Dateline: New Brunswick, June 1 — 3, 2016
By Roselyn Rauch
tterly amazing: Leadership & Partnership for Language Acquisition.
Our spring conference is up and running for attendees, presenters, and vendors today. And being part of the registration process, I can honestly say that we are a well-oiled machine. Kudos to all those who did the prep work for many months prior to get all in order. Kudos to those who came down to New Brunswick last Thursday night to stuff those lovely red tote bags with programs, badges, printed matter and anything else that needed to be included. On the front lines were Sandee McBride, our out-going president; JoAnne Negrin, our in-coming president; Tina Kern, liaison with the vendors; Gwen Franks, business administrator, and Joan Pujol who watched over the membership records. Marilyn Pongracz was hopping with technology issues that needed to solved, and thanks to all of the Executive Board members for their participation wherever needed. Thank you to all those who sat at the registration tables from 7:30 am -10:00 am. Forgive me for not naming names; I am afraid that I would omit someone and you know what happens then. But, if you were there checking people in, thank you very much.
Thanks go to our sponsors: Velazquez Press; GrapeSEED; WRiTE BRAiN Books; Pearson ELT; Imagine Learning; NEXT GEN ESL, LLC; Santillana; Becker’s School Supplies; Rutgers Graduate School of Education; and AFT NJ. Thanks for all of your support.
Of course there wouldn’t be a conference without all of the presenters and the support, too, of the Bureau of Bilingual/ESL Education at the New Jersey Department of Education; the New Jersey State Advisory Committee on Bilingual Education; the English Language Learners Committee of the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association; the New Jersey Higher Education Bilingual/ESL Program Administrators Council; the Education Law Center; Jennifer Carter, program organizer; and the Hyatt staff. A very loud and long thank you goes to all of the attendees, dedicated professionals who came to enhance and enlarge their “bags of tricks” for the improvement of their students’ academic and future success. We know that all who wanted to attend could not for one reason or another, so try to plan for next year now. Proposals for next year’s conference are due by October 31, 2016. Late proposals are not accepted.
One of the highlights of the conference is the Awards Dinner where scholarships are awarded to deserving essay writers. This year’s winners are:
4th Grade- Caroline Reyes
8th Grade-Daniel Martinez
Secondary Education- Stivani Ahmar Dakno
Jessie Reppy Award- Harry Gonzalez
Raquel Sinai Newcomer Award - David Castro
Elizabeth Claire Grant -Luigina Finneran
Higher Education-Manuella Casseus
The Fred J. Carrigg Leadership Award was presented to Olga Hugelmayer, Superintendent of Elizabeth, NJ, schools. The President’s Award was bestowed upon our own Teresa Monica Schnee. Congratulations to all.
We were fortunate to have outstanding keynote speakers, too: Dr. Debbie Zacarian on Wednesday, speaking to Unleashing the Power of the Academic Language; Dr. Michael Smith on Thursday, presenting "I Just Like Being Good At It: Helping Our Students Become More Competent Readers and Writers." On Friday, Dr. Eli Hinkel spoke about Academic Writing and How To Grow Vocabulary.
The annual NJDOE update on State Initiatives in Bilingual/ESL Education was presented by Lori Ramella, Ken Bond, and Jacquelyn Leon.
The conference was a beehive of activity. Everyone was so pleased with the workshops' new three-day format and, of course, the food.
As to the content of this issue of Voices: amazing, as usual. Just read the titles of the articles and be intrigued as to what is inside for you. So much to learn, so little time. Read beyond your own special interest group and see what’s happening elsewhere. Discover something that you can adapt for your level.
Enjoy your summer while dreaming about what will be in September.
By JoAnne M. Negrín Ed.D
A New President's Thoughts
Iam writing this article from the beach, where I am relaxing and recuperating after my second go-around as Conference Chair. I’ve had a week or so to reflect on the experience, and to think about the next stage of this adventure as President. That still sounds funny to say out loud. I will take the same approach to this new job as I take to my day job: Learn, get a lot done, and have fun doing it. I strongly believe that if we don’t experience joy in our day-to-day work, we need to do something else. Life is too short not to. Even in an environment as intense as ours has been this past year, there is definitely joy to be found.
