Series Engaging ELLs in Academic Conversations: Deepening Text Analysis Through Student Talk


Common core State Standards

  • ELA:  English Language Arts
  • RL:  Reading Standards for Literature 6-12
  • 6:  6th Grade
  • 3: 
    Describe how a particular story'\x80\x99s or drama'\x80\x99s plot
    unfolds in a series of episodes as well as how the
    characters respond or change as the plot moves
    toward a resolution.

Download Common Core State Standards (PDF 1.2 MB)


Common core State Standards

  • ELA:  English Language Arts
  • SL:  Speaking and Listening Standards 6-\x80\x9312
  • 6:  6th Grade
  • 1a: 
    Engage effectively in a range of collaborative
    discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacherled)
    with diverse partners on grade 6 topics,
    texts, and issues, building on others'\x80\x99 ideas and
    expressing their own clearly.

    a. Come to discussions prepared, having read or
    studied required material; explicitly draw on
    that preparation by referring to evidence on
    the topic, text, or issue to probe and reflect on
    ideas under discussion.

    b. Follow rules for collegial discussions, set
    specific goals and deadlines, and define
    individual roles as needed.

    c. Pose and respond to specific questions with
    elaboration and detail by making comments
    that contribute to the topic, text, or issue
    under discussion.

    d. Review the key ideas expressed and
    demonstrate understanding of multiple
    perspectives through reflection and

Download Common Core State Standards (PDF 1.2 MB)

Deepening Text Analysis Through Student Talk

Lesson Objective: Analyze and interpret characters' actions
Grades 6-8 / ELA / ELL
ELA.RL.6.3 | ELA.SL.6.1a


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Discussion and Supporting Materials

Thought starters

  1. How does this lesson fit into a larger unit on the Black Panthers?
  2. Why does Ms. Nguyen scribe as students talk?
  3. How does talking prepare students for writing?


Private message to Felicia Johnson

Felicia Johnson July 1, 2020 2:31pm

1. How does this lesson fit into a larger unit on the Black Panthers?

This lesson fits into a larger unit on the Black Panthers because the students learn new things about the Black Panthers that they didn't know before the lesson.

2. Why does Ms. Nguyen scribe as students talk?

Ms Nguyen scribes as the students talk because this gives her information from the students and she writes what the students have to say and put them up using the Elmo and this also helps re-engage the students back as a whole group. 

3. How does talking prepare students for writing?

Students are able to discuss with each other and brainstorm before moving into the writing part of the lesson/activity.

Recommended (0)
Private message to Alexandra Schreiber
  1. How does this lesson fit into a larger unit on the Black Panthers?
    • Although the lesson focused on analyzing characters and text, students also learned about the day to day life of members of the Black Panthers. The characters were relateable and students were able to more easily grasp the costs and benefits of being a member of the Black Panthers.
  2. Why does Ms. Nguyen scribe as students talk?
    • By scribing the important details she notices students voicing, she is able to use their exact thoughts as a way to recap the lesson and bring the class together as a community. When students are acknowledged for their participation, they are more likely to be active students within the classroom.
  3. How does talking prepare students for writing?
    • Talking before writing serves as a scaffolding technique. Students discuss their ideas surrounding specific prompts, so when they begin writing, they have already mentally and audibly brainstormed.
Recommended (0)
Private message to Earvin Moore

I love the way that her class flows. She does a great job of laying out information and letting her students work in pairs to share how they may interpret the information given. This promotes maximum participation as well as a higher level of thinking.

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Private message to Linda Canedy

Particularly enjoyed the seamless teamwork, Her students stayed on point with active listening and feeling off of each other’s ideas.

Recommended (0)
Private message to Dariela Walker

The book chosen for this lesson is a great way to empower students to use accountable talk!! I loved the partner discussions!

