Equity Conversations: Updates in STEM Education K-12

Equity Conversations: Updates in STEM Education K-12
Keynote Speaker:  Dr. Okhee Lee, Professor of Education, New York University

Friday, June 6th, 2014, 8:30 – 3:30 pm
University of Southern Maine, Portland Campus, Hannaford Hall
Admission is free and includes a boxed lunch; registration is required.

Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont educators are invited to join in conversations with researchers, community partners, and other practitioners focused on best practices in STEM education K-12 for inclusion of all students, including ELLs.  This is an interactive day designed to promote conversation framed by the implications of the Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards for underrepresented students. Register for the event by May 23, 2014.

Presented by the New England Equity Assistance Center in co-sponsorship with University of Southern Maine Teacher Education.

News from the conference

The fall 2013 conference at University of Southern Maine was a great success thanks to our conference chair, Farrah Giroux, and all the other amazing members of our board.  Linda Marshall gave an engaging keynote on how accountable talk read alouds can be used with ELLs to help them reach the new Common Core Standards.  There were also many interesting workshops given by our colleagues from all over northern New England and we

enjoyed checking out the publishers’ goodies and networking with colleagues and friends.

This year we’ve just added three new members to our board: Mary Lou Donahoe (NH State Representative), Karlene Groshek (Secretary) and Rebecca Wurdak (Veteran Board Member-At-Large).  We’ve also moved some of our old members around: Kevin Giddens is becoming VT State Representative, Farrah Giroux is now our president and Anne Wright Shank is President Elect and will be Conference Chair for our fall 2014 conference which is already being planned!

In other news Kathryn Peppe received the Graduate Student Award from NNETESOL this fall and Shauna Wight received our Research Award for work she is doing with adolescent multilingual writers.  Keep checking our grants page on our website for updates on our awards.  The deadline for applications is September 1st each year, so you have plenty of time to start thinking about it.

Last, but certainly not least, SAVE THE DATE for our fall 2014 conference!  It will be held Saturday, November 8th, 2014 somewhere in Vermont.  We look forward to seeing you then!



Kirsten Kollgaard, Past President

Here We Go Again!

Well, here we are back at “back to school” time. 

No matter how the years roll by, those of us who are dedicated to education have mixed feelings at this time of the year.

It’s the end of the more restful days of summer and the beginning of a new season in the classroom-new faces and names to get acquainted with, and a return to the daily schedules required by the educational process.  It is exciting and daunting all at the same time.

One of the things I like best about this time of year is renewing old relationships with last year’s students-whether I will still see them in my classroom or not.  What changes the summer months have wrought in young, growing, questing students!  I enjoy hearing about their vacation time and listening to their plans for the coming months.  I’m especially delighted to see the looks of anticipation on their faces as they contemplate the road to their future.

I also look forward to getting to knew new students.  I am reminded anew of the responsibility of being an educator.  These young people arrive in our classrooms hoping for answers and assistance as they  move forward on their way into the unknown.

What an awesome task we have!  What a challenge!  What a reward when we see the “Ah-ha” moments pop onto their faces.

You know? I wouldn’t change my job for–as my mom used to say–”All the tea in China.”

Happy, successful year, everyone!!

Karen Boxell,

publisher’s liaison

‘Let’s Talk’ is Keynote Topic

This fall our keynote will be “Let’s Talk: How Accountable Talk Can Help ELLs Reach the Common Core,” by Linda Marshall of Palm Beach County Public Schools in Florida.  This keynote will focus on the literacy and oral skills standards from the Common Core and show how the practice of Accountable Talk Read Aloud can be used at all levels to enhance students’ speaking and listening skills, reading comprehension and writing proficiency.

Linda is currently a literacy coach in Palm Beach County, \where 99% of students qualify for free and reduced lunch and 90% of entering Kindergartners are ELLs. In the summer she provides ELL professional development and teaches a graduate course at a high incidence district in Vermont. Linda has been working in US public schools for 28 years as a classroom teacher, ELL teacher, literacy coach and ELL district administrator. She has presented at the International Reading Association Convention, the Florida Reading Association Conference, Florida TESOL, Palm Beach County TESOL and Florida ASCD. Her areas of expertise are the Common Core literacy and “Speaking and Listening” standards. In her work she uses the practice of “Accountable Talk Read Aloud” to develop ELL students’ oral skills, reading comprehension and writing proficiency.

The Electronic Village Online CFP

Screen Shot 2013-06-08 at 9.24.29 PMCan’t make it to TESOL in the spring? Really have a topic you’d like to present?

I just got in my mailbox this notice about a CFP for the The CALL-Interest Section’s Electronic Village Online.

The EVO is a free online conference. If you’ve never participated, you should check it out.

Organizers are planning EVO 2014 now, and they would love to have inspiring educators participate in moderating a session.

