Podcast: ELL Basics

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

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 Smartphone and listen while you drive to work! Enjoy!

Read More

Constraints and Creativity

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

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 can actually spur creativity.

Read More

That’s exemplary!

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

“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

Read More

Learning the Language of Music

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

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 listening, following the pulse, and playing within the musical framework or grid,

Read More

Snapshot of Engagement with Language and Content

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

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 in a Title One school with over 80% English Language Learners, this room buzzed with excitement and interest. Students were working at round tables asking each other questions, sharing information, or writing and reading independently. At first, I didn’t even notice the teacher in the room. When I found her, she was kneeling next to a student discussing his research and asking probing questions about his next steps.

Read More

Close Reading with ELLs

By | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

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 students, “Let’s do a close reading of this text”; and I saw sessions about close reading at every conference I attended. I felt completely out of the loop and wondered what I’d missed while I was out of the country. So I began to read about close reading, talk to my colleagues about the process, analyze the Common Core State Standards, and attend workshops on the topic.

Read More

The Grading Game

By | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

“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 of culture shock. Traditional quizzes, end of unit tests, homework for points, and percentage based grading policies were completely foreign to her.

Read More

My first foray into gaming

By | Uncategorized | One Comment

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 and my phone for work and personal connections that I’ve never wanted to add another reason to be in front of a screen.

Read More

Learning Language through Laughter

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

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 the class was designed to give non-native Spanish teachers more confidence and fluency, as well as experience with the TPRS® language teaching method. Although I am not a Spanish teacher, I trusted the instructor, Jason Fritze, and the method enough to take on the challenge.

Read More

What makes an effective teacher?

By | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

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 the answers to this question.

Read More
Share This