Differentiation is key in working with multilingual students. These lessons are intended for students in middle school and can be adapted to better fit the age group of your students by selecting higher or lower-level materials, changing the wording of discussion questions, and providing various types of differentiation tools such as sentence starters, graphic organizers, and word banks. The activities below are organized into three different levels of English language acquisition: beginning, intermediate, and advanced. All levels feature an assignment based on the same content that produces work of equal quality at a student’s language proficiency. The purpose of providing different levels is so students can work at a pace and on an assignment that is comfortable to them. You may want students to decide for themselves which level they feel comfortable working at and allow them to move up or down throughout the assignment. Students may not fit into one of these levels neatly; therefore, your creativity in further differentiation may be necessary.
Students who have very little or no English language ability should be presented with materials in their home language when possible. Students of all language abilities can craft a counter-narrative. Counter-narratives can be written, spoken, or represented through art. English language ability should not be a disqualifier for any student. Students with limited English proficiency can work with a peer who also speaks the same home language. They can write in their first language (L1) and then get help translating it into English. This allows students to demonstrate their competency and abilities as they convey their experiences. At the end of this project students will gain vocabulary, build identity, and strengthen their classroom community. This leads to positive identity investment by students, the knowledge that others care about and value their culture, and demonstrates the power of collaboration on student success.13
Vocabulary is also provided with three different levels and should build from the previous levels. Each activity is intended to take at least a few days to work through and can be adapted to fit your schedule as needed. The activities focus on the four language domains which are reading, writing, speaking and listening. Throughout the following activities teachers should demonstrate strategies to help students with their English language skills in these four domains, although for the purpose of this unit, specifics are not listed as this will vary from student to student.