Sound interesting? Read on below and go to this link for more info: http://tinyurl.com/cfprop2014

The Electronic Village Online Sessions


For five weeks in January-February, participants and ESOL experts can engage in collaborative, online discussion or hands-on virtual workshops of professional and scholarly benefit. These sessions will bring together participants for a longer period of time than is permitted by the four-day convention and will allow a fuller development of ideas than is otherwise possible in convention sessions.Sessions may be on any topic in ESL/EFL (not necessarily about technology) and are free and open to all interested parties.Session leaders (moderators) need not have previous experience in online teaching. Co-moderation with several people is strongly recommended. Moderators, at least one of whom must be a TESOL member, will receive hands-on training in online discussion management and the use of live virtual chat and audio rooms during our moderators’ training session October 21 – November 12, 2013.

Sessions of EVO must be sponsored by a TESOL Interest Section, Forum, or other member group or affiliate. (Our team can help you find sponsors.)

Making Connections and Feeling At Home

There comes a time in every reader’s life when they stumble upon a book that moves them emotionally and intellectually, The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi is that book for me.  I was looking for a children’s literature book The Name Jarto use for my intermediate English language learner classes at Portland Adult Education in Maine. A learned colleague, Kathleen Hiscock, referred me to the book and the New Readers Program from the Maine Humanities Council.  I was not disappointed.

The Name Jar tells the story of Unhei, a young Korean immigrant, who travels to the United States with her mother, father, and brother.  Before departing for America, her grandmother gives her a red pouch that contains her name stamp, a symbol that will connect them though they are thousands of miles apart. Her grandmother writes from Korea, “Here the moon is up, but there the sun is up. No matter how far apart we are and no matter how different America is from Korea, you’ll always be my Unhei” (Choi, p.21).

Unhei (which means “grace” in English) is teased by children on her first day of school and decides that she needs her  “own American name” in order to fit in with the other children.  Of course, her mother disagrees and reaffirms the theme of acceptance.  She tells Unhei that she should be proud of her name even if it is difficult to pronounce and even if it is “different” (Choi, p. 8).

Unhei begins to make friends. Mr. Kim the local Korean marketer is the first to welcome her to the neighborhood and becomes a grandfather figure; and Joey, a young, redheaded American boy, befriends Unhei.  He likes her without knowing her name.  It is after meeting Joey that a jar mysteriously appears on her desk filled with names from her classmates for her to select an “American” name.

Will Unhei change her name?  What are the meanings of names?  What does it mean to feel different?  These are some of the questions posed by Unhei’s journey throughout the beautifully illustrated book.

I spent four weeks (classes met twice per week) teaching this book and it was a complete joy.  I used a combination of reflective writing prompts, CLOZE exercises, cognition vocabulary dictionaries, and story mapping.  My students ranged from 19-68 years old, and all enjoyed the story of an elementary aged girl seeking and finding acceptance and friendship in a new culture.  I strongly recommend this book and hope it helps other educators and students make connections with the text and with their classmates.  And perhaps, they will make a new chinku (Korean for friend).

–Farrah T. Giroux MS. Ed., CAS, is NNETESOL President-Elect and President/WIDA Certified Trainer of the English Language Institute, LLC. Choi, Yangsook.  The name jar.  2001.  Dragonfly Books:NY.

The Common Core Oral Language Standards and Accountable Talk Read Aloud

For me, oral language has always seemed like the bedrock of my ELL students’ language development.  Often it develops before literacy and when students have strong speaking and listening skills you cadiscussion by narrowhouse - a flat button look but with a small shadow to help it out. Talk bubble = discussion, I hope.n use them to develop literacy skills.

This school year, oral language has become a focus for my whole elementary school because the Common Core devotes a whole strand of English Language Arts standards to “Speaking and Listening.”  These standards build on each other so that all students will have effective academic conversation and presentation skills by the time they leave high school.

This new focus on oral language for all students will benefit ELLs because it gives classroom teachers a way to look at teaching oral language, something that may at times seem confusing or imposing to mainstream teachers.  Many teachers are very comfortable teaching content that they know well, but the idea of teaching the language of that content seems foreign to them.


In the last two years as we’ve started shifting to the Common Core, my school has been noticing that all of our students have trouble with academic conversation skills.  Speaking and listening skills don’t develop automatically, we need to teach them.  That’s why we’ve started using “Accountable Talk Read Alouds,” also called “Interactive Read Alouds” to get students talking about literature and content K-5.

Accountable Talk Read Alouds are read alouds that increase student talk and get students comfortable with having independent academic conversations with their peers.  During these read alouds, students have a buddy that they sit next to and talk with during read aloud time.  Teachers choose a specific skill (predicting, inferring, etc.) for their students to work on during their partner discussion.  As they read, the teacher stops at preset moments in the text to think-aloud or to prompt students to “turn and talk” to their partner or to “stop and jot” in their reading journal.  Teachers provide carefully worded prompts and scaffolds to help students with the discussion.  They also model finding evidence in the text to back up their opinions, a skill that is difficult for all students.  There’s also an aspect of accountable talk that is called “The Grand Conversation,” during which the whole class has a discussion about a book without raising hands or being prompted by the teacher.  The students comment on each other’s thoughts and ideas.  It does take a lot of training, but I have seen this work in first grade classrooms.

