Let’s Give ‘Em Something to Talk About: Strategies for Integrating Language and Content

Overview | Workshop Format | Sessions | Resource Guide | Outcomes

Session 1
Introduction to Workshop Series and to the Aspects of Academic Language (1 hour)

In this session, participants are introduced to some of the overarching concepts of the workshop series through various interactive activities.  Groups analyze and discuss quotes from researchers about the nature of language acquisition and the importance of integrating language and content.  They also learn about the different aspects of language that students need to develop in order to be fully proficient in academic language.

Session 2
Sample Lesson on Language and Content Integration (1 hour)

This session places participants in the role of students participating in a lesson in which language and content are fully integrated and mutually reinforcing.  After an engaging mini lesson on supply and demand in which the “teacher” hosts a chocolate bar auction, participants go through five different stations, each of which provides an example of an easy to use strategy for integrating language and content that can be incorporated into any discipline and topic.  The session ends with a debrief on each of the strategies and a discussion of how each strategy could be differentiated for all levels of students.

Session 3
Academic vs. Social Language (1 hour)

During this session, participants delve into the definition of academic language and how it differs from social language.  Through activities such as card sorts, discussion of student transcripts, and adapting social language into academic and vice-versa, participants emerge with a solid understanding of the basic differences between the two types of language.

Session 4
Features of Academic Language (parts 1 and 2)–(1 hour)

This session builds on the previous session’s introduction to the differences between social and academic language by having participants look in depth at various features of academic language (e.g. nominalization, passive voice, long sentences) and activities that can develop students’ proficiency in each one.  After a jigsaw reading activity about five major features of academic language, participants meet in discipline groups, review a text from their discipline to identify features present in that text, and create an activity to support students in  developing proficiency in that feature.

Session 5
Vocabulary, Bricks and Mortar (45 min-1 hour)

The focus of this session is developing students’ academic vocabulary.  The session begins with a discussion and activities looking at the concept of “bricks” and “mortar” of vocabulary development and criteria for choosing which words to teach.  Participants then go through a jigsaw activity looking at five different engaging and easy to implement strategies for teaching vocabulary in any discipline.

Session 6
Discipline Specific Academic Language (45 minutes)

In this session, participants delve into the ways in which academic language in their discipline differs from that of other disciplines.  After reading an excerpt on academic language in their own discipline from Jeff Zwiers’ book Building Academic Language, participants meet in disciplines to discuss and create an activity that would help students to develop a particular aspect of discipline-specific language.

Session 7
Developing Effective Content Objectives (1 hour)

During this session, we review the importance of establishing clear objectives for any project and criteria to establish those objectives.  Drawing on the work of Doug Lemov, we review the “4 Ms” (objectives must be measurable, made first, most important, and manageable) and have participants work to change weak objectives into strong ones on the basis of those criteria.  Participants then develop content objectives for a project they choose to work on collaboratively.

Session 8
Developing Effective Language Objectives (1 hour)

In this session, participants build on the designing effective objectives activities they did during session 7 and learn how to design language objectives that go beyond looking at vocabulary and grammar.  This session provides participants with the tools to analyze the language demands and opportunities within a project and to establish clear objectives that align with and reinforce content objectives.  Participants are provided with examples of language and content objectives for projects in their discipline and are supported in developing language objectives that align with the content objectives they developed during session 7.

Session 9
Motivating Activities and Presentations of Project Plans (1 hour)

This session provides participants with an understanding of the importance of introducing a project with a motivating activity that not only hooks students and captures their interest, but also provides them with accessible language and concepts that provide a foundation from which they can learn the more complex academic language and concepts needed to fully engage in the project-based unit.  This session builds on the demonstration lesson from Session 2, which showed participants how to effectively pre teach vocabulary experientially (as opposed to giving students a list of vocabulary words and definitions they will need to know for a unit). After reviewing multiple examples of different types of motivating activities that can work across content areas, participants design a motivating activity for the project they are working on collaboratively.  During the second part of this session, discipline groups present the project they have been working on collaboratively to other groups for feedback.  Presentations consist of: objectives and alignment to Common Core State Standards, Motivating Activity, and sample daily content and language objectives and a daily activity that works towards those objectives.