Reflections on Educational Equality for Students with Disabilities by Touro TESOL teacher candidate Kevin Mongan

As a Professor for TESOL and Bilingual Education, I focus on different domains during our semester-long journey.  This blog features Touro TESOL teacher candidate Kevin Mongan, a Social Studies Teacher from Sachem Central School District. He is seeking his TESOL Certificate to better assist his English Language Learner population and better himself as an educator. He appreciates the hard work and dedication of the Touro College Faculty and Staff.

This weeks focus are on:

Domain 2 – Culture (TESOL Domains )
Standard: Nature and Role of Culture

Candidates know, understand, and use the major concepts, principles, theories, and
research related to the nature and role of culture in language development and
academic achievement that support individual students’ learning.

Domain 3: Planning, Implementing, and Managing Instruction
Standard: Planning for Standards-Based ESL and Content Instruction
Candidates know, understand, and apply concepts, research, and best practices to
plan classroom instruction in a supportive learning environment for ESOL students.
Candidates serve as effective English-language models, as they plan for multilevel
classrooms with learners from diverse backgrounds using standards-based ESL and
content curriculum.

Reflective Journal:

In “Chapter 13: Educational Equality for Students with Disabilities,” written by Sara C. Bicard and William L. Heward, Multicultural Education: Issues and Perspectives by James A. Banks and Cherry A. McGee Banks, the reader is posed with a question that reaches into the core of every teacher: Am I providing ALL of my students with the best education I can provide for them? The authors present a statement very early in their piece:

The skill differences among most children are relatively small, allowing these children to benefit from the general education program offered by their schools. When the physical, social, and academic skills of children differ to such an extent that typical school curricula or teaching methods are neither appropriate nor effective, however, equitable access to and benefits from educational programs are at stake. (Bicard, p. 315)

Every teacher has had at least one moment where they asked themselves, am I doing enough? When students with disabilities, whether physical, social, or academic, are not being given the proper tools to succeed in their learning environment, they will not succeed. It is up to the classroom teacher, administration, family at home, and the students to make sure that their needs for success are constantly being maintained inside and outside of the classroom.

color coded 3
The authors explain how students with disabilities are identified and classified, how students with disabilities do not benefit from a single change to the classroom environment, and also, how not all students with disabilities will benefit from the same accommodations. The classification system for students with disabilities is often targeted as a problem than as a system that can lead to solutions. “Some educators believe the classification and labeling of exceptional students serve only to stigmatize and exclude them from the mainstream of educational opportunities” (p. 319). “Others argue that a workable system of classification is necessary to obtain the special education services and programs that are prerequisite to educational equality for exceptional students” (p. 319.) If labels and classifications are not present, how can general education teachers, special education teachers, parents, various professionals whose sole duty is to help the child, communicate common goals for the student? Real issues need real solutions and without having a real comprehension of the task at hand for all parties involved, the student can never benefit from any services provided because there would be no goal to reach or endgame in sight.

The authors then embark on a legislative study on how students with disabilities have been treated in the public education system of the United States. When students with disabilities were brought into public schools they were immediately judged and labeled, often cast aside and not granted access to the public school system. Students were labeled by their teachers as “slow learners” and “disciplinary problems” when they would act out in class, from the frustration of not understanding the material (p.320-321). In Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954), “the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that education must be available to all children on equal terms and that is unconstitutional to operate segregated schools under the premise that they are separate but equal” (p. 321). For most students and teachers, this case falls under the constructs of African-Americans and the Civil Rights Movement, however, to parents of children with disabilities, this ruling pushed the door wide open for students with disabilities to have the right for the best education they can receive in their local public school district. Laws would be created to further protect the right and liberties of those with disabilities, but under the amendments of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, which renamed it the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), it “ensure[s] the rights of students with disabilities to a free appropriate public education, including early intervention services, and to provide the necessary supports for oversight for states, districts, schools, and educators to improve the educational results for students with disabilities” (p.322).

The final area of concern for the authors is the inequality and discrimination that students from “culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds” often face in special education. They are often overrepresented or underrepresented. The authors ask educators to focus on three specifics when it comes to students of culturally and linguistically diverse students: the assessment and placement procedures are sensitive to the student’s culture and language, appropriate services are provided to that students with their linguistic and cultural needs in mind, and lastly, that teachers and other professionals who work with the student understand the student’s culture and home values. “The instructional materials that educators use and the methods that they employ while teaching must be responsive to the differing cultural backgrounds of their students” (p. 334). Every professional that interacts with students with disabilities must contribute to the betterment of the students’ lives. It requires work on the professional’s part: not just teaching the curriculum as is, but adapting the curriculum every day to fit the needs of their student’s body. Respectful and sensitive teachers will make the special education setting a more trustworthy and worthwhile environment for students with disabilities.

