By Roselyn Rauch
That’s all I have heard and read since this year’s spring conference came to a close. The conference is now a wonderful memory of professional reinvigoration. So many colleagues with whom to network, to share successes and to solve problems; to hear the experts in our field and learn from them, enabling us to go back to our districts with new information and strategies to improve our bags-of-tricks; to view and review the materials that the vendors have to offer in support of our craft; to be the best that we can be to do the best that we can for our students.
How impressive is it that our attendees now include many mainstream teachers and those in the fields of higher education? The importance, and challenge, of working with bilingual and English language learners in appropriate ways is finally filtering out to all who need to know. How impressive is it that we may now have to consider a 3-day conference to accommodate everyone?
The Awards Ceremony is always a highlight of the conference as we see the living proof that all of our hard work and dedication is not in vain. From fourth grade students on up, we get to see/meet those students who have put forth their best efforts and succeeded. And I encourage more of you to get your students to submit to our writing/scholarship contests; there are so many talented students who could be involved. Kudos to Vivian Rodriguez for winning the Leadership Award; to Joyce Farr, an ESL teacher in Monroe Township Schools, South Jersey, for receiving the Advocate of the Year award. And, kudos to our own Marilyn Pongracz for receiving the President’s Award. Knowing Marilyn as I do, and all the dedicated work that she does for NJTESOL/NJBE, the award was well-deserved. In each edition of Voices, Marilyn always has a new website for you to explore.
Several of this edition’s articles focus on the conference (Sandee McBride, Kristi Bergman, Carole Maurer, and Michelle Land) and that is a good thing: to jog our memories of something that struck us as good strategy but with so much “cognitive treasure” abounding in New Brunswick, we may have forgotten about it.
We welcome new members to our Executive Board: Bilingual/ESL Middle School Special Interest Group (SIG) representative, Michelle Land; Early Childhood SIG representative, Carole Maurer; and Parent and Community Action SIG representative, Angeline Sturgis, who wrote about her own way of involving parents into her school community. “Meet” them and greet them. Read their articles and see how they can help you advance our mission. Read Tina Kern’s June 2015: Goodbye for Now; it is especially poignant and tugs at the heart strings. There are articles discussing ELLs with special needs and their rights (Maryellen Fitzpatrick and Sonya Bertini;) students educated in other countries (Howard Pomann and Debbie DeBlasio) and new ways of helping students achieve in higher education. Learn about something that you may never have known about: Translanguaging (guest writer Monica Luzard.) Just read the titles on the Contents Page to see all that there is for you to enjoy. Be sure to view our photo gallery to see our winners and to be reminded of those special days in May.
As always, I strongly encourage you to read through the entire issue. There is so much to learn about what our colleagues are doing: that knowledge makes us stronger advocates for our students.
Happy reading; happy summer.
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 email@example.com .
By Sandee McBride
2015 Spring Conference Handouts
R eflecting on this year's conference, one thing that immediately comes to my mind is the desire to have workshop handouts. This year, the amount of conference information and handouts one can access on our website has increased quite a bit. All members can take advantage of this whether you were an attendee and or were unable to be with us this year. The keynote presentations, the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) state initiatives, the Bilingual Administrative Code for both ESL and bilingual teachers, and many workshop handouts can be found there for your leisurely perusal. You may find it convenient and beneficial to save information that you find most pertinent to you on your computer for future reference. Please go to the following link to download any or all of these documents: http://www.njtesol-njbe.org/handouts15/index.htm
Appreciation goes to the presenters who have provided their Power Points and handouts for our members. If you were a presenter who has not yet had an opportunity to submit your documents, it is not too late to do so. If you would like to add yours to our growing list, please email them to our Technology Coordinator, Marilyn Pongracz at the following address:
Finally, thanks to all of our participants, attendees, volunteers, presenters, hotel staff, technology providers, signage and decor, conference booklet preparation, printing, publishing personnel, sponsors and exhibitors. The list of people behind the scenes preparing for this conference seems endless. Most of all, my appreciation and thanks go to Dr. JoAnne Negrin, our Conference Coordinator, Gwen Franks, our Business Administrator, and our Executive Board volunteers, without whose determination and great efforts, a conference of this size would not be possible.
Sandee McBride, President NJTESOL/NJBE, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey
By JoAnne Negrin
Iwant to take this opportunity to express my thanks to all who attended the Spring Conference. I thank you for your interest in being a lifelong learner and for taking time out of your busy schedules to learn and grow in the service of our students. Certainly, these past few years in public education have been some of the most challenging in memory, and taking a day or two away from the “office” is not easy.