I thank everyone who came to the 2016 Spring Conference. I also want to thank those who came to the 2015 conference and offered feedback. We take your suggestions seriously and this year’s conference was better for it. Please never hesitate to let us know your thoughts. This is your organization and we want to be certain we are being maximally effective on your behalf.
I also need to thank Sandee McBride for the excellent job she has done as President. Sandee has been a great leader, mentor, and a pleasure to work with. Under her leadership, the organization has been able to place great emphasis on advocacy. There are so many things we need to advocate for. Graduation requirements for ELLs going forward remain an open question. We have yet to see how the new ESSA mandates will be implemented in New Jersey. We need to develop ways to recognize younger students who are on a path to attaining the Seal of Biliteracy, and we need to encourage districts not only to participate in this powerful program, but also to nurture their language learners of all backgrounds from Pre-K through graduation.
I want my term to be remembered for continuing to strengthen our collective voice on these important issues, as well as on future issues that will certainly arise. So often, we as professionals are the only voices advocating for our students. Our successes over the past year or so have me feeling that our voices are being heard more loudly and clearly than ever before. We will continue to be that voice, and we will continue to strengthen alliances with other organizations across our state and nation who share our concerns.
JoAnne Negrin, Ed.D, President, NJTESOL/NJBE; Supervisor of ESL, Bilingual Education, World Languages, Performing Arts, & ESSA; Vineland Public Schools
Changes, Challenges, and Resources
By Caia Schlessinger
This has been a year of challenges and transitions for me. Not only did I leave a high school teaching position for a primary school position but I also have increased my commitment to NJTESOL/NJBE. I know that if it weren’t for the support that I have as a member of NJTESOL/NJBE, it would have been infinitesimally more frightening to leave an ESL position at the high school for an ESL position at a primary school. I had to reexamine my teaching practices, my content knowledge, my classroom management, and my role within a new district. I felt like a first year teacher all over again.
Fortunately, I knew where to turn to find my answers. I was able to take full advantage of my NJTESOL/NJBE membership and reach out to members through the Hotlist and use the Helpful Links of the NJTESOL/NJBE website (http://www.njtesol-njbe.org/who/links.htm). I referenced the NJDOE Model Unit Exemplars for ELLs (http://www.state.nj.us/education/modelcurriculum/ela/exemplars/) while lesson planning.
I was able to attend many workshops and network with members at the recent NJTESOL/NJBE Spring Conference. I attended workshops about The Bilingual Code, Getting the Most from Title I, Responsive Classroom, an Early Childhood Special Interest Group Meeting, and many others (http://www.njtesol-njbe.org/handouts16/index.htm). I was so thankful for this incredible support as I transitioned from one district to another.
This recent experience has made me realize just how important NJTESOL/NJBE is for all of us who teach and advocate for English language learners in New Jersey. I am so excited to step into the role of Vice President and I can’t wait to start planning for future spring conferences.
Caia Schlessinger, Vice President/Conference Chair, NJTESOL/NJBE
ESL Teacher, Highland Park School District
The NJSEA Educational Leadership Matters Conference
By Sandee McBride
On Saturday, March 12, 2016, Sandee McBride, then current President; JoAnne Negrin, then Vice President; and Joan Pujol, Membership/Representative-at-Large of NJTESOL/NJBE, respectfully, attended the New Jersey Student Education Association (NJSEA) Educational Leadership Matters Conference at the Princeton, NJ, Marriott Hotel and Conference Center.
It was a day for student members of NJSEA to familiarize themselves with affiliate NJEA organizations as they considered future career paths. The conference gave New Jersey university students the opportunity to peruse existing educational organizations present at the conference, while obtaining information about career opportunities throughout the state. Our attendance at this wonderful conference was part of an effort on NJTESOL/NJBE to further collaboration with other educational and advocacy organizations.
As the Door Closes Again
By Tina Kern
I reflect, as always, upon the year just ending. The students are leaving for the summer and I hope it doesn’t negate so much of the progress they made and the English they learned. One of the traits that make us great teachers is the self-reflection of “what worked/what didn’t/what can we change/etc”. As the last student closes the door, we let our minds wander and contemplate.
