From The Editor

Counting Days

By Roselyn Rauch

People do that a lot: count the days;  count the days to their birthday or anniversary, maybe a holiday, or birth of a child. On New Year’s Eve, we even count the minutes. This winter, here in the Northeast, we have been counting the days to Spring with the hope that it will relieve us of this winter’s assault on us.

After reading and editing all of the articles which I received for this Spring edition of Voices, I am counting the days until Spring Conference on May 28th and 29th . Each year’s slate of presenters is so amazing, it is hard to fathom how we can better ourselves the following year. But we do, and we are. Many of this year’s workshops are discussed in the pieces submitted and they are very enticing. Often it is a tough decision for which to pick when two choices are slated for the same time slot. Advice: Come with a friend and each go to one and then compare notes.

I have long been an admirer of Deborah Short and Diane August. These two highly regarded researchers will be our keynote speakers.

Also counting the days, I am sure, is Cassy Lawrence. Cassy has been our indomitable leader for the past two years and we thank her for her superb leadership. It is a bittersweet goodbye to an office but not to an organization. We know that Cassy will forever be in the forefront of advocacy for our bilingual and ESL population.

Enjoy this issue; it is a preview for great things in May.

Looking forward,

Roselyn Rauch, Ed.D., is the editor of Voices and a retired ESL/ESL Resource teacher from the Paterson Public School System. She is a consultant with ESL Unlimited and may be reached at rrauch@njtesol.org .

Conference 2014

For the Most Successful Conference Experience...

By Gwen Franks

Haven’t received your confirmation for your conference registration yet?
Then you need to act now!


If you haven’t registered yet there is still time.  You can choose from one of the following three ways:

1. Register online only if paying with PayPal or credit card;
2. Print out the form and  mail in with a check (must be post marked by May 9th, this date is FIRM);
3. Print out the form and  send in with an approved and signed purchase order (the purchase order and  registration form must be sent together and postmarked by May 9, this date is FIRM). Requisitions or just a PO number are not accepted.  Please follow up with your district to make sure the PO and registration are processed and mailed on time. Do not assume that is all taken care of as we do not take walk-ins at the conference.

We DO NOT accept emailed or faxed registrations. 

Must be mailed to:
230 Ashland Ave
Cherry Hill, NJ 08003

Registration forms can be found on our web site: www.NJTESOL-NJBE.org and by clicking on the 2014 Spring Conference Registration & Information link. When filling out the registration form, please use your personal email address; many schools are using blockers that will not allow your confirmation to go through. Once you receive your confirmation: Please read the confirmation in full to make sure that your registration is correct. Check the date(s) you are registered for carefully! If there is a problem, please email Gwen Franks at gfranks@njtesol-njbe.org so that we can straighten it out.

Other Important Conference Information:


Gwen Franks is the business administrator and a conference planner for NJTESOL/NJBE.
She may be reached at
gfranks@njtesol-njbe.org .


Cassy Lawrence

President's Message

By Cassandra Lawrence

Onward! ¡Adelante!


This is the last article I will write as president of NJTESOL/NJBE. It has been a great opportunity and honor to be president of this organization. I often reflect back to different points in my personal and professional life, and this will certainly be one of the highlights. As president, I’ve had the opportunity to meet and work with a great group of respected professionals in our field. The Executive Board – my “Team” as I like to call them – are exceptional and dedicated people from whom I’ve learned a great deal. I thank each and every one of them for the many ways they supported and enhanced my work as a teacher and leader.

When I began my teaching career in 1990, I never imagined the many directions in which my heart and mind would be pulled. That September, I was an alternate route teacher, and the 20 bilingual third graders I welcomed into my classroom grew into a crowd of 40 by mid-year. The “solution” was to split the group in half, hire another teacher, open another classroom next door, and bring portable chalkboards into my classroom to create a room divider. The ESL teacher set up on the other side of the divider, while I stayed on my side with 20 students – who by year’s end morphed again into 30. Both the ESL teacher and I taught in this hot, cramped, and noisy setting.

That was just the first of many trying situations in my career as a bilingual teacher, and 24 years later, I’m still in this wonderful place we call school.  Although many significant changes have taken place, many concerns persist. And so, as I worked on my craft every year, I also learned to be a voice for my students. 

Looking back, I remember how my colleague and I were so discouraged about the conditions we worked in, and that we weren’t able to offer our students something better. But I also remember the smiles, and I’m sure that for the most part, our students remember the warmth, the friends, and the fun they had in their first American classroom.

