Identifying and teaching English learners with disabilities

The nation’s #1 website serving educators and families of English Learners, Colorín Colorado, with generous funding from the National Education Association, produced a new section about identifying, assessing, and teaching English learners who may have learning disabilities. Colorín Colorado’s new website section includes four comprehensive sections including:  (1) special education and ELs: challenges and opportunities, (2) identifying student needs, (3) the special education referral process for ELs, and (4) instruction and assessment. Learn more from the videos ...Read More

MATSOL

Excited to present a Pre-Conference Institute on Harnessing the power of partnerships and a session on Unleashing the power of academic language at the annual MATSOL conference. If you are attending, please come by to say hello!

Interactions Matter:  impact learning through student, classroom, family and community partnerships

by Debbie Zacarian and Michael Silverstone Whether you are an administrator, teacher or a parent–a fan of standardized testing-indexed sanctions, or an advocate for student-directed learning experiences, there is one point of agreement that we all share. We want all students to feel and be successful.  For well over a decade, success has been measured by federal and state accountability standards.  For some groups of students, the testing outcomes and graduation rates reflect progress–for others, ...Read More

Corwin TeachALL for Teachers, Coaches, & Supervisors

Many are asking for information about the Corwin TeachALL APP.  It’s intended for teachers, coaches, & supervisors to strengthen their work with students who do not possess the academic language/literacy skills needed for school success. Here’s a short two-minute video about the APP: Corwin TeachALL.  It’s available, now, in the Apple Store.  

What is a Growth Mindset and How Can It Be Applied in the Classroom?

Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, founder of ‘growth mindset,’ defines the concept as believing that every student can succeed and teaching them to believe in their abilities to: (1) embrace the challenges and complexities of learning; (2) learn the positives of being persistent (3) value effort as a positive; and (4) be inspired to do more (2007). She contrasts this to a ‘fixed mindset’ where educators believe some students can’t succeed based on their intelligence ...Read More

Launching the Just-Right Tools for English Learners

Many are using social networking to get word out that the US Departments of Education and Justice released guidance and tools about the legal obligations of teaching English learners. Last month, the US Department of Education released an English Learner Toolkit to help state and local education agencies help English Learners (ELs) by fulfilling these obligations. The guidance is an important time to remind us of the following. English Learners are Not a Monolithic Group English learners speak over 350+ languages ...Read More

Rethinking the Possibilities of Strength-Based Teacher Evaluation Systems

With all of the time, effort and money being poured into teacher evaluation systems, the outcomes of students from underrepresented populations have not changed enough to see that what we are doing is working. Only 61 percent of English learners, the fastest growing group in the U.S., are graduating and students with disabilities, American Indian and Alaskan Americans, Black students, students living in poverty, and Hispanic students, respectively, are not faring much better (US Department ...Read More

Why Partnerships Can Energize Our Classrooms by Kevin Hodgson

A Middleweb Blog by Kevin Hodgson Like many educators, I find the first days of school are a time to get to know my students through community-building activities. I am always curious about family connections, yet never feel as if I do nearly enough to forge partnerships with families, beyond the Curriculum Night, Parent-Teacher Meetings, and regular newsletters. As a parent of three boys, ironically, I also often feel that I don’t know what my ...Read More

We Can Only Make Education Work When We Are In It Together

by Debbie Zacarian & Michael Silverstone How do two separate people from different places and with different roles actually go about writing one sentence let alone a book? Our answer takes some explaining as it reflects what we believe is needed in education, now. Partnerships are key  The process of co-writing this book began by talking about teaching, talking to define what we were after as educators, and talking about what we thought was ...Read More

Corwin TeachALL Released in Apple Store!

Corwin’sTeachALL APP has been released in the Apple App Store! It is a research-based planning, observation, and reflection/evaluation tool that is intended for teachers, coaches, & supervisors to advance student engagement and academic performance & parent-school partnerships. It draws from teachers’ strengths using a four-stage model for professional growth to support the needs of ALL learners.  TeachALL includes over 20 video examples of elementary, middle and high school practitioners. Go here to learn more! http://www.corwin.com/learning/corwinteachall.html

TESOL 2015 International Conference Sessions

Participants attending TESOL 2015 International Conference, please join me at 4 sessions. I’m presenting at the following: 1.  Reaching English Learners Living With Trauma and Chronic Stress, March 25th 1PM-5PM (Ticketed Event) (co-presented with Judie Haynes): Many English learners and others experience trauma, violence, and chronic stress that affects school engagement and achievement. Reaching ELs who lack the language to express themselves as well as the growing population of students experiencing this phenomenon is a challenge ...Read More

