Sunday, July 15, 2012

ELs in the NWP LCD session

Today, at the NWP LDC Cohort 2 meeting in Colorado, I attended Rebeca Garcia-Gonzalez's session about English Language Learners and the Common Core. Our group of 12 began by introducing ourselves, our educational contexts and our work with ELs.

We received tips from Rebeca for working with teachers in professional learning throughout our session. Here’s one she gave us: Teachers of ELs are a disenfranchised, historically underrepresented population. The first job in planning for their professional learning is to establish trust. Rebeca recommends that we begin by sharing with these teachers the one page PDF in the CCSS about language learners. “Give them a chance to be angry! They should be angry!” she said.

We entered our reading of a chapter from Pauline Gibbons’, English Learners, Academic Literacy, and Thinking: Learning in the Challenge Zone with some questions to consider:

1. Why do you think Gibbons selected these seven ideas as her basis for EL college and career readiness? ?
2. Is there anything you would add or take away?

Here’s another tip: When working with teachers familiar with the CCSS, ask them to contrast Gibbons’ ideas with the one-pager in the CCSS.

We read the Bunch Paper, “Understanding Language: Realizing Opportunities for English Learners in the Common Core English Language Arts and Disciplinary Literacy Standards,” which distills recent research about ELs” by Bunch, Kibler, and Pimentel.

Rebeca reflected upon her previous experience leading PD with these texts and shared that teachers never oppose the principles in theory but admit to struggles in implementing some. With that in mind, we read the article and considered this guiding question:
What would be hard to enact from Bunch’s recommendations and which of his recommendations would be easy to put into practice?

Finally, we reviewed the NWP’s approach to drafting modules for EL’s. We looked at key considerations about how an LDC EL Module would differ from a standard module before reviewing three skills clusters, informational, argumentative and narrative.

Rebeca asked us to reflect quickly on the “workability” of these clusters and how constraining they appeared to us. Since we enjoyed the first view of these skill clusters, she also invited us to read them closely and provide feedback in LDC Connect. Look for the feedback in the Language Learners space.

The above are my notes about how the session was conducted. I reflect that these conversations feel new and important today because of the need I feel to get smarter about how I work with both EL students and teachers of those students. I always feel lucky to be part of conversations with teachers about how we can help other teachers.