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  • Deepening Text Analysis Through Student Talk Transcript
    Academic Discussions:
    Deepening Text Analysis
    Through Student Talk

    +++ 00:00:14 +++
    Viet-ly Nguyen:

    Deepening Text Analysis Through Student Talk Transcript
    Academic Discussions:
    Deepening Text Analysis
    Through Student Talk

    +++ 00:00:14 +++
    Viet-ly Nguyen: Aloha, students.
    6th Grade English
    Students: Aloha, Miss Nguyen.
    Lower Third
    Viet-ly Nguyen
    6th Grade English Teacher
    Westlake Middle School, Oakland, CA
    Viet-ly: My name is Viet-ly Nguyen and I am a sixth grade English and history core teacher at Westlake Middle School in Oakland, California.
    Viet-ly Nguyen: Everyone take a deep breath. Okay, so the question that you have in front of you is...
    Thursday - Question
    In One Crazy Summer what has the experience been like for Delphine and her sisters at the Breakfast program at the Center? What do they enjoy? What don't they like? Do you think it's a good idea that they attend the Center everyday?
    Viet-ly Nguyen: In One Crazy Summer what has the experience been like for Delphine and her sisters at the Breakfast program at the Center?

    +++ 00:00:40 +++
    Viet-ly Nguyen: Today's lesson is designed to see how academic discourse and engagement and interaction with peers and the whole group, see how it can improve student writing.
    Viet-ly Nguyen: First thing I would like for you to do, turn towards your partner and discuss your answer right now.
    Viet-ly Nguyen: We are reading One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia and today's lesson is to analyze whether or not Delphine-- she has a tough choice coming up-- whether or not she should return to the Black Panthers breakfast program in the center or stay at home with her sisters.

    +++ 00:01:16 +++
    Student: It's been a dangerous environment at the breakfast club.
    Viet-ly Nguyen: We have been reading. Simultaneously, we're also doing a research project about the Black Panthers.
    Viet-ly Nguyen: All right, eyes back up here. So the question you all just talked about is, what do they enjoy? What don't they like? And do you think whether or not it's a good idea if they continue to attend this center? Giovani, can we start with you, please?

    +++ 00:01:42 +++
    Student: They didn't really know much about the Black Panthers, but then when they started going to the center, they started learning more, who people in Black Panthers were.
    Viet-ly Nguyen: Okay, good. Daniel, do you have same idea, different idea, adding on?
    Student: I was just adding on. I think their experience is like, one of the sisters was getting picked on because her doll was white and Crazy Calvin was like, "You're not white like that doll. You don't have blonde hair." And it's good for them to keep going, because they could go, literally wake up and have a full stomach.

    +++ 00:02:12 +++
    Viet-ly Nguyen: The common core standards are all over this lesson, I feel. They're reading some sort of complex text. You might rea it two, three times, it depends, and you'll have an opportunity to talk about it with your pair, normally with the whole group as well. And then somehow you're going to show what you understand through your writing.
    Viet-ly Nguyen: Take a look at the targets for today, please. One, two, three, begin.
    Students: I can engage in academic discourse to help my partner elaborate, clarify and interpret.

    +++ 00:02:43 +++
    Viet-ly Nguyen: Every single day, there are learning targets and the students go over them. They review them just to make sure that by the end of class, they consider, have I met these targets or not?
    Viet-ly Nguyen: You guys have already been doing this a little bit so far, just in the do now, right, using evidence and examples, but we're going to continue to focus on that, just like we have all year long.
    Common Core Standards
    1. Complex Text
    2. Text-based academic discussion
    3. Written response
    Viet-ly Nguyen: So let's find the chapter, "Rally for Bobby."

    +++ 00:03:06 +++
    Viet-ly Nguyen: So we're right in the middle of the book and we're reading the chapter, "Rally for Bobby." And they learn about little Bobby Hutton and the history with him and in the Black Panthers. And at the end of the chapter, they are going to be thinking, discussing and writing about whether or not they think Delphine, the older sister, should keep the younger sisters at home or stay at the center.

    +++ 00:03:28 +++
    Viet-ly Nguyen: First thing is first. I am going to put two or three different questions on the board for you, some prompts, right. And the first thing you're going to do is work it out with your partner. Any time we have some discussion prompts, any time we are talking about something together, I want you to remember, the two of you are like a team, right. You're a team trying to figure out the answer together, collaborate and work it out.
    Viet-ly Nguyen: In an academic discussion, it's super important to have a quality prompt.
    Discussion Prompt
    Do you think Delphine and her sisters should return to the Center and/or attend the Rally for Bobby? Why or why not?
    What promises has she made to her father? What kind of big sister is she?

