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In The News

Three ELL Workshops in New York City

April 15, 2014
Dr. Gale Sookdeo, NBCT


Editor's Note: Dr. Gale Sookdeo presented three workshops in March and April for the UFT/ESL Bilingual Committee. Here is her report of these very successful events.

 1. Profiling an Artifact in the ELL Classroom: It's Your Show and Tell

   Attendees described this hands-on workshop as: “right on the mark”, “a perfectly crafted workshop”, “this was perfect”, “this was the best workshop ever”, and “it was just what I needed, yet no one told me how to do it”. Profiling an artifact that demonstrates a teacher’s ability to impact student learning is an important part of the new teacher evaluation. It is tangible evidence of addressing some of the 22 components of the Danielson Framework for Teaching.

   The New York Geographic Alliance showed its commitment to assisting educators with this aspect of the new teacher evaluation when National Board Certified Teacher, Dr. Gale Sookdeo, presented to members of the UFT/ESL Bilingual Committee. The presentation was given in New York City at the United Federation of Teachers on Thursday January 16th, 2014.

   Using the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, a research-based framework, Dr. Sookdeo taught participants about the different types of writing for profiling their artifacts. Teachers discussed the different types of artifacts, and left with samples of written profiles and ideas for submitting their evidence.

2. Preparing English-language learners for Informational Text: An Uncommon Instructional Approach

   Comprehension is easier when readers have background knowledge relevant to the text. But what happens when readers lack prior knowledge and are struggling with informational text? More than 40 members of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), all members of the UFT ESL/Bilingual Committee, attended this workshop sponsored by the New York Geographic Alliance (NYGA). It was facilitated by Dr. Gale Sookdeo, NYGA’s Board member, on Thursday March 20th, 2014, at UFT Headquarters in New York City.

   Using primary sources from the Library of Congress, participants learned about them as providing multiple entry points and multiple perspectives for building background knowledge and comprehending informational text. Dr. Sookdeo engaged teachers in the learning process using key principles of differentiation: chunking the text, scaffolding, and hetereogeous grouping.

   Not only did participants learn how to build students’ background knowledge for tackling informational text, but attendees appreciated the opportunity to engage in a gallery walk and a reflection at the end of the workshop. Using a copy of the four domains and twenty-two components, Dr. Sookdeo invited teachers to identify parts in the workshop that were exemplars of the Danielson Framework for Teaching.

3. A Shift in our Understanding of Vocabulary Acquisition: Expectations and Strategies

Dr. Gale Sookdeo (far left) presenting to the UFT-ESL Bilingual Committee on April 10,2014

   Shift Six of the ELA Common Core Learning Standards stresses the importance of acquiring and using academic language and domain-specific words (www.engageny.org). It also requires going beyond working with the word in isolation as in word, definition, and meaningful sentences. “They must learn to see an individual word as part of a network of other words—words for example, that have similar denotations (definitions), but different connotations (associations).”

(CCSS ELA 6-12, p. 51)

   What does this mean, what are the expectations, and what do they look like in practice? Geography has many domain-specific words and the New York Geographic Alliance (NYGA) understands the importance of providing professional development that addresses these questions. In a NYGA-sponsored workshop on Thursday April 10th, 2014, members of the UFT ESL Bilingual Committee spent an afternoon analyzing and interpreting the language of the Common Core as it pertains to Academic Vocabulary or Shift Six of the ELA.

   For each interpretation, attendees explored a suggested instructional approach for acquiring a deeper comprehension of the word and its meaning. The workshop was facilitated by National Board Certified Teacher, Dr. Gale Sookdeo of NYGA. Participants examined a variety of research-based methods to help students in processing their understanding of words. Using different approaches, Dr. Sookdeo demonstrated how to engage learners in multiple interactions when teaching academic language and domain-specific words.