Focused ELD Frequently Asked Questions


1. What information should I use to group my students for ELD?
2. How are the Focused ELD curriculum guides linked to our ELA content?
3. I don't like the topics used in the curriculum guides, Can I change them?
4. Why is there so much vocabulary on the FELD curriculum guides? My students can't remember all those words!
5. Where can I find pictures for curriculum guide topics?
6. What is the role of writing during ELD?
7. My lessons are done in 15 minutes . How can I extend them?
8. How can I monitor my students' progress in ELD?

1. What information should I use to group my students for ELD?

For initial placement:

  • Unoffical, hand-scored CELDT data in October provides the most current information for grouping students in the beginning of the year.

  • Look at the individual subtests rather than just the overall proficiency level (OPL). Students with an OPL of Intermediate often have subtest scores of Early Advanced or Advanced in their listening and speaking domains. Students should be placed at the highest point so that they build capacity by pulling up the other domain proficiencies. Herrera states, “…if they are placed below any of their domain proficiency levels, they become dependent and pull the other domains down.” (Instructional Implications of Language Domain Disparities Among English Learners: A Teacher’s Perspective by George Herrera)

  • SBRC oral and written expression ELD information can help set up ELD groups early in September and teachers make grouping changes based on ongoing observation of the students’ English language development.


2. How are the Focused ELD curriculum guides linked to our ELA content?

  • The FELD curriculum guides are functionally linked to the Units of Inquiry. Functions are the tasks or purposes for using language such as the function of describing past actions. The functions were organized to support the type of reading and writing work students were expected to do in ELA.

  • For example: In the 2nd grade Unit of Inquiry, “Does My Character Have Character?” students are expected to write a narrative; functions such as describing past actions, explaining a series of actions and describing/comparing physical characteristics, will all be useful functions to practice during ELD. The focus on functional language helps students bridge the new language learning to their work in ELA and other contexts.

  • During ELD, students may be practicing functional, generative language with familiar topics.

  • Yearlong curriculum maps for the Focused ELD curriculum guides are available through the OLA website under “Instructional Supports/Professional Development” Long-in to eteams using your employee ID and password.


3. I don't like the topics used in the curriculum guides, can I change them?

  • Yes, you can adapt the topics on the guides. Teachers should feel free to use topics that peak students’ interest. Also teachers take into consideration the resources available at their sites.

  • The topics chosen are common ELD topics that are found in most ELD programs. English learners have opportunities to learn general utility vocabulary that is often not covered in the content areas but is necessary for their full participation in class.

  • The most powerful language in ELD is the functional language that applies in multiple contexts with various topics. Hook your students with topics of interest!


4. Why are there so many vocabulary words on the FELD curriculum guides?

  • There are a variety of examples for vocabulary, grammatical forms, prompts and responses across the proficiency levels. The intention is to give teachers a bank of words as a resource from which to choose. Choose or add what works best for your particular group of English learners.

  • If the suggestions for vocabulary, grammatical forms and prompts and responses do not meet the linguistic needs of your particular group of students, modify them. Use the oral language development data you’ve collected and evidence from student writing to be strategic and responsive.

5. Where can I find pictures for curriculum guide topics?

  • There are hundreds of picture cards at www.focusedeld.wikispaces.com. You can find the pictures connected to each unit when you visit the “Grade Level Planning Supports” link or you can go to “Picture Cards by Topic” for a general catalog of pictures.


6. Is writing integrated in ELD?

  • Of course! However, ELD is not the time to teach the writing process. Writing in ELD is an opportunity for students to apply what they are practicing orally to print. ELD is a time for rehearsal. Ideas for how to incorporate writing during ELD can be found on the Focused ELD wikispace under “Structured Language Practice/Application Ideas.”

  • Teachers should be explicit about applying the language practiced during ELD in other contexts. Saying things like, “Remember when you were describing your family members during ELD? I want you to use the same type of descriptive language when you’re describing the characters in the story we read. For example…”

  • During Focused ELD lessons, it’s important for students to understand what it is they’re learning and why. During the “I Do It” explicit teaching of grammatical forms, be sure students focus on the language emphasis. For example, if the function is Describe Frequency of Events and your focus grammatical forms are the adverbs sometimes, always, usually, and never, students should understand you have chosen a specific topic to use as a springboard for practice but that the grammatical forms can be used in a variety of situations. Assist students in making those connections outside of the chosen topic.

7. My lessons are done in 15 minutes. How can I extend them?


  • Tab 4 of your binder provides ideas on various instructional routines. There is also a list posted on the Focused ELD Wikispace explaining favorite ideas for structured language practice. You can find this as the first item under “Structured Language Practice/Application Ideas” on the main page.

  • Plan for applications at the end of a lesson cycle. Students need to know what they are going to do with the taught language: it provides the motivation to learn it.

  • There are suggestions for application ideas in the FELD curriculum guides. However, many teachers come up with novel ideas that relate to their classroom context. For example, mock visits to a restaurant or doctor, skits, co-created storyboards, etc., are all examples of meaningful ways for students to apply the functional language they have learned. More application ideas for each unit will be posted on the wikispace and in the instructional supports section of our OLA district webpage.

  • Consider having students work in pairs or small groups on both oral and written applications; it is yet another opportunity for language practice as students use English to negotiate their ideas for the application.

  • If you’re noticing the language is too easy or too difficult, be responsive. Keep in mind, language learning is extremely complex and your students will have strengths and gaps across proficiency levels.

  • You may also want to review the response to question #1 on this FAQ and consider if your students are placed at the appropriate level for their language development.


8. How can I monitor my students' progress in ELD?

  • The Ongoing Assessment tool in your binder, Tab 3.33, is one useful tool to monitor students’ progress in ELD. This tool along with your anecdotal notes of explicit feedback and observations will help you recognize patterns, strengths and gaps over time.

  • The Written Expression Tool is another tool you can implement to monitor student progress. The Written Expression Tool is applied to on demand written work and used to assess and monitor how students are acquiring and applying language across the curriculum. You can find a copy of the tool on our District

    OLA website under “Instructional Supports/Professional Development” Long-in to eteams using your employee ID and password.