Just one of the reasons I’ve enjoyed being the Liaison of NJTESOL/NJBE is the continual quest for materials, technology, and ideas that I help bring to you during Conference. We share this fervor, this continual search for yet another method, program, printed or online material that ignites our imagination. This year our conference was overflowing with exhibitors bringing their best to you so that you, too, can imagine how to integrate the new so that it enhances our teaching. I was blown away by the new ideas for your classrooms that the exhibitors showed us.
I think I say this every year, Where did the time go? Can the NJTESOL/NJBE Conference 2016 really be over?
As you look back to our first three-day conference, I hope you enjoyed the workshops, the exhibitors, the excitement, and the food, everything that the conference offered you. I was thrilled to meet so many of you and share information and material, stories and felicitations. The halls pulsed with activity.
Thank you to those of you who stayed on a Friday afternoon to attend my workshop: Blending Learning, combining the best websites, online programs, video clips, etc. with regular classroom learning, plus creating “playlists”, an organized series of various types of activities for students, has supercharged my teaching. Frontloading the work and organizing these activities have created more one-to-one teaching time with my students, while allowing me to get to know my students and their learning styles even better. It is unbelievable to stand back and watch my students charge forward with enthusiasm as I integrated more and more playlists and blended their learning. Sharing this information with you was a pleasure; I hope next conference to update and share further online sites and strategies about blended learning.
I would be remiss if I didn’t share my experiences with my classes this year. I feel that my journey resonates with so many of you that have experienced the highs and lows of working with SLIFE (Students with Limited or Interrupted Formal Education) students. Their interrupted education challenges their emotional and educational progress like no other students I have ever taught.
Now I have been in the high school almost two years. I have some students for almost all of that time, and, of course, with the influx of new students that have populated my classroom, it is a mixed and diverse classroom.
I still remember my first day there:
I entered the room as they did, but as they took their seats, I moved to the front of the room. I was their teacher, and they were my new students. Twenty-five sets of eyes stared at me, some quite angrily, some confused, some with no observable emotion, just curious what this small blond woman was going to say to them.
I was worried, already forgetting my introduction, and somewhat confused, too. So many students, so many expectations, and reality was beginning to focus my thoughts: OMG, (Oh My God), what could I say to them? The first words I said would imprint and would mark my new beginning. What was an elementary school teacher doing here, at this time, in this place? It was almost November. I wasn’t their first teacher this year. They have experienced so many changes and here I represented yet another one.
When I was transferred, my world started to spin into upheaval and turmoil. I had been teaching English as a Second Language for years and, but not here at the high school. Administration made a mistake. I wasn’t a high school teacher. But here I stood. How would I meet the challenge? And the more I learned about my students, the more my world changed. There were so many students with untold stories, horror, and shock at their reality.
Over a year has passed: Now my world is more focused. Each student is an individual with an individual purpose, a past that is similar, shared, and yet individual, and yet distinct. Some smile now, when there was none; some laugh when before there was only silence. Some hope, when there was previously only despair and loneliness. We share a recent past; we share some history; we share a new future.
Those that are not in my classes visit me and we reminisce. They ask me if I am going to be their teacher next year; I hesitate and I tell them I will be teaching the first two levels. I feel like their anchor, their first entrance into the educational world in which they felt isolated in a group of others, unable to grasp the newness of it all. While their world split apart in their home life, and their emotional stability and basis of all they know was blown apart, they strove to understand their new world. I was experiencing it with them.
Some were successful and I laughed with them as they told me they joined the tennis team, or the soccer team. Some went to Prom; some expressed goals and wanted to continue in college.
Some were rooted in reality; some were not. Sadly, some dropped out. One student handed me his papers to sign as he expressed his inability to continue. He owed money to the people that brought him to this country and the collection of the rest of it was imminent. He had to work full time. I grasped his hand and wished him luck. He was a sweet boy who had no dreams any more. He worked, and he slept a dreamless sleep.
