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Stories from the Field

ELL Deep Dive with Teaching Channel

Posted by Sarah Ottow on

ELL Deep Dive with Teaching Channel

         In case you don't already know, Teaching Channel (Tch) showcases video and other resources online that help teachers learn from each other anytime, anywhere. Tch uses the power of video to show educators a variety of approaches that foster self-reflection so that every student can grow. Confianza, with a shared mission of fostering teacher empowerment through innovative professional learning, is absolutely thrilled to be supporting Tch's work in several ways this year around the topic of English Language Learners (ELLs): We are helping organize the new ELL Deep Dive, a bundle of resources all things English Language Learners.  This...

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PD Case Study:  Williston State College

Posted by Sarah Ottow on

PD Case Study:  Williston State College

With the recent oil boom in Williston, North Dakota in 2012 many English learners moved to Williston to find work.  While the boom was at it’s height Williston’s permanent population surged from about 12,000 to an estimated 40,000, after accounting for the oil industry workers who came and went in stints.  In 2014 when foreign oil prices plummeted, many of the people that moved to Williston lost their jobs.  This left many English learners without work and the option of furthering their education.  Many of the English learners decided to apply to Williston State College. Williston State College is is...

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Going Beyond 'Turn & Talk': Academic Conversations for ELLs

Posted by Sarah Ottow on

Going Beyond 'Turn & Talk': Academic Conversations for ELLs

A lot of my time as a coach supporting schools is spent observing teachers and providing targeted feedback to help boost language development for their English language learners (ELLs).  I also train and coach school leaders to more effectively evaluate teachers of ELLs.  In both cases, educators often wonder why their ELLs' oral language isn't where they want it to be when they are using the infamous strategy of 'turn and talk'. We all know that student talk versus teacher talk is an important starting place for allowing students to practice language more.  Reflecting on how many minutes per class...

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Teachers Matter in Ed-Tech Partnerships: Q & A with Sarah Ottow from LessonPick.com

Posted by Sarah Ottow on

Teachers Matter in Ed-Tech Partnerships: Q & A with Sarah Ottow from LessonPick.com

This interview with Sarah Ottow, founder and lead coach of Confianza, originally appeared on www.LessonPick.com, a free online database of ELL resources uploaded by educators and tagged across WIDA, ELPA21, Common Core, ELL instructional models, SLIFE, and more.  This interview is also available in PDF format here. Q: In the ELL space, how do we see technology used? Where do we see mismatches, leading teachers to significantly adapt the technology or innovation to fit their own customary practices? A: Currently I see the power of technology being harnessed in two very different ways in our schools. First, some teachers and some...

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High Quality Instructional Materials for English Learners

Posted by Sarah Ottow on

High Quality Instructional Materials for English Learners

English language learners (ELLs), as a group, experience high incidents of underachievement largely due to what is referred to as an "opportunity gap"--the opportunity to be taught by well-prepared educators using high quality curriculum, language-rich pedagogy within a culturally and linguistically responsive school system.  While professional development and systemic leadership remain core levers for improving outcomes for ELLs, instructional materials are also a major piece of the puzzle.  Experts agree--materials in the market for English-learners can often be too simple or too disconnected from grade-level expectations. We need to ensure access to high quality instructional materials for ELLs to educators...

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