Games for Growing Language

by Katie Toppel

Games for Growing Language, a Guest Post by Katie Toppel

When I asked my fourth and fifth grade students to reflect on what they enjoyed the most from our ELD lessons this school year, the overwhelming answer was games! I was really pleased with this response because, even though my students were mostly focused on the fun factor, the games they’d played were also designed to provide them with opportunities for interaction, language and vocabulary practice, content concept review, and autonomy. Games are a great addition to lessons because they are highly engaging, and students may not even realize the extent of the academic benefit they are receiving. Additionally, Hammond (2015) champions “gameifying” lessons as one way to make them more culturally responsive because, in addition to getting the brain’s attention and requiring active processing, games also incorporate cultural tools found in oral traditions with elements like repetition, solving puzzles, and making connections between unrelated ideas. Continue reading “Games for Growing Language”

Running Your Classroom with English Learners in Mind

by Natalia Heckman

Natalia PostAuthor’s note: I am relatively new to Seidlitz Education, but I am not new to teaching English learners. In fact, I myself am an English learner. The concepts and tools I will share in this blog post are research-based and classroom-tested. I have either used these techniques during the last ten years of teaching or observed them during my instructional rounds as a coach, tapping into my personal experience to reflect on what worked for me as a student.


The dynamics of your room will be as unique as your students, but there are some simple steps you can take to facilitate your English learners’ success. So, how do you set up and run your classroom with English learners in mind?  Continue reading “Running Your Classroom with English Learners in Mind”

Teaching Techniques to Scaffold Reading for English Learners

by Valentina Gonzalez

reading scaffolds

“Learners who know the language can concentrate on the academic content. But learners who do not know the language, or do not know it well enough, must devote part of their attention to learning and understanding the very language in which the content is taught” (Goldenberg & Coleman, 2010). Continue reading “Teaching Techniques to Scaffold Reading for English Learners”

Common Sense or Culture?

by Lora Beth Escalante

Happy Thanksgiving to you all (y’all, for some of you)!

This very American tradition has me reflecting on cultural differences and similarities. I occasionally forget that not all students in our classrooms know why we celebrate Thanksgiving. As teachers who receive and help educate students from across the globe, do we take the time to explain this holiday’s significance to our nation’s heritage? Most students would not be familiar with this national holiday, and yet they are given days or possibly an entire week off school to celebrate. Why do you find it important or unimportant to incorporate these types of discussions in your classroom (and I’m not just talking to history teachers)? What other American traditions or cultural caveats should students learn about?  Continue reading “Common Sense or Culture?”

Why Representation in Classroom Books is Important: Culturally Inclusive Books

by Valentina Gonzalez


As the numbers of ELs in classrooms in the United States continue to rise, in some parts of our nation it may even be unusual not to have English learners. And like all students, ELs bring to our classrooms unique experiences reflecting their traditions and cultures. 

And just like our diverse students, the books on our shelves should be reflective of those unique experiences. Yet on many classroom shelves, that may not be the case.  Continue reading “Why Representation in Classroom Books is Important: Culturally Inclusive Books”

2020 | A CLEAR Vision for Equitable Instruction: 20 Moves to Make This School Year The Best One YET! (Part 2 of 2)

by Valentina Gonzalez


This is part 2 of a 2-part series on creating a clear vision for equitable instruction. Click here for part 1

In part 1, we shared 10 techniques to consider for enhancing, reflecting on, or changing instruction to make it more equitable. This time, we will continue with 10 more techniques. As you read, think about your current practices and how they compare to the techniques in this list. What can you do to provide learning that reaches all students?  Continue reading “2020 | A CLEAR Vision for Equitable Instruction: 20 Moves to Make This School Year The Best One YET! (Part 2 of 2)”

Halloween Aside, October Is the Scariest Month of a Teacher’s Year

But it doesn’t have to be.

by Tina Beene

As months go, October was always my favorite. Changing leaves, cooling temperatures, college football, comfy sweaters … these are indeed a few of my favorite things, even though only one of the four applies here in Texas until at least mid-November. Still, I absolutely lived for that first crisp fall breeze, for driving without sweating, and for choosing activities based on interest versus A/C availability.  Continue reading “Halloween Aside, October Is the Scariest Month of a Teacher’s Year”

2020 | A CLEAR Vision for Equitable Instruction: 20 Moves to Make This School Year The Best One YET!

(Part 1 of 2)

by Valentina Gonzalez


There is a clear difference between equal and equitable: equal means we all get the same thing; equitable means we all get what we need. In education, equitable instruction is essential to the success of the students, the teachers, and the community as a whole. It’s not enough that learning is equal. We know that our students have diverse backgrounds and different starting points. We also recognize that they come to us with varied needs. If we teach with a one-size-fits-all mindset, then we will miss the mark.  Continue reading “2020 | A CLEAR Vision for Equitable Instruction: 20 Moves to Make This School Year The Best One YET!”

Plus-Minus: A Quick Reflection that Transforms Student Talk

by Nancy Motley


Most of the students I have taught did not arrive to my classroom with a well-developed skill set for engaging in academic conversations. I encountered a wide variety of challenges whenever I asked my students to talk to each other in class. They got off task immediately, one person took over the entire conversation, or no one wanted to talk.   Continue reading “Plus-Minus: A Quick Reflection that Transforms Student Talk”