Monday, November 17, 2014

One Month of Project GLAD

 Another great post from our guest blogger, Richele Dunavent!

After one month of Project GLAD implementation in a first grade co-teaching classroom I am excited to share that the level of student engagement is extremely high as well as the level of authentic academic language use in context. The unit being taught during this time period was about economics. This unit hit all of the expectations of the first grade Social Studies Essential Standard of 1.E.1 understand basic economic concepts and its three clarifying objectives. We began the unit by teaching one or two academic terms using the Cognitive Content Dictionary (CCD) that I mentioned in my last blog. Another strategy we used was a teacher created big book about the topic "producers". These big books are specific to the lesson, provide authentic images of the topic, and the text is relevant, informative, and the main idea is summarized in a repetitive pattern on each page. Students noticed this repetition and wondered about that. After we read the book together, I asked them to put their heads together and talk about why the book might repeat that one sentence on each page. Many of the students were very astute and realized that the repetition was to teach the important information, or the main idea and key details. The unit progressed through topics like producer/consumer, supply/demand, and goods/services using another strategy called a Comparative Input Chart. This strategy is especially helpful because it is preplanned and all of the information is penciled in prior to the lesson with sketches, labels and captions. It is also color coded for each chunk of the lesson. The similarities and differences between or among the topics or ideas are identified on this chart. These charts were left hanging on the walls for quick reference as students discussed the topics or wrote in their response journals.  
Student cooperative strip paragraph showing different colored sentence strips used to create a final paragraph about economics.The final strategy used in this unit was the Cooperative Strip Paragraph which had student teams compose a collaborative sentence in reference to the topic sentence that was written by the classroom teacher. Each team of students was given a different colored sentence strip for their response. They received teacher assistance from the adults in the classroom to actually write the sentence. Students are brought into close proximity of the pocket chart where all of the sentence strips were added to the topic sentence to form a paragraph. Time was spent over the next several days editing the sentences as a whole group activity. Sentence strips were torn into separate pieces as words were added or taken away. The CCD and the Comparison Input Charts were referred to throughout this editing process in order to create a cohesive, informative paragraph. Again, students were highly engaged and there were ample opportunities for all students to practice using academic vocabulary in context.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Los 43

With her permission, I am sharing Marta Sanchez's personal comment about 43 Mexican pre-service teachers who disappeared on September 26th. Marta is an assistant professor of social foundations at UNCW.

At the entrance of la Escuela Normal Rural “Raúl Isidro Burgos” is a sign that reads, “Ayotzinapa, the birthplace of social consciousness.” Murals covering the crumbling walls of this neglected school appropriately uphold this message, with images of Che Guevara, Emiliano Zapata, Subcomandante Marcos, and other revolutionaries, including Lucio Cabañas and Genaro Vasquez, native sons of Ayotzinapa and graduates of the school. Ayotzinapa, located in the Mexican state of Guerrero, has been in the news in México and internationally, because of the disappearance and suspected assassination of 43 pre-service educators from the Normal Rural Raul Isidro Burgos. In late September, the pre-service educators, or normalistas, were on their way to México City to march in protest and observance of the Night of Tlateloco, the 1968 state-led mass killing of students in the Plaza of Las Tres Culturas. The normalistas first stopped in the state capital, Iguala, to advocate for resources for the Normal Rural and to raise funds for the trip to México City. El boteo, as the fundraising is called because of the ‘botes’ or cans used for collecting money, was an annual event.  A common and sanctioned practice is also to commandeer a bus to make the roundtrip to México City; the students did just that upon raising funds for gas. It was at that point that they were intercepted by local police. It was also then that the fact, fiction and horror of their ultimate whereabouts became enmeshed and buried in a series of bureaucratic moves at the highest levels of government. What is suspected is that they were killed by the state in collusion with organized crime, even as the rallying cry of protest has been, ¡Vivos se los llevaron, vivos los queremos!, Alive you have taken them, alive we want them!

