Helping English Language Learners in the Classroom

Merit Software has just released a new report "ESL Reading: Strategies for Classroom Teaching." The report addresses the challenges facing teachers when working with students from non-English-speaking homes.

The key problem is that English language learners, who are taught the basics of reading in the early grades, are faltering as they progress in school.

Teachers need help teaching higher-order thinking skills and comprehension. Students need help mastering strategies that will help them understand ideas and nuances of English texts.

The report features Book Punch, a tool that can be used in the classroom to go beyond basic instruction. Book Punch provides interactive, step-by-step writing prompts about books commonly read in schools today.

Book Punch draws on each student's prior knowledge. Students with a wide range of English language abilities can participate in class.

Book Punch scaffolds the thinking and writing processes for students. Titles covered include modern classics such as "Stone Fox," "Maniac Magee" and "The Outsiders."

Using Book Punch students learn to write clear and concise responses -- making personal text connections along the way.

Teachers have also reported that because Book Punch writing activities engage ESL students for long periods of time, they have more free time to give feedback to individual students.

Book Punch was developed based on gold standard, randomized control group research. The evidence shows that Merit improves student achievement for reading comprehension and writing when used to supplement classroom instruction.

The full report is available at the following url: