Course Crafters

Course Crafters’ Blog

hmh-family-engagement-making-a-difference-video-thumbnailSeveral years ago, Course Crafters published a successful e-newsletter for educators called The ELL Outlook. We’re making some of the most popular articles available free here, which include insights on reading research and ELLs, formative assessment, and more.

Check this site regularly to see new articles and blogs by Lise Ragan and guest bloggers, on topics such as ELLs as Assets, ELLs and the ESSA, What’s Needed for Professional Development?, Funding and ELL Education, Effective Sustainable EL Family Engagement, and The Changing Face of Bilingual Education. If you’d like to suggest a topic, email us.

 

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and English learners

I recently attended a webinar sponsored by TESOL, “An Overview of the Every Student Succeeds Act: What TESOL Educators Need to Know”, which was an overview of the ESSA and the implications for states, schools, and districts that enroll English learner students. The ESSA, signed in December 2015 by President Obama with bipartisan support, greatly decreases the role of the federal government in K-12 education and moves authority and responsibility back to the states and local education agencies. So knowing the implications of the ESSA for ELs in the states is critical.

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Effective School-English learner (EL) Family Partnerships

More than fifty years of research supports the importance of parental and family engagement for improved student achievement, better school attendance, and reduced dropout rates, regardless of socioeconomic background or ethnicity (M. Beatriz Arias and Milagros Morillo-Campbell, 2008). As I state and elaborate on in the white paper I wrote for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, EL Academic Success through Effective School-Family Partnerships, the most effective family engagement is a shared responsibility in which schools and families work together as equal partners, with shared responsibility and a common goal: student achievement and school improvement.

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Designing Effective Instructional Materials for ELLs

In August 2014, the Council of Great City Schools published their Framework for Raising Expectations and Instructional Rigor for English Language Learners, which I and Course Crafters use as a guidepost for designing curricula and instructional materials for ELLs and their teachers.

The Council of Great City Schools has a huge stake in the academic success of ELLs: their 67 school districts collectively enroll over 1.2 million of the country’s ELLs, or 26% of the nation’s total. After NCLB, and now reiterated in ESSA, all ELLs, K-12, are held to the same rigorous academic, college- and career-ready standards as their English-proficient peers. Helping school districts meet this goal requires those of us who design curricula and instructional materials for ELLs and professional development for teachers of ELLs—language educators and, increasingly, mainstream classroom teachers—to reexamine the way we are looking at developing ELLs’ academic language proficiency. We’re not there yet, but we’ll get there if we examine and pay heed to the suggestions in the CGCS Framework.

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Back-to-School Success for English learners

By Lise Ragan

As we return to school for another academic year, how can we, as educators, understand and best support the English learner (EL) students in our schools so that we give them the best chance for school success, graduation, and a bright future? Here are a few ideas to consider.

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What Does Research Tell Us About Teaching Reading to English Language Learners?

By Suzanne Irujo, ELL Outlook™ Contributing Writer

As a classroom teacher, I was largely ignorant of, and definitely suspicious of, research. I believed that researchers could make their studies come out any way they wanted them to, and that a good teacher who reflected on her own teaching knew much more about how to be effective with her students than any researcher did. Later, as a university professor, I learned how important good research can be, and how difficult it is to do really good experimental research in a field such as education, where it is impossible to control all the variables.

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Teaching Math to English Language Learners: Can Research Help?

By Suzanne Irujo, ELL Outlook™ Contributing Writer

It seems almost unbelievable now, but many people in education used to think that mathematics classes in English would be easy for English language learners (ELLs) because math was less language-dependent than other subjects, as it dealt with numbers. When I was a bilingual teacher in the 1970s, it was routinely recommended that bilingual students be placed in math as their first mainstream subject. People really believed that math was nonverbal.

This belief was so pervasive that somebody had decided that the bilingual classes in my school system could learn math from nonverbal textbooks. These were programmed instruction texts that broke down calculations into their smallest parts and modeled each step for students to copy and then do on their own. They covered nothing but addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, and most of my third- and fourth-grade students were so bored by the process that they never even made it to division.

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ELL Teacher Diary #1: Nagib Learns to Read

By Ámbar de Mejía, ELL Outlook™ Staff Writer

Ana had been absent for a week. Since she is almost always sick with some cold or another, I didn’t think much of it except to note that this time, her absence was longer than usual. Today I saw her during dismissal while I was standing in the hallway saying goodbye to the children and keeping my eye on the flow of traffic. “Walk, please!,” more of an order than a request, not that I’ll tell them that. Ana walked by me.

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ELL Teacher Diary #2: Nagib Moves On

By Ámbar de Mejía, ELL Outlook™ Staff Writer

January…
A few weeks ago, somebody said to Nagib, “You’re stupid. You had to repeat fifth grade! You don’t know anything!” When I heard about this, I did a slow burn. My adrenaline went up and down and up again. Touch one of my babies, will you? I fumed. We’ll see about that! Then I began to calm down and realized that part of the problem is that the kids in Nagib’s class think that he gets too much help from me. I’ve heard them complain, “He gets help on his tests.” They don’t understand his difficulties, nor do they realize that although his tests are modified and read aloud, we only read the tests but offer no additional help. I found an Arabic-English workbook with simple exercises. Hmmmm!

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Teacher Diary #3: A Chronicle Of a First-Time ELL Teacher

By Kristin Bair, ELL Outlook™ Contributing Writer

In January 2006, I visit the E. J. Harrington Elementary School in Lynn, Massachusetts, for the first time. Upon driving into the parking lot, I see that it is just as principal Joanne Roy described it when we spoke, back in the fall. Harrington is a big brick building surrounded by lots and lots of concrete. There are no trees and no playground, and as a first-time visitor, I find it nearly impossible to find the proper door for visitor entry. After I wander about for five or so minutes in the cold, a school employee points me in the right direction, up a flight of concrete steps that looks as if it had been built for Paul Bunyan, and across a concrete patio where Babe the Blue Ox could have easily stretched his legs. But despite the alienating exterior of the building, I quickly discover that inside is a warm, friendly, inviting school staffed by motivated teachers and full of bright, promising students.

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