Other students are surviving; while more are thriving. They will live with their memories; they will learn to submerge them and put them in a special place, to be revived at times, and left alone at other times. They are survivors who grew up too soon. This generation has experienced trauma and isolation that have scared and helped form their future. Hopefully their lives will stabilize and their children will have the benefit of their struggles. They will blend their old and new cultures as they acclimate. They will remember who they were, and look forward to whom they will become. I will follow their journey and teach them the skills they need. Some will continue to welcome my efforts; some will have difficulty realizing that education can provide the means to possibilities. I will continue to encourage them and educate them with every fiber I have.
I have become a high school teacher.
Tina Kern, Liaison
Spring Conference Advocacy Recap
By Elizabeth (BJ) Franks
If you attended the Spring Conference, hopefully, you were able to attend one of the Advocacy workshops. Each day provided workshops geared to different levels and advocacy issues.
Pre-K Our Way
On Wednesday, participants learned about a grass-roots effort to expand universal Pre-K to more than 100 districts. Pre-K Our Way (https://prekourway.org ) has developed an information campaign to educate legislators and community members about the importance of Pre-K in order to ultimately encourage the legislature to fund the expansion of the high-quality programs in New Jersey. We need to join their efforts to ensure that the voices of the Dual Language Learners and their families are included. We know that high quality pre-school which appropriately addresses the home language needs of our students is one of the key factors in closing the achievement gap. So, go to their website. See if your district is one of the 104 districts eligible for funding. Even if it is not, share the information with administrators, community members, and parents. We want to be at the table when decisions are made so now is the time to get involved.
Pathways to Biliteracy
Since the Seal of Biliteracy passed, it is now time to turn our attention to building pathways to biliteracy. On Wednesday of the conference, Amanda Seewald, president of FLENJ (Foreign Language Educators of New Jersey) and former dual language teacher, shared her expertise about the various models of dual language programs. Amanda discussed the importance of creating these pathways to help our students to become College and Career Ready in this global society. NJTESOL/NJBE and FLENJ will continue to partner on this issue to encourage schools and districts to consider adopting a Dual Language program (which should start in Pre K!). So stay tuned.
Advocacy into Action
Thursday’s schedule brought advocacy into action. Amanda Seewald again presented but this time on how to build your advocacy muscles. She stressed the importance that how we teach is advocacy. When we collaborate and demonstrate the effective practices of second language teaching and learning, we are advocating. That’s where it begins. From there, your sphere of influence has a ripple effect and impacts administrators, families, and community members. I was just reminded at the TESOL Advocacy Summit about the standards for P-12 TESOL Teacher Education, in particular, standard 5:
Candidates take advantage of professional growth opportunities and demonstrate the ability to build partnerships with colleagues and students’ families, serve as community resources, and advocate for ELLs (p.71).
Yes, advocacy is one of the Teacher Education standards for ESL teachers. Another workshop on Advocacy was also presented by Joyce Farr, an ESL teacher and active NJEA (New Jersey Education Association) member, who shared ways to get directly involved in NJEA to forge partnerships with other professional organizations.
Partnership for a New American Economy
Dan Wallace, from the Partnership for New American Economy, and recipient of our 2016 Advocacy Award, (www.pnae.org), gave a fascinating presentation about the research on immigration from a business perspective. The organization’s work is a wonderful resource to tap into to obtain data which refutes so many of the myths about immigrants. Handouts will be uploaded onto our website.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and college
If you teach in the high school, you need to know the information presented by Giancarlo Tello and Jennifer Rodriguez. They shared valuable information about undocumented students and their pathways to college. In conjunction with the Rutgers Graduate School of Education, a fall conference dedicated to this issue is being planned. So be on the lookout for the flyer. In the meantime, they have shared their resources and they are posted on our website under Advocacy along with their handouts.
Legal issues and ELLs
Friday’s schedule featured Stan Karp and Jessica Levin from the Education Law Center.
Stan provide a detailed description of the lawsuit filed on behalf of graduating seniors in response to the change in graduation requirements while Jessica addressed the laws and the legal protections that exist for ELLs. Both of their presentations can be found under Spring Conference handouts. As you can see, we had many opportunities to learn about the significant issues facing our students today. Please avail yourself of the presentations on our website.
