Online Tools for Teacher Collaboration – TESOL Blog

Online Tools for Teacher Collaboration – TESOL Blog

Read our recent TESOL blog by founder Yefei Jin on tools to support EL teacher collaboration. Article link here.



Reading ESSA Text and How it Applies to ELs

Reading ESSA Text and How it Applies to ELs

Title I Section 1111


Each State plan shall demonstrate that the State has adopted English language proficiency standards that (i) are derived from the 4 recognized domains of speaking, listening, reading, and writing; (ii) address the different proficiency levels of English learners; and (iii) are aligned with the challenging State academic standards.

Takeaway: First we know that English Language Proficiency standards must align with rigorous content standards with all assessments fully integrated into Title I.


Title I Section 1111

(3) MINIMUM NUMBER OF STUDENTS.—Each State shall describe— (A) with respect to any provisions under this part that require disaggregation of information by each subgroup of students— (i) the minimum number of students that the State determines are necessary to be included to carry out such requirements and how that number is statistically sound, which shall be the same State-determined number for all students and for each subgroup of students in the State;

Takeaway: Having a minimum # of students for disaggregation purposes signals to states that every student matters. Previously, under NCLB, states created “super-groups”, combining ELs together. Minimum # provision makes it much harder for states to skew data with “super-groups”.


Title I Section 1111

(B) ENGLISH LEARNER SUBGROUP.—With respect to a student previously identified as an English learner and for not more than 4 years after the student ceases to be identified as an English learner, a State may include the results of the student’s assessments under paragraph (2)(B)(v)(I) within the English learner subgroup of the subgroups of students (as defined in subsection (c)(2)(D)) for the purposes of the State-determined accountability system.

Takeaway: Previously under NCLB, ELs were no longer considered in the EL subgroup after 2 years. The new change gives educators more time to measure progress for accountability purposes. It also reflects a greater understanding of the developmental path of ELs.


Title I Section 1116

(1) IN GENERAL.—A local educational agency may receive funds under this part only if such agency conducts outreach to all parents and family members and implements programs, activities, and procedures for the involvement of parents and family members in programs assisted under this part consistent with this section. Such programs, activities, and procedures shall be planned and implemented with meaningful consultation with parents of participating children.

Takeaway: When it comes to family engagement, actual two way communication and feedback is required. Educators who can build meaningful relationships with families need support.


Title II Section 2221 Subgrant Part 2

(b) DEFINITIONS.—In this subpart: (1) COMPREHENSIVE LITERACY INSTRUCTION.—The term ‘‘comprehensive literacy instruction’’ means instruction that— …(D) makes available and uses diverse, high-quality print materials that reflect the reading and development levels, and interests, of children; (E) uses differentiated instructional approaches, including individual and small group instruction and discussion; (K) depends on teachers’ collaboration in planning, instruction, and assessing a child’s progress and on continuous professional learning;

Takeaway: Title II, traditionally legislation that focused on the professional development and expectations of gen ed and content teachers, is now more explicit in mentioning the importance of differentiation. Comprehensive Literacy Instruction is critical in Title II and has its own funding category.


Title II Section 2222

(1) provide subgrants to eligible entities serving a diversity of geographic areas, giving priority to entities serving greater numbers or percentages of children from low-income families; and (2) develop or enhance comprehensive literacy instruction plans that ensure high-quality instruction and effective strategies in reading and writing for children from early childhood education through grade 12, including English learners and children with disabilities.

Takeaway: By being more inclusive in mentioning ELs regarding expectations of teacher development and responsibility, ELs become a priority for all teachers. ELs are mentioned here as part of the Comprehensive Literacy Instruction push.


Title II Section 2224


(1) Developing and implementing a comprehensive literacy instruction plan across content areas for such children that— (A) serves the needs of all children, including children with disabilities and English learners, especially children who are reading or writing below grade level; (B) provides intensive, supplemental, accelerated, and explicit intervention and support in reading and writing for children whose literacy skills are below grade level; …(2) Providing high-quality professional development opportunities for teachers, literacy coaches, literacy specialists, English as a second language specialists (as appropriate), principals, other school leaders, specialized instructional support personnel, school librarians, paraprofessionals, and other program staff…
Takeaway: To receive funds, the state accountability plans must demonstrate how all staff, not only teachers, but also school leaders, principals, coaches can identify and deliver appropriate instruction for ELs. For example, as part of the Title II’s push for comprehensive literacy instruction, we see explicit mention of ELs and a strong congressional intent to prepare all educators for ELs. This means every teacher and school leader should feel responsible in their practice to ensure the success of ELs.