I would like to thank our President, Sandee McHugh-McBride, for her leadership. I thank our keynote speakers, featured speakers, Special Interest Group (SIG) Representatives, and presenters for sharing their expertise with us. The spirit of collaboration that is embodied in these individuals is what allows us to learn, grow, and serve.
There are a lot of very interesting trends affecting our field right now, and all of those trends made a tangible impact on our conference. In the past, our conference was regarded primarily as a K-12 conference. In recent years, however, we have been generating a great deal of interest in higher education, adult education, and teacher education circles. Much of this interest is due to the hard work of our SIG Representatives in those areas, but it also is representative of other, larger forces. For example, there has been much press about how even though national statistics show that the achievement gap for ELLs (English language learners) is steadily narrowing at the K-12 level, our students (and all disadvantaged students) still have tremendous challenges with college completion. In addition, more aspiring teachers are coming directly into our field through undergraduate education than ever before. This is a big change from when I got my start; ESL was one of those things that people (myself included) stumbled into later in their careers.
Another major paradigm shift that is having an effect on our conference is that we are no longer “preaching to the choir.” Our conference is no longer a relatively small conference aimed at ESL and bilingual teachers. This year, large numbers of attendees were non-language specialist teachers, principals, directors of curriculum, and even assistant superintendents. All of them were eager to develop their knowledge about best practices with ELLs. This is the realization of a dream for us. How often have we wished that others would take advantage of our knowledge in this area? I know not everybody is a fan of the Common Core State Standards (CCCS), but it is my belief that much of this interest has been generated by them. The CCSS make every teacher both a content teacher and a language teacher. In addition, the performance goals set forth in AchieveNJ hold every teacher accountable for the success of every student in their classroom. While these new standards and benchmarks are certainly flawed, they have a very positive side effect: ELLs are no longer the sole responsibility of the ESL teacher, and that’s good news for everyone.
When paradigms shift, we need to respond accordingly. Given that we are no longer a smaller conference catering to specialist teachers, we need to give some serious thought to how our conference is structured and operated. Although this is a conversation that we will be having for some time in the future, your Executive Board is already brainstorming ways to respond to changes in the size and status of the conference. Some of our preliminary thoughts include expanding the conference to three days, setting a day aside for higher, adult, and teacher education, and adding some premium sessions and more information geared to building and district leadership. A three-day conference would also allow presenters to run more than one session of our most popular offerings, and would improve some of the logistical issues. We are also considering professional conference management on site to deal with logistics so that we, your volunteer Executive Board, can spend more time sharing our expertise and being available to you.
I would also like to take this opportunity to encourage anyone who would like to be involved in the evolution of our organization to play a more active role. We recently had our elections for Board vacancies this year, but we hold elections every year. If you have something to say, a seat on the Board is a great platform for advocacy. You could also play a role in your local chapter, or volunteer to provide professional development at a chapter meeting. As part of our changes, we will also be looking at ways that we can increase the role of membership in our conference planning through the creation of committees. It is my hope that I will hear from you when we reach out for volunteers to make our organization better equipped to seize upon these new opportunities.
JoAnne Negrin is NJTESOL/NJBE Vice President and was Spring Conference Chair.
Presented to Vivian C. Rodriguez, Ph.D.
By Barbara Tedesco
It was an honor to present our 2015 Leadership Award to Dr. Vivian C. Rodriquez. However, before I did, as historian I needed to share with everyone a bit of the history of this award. In 1990, the Executive Board decided to create two awards: the President’s Award and the Leadership Award. The latter was to recognize an individual who possessed the characteristics of a leader on multiple levels. Some of those traits being proactive in our field, had empathy, demonstrated credibility, had the wherewithal to set things in motion, was an effective communicator and someone with conviction, that strong vision and willingness to work toward the mission and inspire followers.
That very first Leadership Award was presented to Fred Carrigg. He served as the Supervisor of one of the largest bilingual/ESL programs in the state of New Jersey creating a model program way before the state even entertained the notion of model programs. As the Executive Director for Academic Programs in Union City, he made remarkable strides to turn around their literacy scores. As a result, he was “loaned out” to the New Jersey Department of Education as the New Jersey Director of Reading. He took the helm in the many legislative fights to protect the rights of bilingual/ESL teachers and students in New Jersey. In addition, he served as the Technology Consultant to the NJTESOL/NJBE Board. For those and other initiatives, NJTESOL/NJBE renamed its Leadership Award the Fred D. Carrigg Leadership Award.