TESOL ADVOCACY SUMMIT 2016
As your Advocacy representative, I am attending the TESOL Advocacy Summit. As a matter of fact, I am writing this article as I prepare for meetings with Senator Booker’s education policy aide, as well as Representative Smith’s aide. It has already been two days of tremendous information and inspiration. We have lots to do during this transition from No Child Left Behind (NCLB) to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). I hope to replicate this summit in some capacity in New Jersey and hope that our New Jersey summit can inspire you to get involved and proactively practice Standard #5.
Vision without action is only a dream.
Action without vision passes the time.
Vision with action can change the world!
Join NJTESOL/NJBE in changing the world.
Elizabeth (BJ) Franks, the Advocacy representative for NJTESOL/NJBE, also serves as a consultant for Language & Literacy Associates for Multilingual and Multicultural Education.
TESOL Press Release: NJTESOL/NJBE Participates in 2016 TESOL Advocacy and Policy Summit
On June 19-21, 2016, Elizabeth (BJ) Franks joined approximately 75 other TESOL educators and members of TESOL International Association in Washington, DC, for the 2016 TESOL Advocacy and Policy Summit. The program featured a full day of issue briefings and activities around education legislation and advocacy, followed by a day of visits to Congressional offices on Capitol Hill. With representatives from approximately 30 United States affiliates in attendance, the goals of the Summit were not only to learn more about federal policy issues impacting TESOL educators and English learners, but also to provide an interactive learning experience for participants on elements of advocacy. By the end of the event, TESOL members had visited the offices of over 100 Representatives and Senators.
To fully prepare for the Summit, participants needed to complete several important tasks before arriving in Washington, DC. For example, participants needed to schedule meetings with their Congressional representatives. For many, this was a first. To assist with this, TESOL International Association provided directions, guidance, and a list of specific representatives and senators to contact. Additionally, TESOL International Association connected attendees with other participants from the same state to encourage collective advocacy. Franks noted, “I was able to schedule meetings with the education policy aide in Senator Booker’s and Representative Smith’s office. It was actually quite easy as I first emailed the legislator’s office and the scheduler connected me with the appropriate aide.”
Participants also received background information on key policy issues so that they could begin to familiarize themselves in advance. To help make their Congressional meetings more effective, participants were encouraged to find examples from their own programs to illustrate the talking points they would use in their meetings.
The Summit featured a keynote from Dr. Johan Uvin, Acting Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical, and Adult Education at the U.S. Department of Education. In addition, representatives from the Office for Civil Rights and the Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA) at the U.S. Department of Education, as well as the Student and Exchange Visitor Program at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, each presented updates from their offices. The Summit also included presentations from the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, and author Dr. Diane Staehr Fenner presented information from her book Advocating for English Learners: A Guide for Educators.
Following these briefings, the Summit shifted its focus to advocacy with preparations for meetings with members of Congress. To maximize the impact of the Summit, key members of Congress serving on the education and appropriations committees in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives were identified for meetings. In addition, participants attending from the same state were teamed up so they could meet with the legislators in small groups.
On June 21, participants went to Capitol Hill to have meetings with members of Congress and staff. “It was exciting to be on Capitol Hill and see all of the advocates meeting with their representatives. It is a great experience to see the government at work.”
At the end of the day, the participants shared their experiences and what they learned over dinner. It was interesting to hear what other people experienced on their visit. Overall, all of the participants agreed this event was a very positive experience for them and for TESOL International Association.
Elizabeth (BJ) Franks, the Advocacy representative for NJTESOL/NJBE, also serves as a consultant for Language & Literacy Associates for Multilingual and Multicultural Education.
By Ana Cunha, Guest Reviewer
"Teachers will not be replaced by technology, but teachers who do not use technology will be replaced by those who do.” Hari Krishna Arya, India.
As technology changes, so must educators.
So began the presentation at the NJTESOL/NJBE 2016 Spring Conference, Using Technology to Enhance ELL Instruction, by Ana Cunha and Maria Romero. The presenters told their audience that the inclusion of technology into their instruction can enhance learning for their students. Flipping classroom instruction* with the use of technology can improve student learning. Audience members received information on how to create videos for flipping their classrooms.