Q&A with Dr. Rashne Jehangir

Q&A with Dr. Rashne Jehangir

Read our full Q&A with Rashne Jehangir here on Strengths-based learning.

Interview with Cynthia, a 12 year old EL from Syria

Interview with Cynthia, a 12 year old EL from Syria

Please share! : )

Voices from EL: Q & A With Bridhya Battarai

Voices from EL: Q & A With Bridhya Battarai

See our interview with high school senior and EL  Bridhya Battarai from Washington Tech High School in St. Paul Minnesota.

Click here to read


Guest Blog: A Content Teacher’s Tips

Guest Blog: A Content Teacher’s Tips

We asked one of our content teacher users about her thoughts on teaching ELLs. We know teachers are busy and often live in the moment. Read her thoughts on better understanding her students.

      By:  6th grade English Language Arts Teacher, Mrs. Jennifer Chomer

The support you are looking for may or may not ever be provided by your school district and/or administrators.  You may want or even need an extra hand in the classroom, time to meet with the ELL teacher, attend a conference or two…but the support just isn’t coming. Try to remember this…keep the E-L-L in your mind.

“E” stands for EVERYONE feels out of place at some point in their life.  It feels as though everyone is “getting it” but you.  Everyone knows everyone…but you feel like you are the stranger.  Everyone knows the routine but it is new to you and you simply cannot get the hang of it.  Just remember that for those students who are considered ELL’s…they feel this way throughout their entire school day.  EVERYONE can empathize…EVERYONE can make someone else feel at ease.  You just need to be that person.  Smile, use a calm voice, don’t worry if they didn’t do the homework, don’t seem to understand…don’t look at you when you are teaching.  Believe me…they are trying, they are hearing you and they are learning.

“L” stands for listen.  Not just to their voice/tone but to their body language.  Notice when they are nervous, upset, happy, etc.  They are students who want to be noticed, just like anyone else in your class.  Listen to what they seem to be saying to you and to others in your class.  Most times, ELL students just want to listen to you…listen to how you treat others (which can be noticed by not just knowing the language…but by your tone of your voice.)  Pay attention and LISTEN to what they seem to be thinking or feeling.  Often times a smile, a glance their way…or some form of appreciation from you to them can go a long way.

“L” Learn….learn from them!  Yes, it is true they are in your class to learn…but what an opportunity it is for the class and you to learn from them.  Find out how they learned your subject matter in their country.  Is it different?  Do they recognize technology you are using?  Strategies, etc.  Learn from them and allow them the chance to show others.  We can learn  a lot from others…if we just put aside a few minutes during our lessons to ALL learn.

Sometimes the best support in a classroom is the support we give to each other!

How to define Educational Benefit, and how much is enough? Endrew v. Douglas County School District

How to define Educational Benefit, and how much is enough? Endrew v. Douglas County School District

Special education is at the steps of the Supreme Court. In Endrew v. Douglas County School District, the Supreme Court is charged with deciding the question: How much educational benefit are districts responsible for providing in order to fulfill the FAPE Requirement of the IDEA?


The IDEA stands for the Individuals with Disabilities Act. It requires that all students be provided a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) which is defined as, “special education and related services” that (A) have been provided at public expense, under public supervision and direction, and without charge; (B) meet the standards of the State educational agency; (C) include an appropriate preschool, elementary school, or secondary school education in the State involved; and (D) are provided in conformity with the individualized education program required under section 1414(d) of [Title 20 of the United States Code].” If the district is unable to provide FAPE, then the parents have the option to place their student in a private program after seeking other solutions with the district. They can then seek reimbursement from the district for the student’s tuition.

In this case, parents of an autistic child were unhappy with the lack of success their child had experienced under previous IEP’s. They then decided to place him in a private program that dealt specifically with his disability. They requested reimbursement under IDEA, but were denied. The district claimed to have provided some educational benefit to the student, and therefore was not required to reimburse the parents.

A large part of the discussion has been surrounding the term,  “de minimis. In latin, it is an adjective describing an action that has had so little effect that it is hardly noticeable and changes nothing. In this case, the parents are arguing that their student was provided de minimis educational benefit by the district. The district on the other hand, argues that the IDEA only requires “some educational benefit” though there is no definition of ‘some’. The US 10th district court has agreed with the district. They claim that they have no jurisdiction to determine what “some” should mean, and so de minimus is enough educational benefit to meet FAPE.  

This case does not have a hearing date, yet. Until we know the date of the hearing, and if there will be a 9th Justice at that time and who it will be, it is hard to make a guess to the outcome of this case.  Regardless, the implications of their decision will affect the most vulnerable of our students. It is imperative that they rule in a way that protects the rights these children have to an equitable education.

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