The reason for my history lesson was made within a few more sentences but now back to our honoree, Dr. Vivian C. Rodriguez. Who is this recipient? She is an educator of distinguished caliber and a role model to many. She received her Elementary Education, Teacher of Bilingual/Bicultural Education, Teacher of Spanish and Early Childhood Education as well as her Master’s in ESL and her Administration Certifications from Kean University. She was bestowed her Ph. D. from Fordham and her dissertation was entitled, “Factors Contributing to Language Proficiency in Bilingual Teachers and Their Relationship to Classroom Use.”
Vivian started her teaching career as an elementary bilingual teacher (Kindergarten and 3rd and 4th grades) in the Plainfield Public Schools before transferring over to the Elizabeth Public Schools where she taught 1st and 4th grade bilingual students before moving up the ranks to Supervisor of World Languages, Vice Principal of Elizabeth High School, and principal of Peterstown School #3. She left Elizabeth to take on the principalship of the Riker School in Livingston. At both schools, she established meaningful and effective parental communication and focused on parent outreach. During the years 1985-88, Vivian served as the New Jersey site coordinator for “The Longitudinal Study of Structured English Immersion Strategy, Early-Exit and Late-Exit Transitional Bilingual Education Programs for Language-Minority Children” aka the (David) Ramirez Study. And that is the historical connection - because both districts, Union City and Elizabeth, were part of that study and where she first interacted with Fred Carrigg.
Vivian also served as Acting Associate Dean at the College of Education Kean University. She has also been adjunct professor for undergraduate and graduate courses at Kean, Fairleigh Dickinson, and Fordham Universities. She was hired as the Assistant Superintendent for Learning/Educational Services in the Perth Amboy school district and coordinated all programs Pre-K- 3 year olds to adult education and everything in between. One of her major accomplishments was the design and implementation of a dual language program at the preschool level. Currently, Vivian is serving as the Acting Superintendent of Schools in Perth Amboy.
In addition, she has been appointed to several advisory committees, task forces at the New Jersey Department of Education, and various Boards of Trustees. Vivian has presented at the district, state, national and international levels. Her resume reads like a great nonfiction book. Vivian has published articles and along with Angela Carrasquillo, co-authored the book, Mainstream Classroom Teachers and the Limited English Proficient Students. In addition to today’s recognition, she has received numerous other honors.
Vivian has experienced the depth and breadth of education. She has promoted bilingual/ESL education ever since she was a leader in her classroom as that is where leaders are born-as teachers, like each one of you reading this article. She continues to lead sharing her knowledge and defending the practices that she knows works for ALL students.
If you were not present at the Awards’ Reception, I invited Fred D. Carrigg to join me in presenting Vivian with the award. What an emotional moment for all.
Barbara Tedesco, NJTESOL/NJBE Historian
June 2015: Goodbye for Now
By Tina Kern
For the last time this school year, the doors closed – a finality that happens before I am ready. We said our goodbyes as the past month flashed quickly in the time it took for the door to bang shut.
Some were affected by the experiences that touched them and changed them – hopefully forever and unwaveringly. Others were unaffected, caught in a nightmare that remains during the daytime. They were survivors that were not surviving.
I will miss them. For some our time is over. For others we will meet again in September – if not before, when I see them purposefully striding toward their part-time job, or walking down the street plugged-in and tuned-out. I hope I made a difference. We were together almost a year, and at times it was frustrating; at times memorable, at times forgettable – but always challenging.
Jose made the most progress emotionally. He started to care; he wanted to be part of the class and school, have friends. He finally said, “Sorry,” when he demonstrated unacceptable conduct that was hurtful to someone – he felt remorse. He wanted me to tell the vice principal that he was doing better. He CARED. It was a successful year for him.
The atmosphere the last week was palpable, and charged with emotion. Some students tried to parrot the attitudes of the American students, writing, “Yeah summer”, on the board, or talking about how many days were left. Others were quiet, for their world was again changing. I didn’t know what to say or do, because I worried about the continuity and routines we established. I wondered how the changes from school to vacation would impact their emotional and educational progress. I thought about how they would cope with the changes that heralded the beginning of summer vacation.
