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Each week we will share one strategy that you could use to meet the needs of your diverse multilingual learners in secondary content classes. This week’s strategy is specifically for secondary ELA teachers but could be adapted for use in many content areas. As you read through the strategy, think about your specific ML students and determine how you can use it to support all learners during Tier 1 instruction.  Download Teaching Multilingual Learners: Strategy of the Week (ELA)

  • Instructional Strategy: Common Thread
  • Language Objective: I can discuss how to group words into categories using words that compare and contrast.

Common Thread: How-To

Before the Activity

  1. Select words, phrases, or concepts for students to discuss.
  2. Prepare graphic organizer.

During the Activity

  1. Students get into groups and discuss the topic of the day.
  2. Students work together to put the words or concepts in categories. As they compare and contrast words to decide which categories they belong to, students should use evidence to support the categories they choose.
  3. Challenge students to add more of their own words to their categories.
  4. Gather students for a closing discussion.

Extra Support for MLs

  • Provide beginner students with fewer words or with connected visuals when possible.
  • Give students sentence frames to help them explain their reasoning.
  • Allow students to write about their categories before discussing them.

Example: Argument Writing

LT: I can support a claim with reasons and evidence.

Students list the reasons and evidence supporting their argument on individual cards. They work together with a peer to sort the cards into reasons and evidence. Discuss and add more to each category.

Helpful Links to Learn More

We would love to know how this tip worked for you! Please share any experiences with your PLC or ML supervisor, or email Tani Brown (Secondary ELD Curriculum Specialist) at