Leading the Way! What’s Working for ELs in Texas: Call for Proposals

by Valentina Gonzalez

Screen Shot 2019-04-10 at 1.34.49 PM.png

All of you advocates and educational leaders are doing amazing work on campuses and in districts to support English learners. And because of that, great things are happening in classrooms across the state and the nation. You are planning instruction that is based on student needs. You are delivering quality lessons that invite and empower students. You are coordinating professional development opportunities and instructional coaching cycles that truly affect instructional practices. You are engaging parents and including them in their children’s education. And this is just the beginning. Continue reading “Leading the Way! What’s Working for ELs in Texas: Call for Proposals”

8 Ways to Scaffold Writing for English Learners

by Valentina Gonzalez

Scaffolding Writing 2

Scaffolds are temporary supports meant to be released when no longer needed. Think of buildings that are under construction. When the building is in the early phases, more scaffolding is necessary to sustain the structure. As the building progresses, less scaffolding is needed. Finally, before the construction is complete, the scaffolding is removed. Continue reading “8 Ways to Scaffold Writing for English Learners”

Mastering Vocabulary with Visuals

by Stephen Fleenor

It’s as simple as this: mastering academic vocabulary is essential for mastering content. Granted, this probably marks the one million and twenty-third time that statement has been said, but it merits repeating for three key reasons: first, academic vocabulary is the language by which content concepts are expressed; second, mastering today’s academic vocabulary is fundamental for mastering tomorrow’s content; and last but definitely not least, the ability of a student to master academic vocabulary is directly tied to his or her confidence in the subject. Continue reading “Mastering Vocabulary with Visuals”

The Quick Read Aloud: Creating Rich Literary Experiences for English Learners, 5 Minutes at a Time

by Lora Beth Escalante

Do you have a memory of being read to as a child or a student? Does a particular book come to mind? I can vividly recall coming in from recess during third grade, rosy cheeked and often sweaty, listening to the sweet voice of my teacher read aloud Charlotte’s Web to me and my equally mesmerized classmates. In middle school, it was To Kill a Mockingbird that really stuck with me; in high school, The Outsiders and Hamlet.

When I began teaching, I imitated my own positive experience. It was just a given that I would read aloud to my students. Now that I am an instructional coach, teachers often ask me if it is worth their time to read aloud to students, particularly English learners.

The answer is a resounding YES! Continue reading “The Quick Read Aloud: Creating Rich Literary Experiences for English Learners, 5 Minutes at a Time”

What Do English Learners Need?

by Valentina Gonzalez


I have to admit that when I first began my role as an ESL teacher years ago, I didn’t know much about ELs other than through my own experiences. My experience growing up as an English learner helped me form my beliefs about language acquisition and helped me as I worked with ELs in my general education classroom. Continue reading “What Do English Learners Need?”

Recognizing the Gift: Identifying Gifted English Learners

by Marcy Voss

Recognizing the Gift

“Juan is a newcomer from Honduras. I do not speak his language.  How can I tell if he is gifted?” the teacher asked, almost in exasperation.  

Sometimes it is hard to tell whether a student is gifted, even if he or she speaks the native language. Identifying a non-native speaker as gifted can be even harder, but it’s not impossible. Teachers just need to do two things:  

  1. Observe students with the behaviors of gifted English learners in mind
  2. Create the classroom environment where these behaviors can be displayed

To carry this out effectively, teachers need to begin to think like detectives. A detective uncovers evidence and searches for clues to make determinations and discoveries. Continue reading “Recognizing the Gift: Identifying Gifted English Learners”

8 Ways to Grow Professionally in 2019

by Valentina Gonzalez


Mostly likely, since you are reading this, you are probably a “craver,” an unstoppable learner. You have a desire deep within you to learn all you can.

As educators, we are in the business of learning. And to be effective educators, we, ourselves, must always be willing to learn and expand our knowledge. So how do you plan to grow in your specific area of expertise this year? Continue reading “8 Ways to Grow Professionally in 2019”

The Workshop Approach and How it Can Support English Learners

by Valentina Gonzalez

untitled_artwork 29

What Is Workshop?

Let’s begin by saying that a workshop is not necessarily a program that is purchased and implemented by reading from a script day to day (though there are some out there). Workshop is a structure for teaching, and it can be implemented in nearly any content-area classroom. In my own classroom several years ago, I implemented a reading workshop with a basal reader and the small literacy library our campus had just started. Writing workshop is no different. It’s the same structure. Continue reading “The Workshop Approach and How it Can Support English Learners”