Tuesday, December 27, 2011

What’s new with ACCESS for ELLs this year (2011-2012)?

For many of our states, ACCESS for ELLs testing is just around the corner. In fact,  Auld Lang Syne might still be ringing in your ears when you start testing next month.  For other states, ACCESS testing is already underway.  So I thought it would be a  nice time to bring everyone up to speed on the administration of the ACCESS for ELLs test.  There are three main points and some tips to keep in mind this year.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

An Evening With…Dr. Yong Zhao

Every year I am eager to see the “Evening with…” dinner and speaker at the Illinois bilingual conference.  This year we were honored to have Dr. Yong Zhao as our guest speaker. If you have not heard of Dr. Zhao, check out his website or one of his many publications.     
 Photo courtesy of Nicole Conroy

Not only was Dr. Zhao’s presentation insightful, he struck the perfect balance between serious and funny.  As someone who does professional development for a living, I know how difficult that can be. 
Dr. Zhao began his talk by asking the audience – what kind of education do you want to buy for your children?  He provoked us to really think about what is most important when educating our children.  Do we want children who do well on tests or students who show creativity?  In a moment of both humor and complete seriousness, Dr. Zhao mentioned

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Me Washa la Mano

Thank you, readers for making this blog such a success.  This weekend we hit a major milestone – one thousand page views!

Last week’s conference was a wonderful success. For those of us that attended, it was a time of professional rejuvenation, reconnecting with old friends, and meeting new colleagues.  For those of you outside of Illinois, I am referring to the 35th Annual Statewide Conference for Teachers Serving Linguistically and Culturally Diverse Students (aka the bilingual conference) that is held annually in Oak Brook, Illinois.  It is a four day conference with local, national and international speakers.  This year, more than 3,000 educators attended over the course of the week. 

This was the first year that I did four presentations.  Needless to say, I was very busy and simply ran out of time to blog.  But don’t fear, I have taken copious notes and am looking forward to sharing what I learned with you. First, let me share with you the highlights of the opening keynote address from Else Hamayan, director emeritus of the Illinois Resource Center.  Her talk was titled “Me washa la mano! Debunking some myths about early childhood bilingualism.”
Photo courtesy of Josie Yanguas, IRC

Dr. Hamayan started by saying that many people believe that it isn’t beneficial, and may even be harmful, for children to grow up with two or three languages.  She reminded the room of educators that what we believe is important because it impacts how we teach our students. In all, Dr. Hamayan debunked a number of common myths about young bilingual children.  I’ll share my two favorites with you.

Myth #1 – The monolingual brain
Dr. Hamayan stated, “nearly half of the world’s population is functionally bilingual.”  In other words,