I’ve come to believe that For Some Students, School is the “One Best Place”. No matter that our grownup eyes see unfair, unsound, unsafe, or unrealistic practices; many of our students see us and our learning spaces as havens. If we’ve been careful not to let our students see our discontent and feelings of defeat about these conditions, all they have to see is the wonder we make of them. Stecher’s article serves as a gentle reminder that school means more than we realize for many of our students.

Do you ever ask your students what the best part of their day, or week, or year was? Stecher practices this meaningful exercise with his students by asking them the favorite part of their day. As we near the end of another year, I hope someone asks me, “Cassy, what was your favorite part of this school year?” I will most certainly say, it was the gathering of the Bilingual and ESL teachers in my school district to reexamine our program and insist on improvements and fair expectations for both students and staff. How encouraging it has been to see the unfaltering passion and dedication of my colleagues. By rallying together, we found our voice again, and we’ll continue to use it to ensure that we offer the best possible learning experience to our students.

I hope you’ll join us at the Spring Conference this May. Let’s make the conference a high point of our school year, and continue to regard it as a springboard to continued advocacy and celebration of our bilingual and ESL students and colleagues.

Onward! ¡Adelante!

Cassy Lawrence is a 3rd grade dual language teacher in the Perth Amboy Schools district. She is the current President of NJTESOL/NJBE.


Vice President's Message

Spring Conference Update

By Sandee McBride

This year’s Annual Spring Conference is promising to be very exciting. We are happy to have some new as well as some familiar faces presenting workshops. The early tentative schedule is up on our website. Some of this year’s topics include the Common Core, SGOs, Special Needs, Differentiation, Rigor, Support Services, Students with Interrupted Formal Education, Access to College for Dreamers, Universal Design for Learning, WIDA Standards, Academic Vocabulary, Writing Strategies and much more. We are incorporating a new ‘Author’s Room’ where participants can meet with the authors and discuss their writings. 

We are pleased to have Diane August and Deborah Short as our keynotes. In addition, some newcomers whom we are happy to welcome include Jesse Markow, Director of Strategy and Business Development from WIDA, will present on ‘What’s WIDA Up to Now?’; Anthony Fitzpatrick from the Office of Evaluation/Achieve NJ will speak on the topic of SGOs; Jennifer Rodriguez from NJDAC and Giancarlo Tello from Working Families Alliance NJ and the NJ DREAM Act Coalition will be with us speaking about ‘College Access for Dreamers.’ Last year’s award winner, Dr. Laura Morana, will be joining us in her presentation on Early Childhood/Early Elementary, ‘Making the PreK-3 Continuum a Top Priority’. In addition, the NJDOE will be here to bring everyone up to date with state initiatives. We are looking forward to a great conference.

We will keep you updated through the website and the Hotlist with conference news. Please read Gwen Franks’ article about important information regarding preparing for the conference in this issue of Voices.

Sandee McBride is Vice President and Conference Chair.


Technology 1

Technology Highlights at the Spring Conference

By Marilyn Pongracz

Technology Highlights at the Spring Conference

  • Interactive Internet resources for personalized instruction in content areas - Judie Haynes
  • Listening, literacy, technology, and the standards - Tina Kern
  • Favorite sites, tips, and technology lesson plan ideas - Laurie Floyd
  • A media-rich, interactive OWL for writing classrooms - Mahua De
  • A free website for reading, writing, phonology & more - Barbara Inerfeld
  • Colorín Colorado and ABC Mouse® research and teaching strategies - Rebecca Palacios
  • K-2 AWARD Reading Online with differentiation, student support, & engagement - Sarah Cronin



Technology 2

Favorite Websites: Educade.org

By Marilyn Pongracz

Educade.org, http://www.educade.org/, is a searchable repository of lessons using apps and interactive websites. The search options include grade; topic: language arts, math, or science; tool type: video, simulations, or apps; and platform: iPad, tablet, or computer. The main page features top lessons and tools.  Teachers can find new and stimulating activities to enhance learning and give students authentic language practice. Each lesson features a website or application which links to additional lessons for that site or app. After signing up on the site, a teacher gets a “backpack” which stores lessons of interest, lessons used, and lessons that the teacher has uploaded to share on the site.

In a search of language arts options, there are several sites that are suitable for ELL’s. One of these is Twine, http://twinery.org//, a website for creating interlinking stories in a spider web format with the idea of “what if” scenarios. The example given is if you were to wake up to your alarm clock, what would happen if you hit snooze as opposed to what would happen if you got up.  Then the story continues and interlinks.  This activity could encourage creative thinking and writing and would probably work well as groups of students collaborate to think of optional linked scenarios for an interactive story.

