Avoiding Misplaced Empathy, Achieving Total Participation

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If we’re going to make more than small dents in the achievement gap, improving teaching and learning for English language learners must be a schoolwide goal, not just the purview of specialists, say ASCD authors Pérsida and William Himmele in their interview in the October issue of Education Update.

Read the interview here: “Making Challenges Meaningful for English Language Learners

The Himmeles’ framework for teaching ELLs combines content reading strategies, higher-order thinking skills, assessment, total participation techniques, and scaffolding to ensure all students are deeply engaged in acquiring and comprehending academic language.

That can be a challenge, specifically for ELL students, because it is more difficult to actively listen in one’s weaker language, the Himmeles note. Teachers should be careful, they warn, not to accommodate these challenges with “misplaced empathy” (i.e., fewer opportunities for language learners to answer questions aimed at higher-order thinking).

How do you avoid misplaced empathy and work toward total participation in mixed groupings?

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