What Would Be the Tagline for Your English Learner Initiative?

In the Building Our Collective session at our Spring Symposia, we asked administrators and teacher leaders to create and share a tagline about their district's English learner initiative. For some, it was a summary of their district’s biggest accomplishments, for others, it was a motivational motto, and for some a guiding principle. In this time of professional uncertainty and physical disconnect from our collaborative communities, we believe it is powerful – and imperative – to communicate with each other to align our visions and hone in on why we do the work.

Instructional leaders reflect on English learner initiatives 

 

 

A tremendous thank you to each leader who shared their voice in this video and offered us a brief glimpse of their vision for equity and growth for English learners.

 

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333 Hits

Online Learning Designed for Students and Families

As a result of the devastating COVID-19 pandemic, online learning has taken massive leaps across the country, virtual and overnight. The challenges of teaching and requirements of tools for learning now fall to parents and students, as well as teachers. Here is a list of resources geared to students and parents in a distant learning environment.

· Quality media and at-home learning opportunities for families during the coronavirus pandemic are provided by Common Sense Media. 
www.commonsensemedia.org

 

· As parents and teachers collaborate to build students' access to learning, everyone is empowered. Here is a step-by-step guide to help parents understand how to use a valuable learning tool, Google Classroom:
Learning Google Classroom

 

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474 Hits

English Learner Interview

This is a time when many of us are profoundly missing our students, and possibly mourning the fact that we won't see them in person again this academic year.

It can be comforting and reinvigorating to remember that our students are still as vibrant and curious as ever, and we can still play an integral and positive role in their lives. 

With that in mind, we'd like to share an uplifting interview our co-founder Michelle conducted with a middle school English learner named Jianung. 

ELD success story  

E.L. Achieve Interview with Jianung 

 

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Free Standards-Aligned Lesson Videos and Plans

Resources for online learning

PBS and local radio stations have curated free, standards-aligned videos, interactives, lesson plans, and more for teachers with state-specific websites. Subjects include math, English language arts, science, social studies, health and PE, the arts and professional development.

www.pbslearningmedia.org

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303 Hits

Three Tips for Noticing Language Proficiency in Writing

There's no doubt becoming proficient in a second language is a complex process. With so much nuance and detail to learn, it's hard to know where to focus our attention, not to mention knowing the best next step for teaching our English learners.

Instead of overly relying on (stale) standardized test scores to understand students' English proficiency, we can look at their writing. Here are three key hallmarks to guide you in recognizing where students' writing lands on a continuum of proficiency:

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1022 Hits

Cultivating Love in the Classroom

"Love" is a concept that can easily be dismissed as abstract or sappy – something that has no place in the classroom. But love is the foundation for positive relationships, and positive relationships are the foundation for effective teaching and learning.

As teachers, we know that connection and community are vital to our sense of well-being. We experience more than we have the time or bandwidth to properly address. We bear witness as our students struggle, in the classroom and the outside world. But demands on our time are high, and the pressure to always be “productive” can make it feel counterintuitive to slow down and invest in interpersonal growth. If we’re always putting out little fires, we may have limited time to build a safe and sturdy infrastructure. But the investment is always worth it.


Fortunately, we understand more than ever before that both social-emotional education and positive, trusting relationships play a crucial role in effective systems. Pedagogies like trauma-informed teaching, radical vulnerability, growth mindset, and academic optimism are all well-studied approaches, and ones that cultivate love. 

How do we get started in establishing a culture of love in the classroom? How do we help students experience the trust and vulnerability required to truly learn, while also keeping our academic expectations high and our instruction brisk and rigorous? And how do we maintain that culture throughout the year as we inevitably falter, fatigue, and experience demoralizing setbacks? 

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2074 Hits

Coaching Cycles to Support Implementation of CM

Nancy Reynolds and Karen MacDonald

Salem-Keizer School District

Last year, our district began learning more about effective professional development. 

From our inquiry into research around this topic, we discovered that professional development alone has a limited impact on teachers’ instructional practice. Yet, when professional development is followed up with coaching, the impact on teacher practice increases exponentially. 

In response to what we learned, we are rethinking how we deliver our CM teacher institutes. To be sure there is a coaching component to the professional development offered, we are adding an hour of 1:1 coaching for each participant, each week, to support them as they begin to implement each step of CM. The fieldwork for each institute day gives us a focus for each of these sessions. 