I said goodbye to them and wished them luck. I left them with memories and experiences that shaped their introduction to American education. I said goodbye and matched their emotions. But silently I whispered goodbye to those that didn’t make it: to Mario who quit to go to work, the lure of the wad of money handed to him under the table too much to ignore. I said goodbye to Gilda who left to support her baby even though an option for help in school was a possibility that seemed impossible for her to accept. School was impractical to her. The promise of a better and more lucrative future was elusive. I said goodbye to Heidi who quietly disappeared when her work world clashed with the teenage world of high school. Did we have to lose another one? She was a quiet example of the push and pull between reality and dreams. Why couldn’t she be one of those who succeeded?
Then there was Sara. She was so scarred and angry that she felt nothing, did almost nothing – except lash out at others in insidious ways. She acted out and refused to do her work. She wanted attention; she craved attention, and found others who would provide a tune for her lyrics. Would she return in September – or be swept away by something nefarious?
The names of students are generic. Some of you have these students, too. We worry about them and their futures, sometimes more than they or their family do. We worry because some of us have seen the other side, the possibilities and the impossibilities.
And I will NEVER give up the hope of reaching as many of our students as I can in my lifetime. I will NEVER forget their faces. I have the image of their faces when they arrived imprinted on my memory. I have their stories, and cried the tears. I have been strong for them, and made rules when their lives have been punctuated by lawlessness and terror.
Why? They ask as they leave. Why did you have so many rules? Why do we have to do what you say?
Why? Because I’m your teacher, I say to them as I smile. Because I’m teaching you English, and I want to teach you fairness, and compassion and give you continuity, too. Because I’m your teacher and I want you to succeed. Because you’re asking me these questions in English now, and you have learned so much. Because I’m proud of you and your progress.
And I’ll miss you all – even those of you who think that school is a waste of your time. But you’ll be back next year, because I’m not listening to what you say – I’m watching what you do. I’m watching you look in the window of my classroom, and yell, “Hi, Miss” before you leave. Because you come in lunchtime –just because. I’ll miss you and wish you a good summer.
Many of my students learned much from me. But – what did I learn from them? I learned patience – that sometimes time is the only salve, not words of comfort, but time for the comforting to build from resistance and pain, into sadness and receptiveness of feelings from others. I learned not to take rejection of my lessons personally, that often my students were preoccupied. Their focus often was not on learning English but coping with their often tumultuous lives.
But I also learned that I can’t help everyone – not right away, not until I am met a fraction of the way, until the student can accept that which I want to give them. The educational aspects of their lives are often elusive and not immediate. There are other more urgent needs. With team effort of counselors, parents, children, teachers often we meet together and share successes.
In the elementary environment, hope was constant. Everyone was going to succeed. There was a lifetime of lessons ahead of the little ones. At the high school level, there is an urgency. When a student is 17 and a freshman, every lesson rejected is a day further away from graduation. I needed the students to move forward, not backwards.
And what did I learn from you? When I went to our NJTESOL/NJBE conference to share and empathize with my colleagues, I learned about your classrooms, the diversity among our diverse students. I learned that you, too, had third language students. My students from Maya descent were yours, too. They struggled to learn not a second language, but a third. I learned about your frustrations – but I also learned about your successes, too. We came together for answers, and found colleagues that were searching. We came to learn, to peruse material for the classroom, to soak up the seemingly unlimited information and an atmosphere filled with the hope I felt, too.
At our conference we were able to find materials to best reach our students, methods to help them reach goals, and colleagues who shared experiences that would support our efforts and enhance them. We never give up the quest. We are relentless because there is so much at stake. We make a difference, one by one. We make a difference in the lives of students that were once lost in a desert, or intimidated by the culture shock of a new country, or meeting parents for the first time in a decade.
One day maybe, we’ll find the “perfect” material that provides the answers we seek in the classroom. It’s part of the excitement.
I always look forward to the NJTESOL/NJBE conference. It never disappoints me. I always feel like I can tease out and extract information no matter what keynote or workshop, or exhibit I see. I hear my colleagues’ enthusiasm and I feel it, too. It’s an all-encompassing part of the conference.
The conference was successful because of the combined effort of the Executive Board’s seemingly boundless energy that is poured into every fiber of the conference with the support of our members.
If you have time, please reach out to me. Let me know if you have any suggestions for any additional exhibitors you would like next year, and didn’t see this year. Please email me and I will reach out to them.
Enjoy your summer. Enjoy your time to recharge. I look forward to beginning again.
