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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 science 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.

Instructional Strategy: Question Brainstorm Walk

Language Objective: I can write my own questions about what we’re learning in science by using “why,” “how,” and “what if” to start.

Question Brainstorm Walk: How-To

Before the Activity

  1. Introduce a phenomenon or topic.
  2. Prepare sheets of chart paper around the room, each with one subtopic related to the phenomenon.
  3. Prepare question stems that model the kinds of questions students should ask about the phenomenon (why, how, etc.).
  4. Pre-plan student groupings.

During the Activity

  1. Briefly review the phenomenon that students experienced the related subtopics.
  2. Group students and assign each group a subtopic.
  3. At each chart paper, students discuss the subtopic and work together to generate questions about it.
  4. Give students a signal to move with their group to the next subtopic. Rotate until each group has discussed each subtopic.
  5. Groups should try to generate new questions that aren’t already on the chart.

Extra Support for MLs

  • Provide visuals for each subtopic.
  • Prepare a word bank that students can use to create questions.
  • Show examples of the type of questions you want students to ask.
  • Allow students with lower-level proficiency levels to write words instead of full sentences.

Example: Science 7

LT: I can create questions about cells to prepare to learn more.

Introduce the concept of cells through a lab or demonstration. Prepare chart papers with subtopics like “living vs. nonliving,” “parts of a cell,” and “multicelled organisms.” Have students rotate between the charts and write questions they have about each topic. Display the charts throughout the unit and return to students’ questions as they learn the answers.

Helpful Links to Learn More

  • Brainstorm Walk strategy on Ellevation (graphic organizer and video example)
  • Use AI to help you create question stems! Tell the AI what lesson you’re teaching and ask it to create question stems students can use.

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 tanib@provo.edu.

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