English Learners Living with Trauma, Violence, and Chronic Stress

The film, Spare Parts, was released last month. It’s based on the true story (and book) about 4 undocumented Latino high school students who formed a robotics team that beat MIT engineering students in a contest. Their personal stories as well as the more recent questions, responses and comments heard at President’s Obama’s Town Hall meeting on immigration policies shine much-needed light on a large and growing segment of the nation’s population. Understanding the needs of students ...Read More

HARNESSING THE POTENTIAL AND POSSIBILITIES OF ENGLISH LEARNERS

Many are using social networking to get word out that the US Departments of Education and Justice recently released guidance and tools about teaching English learners.  The two agencies remind us all that ELs should “have equal access to a high quality education and the opportunity to achieve their full potential.” Educators across the nation are applauding the two Departments’ efforts to release this information and some are going further to say that more ...Read More

IS MORE TESTING THE REMEDY FOR WHAT’S NOT WORKING?

US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently reemphasized the importance of the annual testing requirement. One of the key reasons he’s advocating for them is that they provide information about what’s working and what’s not. A coalition of civil rights groups also support annual testing for the same reason– as a means to “target funding” where it’s most needed– for the most vulnerable students including “children of color; children living in poverty; children with disabilities; homeless, foster and migrant ...Read More

UNDERSTANDING THE OPPORTUNITY GAP AS AN ACADEMIC LANGUAGE GAP

Many educational scholars and practitioners, including me, have written extensively about teaching students from underserved populations.  The focus of this work has included students living in poverty, from diverse cultural and racial experiences, and who are English learners. These are made more relevant by an ever-increasing population of students and families living in poverty, the significant rate of school absenteeism among our nation’s poor, and an increase in racial, ethnic, and linguistic diversity among the ...Read More

THE WAR ON POVERTY: FIFTY YEARS AND COUNTING

A half a century ago, President Lyndon Johnson declared a War on Poverty and launched several initiatives intended to battle the ravages of a chronic and persistent problem. Among these was the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). It required that any institution receiving federal funding could not deny anyone access to any program or activity based on race, color, or national origin (Hanna, 2005). There were many educational initiatives that occurred during this ...Read More

LOOKING BACKWARD TO LOOK FORWARD

As we embark on a new school year, it’s important to look backward to think forward.  An important area to examine is the changing landscape of our nation’s schools.  Looking back at the nation’s students provides us with helpful information. Figure 1 provides a snapshot of the 2010-2011 school year.  What does it tell us in relation to our work? Figure 1: 2010-2011 U.S. student characteristics (Source: US Dept. of Education) As seen in ...Read More

Our public and personal histories: the journey toward educational equity

 Our public and personal histories: the journey toward educational equity is a powerful blog.  Full disclosure, its author, Dan Alpert, is the editor of three of my books and a soon-to-be fourth.  I found his personal and public voice to be powerful for many reasons.  Many of us live with the hope that the legacy of Brown v BOE and the Civil Right Movement will lead to better outcomes for the very groups that they were intended.  However, data on high school graduates shows us all that underserved populations continue to be among the most underachieving and vulnerable or at-risk of failing school.  While we might like to think of equity as racially, culturally, economically, and linguistically neutral, we cannot help but see the stark differences in outcomes.  Perhaps the word underserved is an appropriate one as it implies the need for us to move toward strengthening the ways in which we serve the most vulnerable students.  Many, including me, suggest that the gap is between students who carry academic language to, in and from school versus those who are learning it while attending school.  We should not think of this difference as a deficit or use deficit-based language (such as semi-literate and illiterate).  Rather, our willingness to deeply understand and draw from the sociocultural, literacy, academic, and thinking skill assets of our students is an important first step toward equity, access and engagement. It also is the path to do what Dan suggests as: “the work of relationship-building, honoring home cultures, setting high expectations, and building inclusive classroom communities that honor individual differences.”

MAKE INFORMED VOTING DECISIONS

In 2002, one of the ballot questions put to Massachusetts’ voters was titled English for the children. In part, it proposed that all students be taught entirely in English. The ballot sounded good to many, after all, who would not want children to learn English? Two-thirds of the state voted for it. Unfortunately, it was a politically motivated ballot that had little to do with research about what works the most successfully for the state’s English Learners. ...Read More

Unleashing the power of academic language in this free webinar

On April 2nd at 3PM PST and 6PM EST, Corwin Press is hosting a free webinar where I will be presenting on academic language as it applies to the general population of students including those who possess school language and those who are learning it while attending school.  To register, simply click on the link below and press the red box labeled Register for Free Webinar.   http://bit.ly/1jxqvFf