Story dice http://thinkamingo.com/story-dice/ is an iOS or Android app that features picture cards that are shown randomly like dice.  The settings offer the choice of one to ten cards appearing simultaneously depending on the age of the students.  The cards can be used for writing or oral storytelling, so the app is appropriate for students from preschool through high school. For preschool, the teacher could start the story and then show a card for a child to add an idea to the story using the picture on the card. The next student gets a new card to add another idea to the story.  Older students could have three or more pictures at the same time for their stories.  Although the sentences are supposed to be as logical as possible, the purpose of the activity is to encourage creativity and fun.

Story Botts, http://www.storybots.com/, is an iPad application for preschool and early elementary students.  A featured lesson on Educade.org uses a “Starring You” book.  The lesson, aligned to the CCS, uses students’ and other school pictures, which are uploaded into the book.  Privacy is guaranteed.  Story Botts also features “Starring You” music videos.  The alphabet and other learning videos about the body, animals, time, and outer space can be viewed on an iPhone or on YouTube. 

These are only a few of the options on Educade.org, http://www.educade.org/, making the site worth exploring.

Marilyn Pongracz is the Technology Coordinator for NJTESOL/NJBE and the English Language Resource Center Supervisor at Bergen Community College



You Have a Friend

By Tina Kern

The ACCESS test is over.  Doubts creep up into your mind at night – when the façade of confidence melts away. You’re alone and make decisions based upon data and rules.  But emotions are hard to dismiss.  You wonder if you did all you could have for that new student, or the child from Guatemala, or the boy from India. Were there more resources, research, or a website you could have explored?  Do you read everything about the WIDA ACCESS?  Should you have logged in one more time to check that nagging thought?  (WhatLog in?? More information??)

When you’re the only ESL or bilingual teacher in a school or district, so many decisions you make leave you with a dry taste that permeates your mouth down to your stomach as you second guess yourself.  How many times do you reach out to a colleague, for their insight, or collaboration?  Is there someone who knows the answer, whom you trust to check the answer, not just assume he or she knows the answer?  (And they say it so authoritatively!)

Check, double-check – you owe it to your students to know the regulations, the information, the latest material, curriculum, method, techniques.  You have a 25 hour/day job keeping up on what’s new – or old—in your field.  It takes many people, or a group to know – really know—the answers.  For an individual – alone- to know everything is impossible. 

This is why being part of the group, the NJTESOL/NJBE group, is being “in the know”.  You have not one friend, but many who strive to share the information you need.   You are NEVER alone if you are a member of NJTESOL/NJBE.  Resources come to you through our website, Twitter, Facebook, conferences, the Hotlist, Voices, and if we don’t know the answer, we will find it.  If someone you know isn’t a member of NJTESOL/NJBE, guide them to our website.  Tell them about our annual Spring Conference. It’s a cornucopia of exhibits, publishers, workshops, SIG meetings, keynotes, with participants rushing to learn and share about the integrating of the Core Curriculum, the new ASSETS, the PARCC, SGOs, reading and writing units of study, etc. Find the latest material, techniques, regulations, technology, and information in an atmosphere charged with the energy of fellow professionals.  For two days, come to the epicenter of ESL and Bilingual Education.  Share the successes of our students and teachers as they receive awards and kudos at our Awards Reception.  Share the triumphs of your students that have finally entered the mainstream successfully.

Be in “the know” – now and every day because you are a member of NJTESOL/NJBE.

See you at the Conference!

Tina Kern,  Liaison


A Valentine Treat

By Barbara Tedesco

What better place to be in February (12th -15th ) when you think that winter will never end in New Jersey? How about San Diego, California, where the temperatures are a constant 70 degrees plus and the National Association for Bilingual Education (NABE) chose to host its 43rd Annual Bilingual/Multilingual Education Conference.  The theme was Sailing into the 21st Century: Multiple Languages, Multiple Paths, Lifelong Advantages. Even though a few hundred people were unable to get out of their home states due to weather - related flight cancellations, the conference was a success.