Mrs. Cunha showed the audience a variety of apps and technology sources that can be used to facilitate learning. Her first suggestion for a technology-infused classroom was ClassDojo, a simple, safe classroom management app that allows students to be responsible for their own attendance and helps build a positive classroom culture as well as important learning skills. Furthermore, from the dashboard, the instructor can set weekly goals to encourage student growth and give positive feedback. ClassDojo can also serve to engage parents by giving them access to instant messages, announcements, and class photos and videos. A translator is available in 35 languages.
Mrs. Cunha explained to the audience that Splashtop allows teachers to control the PC using an electronic device such as a tablet or phone from a remote location. For teachers, controlling the classroom PC remotely gives them the opportunity to move around the classroom rather than stand in front of the board while teaching. It works with Windows PC or Mac. Splashtop allows any electronic device to remotely access the PC or MAC and all the teacher’s programs and files; therefore, allowing the educator to move around the room.
Other applications discussed were: Socrative, Schoology, and No Red Ink. Socrative is a free web application that allows educators to create quizzes, exit slips, and space race for student engagement and assessment. Students can use tablets, computers, or smart phones. The teacher receives instant real time results. It also allows the teacher to receive reports regarding student progress.
Schoology is an online learning management system that can help teachers create and manage courses and share information with other educators. Teachers can keep and create attendance records, assignments, quizzes, and homework. Students are able to connect, communicate, and share with their classmates. The program No Red Ink helps students improve grammar and writing skills. It is differentiated to students tracking student progress toward mastering CCSS and by providing unlimited help to the students.
Lastly, Mrs. Cunha introduced the audience to QR Codes which can be utilized in a classroom in a variety of ways. Showing the audience some of her own classroom uses of QR Codes and demonstrating how QR Codes can facilitate learning. Students can be led to additional information or resources simply by using an electronic device with a camera. The presenter showed how QR codes cut down on handouts and can be used for self-directed learning in the classroom. Teachers can add them to library or textbooks as a link to additional information. Mrs. Cunha said that teachers could place QR codes in the class or around the school to inform parents about school policy, uniforms, homework, conferences, or links to teacher web pages.
*“Flipping Classrooms” is the term used when students do the learning of instructional material using technology prepared by their teachers on any device both inside and outside the classroom and then do their reinforcement work in the classroom. It is a model of instruction that uses technology to help students learn. Students watch short videos and lectures before class and during class they work on projects, assignments or discussions.
Ana Maria Cunha, High School ESL Teacher, Carteret High School
Literacy Development In The Age Of Technology
By Alamelu Sundaram-Walters
ESL students quickly develop and grow into eager, news-thirsty knowledge seekers. Thanks to their language educators, the world has become a little smaller. Students take interest in popular stories popping up on social media feeds. They want to know more about the world around them, and they want to use their new English skills.
ESL students may be developing in-depth critical questioning techniques using Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy or Webb’s Depth of Knowledge. They may want to read and understand local and global news and the different perspectives of a particular news story or collect a more general overview about what is being reported outside their country.
Current events are also a wonderful way for you to expand on well-developed critical reading comprehension. But which ESL news articles should I choose for my students? you may ask yourself. There are thousands of online news resources from which to choose, often making the selection process difficult. Once you see the spread of information before you, finding the best fitting and most appropriate online news resource should be your number one priority. When searching for online news articles you must first look to your students: keep things relevant. Keeping news relevant and level appropriate according to their reading level will allow your students and you to discuss the new material more easily.
Here are a few things to think about when choosing a great news article for your ESL lesson:
- What level are my students?
- Is the article interesting to them/me?
- Is the article age appropriate?
- Are there any conflicting cultural views?
- What are the needs and goals of my students?
Here are a few things to look for when selecting online ESL news articles:
- Is the article using correct grammar?
- Are there any conflicting or offensive cultural issues?
- Is the vocabulary appropriate for students’ levels?
- Is the article free of offensive language?
- How long is the article?