Raul Isidro Burgos was a teacher, principal and founder of many rural schools, including the one in Ayotzinapa bearing his name. The school is the resting place of his remains, honoring his last wish. Burgos, like the 43 missing/kidnapped normalistas, upholds the great Mexican tradition of the rural educator to teach in the most remote and impoverished areas of México. This effort began in the 1930s under President Lázaro Cárdenas, who is perhaps best known for the expropriation of oil from British and Dutch companies, nationalizing it to be managed by Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX), which he founded, a legacy now destroyed by the recent actions of the current president Enrique Peña Nieto involving fundamental changes to the Mexican constitution. Cárdenas’s social projects included the redistribution of agricultural land in accordance with the constitutional gains made by Mexican Revolution of 1910 (in which my paternal grandfather fought alongside with Emiliano Zapata for agrarian reform). Cárdenas also established a short-lived film industry that was to conscienticize the average Mexican on issues of social justice. Perhaps his greatest accomplishment was the creation of the Normal Rural, or rural normal school, to prepare and deploy teachers to the farthest, poorest corners of México to teach the basics but also the social justice ideology of his administration. Socialist education included advocating for one’s rights in areas where latifundismo, or Mexican feudalism of the hacienda system, continued as if the war for Mexican Independence and the Mexican Revolution had never happened.

To the present moment, all pre-service educators are expected to complete one year of service in a rural community. On my mother’s side of the family, I have six cousins who are teachers and who tell stories of returning to town from their rural placements perched atop stacks of corn on trucks hauling the fall harvest. They were responsible for providing materials and cleaning their classrooms, the socialist ideology long gone. But not in Ayotzinapa. There, the original aims of educating the poor, advocating for resources, and challenging the power exerted by the state, the church and the privileged have been upheld. Increasing threats are organized crime and the mining companies Gold Corp, Minaurum Gold, Zhong Ning Mining Investment de China, Vedome Resources, and Hoschild Mining, conducting open mining on land historically used by the Nahuas, Me’ phaa, ñu savi, Mestizo farmworker communities and Afromexicans (Guerrerro is the Mexican state with the largest population of Afromexicans), as reported by Desinformémonos. The economies of extraction operating under the logic of late, rapacious capitalism are destroying the future patrimony of the Mexican people and the country’s stunning geography. As a child, visits to my father’s side of the family started in his home state of Morelos. Our family there would take us on road trips to Acapulco,  the most famous city in the state of Guerrero. We always stopped in Taxco, a mountain town known for generations of artisan silversmiths. The rugged terrain of the curvy two-lane highway to Acapulco with deep ravines on one side and a stone mountain wall on the other, was an exhilarating contrast to the deforested, street grid system of Chicago, where I was born and grew up. In the 1990s, Guerrerenses started arriving in large numbers to Chicago. My father asked, ‘What is pushing them out besides poverty?’

Although I was born in Chicago, I consider myself mexicana, and I am troubled by the developments of the past 8 years in México that represent an acceleration of the processes of neoliberalization (as England & Ward correctly observe that there is no “end state” to neoliberalism but rather ongoing neoliberalizing processes). These started in 1972 when the World Bank called México’s loan in what amounted to an economic coup that sent its growing economy into a tailspin. I am seeing how the shock doctrine is being deployed as a perverse pedagogy of the state. My heart is broken. I cry with the parents of the 43: ¡Vivos se los llevaron, vivos los queremos!

The missing 43 wanted to honor the fallen of 1968, and now Mexicans must ask ourselves how we will honor the 43.

