Topics: Student Engagement Featured multilingual learners Instructional Routines

Choreographing Instructional Routines with Multilingual Learners in Mind

Tsianina Tovar

by Tsianina Tovar

December 13, 2022
Choreographing Instructional Routines with Multilingual Learners in Mind

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Posted in: Aha! Blog > Wit & Wisdom Blog > Student Engagement multilingual learners Instructional Routines > Choreographing Instructional Routines with Multilingual Learners in Mind

When I walk into a Wit & Wisdom® classroom, I enter an exciting place where I see Word Walls and anchor charts. I see module questions and artifacts, such as core text cover images, displayed on creative and colorful bulletin boards. I see students eagerly lean over interesting books and urgently capture their ideas in their journals. Sometimes, I close my eyes and listen. Then I hear teachers ask rigorous and engaging questions. I hear the buzz as students discuss these questions with their classmates. Often, I hear the squeak of chairs being pushed away from desks as students move to interact with each other and the lesson content.

These dynamic classroom sights and sounds remind me of choreography. Part of this artful choreography involves careful planning of instructional routines. Wit & Wisdom’s instructional routines drive student engagement by activating different ways to process a text. When students participate in instructional routines, they build content knowledge, deepen their understanding, and develop literacy skills. Including multilingual learners (MLLs) in the lively choreography of Wit & Wisdom instruction is crucial to their success. MLLs need access to language development, concepts, and skills provided by grade-level content and literacy instruction (National Academy of Sciences 310). To help MLLs succeed, teachers must plan how to include MLLs in instructional routines.  

Effective Scaffolds for Five Common Instructional Routines

The Wit & Wisdom Implementation Guide (located in the Teacher Resource Pack) outlines the purpose, grouping, and instructions for the frequently used routines in Wit & Wisdom. Below are a few instructional routines and some ways teachers might scaffold them to support MLLs.

1. Think–Pair–Share

Students think about a question, then share a response with a partner, and finally share ideas with the whole group. 

How It Works Scaffolds for MLLs
  1. Pose a thought-provoking question.
  2. Give students time to think.
  3. Instruct students to share their responses with a partner.
  4. Direct pairs to share their responses with small groups or the whole group. Not all students need to share their responses in the larger group. 
  • Provide visual support.
  • Translate the question into the students’ home languages.
  • Offer a sentence frame.
  • Help students draft a response during the Think stage.
  • Pair students who have the same home language so that they may share in their home language.
  • Allow students to draw a response. 


2. Word Wall

A Word Wall supports students in tracking, using, and deepening understanding of vocabulary. In Kindergarten and Grade 1, students use Word Walls instead of vocabulary journals, but teachers can effectively support vocabulary development through Grade 8 by using the Word Wall strategy. 

How It Works Scaffolds for MLLs
  1. Designate a space on a classroom wall.
  2. When students encounter key vocabulary, direct them to add sticky notes with word definitions and examples.
  3. Encourage students to refer to the Word Wall to incorporate vocabulary into discussion and writing. 
  • Cocreate images and visuals for words on the Word Wall.
  • Include home language translations of words on the Word Wall. Identify cognates.
  • Support students in identifying common morphemes in the words on the Word Wall. Highlight word parts, such as prefixes, that help students make connections to other words.
  • Cocreate categories within the Word Wall so that students can categorize words by parts of speech, meaning, or morphemes. 


3. Anchor Chart

An anchor chart captures information, strategies, or procedures foundational to students’ learning. It is often created collaboratively, and it is frequently developed and used across lessons. 

How It Works Scaffolds for MLLs
  1. Write a title for the anchor chart on a large sheet of chart paper.
  2. As taught or discussed, add information, strategies, or procedures. Include student input as appropriate.
  3. Post the chart. Refer to and encourage students to refer to it during applicable lessons or activities. 
  • Include MLLs when creating anchor charts. Invite them to contribute content they already know.
  • Use visual supports. Add images and use color strategically to highlight important information.
  • Add sentence frames. 


4. Jigsaw

In a Jigsaw, students study one section of a text (or task) and share with students who studied other sections. Students can then access the ideas from the full text without closely reading the full text. 

How It Works Scaffolds for MLLs
  1. Divide a text (or task) into pieces.
  2. Group students into “home” groups. Assign each student in a home group a specific piece of the text (or task).
  3. Regroup students according to their assignment from step 2, forming “expert” groups with students who share the same assignment.
  4. Instruct assignment groups to work collaboratively to become experts on their assigned text (or task).
  5. Return students to their home groups and instruct each group member to share their expertise. 
  • Before the Jigsaw, preview the content of an assigned text (or task) with MLLs.
  • Strategically assign MLLs to passages based on text complexity.
  • Provide glossaries, visual support, and home language support as needed.
  • Offer sentence frames. 


5. Stop and Jot

Stop and Jot allows individual written responses to texts and learning. This routine provides teachers ongoing assessment data and helps students track their thinking. 

How It Works Scaffolds for MLLs
  1. During a task, prompt students to pause and to respond to a question.
  2. Instruct students to write a brief response.  
  3. Direct students to briefly discuss their responses with a partner, the whole class, or both.
  4. Encourage students to refer to their Stop and Jots when completing formative assessments. 
  • Offer sentence frames.
  • Allow MLLs to respond in their home languages.  
  • Provide MLLs other response options, such as a recorded voice note or a drawing.
  • Pair students who have the same home language during the share out. 


Instructional Routines in Wit & Wisdom Prologue

Prologue lessons prepare students in Grades 6–8 to engage in Wit & Wisdom lessons. Prologue lessons use many Wit & Wisdom instructional routines to foster purposeful discussion and support oral language development. The Prologue Implementation Guide includes an overview of all instructional routines used in Prologue lessons and recommended scaffolds.


Wit & Wisdom’s instructional routines offer opportunities for active learning in which students take center stage to grapple with rich content and make their thinking visible. During these instructional routines, students move and speak with purpose, as though they are performing a dance. MLLs deserve the spotlight, too. When teachers include MLLs in instructional routines with appropriate support, MLLs also get to participate in the vibrant choreography of a Wit & Wisdom classroom.


Works Cited

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Promoting the Educational Success of Children and Youth Learning English: Promising Futures. The National Academies Press, 2017, p. 310. 

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Topics: Student Engagement Featured multilingual learners Instructional Routines