- Can great talking points be drawn from the article?
The needs and goals of your students are essential to consider when selecting online news articles. Do your students want to focus on reading comprehension or do they want to formulate an opinion and share it? Your students may even want to hear your perspective, since you will most likely be from a different culture than that of your students. Understanding their needs and goals, you will be able to craft an exciting and informative lesson using ESL news articles, while improving their comprehension.
By Alamelu Sundaram-Walters, Mt. Laurel Public Schools,
A View of the USDOE's Newcomer Toolkit
By Sandy Nahmias
It is well worth the effort to peruse the recently-released U.S. Department of Education's Newcomer Toolkit inasmuch as it contains a wealth of indispensable information. Not all of its content is new, but all of it is invaluable as a tool for advocating for high caliber instructional programs, human and educational resources, family involvement and partnerships, professional development, course curricula for teachers-in-training; all for not only newcomer ELs but for all ELs. I almost wish the Toolkit could be condensed so that I could carry a pocket-size around with me in order to quickly and easily refer to it when needed to lend credence to a debate, discussion, or to deflate an often-heard misconception about ELs. But for now, an overview of some of the Toolkit's highlights will have to suffice.
After perusing the Table of Contents, I concentrated on Chapters 3 ("High Quality Instruction for Newcomer Students") and 5 ("Establishing Partnerships with Families"), so I'll provide an overview of those two, with highlights in bold, for the sake of keeping this as concise as possible given that the Toolkit is justifiably lengthy.
Chapter 3 Special Features
- Discussion of the cultivation of global competencies among all students
- Guidelines and principles for providing high-quality instruction to ELs (Quote: "Many newcomers may arrive in the U.S. needing to learn English while also needing to learn academic content. Thus, high-quality education for newcomers is based in large part on quality teaching practices for ELs.")
- Ways to overcome several common misconceptions about newcomers, which provides you with current understanding as to how to best prepare our ELs for success in school and in their communities
- Program types and examples
- Classroom tools
- School wide tools
- Professional reflection and discussion activity
- Resource list
Within the Guidelines and Principles subheading are "key thoughts" which lists essential concepts, including:
- Instruction in language is not separate from the learning of content, within which is the statement "...learning a second language is complex, gradual, nonlinear, and dynamic. Thus, instruction that focuses solely on acquiring English is insufficient for newcomers."
- Higher order academic learning requires scaffolding and conceptual, analytic, and linguistic development
- Engagement and expression should evolve as students learn English
- Prior knowledge should be tapped to activate and connect it to new learning
- Student grouping should be purposeful for instruction, and should vary between homogeneous and heterogeneous groupings, depending on students’ literacy and language skills
- Independent learning uses various metacognitive strategies for learning
This chapter, along with the NJDOE's FABRIC paradigm and WIDA's Can Do Descriptors, Key Uses Edition will provide insights into what is required to ensure and advocate for academic success for newcomer ELs and all ELs.
Chapter 5 Special Features
- The four stages of immigrant parent involvement
- Five processes for facilitating effective newcomer parent engagement
- Stories from the field
- School wide tools, i.e., a conceptual model for partnering with families to increase student achievement (with ideas and examples related to various components of the model), examples of newcomer family engagement, and a tool for evaluating family engagement
- Professional reflection and discussion activity
- Resource list, i.e., an annotated list of references to resources cited in this chapter, as well as links to relevant federal guidance, policy, and data, and other helpful resources on establishing partnerships with families
It has been my experience that the parents of ELs are hardworking individuals who hold the school and its teachers in the highest regard, for it is the school and the individuals in it who will provide their children with something that will ensure their success in this world: a good education. So why not empower these individuals with the knowledge necessary to make them a visible source of strength during their children's school years? Chapter 5 identifies key processes and strategies to make parents themselves advocates for their own children.
There's so much in the Toolkit that it's difficult to whittle it all down. It is my hope that you use this snapshot as motivation to look further into the Toolkit; read it, save it, and refer back to it as a scholarly resource as we soon embark upon a new school year.
Enjoy the rest of your summer.
Sandra Nahmias, Bilingual Elementary Education SIG Representative