Cycle of Implementation Support
We know from our continued partnership with E.L. Achieve that implementation is a process and that to truly know how it’s going, we have to look to classroom practice. This is what the Cycle of Implementation Support is all about.

Given this, our coaching team designed a multi-phase approach to creating our coaching cycles. This is new for us and our teachers, and we recognize that as part of making the sessions work, we have to build in time to develop our relationships and start to earn trust.

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1382 Hits

Keys to Completing the Instructional Sequence in ELD

Vanessa Dexter, Certified Elementary ELD Presenter and teacher,
Southern Oregon Education Service District
Guest blogger 

As an Elementary Systematic ELD Presenter, I hear many teachers asking how they can get through the entire instructional sequence within a lesson.

syseld instructional sequenceTo be effective, a lesson needs to include:

  • An Open the Lesson section to set the purpose for learning.
  • Teach  section (often called a mini-lesson) for the teacher to take the lead in modeling and explaining the target.
  • Guided practice – time for students to Practice  together and then Take the Language to Application on their own. 
  • A Closing to recap and transfer the learning. 

If we're not organized, it's easy to fill the lesson with teacher talk or focused on the process and procedure of getting students into interaction routines. Then we end up having to shorten or, even worse, cut certain parts of the lesson. 

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Practice Makes Fluent

practice makes fluentMelissa Bowen, Administrator and Certified Secondary CM Presenter, Salinas Union High School District
Guest blogger

Multiple and consistent opportunities for our English learners to practice the target language – not just with writing and reading but with speaking, too – are so important. This year our instructional coaching team decided to shadow an English learner student for the entire school day, and it was one of the saddest things I have ever witnessed.

The student I shadowed, along with many others, literally only had seconds of structured student talk time for the entire day.

Our English learners were literally sitting in each classroom in complete silence!

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1198 Hits

Assets-Based Introduction to Language Acquisition

Jan Bautista, District Coach TSA and Certified Elementary ELD Presenter,
San Francisco Unified School District
Guest bloggerGA 3 6 BEI W4 L2a

When we meet some of our multilingual learners in the 6th grade, they have had a few years with the stigma of being an English learner and being "stuck" in an ELD class. At San Francisco Unified, we have been embracing the work of Zaretta Hammond's Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain and strive to spend the first two weeks of the school year building relationships with our students and getting to know them to help them become unstuck.

The Art of Getting Along Elementary Systematic ELD Instructional Unit is definitely a great way to start this. We also make plenty of time for community circles, using translation support from peers and Google to allow students the safety of expressing themselves as they are.

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1680 Hits

Reading Students' Invisible Subtitles

pencil poemOften, English learners disappear in their classrooms and don't feel connected to their peers or teachers. Sometimes they are mislabeled as being disengaged or uncaring. Frequently, they are carrying burdens and hurt we don't know about. These barriers can be crippling – but with skillful teaching strategies, they can be transformed.

As a new high school teacher, Grace Dearborn found out that when she reacted to challenging situations with frustration or anger, it rarely helped. A few years into teaching, she realized that using compassion to teach her high school students school-appropriate behavior created a major shift in classroom dynamics. She started to see happier and more engaged students.   

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2066 Hits

Spark A-ha Moments: Teaching Context Clues to ELs

Confident and engaged readers manage a bunch of strategies as they read. We contribute to English learners’ reading comprehension and vocabulary growth by explicitly talking about these strategies and modeling what they look like in action. We model how to make connections between the text and our previous knowledge, explain how we visualize events as we read, and explain how to use evidence from the text to predict what is to come. We identify when we are confused by the text and show how rereading helps us revise our understanding. We model how to draw on language knowledge to determine the meaning of words within a phrase, sentence, and passage. And the focus of this blog: we model how to recognize and interpret context clues.

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29487 Hits

Paraprofessionals Serving English Learners: Optimizing Our System of Support

Paraprofessional Training 2018For a district fortunate enough to have paraprofessionals on its team, they can have a crucial influence in the success of English learners. Because they often meet with students in small groups or one on one, paraprofessionals have a unique opportunity to focus their attention on specific students. They can pinpoint challenges, dig into places where students need help, and build caring relationships that bolster student confidence and increase a sense of belonging. 

