision using disaggregated student data, teacher characteristics and legal mandates.  Candidates makes decision using disaggregated student data ,teacher characteristics, and legal mandates,  In addition, school climate is considered in the decision making process. Candidates uses a strategic planning approach to decision making that embraces all stakeholders in the internal and the external community.