Using Tech to Enable Learning for ELL

This week has been rough, as I have been sick all week, and even now am battling the flu, of course to top it off my kids decided to be sick as well!  We are addressing different “structured problems” and this week I will be looking at an Ill structured problem, and what tools I can use to help solve these problems.  The problem I wish to address is one that I am currently planning for with my students for next semester.  “How do you teach English Language Learners about human anatomy in an English only classroom?”.  Now this is a common ELL concern for any topic, but I am focusing on not only teaching them the vocabulary but them also understanding the functioning, structure, and purpose of the anatomy at the same level as the fluent English speakers in class.

According to Baker, D’Mello, Rodrigo and Graesser (2010) frustration is less associated with poor learning, but confusion and boredom led to low engagement and low learning in ELL students.  While Shaw, Lyon, Stoddart, Mosqueda, and Menon(2014) showed that the use of inquiry based teaching kept educational improvement relatively equivalent between both ELL and native speakers.

To address this I have chosen a tool that I love to use for learning anatomy in an inquiry based method.  I found it from an amazing teacher, Jarrod Robinson from, here is my video explaining it.

The application I used is “Complete Anatomy 2018” by 3D4Medical, they have a variety of applications but I like this one because students are able to explore on a phone, Ipad or laptop the whole human body, see how things interact, fully immerse themselves in inquiry based learning of human anatomy without being hung up on the language barriers presented by an English class. Then when we discuss in class I can help with the difficult vocab or concept areas and not worry about spending too much time trying to explain things that have difficult translation problems.  This will ensure that all learners have a maximized chance at improving learning and mastering content.


Baker, Ryan, S.J., D’Mello, Sidney K., Rodrigo, Ma. Mercedes T, Graesser, Arthur C. (2010). Better to be frustrated than bored: The incidence, persistence, and impact of learners’ cognitive–affective states during interactions with three different computer-based learning environments. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies. Volume 68(4). Pages 223-241. ISSN 1071-5819,

Shaw, J.M., Lyon, E.G., Stoddart, T. et al. (2014) Improving Science and Literacy Learning for English Language Learners: Evidencve from a Pre-service Teacher Preparation Intervention. J Sci Teacher Educ 25: 621.

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