It was a great opportunity to reconnect with former past-president Judith O’Loughlin who now resides in California and who co-presented on the topic, Using ELD Descriptors to Formatively Assess Student Progress toward Language Proficiency and Content Knowledge.  In addition, several of our own New Jersey educators were presenters: Karen Nemeth of Language Castle, LLC who co-chairs the Early Childhood Education Special Interest Group (SIG) presented on Creating Smooth Transitions for DLLs in Early Childhood: What Administrators Need to Know. Gail Verdi, Bilingual Education Coordinator at Kean University, chair of the Research and Evaluation SIG, co-presented with her colleague from Kean University, Anthony Pittman, on The CCC and Assessments: What do Teachers of Emergent Bilinguals Think? What can we do? Hoa Ly and Carmen Davis, teachers from Camden City School District-Early Childhood Department, gave a session on Intentional Transitions for Dual Language Learners. In addition, Maria Jaume, Treasurer of NJTESOL/NJBE, represented our organization at the affiliates’ sessions.  Finally, my colleague Elizabeth “BJ” Franks and I chose from a wide variety of workshops to attend so that we could increase our funds of knowledge and share with our constituency in NJ.

The range of topics spanned from Gifted Education to Indigenous Bilingual Education, to ELL Newcomers/Refugees, to Parent and Community, to Special Education to Policy and to Pedagogy.

Next year, the conference will be held in Las Vega, Nevada on March5-7, 2015. Proposal submissions are being received until June 15, 2014. Pre-registration is now open and closes on January 31, 2015. Visit www.nabe.org for additional information.

Barbara Tedesco is a Past President of NJTESOL/NJBE and its current Historian.



A Bergen-Passaic March Workshop Recap

By Linda Hornyak

On Saturday, March 8, 2014, the Bergen-Passaic NJTESOL/NJBE Chapter held its annual Spring Conference at William Paterson University, Wayne, New Jersey.  The event was an informative, motivating, and well-attended gathering aimed at addressing the Challenges and Strategies for Implementing the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for English Language Learners.  The keynote speaker, Elizabeth Franks, shared numerous strategies and resources to support teachers in their endeavors to navigate the unique linguistic demands of ELLs, and implement the CCSS aligned to the WIDA Standards.  The word of the day:  advocacy.  Four breakout sessions presented by Elizabeth Franks, Maggie Churchill, Noreen Drucker, and Monica Schnee followed the keynote address.  Each presenter provided additional strategies, resources, and best practices for the teaching and advocacy of ELLs.

Breakout 1:  The Process of Creating Exemplar ELA/ESL Units which Align CCSS and WIDA ELD Standards
Presented by Elizabeth Franks.  Elizabeth shared information about the NJDOE initiative on unit exemplars created by a core group of ESL teachers throughout the state.  She also discussed the process for developing these model units for ELLs that support both CCSS and WIDA standards.  Elizabeth has been a passionate advocate for ELLs throughout her 38-year career as teacher, supervisor, consultant, and part-time lecturer.

Breakout 2:  What is Comprehensible Input? How Do We Create It?
Presented by Noreen Drucker.  During this interactive workshop, Noreen defined comprehensible input, introduced the features of academic language, and shared vocabulary-building strategies for all grade levels.  Participants were engaged in cooperative learning activities during the presentation.  Noreen is a Certified WIDA Trainer with over 30 years of teaching experience.  She is also a member of the NJTESOL/NJBE Executive Board and has made numerous presentations at their annual conventions as well as at the NJEA Convention in Atlantic City.

Breakout 3:  Common Core Standards and K-1 ELLs 
Presented by Monica Schnee.  Monica offered insight and experiences relative to the significance of collaboration among teachers in order to provide instruction aligned to CCSS as well as to support ELLs at their levels of English proficiency.  Monica is the ESL Coordinator and K-4 ESL Teacher for the River Edge Public Schools.  She is also the NJTESOL/NJBE Pre-K-1 Representative as well as a past member of the NJ Bilingual Advisory Committee.  Her Kindergarten ESL program earned recognition from the New Jersey Second Language Model Recognition Program.

Breakout 4:  Middle School Model Curriculum and Units of Study
Presented by Maggie Churchill.  Maggie presented an overview of the NJDOE Model Curriculum for Grades 6-8 that focused on methods to implement CCSS through the model units of study.  Participants closely examined model units and state assessments to determine required skills and created a course of action for students to follow.  Maggie has been teaching middle school ESL in Closter, New Jersey for the last eleven years.  She is also an adjunct instructor/reading specialist for Montclair State University.  She has worked as a curriculum writer for the NJDOE Bilingual Education/ESL Office for the last two years.  Her work was presented at the Fall 2013 WIDA Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Linda Hornyak, Public Relations, NJTESOL/NJBE Bergen-Passaic Chapter