The exciting thing is that now that all the classroom teachers are using accountable talk, I see my ELLs using the prompts in all content areas.  They’re starting sentences with “I agree with Isha because…” and “I’d like to build on what Mohamed said …”

During my recent ACCESS testing I was pleased to see some of my student using various sentence frames correctly and orally retelling stories with an amazing amount of detail.  I attribute their success to this increased focus on oral language in their mainstream classrooms in all of the content areas.  I plan to continue to use accountable talk with my students and I’m glad that my mainstream colleagues will be as well.  Also, although accountable talk is mostly used at the elementary level, it can be adapted to work with middle and high school students, who still need plenty of practice with academic conversation skills.

If you want more information on accountable talk, here are some good resources:

Bringing Picture Books to Life!!! with Accountable Talk – a great power point that sums up the important points about accountable talk.

Read Aloud with Accountable Talk – Thinking and Talking Deeply about Books – this handout is a good list of teacher and student prompts that can be used during an accountable talk read aloud.

Ms. Gurian’s Class – this website has accountable talk prompts written for 19 elementary aged books, just click on the title of a book and a page of “sticky note” prompts comes up that you can print out and try with your students.


Kirsten Kollgaard is an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher at JFK Elementary School in Winooski, Vermont, and president of NNETESOL.

WIDA Conference registration open

WIDA Conference Registration Now Open

WIDA is hosting its first annual national conference, “Language Learner Success: Building on Strengths,” October 17-19, 2013 in Milwaukee, WI. Early bird registration is now open to general education/content area, special education, and ESL/bilingual teachers, as well as school, district, and state administrators and all others who support the education of language learners. Early bird registrants receive a $100 discount and space is limited, so please register today! Learn more

In addition, two pre-conference workshops will be facilitated by Dr. Jeff Zwiers of Stanford and WIDA Lead Developer Dr. Margo Gottlieb. Milwaukee Public Schools has generously collaborated with us to set up an intriguing menu of school site visit options. Individuals who also attend the conference will receive a discount on these pre-conference opportunities.

The draft conference program will be released soon! Be sure to visit www.widaconference.us regularly for the latest updates.

Jesse Markow
WIDA Consortium at WCER
University of Wisconsin-Madison
1025 West Johnson St., MD #23
Madison, WI 53706
P 608.262.7594
F 608.263.3733

Feel like an author?


Night Owls Press (www.nightowlspress.com), a small, independent press based in San Francisco, is looking for ESL/TESOL instructors with a creative writing bent to join us on a planned book series. For this series, we’re looking to combine the classic “gamebook” format— a type of story structure that makes the reader an active participant in the story— with ESL guided instruction. Basically, we want to create a new line of ESL guides in the form of novels! Our target reading audience: Adult English language learners based in the U.S. at the intermediate/advanced level.

You may recall the popular book series, Choose Your Own Adventure… We want to create something similar for the ESL market, where readers’ decisions as the “protagonist” of a story shape the story they read, help them learn English, and allow for familiarity with different or alternative meanings associated with certain phrases or language elements. The books are meant to be used alongside classroom instruction or as extracurricular reading for students.

The complete announcement is available at: http://www.nightowlspress.com/open-call-seeking-writers-esl-instructors-book-series/. A PDF version of the open call can be downloaded at: http://www.nightowlspress.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/ESL-Gamebook-Series-Open-Call.pdf.

Applications will be accepted until 15 April 2013. Invited authors will receive a publishing contract with Night Owls Press and work closely with our book development team. Books will be developed through 2013 and published in paperback and e-book formats. For questions about the project, please review the FAQ (the link is listed on the Open Call) before contacting us.

Contact: Karen Hannah <karen@nightowlspress.com>, Book Editor/Series Editor


Genevieve DeGuzman
Managing Editor

NIGHT OWLS PRESS – Turning Big Ideas into Great Books


Go to TESOL without being there

TESOL CALL-IS is providing webcast coverage from the CALL-IS Electronic Village and Technology Showcase. Please see the announcement below with a link to the Webcast schedule and the sessions.


We at the TESOL CALL-IS are pleased to provide webcast coverage of the following sessions from the Technology Showcase at this year’s TESOL 47th Annual Convention in Dallas:

  • CALL-IS Academic Session
  • CALL-IS and Elementary Education InterSection: New Tools/Techniques in CALL 
  • ITA, CALL, & VDM IS InterSection: New Technology Horizons for International Teaching Assistants
  • ESP, CALL, & VDM-IS InterSection: Harmony in ESP Practice with Computers, Video & Digital Media
  • Mobile Apps for Education Showcase
  • TESOL CALL-IS Open Meeting

The CALL-IS is also webcasting several selected EV Fair Classics sessions from the Electronic Village.

Visit http://www.call-is.org/info and follow the link to view the calendar of webcasts and instructions on how to attend. Please pass this link on to others who might be interested in participating.
Jack Watson
2013 TESOL CALL-IS Web Cast Development Co-Coordinator

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