THE NEEDS OF DIVERSE AND EXCEPTIONAL STUDENTS
(Scales, Roehlkepartain, Neal, Kielsmeier, & Boston, 2006) English Language Learners
According to A Framework for Raising Expectations and Instructional Rigor for English Language Learners , English language learners need focused language study (reading, writing, speaking and listening) supported by English As A Second Language (ESL) programs across content areas and expanded academic language in each discipline. This literacy focus is strongly represented in the CCSS across the content areas. Curriculum Infusion of Real Life Issues (CIRLI) can effectively engage English Language Learners in focused language study and expand academic vocabularies as they consider REAL-LIFE ISSUES in their classes. Language skills in lessons related to students’ own lives—where they have motivation and purpose to communicate well—are powerful ENGAGEMENT tools for any teacher and for any student, but even more so for those whose first language is not English.
Students are diverse in myriad ways including socio-economic status, race, ethnicity, sexual identity and gender, all of which are incorporated into CIRLI. In the Assessment phase of the model, teachers learn issues relevant to their students’ lives and incorporate study of these issues into the classroom curriculum. Teachers then choose materials, strategies, content and skills that keep students engaged in meaningful work. The rigorous, scaffolded objectives described in the CCSS practically write themselves into the curriculum. For example, when low income students participate in SERVICE LEARNING (a key component in the CIRLI model), they engage with their own communities’ issues while developing their academic knowledge and skills. Real-life activities and assignments strengthen writing, reading and analysis (key Anchor Standards skills in the Common Core.) Studies show that lower income students scored better on academic success measurements than their low-SES peers who did not participate in Service Learning (Scales, Roehlkepartain, Neal, Kielsmeier, & Boston, 2006). When students are so engaged, discipline referrals drop, positive school climate increases, and academic achievement increases.
Students with Exceptionalities
Students with exceptionalities need particular supports in order to meet the achievement targets of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). At times these students need accommodations to materials, approaches or other elements of the instructional program. In the CIRLI model, ASSESSMENT is a key component that helps teachers determine students’ attitudes, skills, interests and existing content knowledge. Teachers can then use this information to design appropriate supports for students’ learning needs. Assessment throughout a real-life issues infused curriculum takes multiple forms, occurs often, and is used to make further instructional decisions. Modifications to the standards may need to be made based on students’ needs, and if this is the case, adjustments are easily made in a CIRLI lesson or unit to keep students on track to targets. For further information, see CIRLI: Curriculum Infusion of Real Life Issues for Students with Exceptionality.
Free 5 CPDU online workshop through Northeastern Illinois University’s College of Education
Integrate pressing life issues into classes across the curriculum to effectively engage students in learning and support social emotional growth
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