Learning Lunch: The ABCs of teaching ELL students

Lincoln Public Schools serves roughly 3,000 English Language Learner (ELL) students. They come from 152 countries and speak more than 130 different languages. 

They all are welcome at LPS - and educating them is a responsibility the school district takes very seriously.

“We need to be mindful and think about what are the best ways we can teach them the content and information that we want them to learn and use,” said Laura Salem, LPS ELL program supervisor.

Salem and Kate Damgaard, LPS language curriculum specialist, shared some of the strategies and processes that LPS uses to educate ELL students at the latest Learning Lunch, “ABCs of Teaching English to Immigrant/Refugee Students,” held Tuesday in the boardroom at LPS District Office.

Salem and Damgaard led audience members through a few of these strategies. To learn the word “borborygmus,” for example, Damgaard had them close their eyes as she told a story about skipping breakfast, walking into the boardroom and smelling the delicious scent of someone’s lunch, a Baja chicken bowl. Because she was hungry, this led to a borborygmus: a rumbling sound made by the movement of gases in the stomach and intestine.

A second strategy is the use of pictures. For this, audience members drew a picture of “cullet,” which is broken glass used for recycling. And for “hallux,” they used Play-Doh to create a physical model of the word’s definition: the big toe on a human or the first digit on the hind foot of some mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians.

Watch the full video of their presentation to learn more about the LPS ELL program.

Learning Lunches are generally held on the third Tuesday of the month in the boardroom at LPS District Office, 5905 O St. Doors to the boardroom open at 11:45 a.m., the program begins at noon, with questions-and-answers at 12:30 p.m. Please bring your own lunch - we'll provide dessert.

The remaining LPS Learning Lunch schedule for 2019-20:

Nov. 19 - "Meeting the Needs of All Students: Supporting our Students Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing"

This session will provide an introduction to the supports, technology and services provided in our district for one of the fast-growing disability areas within LPS. Presenters: Alisha Bollinger, Special Education supervisor.

Dec. 17 - "SROs: Understanding this Important Job"

School Resource Officers wear many hats during their shift: mentor, teacher, investigator, guardian. Come hear how Lincoln Public Schools and the Lincoln Police Department have partnered to ensure our SROs successfully serve our students and staff. Presenters: Joe Wright, director of Security at LPS, and a representative from Lincoln Police Department.

Jan. 14 - "Information Presentation about the 2020 Bond Issue"

During January's Learning Lunch, Superintendent Steve Joel will present information about the bond issue for consideration on February 11th. On December 10, the Lincoln Board of Education passed a resolution calling for a special election on February 11, 2020 asking voters to approve a $290 million bond issue to address building needs throughout the school district as identified in the updated LPS 10-year Facility and Infrastructure Plan.

Feb. 18 - "We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution"

LPS Government students have the opportunity to showcase their civic and Constitutional knowledge through the "We the People" program and competition. Presenter: Jaci Kellison, K-12 curriculum specialist, social studies

March 17 - "The Importance of Our Guest Teachers in LPS"

The job of being a substitute teacher can be challenging, yet rewarding. This session will provide information about being a substitute teacher in Lincoln Public Schools and the opportunities that are available for professional growth and development. Presenters: Vann Price, LPS Human Resources Department supervisor for secondary personnel, and Kren Shellhase, administrative assistant.

April 21 - "Take Charge, Career Readiness and Financial Responsibility: Lessons in Career and Personal Finance"

Lessons from the classroom in teaching young people responsibility in career and personal finance. Presenters: Julie Hippen, assistant curriculum specialist for career and technical education, along with teachers and students.

May 12 - "Creating Music on a Blank Canvas"

The final Learning Lunch of the school year will focus on the creative aspect of music. All six LPS high schools offer various music courses that empower and foster students to learn the creative process of music composition and improvisation. Some of our talented high school students will share their experiences, inspiration and performances of creating their own original music. Presenter: Lance Nielsen, LPS supervisor of Music.

Published: October 17, 2019, Updated: January 9, 2020