    +++ 00:03:53 +++
    Viet-ly Nguyen: I want you to think about who Delphine is as a character, right? Like what do we know about her? What kind of big sister she is.
    Viet-ly Nguyen: It should have the opportunity to be debatable, so choosing one or the other, or have multiple choices. It also can provide multiple perspectives.

    +++ 00:04:12 +++
    Viet-ly Nguyen: What I'm going to do is give you five pieces of criteria. I'm going to call this what's called a participation protocol and I want to make sure that everybody is on point. Four, you already know. Look, lean, lower your voice and listen. I'm adding a fifth element, which is using evidence and examples, something that you guys already do very naturally.
    Participation protocol
    1. Look 3. Lower Voice
    2. Lean 4. Listen
    Viet-ly Nguyen: We talk about the four Ls of academic discourse and then I added a different-- another layer, which is using evidence or examples.
    5. Use Evidence & Examples
    Viet-ly Nguyen: It's an accountability piece, making sure that they're staying on point.

    +++ 00:04:44 +++
    Viet-ly Nguyen: So go ahead. Here are your discussion prompts. Your academic discourse begins.

    Student: Delphine and her sisters, they should return to the center and they should go to the rally, even though that it is dangerous and it can turn into riots. And they should really go, because it shows how they care for their communities.
    Student: She shouldn't go to the rally, because she might get-- something bad might happen to her, because the police might try to do something to the Black Panthers but miss him and accidentally do it to her.

    +++ 00:05:15 +++
    Student: I think she would like to go to the rally, since it wasn't fair influence-- because it wasn't very fair that little Bobby Hutton was shot.
    Student: Well, I think she wants to go because it's kind of dangerous and she's really protective over her sisters. How she told Sister Makuma, but we don't really know what Sister Makuma's going to say. She might encourage her to go.
    Student: I think they maybe should go, because if they go, it might be too dangerous, because if someone pulls out a gun, they're all screwed.

    +++ 00:05:46 +++
    Viet-ly Nguyen: Teaching ELL during this lesson, I sort of have to think of a broader picture. So if a student is an ELL learner, oftentimes I'm pairing that student with a more fluent speaker in English, who has more of a command in English, so that they can hear the fluency and hear the academic speech in the classroom.

    +++ 00:06:05 +++
    Student: She's a mother-sister because she takes care of her sisters, even though that her father, like if her father didn't say to take care of her, she would know to take care of them, because they know that they're just naïve and they don't know the real world.

    +++ 00:06:19 +++
    Viet-ly Nguyen: The other piece is scribing, walking around and listening in on a couple of pair discussions and writing down what students say. Then I'm going to put it up on the Elmo for everybody to see. It gives a voice to the students and they say, "Oh, my name's up there. I got on the piece of paper. I got on the board." And now their ideas are public.
    Viet-ly Nguyen: Here are some of the things that I heard, and then at any point, if you want to expand, maybe you have a question to bring this back, and so let's gather our ideas right now, okay?

    +++ 00:06:49 +++
    Viet-ly Nguyen: The purpose of scribing and showing it in front of the whole class is to re-engage them back as a whole group.
    Viet-ly Nguyen: The first thing I heard was Daniel started off by saying, "Delphine is angry that little Bobby Hutton died." And then right away, Gilmarc actually added to that, right. "It wasn't fair that he died." So how does that play into the questions we were just asked or trying to answer?
    Student: It debates whether or not that Delphine and her sister should go, and help support, and help the park be named after Bobby Hutton.

    +++ 00:07:23 +++
    Viet-ly Nguyen: I think the core of my teaching is that I hold the students to really high expectations. I provide a lot of structures for them, and I think a lot of students need that.
    Viet-ly Nguyen: I can really tell that you guys are listening, and the way that I can tell that is you're using other people's names to show, "Okay I'm listening," and then you say, "I agree. I disagree. I'd like to add on to," right. Very, very nice.

    +++ 00:07:44 +++
    Viet-ly Nguyen: It's really being about, all right, I can be a confident student in the classroom. I'm a part of this. I'm a member of this community and I have something to say, have something to do, and it's building those sort of social emotional skills as well. I don't think it's ever too soon to get them thinking.
    Viet-ly Nguyen: Bye.
    Students: Bye.

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School Details

Westlake Middle School
2629 Harrison Street
Oakland CA 94612
Population: 455

Data Provided By:



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