1.      Abel García Hernández
2.      Abelardo Vázquez Peniten
3.      Adán Abrajan de la Cruz
4.      Alexander Mora Venancio
5.      Antonio Santana Maestro
6.      Benjamín Ascencio Bautista
7.      Bernardo Flores Alcaraz
8.      Carlos Iván Ramírez Villarreal
9.      Carlos Lorenzo Hernández Muñoz
10.  César Manuel González Hernández
11.  Christian Alfonso Rodríguez Telumbre
12.  Christian Tomas Colon Garnica
13.  Cutberto Ortiz Ramos
14.  Dorian González Parral
15.  Emiliano Alen Gaspar de la Cruz.
16.  Everardo Rodríguez Bello
17.  Felipe Arnulfo Rosas
18.  Giovanni Galindes Guerrero
19.  Israel Caballero Sánchez
20.  Israel Jacinto Lugardo
21.  Jesús Jovany Rodríguez Tlatempa

22.  Jonas Trujillo González
23.  Jorge Álvarez Nava
24.  Jorge Aníbal Cruz Mendoza
25.  Jorge Antonio Tizapa Legideño
26.  Jorge Luis González Parral
27.  José Ángel Campos Cantor
28.  José Ángel Navarrete González
29.  -José Eduardo Bartolo Tlatempa
30.  -José Luis Luna Torres
31.  -Jhosivani Guerrero de la Cruz
32.  -Julio César López Patolzin
33.  -Leonel Castro Abarca
34.  -Luis Ángel Abarca Carrillo
35.  -Luis Ángel Francisco Arzola
36.  -Magdaleno Rubén Lauro Villegas
37.  -Marcial Pablo Baranda
38.  -Marco Antonio Gómez Molina
39.  -Martín Getsemany Sánchez García
40.  -Mauricio Ortega Valerio
41.  -Miguel Ángel Hernández Martínez
42.  -Miguel Ángel Mendoza Zacarías
43.  -Saúl Bruno García

Friday, October 17, 2014

Another Great Post from Our Guest Blogger, Richele Dunavent About Project GLAD

Well, after four days of watching our two exceptional Project GLAD trainers from California teach a first grade class using the strategies, I am ready to go back into the regular classroom so I can teach thematic units again. Not really, but it was so energizing to watch their whole process unfold over the past four days. On Monday, this class of 23 students, who are approximately one third LEP,  were shy and not quite sure what to expect from these new teachers and about thirty observers in the back of the room.  However, by Tuesday they were amazingly familiar with the routine in place and highly engaged.

One of the strategies I loved was the use of a signal word for all transitions from one activity to the next. The signal word is the word introduced on the Cognitive Content Dictionary (CCD), a new word being taught. Our word was "classify" with the hand motion to make a group repeated three times. So, every time Ms. Chavez would say "classify" the students would say group, group, group using the hand motion. I have often used signal words before and seen other teachers use them, but our words have always been silly words like popcorn or peanut. By using a signal word from the CCD you are building language since some students need to hear new information many times before mastery. The hand gesture made it more kinesthetic, as well. Mrs. Hernandez, the other trainer, recommended we download the app for American Sign Language to create more authentic gestures.

Teacher using Project GLAD strategiesAnother aspect of this strategy was to have the students predict what they thought the word "classify" might mean with their table team. They were instructed to put their heads together to collaborate. After each teams prediction was noted on the CCD chart Ms. Chavez moved on to another strategy. After teaching a unit on reptiles which included a lot about the word classify over the next several days they returned to the CCD to determine the final meaning of the word. Again, the students were instructed to put the heads together to collaborate the final meaning. Once the final meaning was determined, Ms. Chavez noted it on the chart. Finally, she gave an example of how to use the word in a sentence. Students were then instructed to put their heads together to collaborate about their own sentence using this word before sharing out once again.

There are so many other strategies I plan to put into practice as soon as I can figure out how to incorporate them into the Guided Reading groups and Leveled Literacy Intervention groups I am now working with.  I recommend this training to all teachers who want to learn a multitude of best practices strategies that offer differentiation, scaffolds, increased metacognition, intentional language focus, as well as a writers' workshop demonstration like I have never witnessed before. 

Thanks for reading my post!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Meet our guest blogger for the semester, Richele Dunavent!