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2515 Hits

Incremental Revolution: A Constructing Meaning Success Story

Donna Doherty blog author photoDonna Doherty, Eureka City Schools
Guest blogger

Three years ago ... I did not know how to write a simple essay. It would take me about two weeks, and now I can write an essay without really needing any help. This progress was achieved by practicing a lot and writing big essays to prepare me for college. I realized that it’s not as bad as what I thought it would be, to be writing essays all the time. –Mayra 

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3252 Hits

Learning Walks: A Portal to Strengthening Practice

Refining instructional practice is hard work. It requires a positive learning environment – a safe place to take risks. It also requires real-time models to mark, watch, and study how others operate in the classroom, coupled with opportunities to investigate our professional practices and move us closer to instruction that promotes a thriving and productive learning environment for students.

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4461 Hits

Secondary Systematic ELD Instructional Units: A Teacher’s Perspective

SysELDSecUnit1Cover 72dpi 1To engage successfully in coursework taught in English, secondary English learners must operate from a competent second-language base. Many adolescent ELs are LTELs, or long-term English learners. They have spent most or all of their educational careers in American schools and are comfortable using English in most settings. On the surface, these students do not seem to need specific language instruction. However, their verbal fluency often masks their need to gain a deeper understanding of English.

This is where the Secondary Systematic ELD Instructional Unitscome into play. They have been carefully designed to offer language instruction that is interactive, student centered, standards aligned, and specific to students’ identified proficiency level.

Six units are planned for three proficiency levels – New to English/Beginning, Expanding/Intermediate, and Bridging/Advanced. The goal of Unit 1: Pathways to Success is to learn language to interpret a range of concepts related to success. English learners learn about and explain habits of success, discuss challenges that prevent people from meeting goals, and observe ways to develop habits of success.

I was fortunate to have the chance to talk with Duyen My Tong, a Secondary Systematic ELD teacher who taught the unit last fall, about her work, the classroom, and how students responded to the new unit. 

Welcome, Duyen! Today we are going to talk about the SysELD Pathways to Success Expanding Unit.

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3698 Hits

Increasing English Learners’ Academic Language: Gradual release in content-area classes

How long do English learners need extensive language support? When should you reduce the language support?

Teachers who include explicit language support in their content instruction may grapple with when and how to reduce scaffolds and foster independence. Our goal is for students to accurately, flexibly, and confidently express their content understanding. Therefore, to begin to answer these questions, we must first identify the reasons for providing explicit language instruction and how we create effective language support. 

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5050 Hits

English Learners and the Department of Education: Equity, access, and advocacy

"Every child should be able to receive the very best that our country has to offer, regardless of his or her circumstances of birth." - Kevin Kumashiro, 2017

What is the role of the U.S. Department of Education in ensuring equity? 

While public education is largely guided by state and local agencies, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) plays an undeniable role in influencing public education. We have an obligation to understand how federal policies impact our student populations.

blog doe chart.FINAL

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4029 Hits

Refining English Language Development: A district's journey

wilmaWilma Kozai, Director; former assistant superintendent, Grandview School District
Guest blogger

 Every school district faces daunting challenges in meeting diverse students’ needs. Some of these struggles are unique, but many are shared by multiple districts. Telling our stories of implementing new initiatives is a way for us to build our collective understanding of the practices and systems that help or hinder our progress towards achieving our goals.

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4121 Hits

English Language Development Materials: Five questions to answer before adopting

ccssAccording to Title III requirements, regardless of the type of program in which English learners are enrolled, they must receive instruction in English at their level of English proficiency, as well as meaningful access to grade-level academic content (Castañeda v. Pickard, 1981). School systems are compelled to structure the day to ensure English learners receive explicit language instruction for these two related, but distinct, purposes:

  • Integrated ELD to provide meaningful access to language arts (and other content) instruction. Grade-level content learning is in the foreground; it is the purpose for instruction – and while students’ language development needs must inform planning, the instructional goal is achieving the demands of grade-level content.
  • Dedicated ELD to grow students’ proficiency in English. Proficiency-level language learning is in the foreground; it is the purpose for instruction – and while grade-level literacy needs must inform planning, the instructional goal is developing English language.
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7090 Hits

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