Spring 2021


Capstone Project

Degree Name



Julia Reimer

Content Expert

Korey Keeler


Students with limited or interrupted formal education (SLIFE) are a subset of English learners who may have no previous schooling, limited schooling, or interrupted prior schooling; they have had at least two fewer years of schooling than their peers. They not only lack English proficiency but also tend to have limited or no first language literacy (DeCapua & Marshall, 2015). This project looks to address English literacy instruction for SLIFE, knowing current practices are not meeting the needs of this population, as evidenced by SLIFE having some of the highest high school dropout rates (DeCapua et al., 2007). The research question addressed in this project was: what strategies and materials are most effective for teaching foundational literacy to SLIFE with low English Language Proficiency at the secondary level? Despite a lack in quantity of research, there are some high leverage ideas for teachers who are working with SLIFE at the secondary level, and the aim of this project is to create a workshop that will bring this research to the forefront. For instance, understanding key characteristics of this population is crucial in order to lessen cultural dissonance and create a more welcoming classroom environment. Decapua and Marshall (2015) provide research-based insight and strategies that are useful to secondary teachers. Additionally, Hos (2016) offers suggestions for how secondary teachers have used reading, writing, listening, and speaking to help SLIFE develop basic literacy skills within a curriculum. This project involved creating five professional learning sessions focusing on literacy instruction for SLIFE. The sessions are designed for any teacher providing literacy instruction to SLIFE, with the intended outcome being higher achievement outcomes for SLIFE. After initially introducing SLIFE and their unique assets and needs, sessions center around components of literacy development that have been supportive for SLIFE, including phonemic awareness, oral language development, and vocabulary and building background knowledge (Hos, 2016). There are strategies and resources available that can better support SLIFE as they develop literacy skills, and this project aspires to guide teachers through identifying and implementing research-based practices for better student outcomes.

Project Type

Professional Development


At-risk Students, ESL/ ELLs, Literacy, Teachers/ Teaching








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