Bridge the Gap with ELL Using SMARTResponse

At the beginning of the school year, I had a bit of a dilemma. I have a class of 29 students, with 8 of those students being first year ELL students. However, that was not the dilemma. The problem was that I had 24 SMART Response XE units to use with 29 students which meant that I could not use SMART Response during instruction for EVERY student…only some…which usually did not include all of my ELL students.

Last week, all of that changed. Five units “miraculously” showed up at my door and you would have thought it was Christmas in my classroom when EVERY student was able to participate.

SMARTResponse makes confident participation a thing of normalcy for all  learners. It gives the quiet student in the back and the more vocal student up front the exact same voice to answer questions or “respond” in class without the embarassment associated with getting a question incorrect.

With my English language learners, it provided instant feedback that is understood in any language…a simple check or an x to signify that they were correct. What it gave me was the power to stop guessing if they were understanding. I could clearly tell!

The learning curb for the XE units for those students is no different than the learning curb for my English speaking students. They quickly and easily found symbols and operations and are able to quickly respond with ease.

Having that instant feedback is key to those students developing a better understanding of the language as it applies to mathematics.

On the first day, I allowed students to respond to a question during instruction. After they saw whether or not they mastered the question, students were asked to volunteer to model at the board. The VERY FIRST person up was one of my ELL students. She proudly jumped to show the entire class and I have no doubt that it was because she knew that she was correct because of SMARTResponse.

It was a pretty powerful moment that solidified to me why I insist on utilizing this tool in my class as much as possible.


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