All Posts By

Beth Skelton

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Planning for Language Development

Much of my work with teachers this past school year has focused on the power of lesson planning for language development. In this blog post, I will explain how to use a simple tool to add a language focus to any lesson plan and provide the necessary scaffolds and supports…
Beth Skelton
April 4, 2019
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Podcast: ELL Basics

In this podcast for MyEdExpert, Suzy Pepper Rollins interviews me about some basic ELL issues including questions about the stages of language acquisition, the difference between social and academic language, and ways that teachers can support ELLs at different stages in their classrooms. You can download this podcast onto your…
Beth Skelton
June 13, 2018
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Constraints and Creativity

Finding the right balance between freedom and constraints is a challenge for all teachers. Deciding how much to model, what project elements to require, and what to leave open to student choice can be daunting for teachers. In my personal experience, some limitations really do lead to more freedom. Constraints…
Beth Skelton
November 6, 2017
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August Syndrome

I woke up this morning thinking, “It’s August 1 already!?!” My husband has affectionately labeled this time of year for me as ‘August Syndrome’ to describe the conflicting emotions I inevitably experience each year.
Beth Skelton
August 1, 2017
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Finding the focal point in language and content

Finding the focal point for language and content instruction requires teachers to conduct ongoing experiments and closely observe how students are using language. When students struggle to explain a concept, teachers have to discern if they actually understand the concept but need language support, or if they still need support…
Beth Skelton
April 12, 2017
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That’s exemplary!

“For all the correcting we do, directions we give, and rubrics we create about what good work looks like, students are often unclear about what they are aiming for until they actually see and analyze strong models." Ron Berger, Leaders of their own Learning
Beth Skelton
December 27, 2016
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Learning the Language of Music

Last week I participated in a marimba camp with David Alderdice and Arlyn Deva of Embodying Rhythm. What I learned during the week of afternoon marimba lessons was much broader than the melody and chord lines to each of the three songs we worked on; I learned the importance of…
Beth Skelton
June 30, 2016
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Snapshot of Engagement with Language and Content

Sometimes when I walk into a classroom, students have such a sense of focus and purpose, that they don’t even look up or notice me. I recently had the opportunity to observe a second grade science class that epitomized that kind of classroom. Located in a small, rural school district…
Beth Skelton
April 9, 2016
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Close Reading with ELLs

When I returned to the U.S. in 2013 after teaching ESL for three years at the Bavarian International School in Germany, I began to hear the term close reading in every school I consulted with. I noticed many new books with close reading in the title; I heard teachers tell…
Beth Skelton
June 24, 2015
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The Grading Game

“Mom, I got a 96 on the math test. What does that mean?” I had to laugh at my daughter’s innocent reaction to traditional grades and percentages after 11 years of schooling with alternative forms of feedback. Entering a traditional U.S. public school in Grade 10 gave her a bit…
Beth Skelton
January 27, 2015
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My first foray into gaming

I’m not a gamer. I’ve seen kids and peers play Nintendo, X-box, and Candy Crush, but these electronic games have never enticed me. I’d much rather play a board game like Clue, a word game like Scrabble, or a card game like Rummy. I spend enough time using the computer…
Beth Skelton
October 19, 2014
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Learning Language through Laughter

Laughter echoed through the halls of the school as I walked toward the Fluency Fast Advanced Spanish class in Denver, Colorado earlier this month. My excitement for participating in this class grew with each step, as did my concerns that my intermediate Spanish level would not be sufficient. I knew…
Beth Skelton
July 25, 2014
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What makes an effective teacher?

Teacher effectiveness rubrics, teacher evaluation systems, multiple books and many professional development workshops attempt to answer the question: What makes an effective teacher? The recent push in the US to evaluate teachers based on strict rubrics and students’ results on standardized test scores has challenged me to think differently about…
Beth Skelton
May 30, 2014