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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 math 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.

Dialogue Journals

Language Objective: I can use writing to explain.

Dialogue Journals: How-To Before the Activity

  1. Select a concept or process you’d like students to explain.
  2. Decide on the kind of language students will need to use (for example, time order words, compare/ contrast, special vocabulary, etc.).
  3. Plan sentence stems.

During the Activity

  1. Explain the prompt and the language expectations.
  2. Students respond to the prompt in a journal, on an exit ticket, or online.
  3. Students swap with a partner and read the responses.
  4. Students respond to their partners and return the journals to the owners, who read and respond again.
  5. Gather students to reflect on the writing and ideas brought up in the process.

Extra Support for MLs

  • Allow students to draw or write words and phrases instead of complete sentences
  • Display word banks with high-use vocabulary words
  • Provide sentence stems or frames at varying levels of complexity

Example: SM1

LT: I can represent exponential growth/decay relationships with an equation.

After students learn about using the compound interest formula, provide a problem to solve. Explicitly teach students phrases that show order (first, following that, finally, etc.) and ask them to use the phrases in writing to explain their process for solving the problem. Share and respond.

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