Differentiation & RTI for English Language Learners

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Each student comes to school not only with unique academic needs but also with unique background experiences, culture, language, personality, interests, and attitudes toward learning. Effective teachers recognize that all of these factors affect how students learn in the classroom, and they adjust, or differentiate, their instruction to meet students' needs.

Here are some strategies for differentiating instruction for your English language learners, as well as ideas for taking students' level of English language proficiency into account when planning instruction.

For more information about using RTI with ELLs who have special education needs, see our section on RTI and dually-identified students.

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Videos: Differentiation 101

See more differentiation videos in this series from Larry Ferlazzo and Katie Hull Sypnieski:

Videos: Response to Intervention With English Language Learners

The RTI Action Network offers instructional video and audio content to highlight some of the important issues related to realizing the potential of RTI. In the first of three new videos, Dr. Janette Klingner offers suggestions across tiers on how to implement RTI with respect to English Language Learners (ELLs), with a special emphasis on enhancing the quality of core instruction. Additional videos address considerations for educators working with ELLS and cultural and linguistic diversity among ELLs.

Differentiated Instruction and Testing Accommodations for ESOL Students

The Maryland Accommodations Manual (MAM) presents processes for use in the selection, administration, and evaluation of the effectiveness of the use of instructional and assessment accommodations for students with disabilities and English learners. While the guidelines are aligned to Maryland's policies as of 2012, this document may serve as a useful reference for ELL practitioners who are reviewing their own strategies and accommodations.

Webcast: RTI for English Language Learners

This webinar from the National Center on Response to Intervention, led by Dr. Julie Esparza Brown, Dr. Amanda Sanford, and Erin Lolich focuses on improving educational outcomes for ELLs through culturally and linguistically responsive implementation of an RTI framework in the area of elementary reading. Specifically, the panelists discus critical considerations to appropriately utilize screening and progress monitoring data with ELL students to improve reading outcomes by addressing the factors that influence ELL students' academic success. A case study is used to illustrate these recommendations with a first-grade ELL student.