Friday, September 21, 2012

ELPS: The WHY of Documentation

On Wednesday, I shared my analogy for thinking about the ELPS and how they have the potential to be a resource rather than an annoyance.  After thinking about it some more, I want to write a little bit more; specifically about the word that causes audible sighs in a room full of teachers:  DOCUMENTATION.

I know that many districts require teachers to document the ELPS somewhere in the lesson plans and I don't disagree with the policy.  However, I live with a two-year-old and a four-year-old and the question WHY? is one that is voiced every few seconds in our house.  So, the question rolling around in my head right now is "WHY is it important to document the ELPS in our lesson plans?"

Going back to the mountain analogy from Wednesday, let's think of that hiking guide.  Would simply writing down the equipment that the hikers need be of any actual help on the hike?  No!  Yet, if the hiking guide were to consider the proficiency level of the hikers and the equipment necessary for them to make the hike successfully WHILE he was planning the hike, then having that documentation would be helpful and purposeful.

Okay, so let's come down the mountain and into the classroom.  If you are just documenting the ELPS solely to adhere to policy, they will be of no practical help to you and yes, it would definitely be sigh-worthy!!!  On the other hand, if you can consider your students' language proficiency levels and the ELPS that would help them WHILE planning the content of your lesson, then you would be investing your time well.  It is the kind of time investment that pays off once you are in the middle of teaching the lesson and you realize that you have thought ahead to provide exactly the right scaffolds that your bilingual learners need to successfully attain the content for the day.

So, that is my conclusion about DOCUMENTATION.  While I am not suggesting that you go against the policies of your district, I also hate to see people grudgingly do things without understanding WHY they are doing them.  Sometimes, thinking like a two-year-old and four-year-old is not such a bad thing! :)  I would love to hear your thoughts!

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