My name is Richele Dunavent, and I began my teaching career in the regular elementary classroom in 2000. However, I have been teaching ESL for the past eight years.  I finally earned my National Board Certification in ESL in 2012 after repeating several entries.  It was a tremendous, rigorous personal and professional growth experience. Since I received my ESL licensure by taking the Praxis II without any prior coursework, I felt compelled to pursue a Master's degree in ESL. In the fall of 2013, I enrolled in the M. Ed.: Educational Studies Specialization ESL Focus Area and was the recipient of the ELMS Grant while taking the ESL courses. I have grown professionally and as an advocate for my ESL students since beginning this new chapter in my life last fall. I have shared my new learning with my fellow teachers and administrators, as well. I currently work with K-3 students which allows me to put into practice all of the strategies I have learned and researched. (Photo: My Italian grandmother and me.)
This past summer I had the opportunity to attend Element 1, the Theory and Research, or Tier I, of Guided Language Acquisition Design better known as Project GLAD. What is Project GLAD? It is an organizational structure for an integrated, balanced literacy approach to instruction. The four domains of listening, speaking, reading, and writing are integrated into all content areas as they are being interrelated with each other. The research behind Project GLAD finds that language is acquired most effectively when the emphasis is on meaning and the message being relayed. Strategies shared by Project GLAD are grounded in the research of Cummins, Krashen, Vygotsky and many in the field of brain research, among others. These strategies are valuable not only for English language learners but for all students, since they are considered 'best practices' that are research based. (Photo: anchor charts from training)

I did not attend this training alone, but with six other colleagues from my school. The training was provided for select schools of both Henderson and Buncombe Counties in Western North Carolina. The trainers came from the Project GLAD offices in California. The Tier I Research and Theory Workshop lasted two days. We had the opportunity to discuss and learn with other colleagues from the teaching profession; some were classroom teachers, some ESL teachers, some EC teachers, and some were Principals or Curriculum Coaches. The trainers were former classroom teachers from Las Angeles or the surrounding area with high Hispanic populations and high poverty rates. The strategies they demonstrated were energizing, engaging, and full of academic language.

Since Sugarloaf, my school, had the largest turn out at the Tier I workshop, we will host the Tier II workshop coming up in October. Each morning we will attend a demonstration session where one of the trainers will teach in a first grade classroom while the rest of us will be observing in the back of the room with the other trainer explaining the techniques being used with the class. Then each afternoon we will debrief and work together to create thematic units based on the Project GLAD strategies. I can proudly say that two first grade co-teachers have already been using some of the anchor charts they saw demonstrated during the Tier I workshop. We are all looking forward to the upcoming Tier II workshop.  (Photo: anchor chart by first grade teacher)

Monday, July 28, 2014

"Read to Me in My Language"

Contributed by: Sydney Reinwald, Guest Blogger
(Sydney is one of several students from UNCW's Watson College of Education who is currently visiting and teaching in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. With her permission, we are reposting from her personal blog.)

I saw this on a poster in the library of the second school we visited with today. Seeing this surprised me because when were initially briefed on the workings of the school we were told that English was chosen as the official language of teaching and learning. The Home Language options the students were offered were both isiXhosa and Afrikaans. But because their were mixed populations of Home Languages English was chosen as the main language of instruction so both groups could be taught in one class. Since English was the main language of instruction I am still unsure the depth of what the students are taught in their home language, especially about the reading and writing it.
The cycle of language endangerment and death begins when a generation of speakers has fluency in two languages, typically one they use in their family settings and another that they use in their professional and educational settings. Because of the split in usage, the language that is spoken in the professional and educational world is seen as the language of power and therefore given a preference over the other language. When this bilingual generation then begins to choose the language that they prefer to instill as their child’s primary language, typically they choose to teach them the language with the perceived power and give them less education about the less powerful language. Through the generations so little of the language that is perceived less powerful will have been transmitted to younger speakers that the language will become scarce and eventually die out.
Based on what I have observed about the attitudes towards language, it is clear that here English is the language with the perceived power and prestige. Leaving the first primary school I was at I ran into a few district supervisors. One of the supervisors quickly told me about how he was so excited to hear children in another township school, outside of the classroom setting, communicate strictly in English rather than their home language. This shows that although the home languages are still being taught in the schools curriculum it is clear that many educators are pleased with their students’ preference towards English. Giving a generation of speakers an affirmation that adopting the language of perceived power could help perpetuate the eventual and endangerment of many of the home languages South African students are currently fluent in.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Putting Gifted ELLs on the Radar

