Thursday, February 23, 2012

Native Language Resources for Parents

I was recently asked by a district administrator for resources to share with parents of English language learners.   In his email, he stated that some parents of ELLs in his district need reassurance that it is ok to use their native language with their children.   In very practical terms, it is critical that parents and children share a common language that they can use to discuss everyday occurrences and key family topics and issues.  Pedagogically, we know that children do better in school when they are immersed in a language-rich environment in the home.  During workshops I explain it like this: parents should

Friday, February 17, 2012

What Do We Do With All of These Standards?

 It comes as no surprise to you that good instruction is grounded in standards.  But when it comes to educating ELLs, we are often talking about three or more sets of standards.  There are state content standards, Common Core Standards, and English language development standards.  If you also provide instruction in Spanish, you have the Spanish language development standards and Spanish language arts standards.  Often we are left wondering how these sets of standards relate to each other and how we could best use them to guide our instruction and classroom assessments.  For those of us living in states that have adopted the Common Core Standards, we need to set aside some time to understand these standards and begin to integrate them into our teaching practices.

Judy Sauri, principal of Edwards School in Chicago, recently expressed

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Favorite Lessons

Image: farconville /

Since so many of the WIDA states are in the midst of testing right now, I wanted to provide you with a little break and share a lesson I was reminded of recently.

As you know, last week was Groundhog Day. Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, so six more weeks of winter are on their way.   What a strange and uniquely American day! As I heard the reports of our favorite national rodent seeing his shadow, I was reminded of my days as an ESL/ bilingual teacher.  I was teaching in a suburban district in a building where the overwhelming majority of the students spoke a language other than English at home.  Collectively, our students spoke over fifty different primary languages.  Most of our students were born and raised in the United States.  But every year we had some students in fourth, fifth and sixth grade who were new to the country.  Every

Friday, February 3, 2012

Become a Certified WIDA trainer

 2011 Certification Institute Participants and WIDA Staff

It’s hard to believe that it has been almost two years since I became a certified trainer for WIDA.  (Though, my family would be happy to tell you that I am also certifiable nuts!)  For me, the journey