Adapting Content to Make it More Accessible for ELLs
Graphic Organizers – These help students to identify key content concepts and make relationships among them. They also provide students with visual clues they can use to supplement written or spoken words that make be hard to understand. Prior to reading, students can us the G.O. as a guide and as a supplement to build background for difficult or dense text. During reading, they focus students’ attention and help them make connections between concepts, take notes, and understand text structure. After reading, the G.O. can be utilized to record personal understanding and responses. Some examples are story or text charts, Venn Diagrams, story or text maps, timelines, discussion webs, word webs, thinking maps, etc.
Outlines – Teacher prepared outlines equip students with a form for note-taking while reading dense portions of text, thus providing scaffolded support. These are especially helpful if major concepts, such as the Roman numeral level of the outline, or other levels, are filled in. Students can then add other information to the outline as they read. Some beginning students would benefit from a completed outline as a guide to reading.
Leveled Study Guides -- These study guides are designed specifically for diverse students’ needs. All students are expected to master the concepts in the text; however, depending on the students’ proficiency, leveled study guides are written differently. For some that can easily read the text, the guides can extend and enrich the subject matter. For others, they lead them through the material with definitions and “hints” for unlocking the meaning, and include fewer challenging questions and tasks. For some ELLs and struggling readers, the study guides may include brief summaries of the text along with more manageable questions and tasks.
Highlighted Text – A few literature anthologies or content textbooks may be reserved for use by ELLs. Overriding ideas , key concepts, topic sentences, important vocabulary, and summary statements are highlighted (by a teacher or other knowledgeable person) prior to the students using the books. Students are encouraged first to only read the highlighted sections. As confidence and capability improves more of the unmarked text is attempted. The purpose of highlighted text is to reduce the reading demands of the text while still maintaining key concepts and information.
Taped text -- Key portions (such as the highlighted text just mentioned) or the entire text is recorded, and students are encouraged to listen to the tape as they follow along in the book. For some students, multiple exposures to the tape may result in a more thorough understanding. Ideally, tapes should be available for home and school use .
Adapted Text – Adapted text involves rewriting selected sections of text that contain key concepts and information. Although time consuming, it is an effective modification of curricular materials because information is organized in small sequential steps. Shorter, simpler sentences are rewritten from long complex ones. Ideally, paragraphs should include a topic sentences and 2 or 3 supporting details. Maintaining a consistent format promotes easier reading for information seeking purposes
Jigsaw text reading – Although originally designed as a cooperative learning strategy for all learners, jigsaw is particularly effective with ELLs and difficult to read text. Small groups are convened, and each group is assigned a portion of the text upon which to become an “expert”. Then new groups are formed with representatives from each portion of the reading to discuss what was read, determine essential information and highlight key vocabulary. This scaffolds for the ELLs because they are working with classmates to understand the text. Beginners may be paired with a native speaker to buddy read the text. Teacher should monitor the groups to make sure essential information is being conveyed.
Marginal notes – As with highlighted text, you may wish to reserve a few textbooks, or the same textbooks, for ELLs. Print notes directly in the margin or duplicate notes on a handout that students can place by the page as they are reading. Notes should contain key concepts, key vocabulary and definitions. Notes are similar to those found in the teacher’s guide. Marginal notes reduce ambiguity as well as the reading difficulty of the text, making it more accessible and less intimidating.


Taken from Making Content Comprehensible for Secondary English Learners: The SIOP Model
Echevarria, Vogt and Short, 2010