Contributed by: Angela Sawyer, Guest Blogger

It is well documented that too often, ELLS are an overlooked group for gifted services.  According to Duke Tip, a non-profit organization dedicated to serving academically and talented youth, “Among all the subgroups of students whose performance in school is commonly studied, English language learners (ELLs) are the least represented in gifted education programs.”  (Matthew, 2011).  I have also observed in my experience as an ESL teacher that obviously gifted ESL students are rarely identified for gifted services.  While conducting an action research paper on this issue as part of my requirements for the MAED in ESL, I discovered some ways that might help put more ELLS on the radar to access gifted programs.

Educate parents:  Before a student can be considered for gifted services he or she has to be nominated.  Parents need to be aware that they are able to nominate their child and feel comfortable in doing so.  Taking extra steps to educate ESL parents about the gifted identification process, such as offering periodic ESL parent meetings to explain gifted services and requirements, could be an important step in increasing ESL student nominations. 

School-wide collaboration and training:  All teachers and staff need training on the topic of gifted education and ESL students.  Educators need to be aware of the potential signs of giftedness and how to identify ESL students who show these traits.  Collaboration between ESL teachers, gifted teachers, and mainstream teachers is also essential in identifying potentially gifted ESL students.

Varied assessments: The Duke Tip site reports that for most gifted programs some kind of standardized test in English is used in the identification process, and that because of this the tests “may inadvertently be measuring English language ability rather than academic or intellectual ability” (Matthews, 2011, para. 3).  Districts can get a better idea of ESL student abilities by looking at a variety of assessment tools.  One type of commonly used measure to identify ESL students for gifted education is nonverbal intelligence assessments.  While these kinds of tests can be helpful tools in identifying gifted students, they should not be used as the sole measure for identifying ESL students.  Nonverbal tests, like standardized tests, can also contain cultural biases.   

Rethink AIG:  With our ever changing society and student populations, AIG programs will need to evolve as well.  Programs will need to consider how to include the linguistic competency of ELLs in identifying gifted ELL students, rather than allowing ELLs to be excluded from gifted programs due to limited English proficiency. 


Matthew, M.S. (2011).  English Language Learner Students and Gifted Identification.  Retrieved            from

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Immerse Yourself

Contributed by: Matt Hilton, ELMS Project

A big part of teaching English as a Second Language and working with English Language Learners is understanding the culture they bring with them. This summer I had the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica through the Watson College of Education at UNC-Wilmington. With this opportunity I hoped to acquire a personal understanding of the Latin American culture that a lot of my students have. In order to keep this post relatively short here are some highlights:

Host Families: By far the best experience of the whole trip was my time with my tica (native Costa Ricans) familia. I had two different families; one in Heredia (urban) and one in Monteverde (mountains). Both families are family oriented; the majority of the time was spent with relatives. Luckily for me they took me in as one of their own, always making sure to include me. They were very purposeful in helping me learn Spanish and of course the occasional jokes came with my bad pronunciation. I grew so close with both my families that they even invited me back in the future!

Immersion Cycle: The immersion cycle is the process of acclimating to a new culture and language. This cycle is a very difficult process, which I came to find out. Not only did I have to use Spanish in my home-stay, but my academic work was also in Spanish. I truly felt the same way an ELL student would be in the United States. I had to use my low proficiency L2 to get through the day and then not even get a break on homework.

Volunteer Work: While there we were able to go to a few schools and work with students. It was great to see the excitement on the students faces as we stepped into the classroom and work with them one-on-one. Along with our visit we were able to donate books and supplies for their classroom.

Tourism: It wouldn’t be a trip to Costa Rica without doing a few touristic opportunities. These included going to zoos, zip lining, and volcanoes. My favorite tourist activity was the zip-lining; something I’ve never done before.