Tina Kern, Liaison, NJTESOL/NJBE, firstname.lastname@example.org
Favorite Websites: NeoK2
By Marilyn Pongracz
NeoK12 offers different types of activities for a wide variety of science topics as well as some geography, history, and English grammar. There are links to select YouTube videos and a few “Free Brain Games” for fun and the development of thinking skills. The site works on desktops and tablets. It is not free, but the price is quite reasonable, $29 per year for one teacher and 30 students. There are free samples of all of the activities at different levels, so teachers can try them to see if a subscription is worthwhile: http://www.neok12.com/free.htm
The linked YouTube videos cover topics ranging from counting to organic chemistry. These are not just talking heads, but visuals that help explain the subjects. However, some of the advanced concepts have difficult vocabulary.
There are six different types of activities.
- Quizzes – Students click on cards to match words and definitions for subjects such as the states of matter, or words and pictures for the water cycle. Another image appears as pairs are matched.
- Interactive Diagrams – These are pictures on which students can place labels such as a timeline or the parts of a plant.
- Flow Charts - Sequencing activities use images with the words such as tiger, snake, and frog for the Food Chain, or exhalation and trachea for Respiration and Air Flow. Additional pictures and texts provide review.
- Vocabulary Games – Students must decide if vocabulary terms belong to the topic being studied. For example, for grades 3-8, students have to choose if clouds, petroleum, jet stream, transpiration, or groundwater are related to the water cycle:. Another sample is vocabulary on cell structures for grades 6-12.
- Jigsaw and Slide Puzzles – Simple jigsaws for younger students or slide puzzles for older ones use images of central concepts. Texts accompany the images.
- Create a Presentation - Photos and an article from Wikipedia make it easy for students to put together a slide show to save and share. Teachers could also provide alternate texts based on the students’ language abilities.
Once teachers subscribe to the site, NeoK12 provides a dashboard to bookmark the activities that they want their students to complete. Great navigation makes it is easy to find topics and activities. The only drawback of the site is that there is no record of what the students do since there is just one login for each class. However, with the rich content and fun, interactive learning that the site provides, it is worth exploring.
Marilyn Pongracz is the Technology Coordinator for NJTESOL/NJBE and the English Language Resource Center Supervisor at Bergen Community College.
Introducing High School ELLs to an Intensive English Program
By Sarah Elia and Pam Knittel
Poughkeepsie City school district, located 80 miles north of New York City, has approximately 580 English Language Learners (ELLs). Many students in the English as a New Language (ENL) Program struggle to attain a clear focus for their plans after high school. Some communicate intentions to work full-time, enroll in community college, or enlist in the military. The authors, a university ESL professor, and a District ENL Coach, collaborated to introduce high school ELLs to another option: an Intensive English Program (IEP) at a nearby university that is designed to prepare ELLs to succeed in academic classes. The goal of this collaboration is to help students achieve a focused plan while in high school, which includes the possibility of studying at an Intensive English Program. The following is a description of the process.
First, meet with colleagues within the district and the Intensive English Program to create your plan. Discuss your goals and prepare a timeline.
Next, administer a pre-assessment of the students. Have them describe their future academic or career expectations in writing. Afterwards, lead a conversation about these options and have the students share their thoughts and ask questions. At this point, introduce Intensive English Programs to the students. Distribute a list of course offerings and discuss how studying English beyond high school may help ELLs reach their academic or professional goals.
Invite a guidance counselor to class to discuss options for students documented and undocumented. Ask the guidance counselor to include details about university tuition fees, scholarships, and financial aid. Encourage students to discuss these topics with their parents or guardians.
You should soon be able to identify the students who are seriously considering college and/or an Intensive English Program. Arrange a campus tour and visit the Career Resource Center. Introduce students to enrollment staff to discuss admission requirements and meet with ELLs currently enrolled in the Intensive English Program. This will give students the opportunity to have an open conversation about the benefits and challenges of studying at an IEP.
Finally, do a post-assessment. Have students complete a survey and write a detailed statement about their campus visit and how their future goals have changed, if at all, since the beginning of this experience. Encourage students to maintain communication with their guidance counselor as they progress through high school.
As teachers, we strive to encourage our students to continually grow through education. Even if we open a new door for only one student, we consider our efforts worthy.
Sarah Elia is a lecturer at the Haggerty English Language Program at the State University of New York (SUNY) at New Paltz. email@example.com
Pam Knittel is the District English as a New Language Coach for the Poughkeepsie City School District. firstname.lastname@example.org