2) Initial Emotional Response:
I have always found that pieces about students with disabilities always bring out a passion within me as an educator. I believe the root of passion is frustration. I try to provide my students with the best education possible and I know there is nothing I can control about what has happened before they walk through my classroom door, but I always encourage them to be the best students they can be, to always ask for help if they need it, and to truly give it their all. In turn, I will provide them with the best education I can. I know that not all teachers extend so much of themselves into the classroom and into the lives of their students but at least I know I am doing my part. We, as educators, always need to be advocates for our students. If they are struggling, our job is to get down to the root of the problem. Why are they struggling, what can I help them with, where can I access resources to provide them with the help that they need? All of these questions should flow through the mind of a passionate educator when their students struggle. To quote Bicard, “Good teachers must…be responsive to changes (or lack of changes) in individual students’ performance” (p. 334). We always need to be invested in the betterment of the lives of our students. If we are not, why do we do it?

3) Prior Assumption/Opinion
As an educator, I had always assumed that students with disabilities have been slowly but surely been granted the rights to an equal and equitable public education over time. Just African-Americans, women, and Native Americans had to wait for the right to vote, as African-Americans had to wait for equal access to public education, and as Civil Liberties were protected under the law for all Americans, students with disabilities received equal protection under the law as people fought for the rights of their children and their students. In a country where “all men are created equal,” it is often forgotten that most Americans had to wait, fight, and wait a little longer to be fully protected by the legislative body of the U.S. government.

4) Source of Assumption
As a social studies teacher, I discuss the protection of freedoms regularly. But rarely do we discuss the freedoms of the student or the freedoms of the education that we are entitled to as Americans. We have to consistently wait for, fight for, and plead for equality across all facets of American life, but at least we know, that all have access to a free, public education. It is what we do with that access that defines our futures.
5) Assumption Check
According to Bicard and Williams, “Teachers must have the knowledge and skills to recognize and to be instructionally responsive to the diversity their students represent…[the chapter] lays the foundations for teachers to examine educational equity for learners with diverse skills” (p. 316). Most teachers assume they can spot a student’s issues or disabilities from a specific assessment or from simple encounters with the student. Educators understand that students with disabilities have rights, but teachers have the responsibility to make sure that those rights are not only be protected, but they are being fulfilled through every single school day for the betterment of the lives of their students. Educators must continue to challenge the educational hierarchy so that they can provide their students with most fair educational system that can be created. Bicard and Williams said, “All students are alike in that they can benefit from an appropriate education that enables them to do things they were previously unable to do and to do things with greater independence and enjoyment” (p. 317). If educators can provide their students with the skills and necessaries to become as independent of the teacher as possible, lifelong learners can be created and nurtured.

6) Realization (Epiphany):
Educators need to always fight for the rights of their students. If teachers can unite under a common banner of student equity and teacher responsibility for their students, then teachers will work harder for their students. Teachers should not be judged for how their students perform on tests, teachers should be observed and guided toward creating a more positive, nurturing, and safe learning environment for their students. Encourage teachers to get to know their kids, to invite students up to their classrooms to eat lunch, to actively seek out parental involvement rather than avoiding them like the plague. Teachers should not be in the profession for the paycheck. They should be in the profession to foster passion in their subject area, to provoke thought, to provoke future citizenry and change, and to create future leaders of the world. The first thing that teachers need to do, as a whole, is a smile. Too many educators walk through the halls with a look of gloom and dissatisfaction on their faces. Say hello to a student, a colleague, a custodian, a secretary, and if you can’t take the moment to get a word out of your mouth, at least smile.
7) Implication of Future Teaching Practice:
Making sure every single one of our students has access to every resource we can guarantee them. Making sure our culturally and linguistically diverse student populations have the resources they need to succeed, not only within the four walls of the classroom, but in every hallway, every room, and in every step, they take inside and outside of school. Students from diverse backgrounds need to know where to access resources that can assist them and their families whenever they want them. A true teacher makes time for all of their students and makes time to make sure that all of their students are being taken care of. We may not have control over what happens in our students’ lives when they walk out of our classrooms, but we can encourage them to seek assistance, show them where resources are, and be a resource for them whenever they need it. I know that I can become better by making sure all of my students’ needs are being met. I do not keep a good record of the resources my students utilize and the accommodations that my students utilize as well. We often find ourselves separated from the other departments, but just as Bicard said, “our kids,” is becoming and needs to continue becoming the terminology used when describing our student body, if we truly want to watch a positive learning environment take hold.

Banks, J. A., & Banks, C. A. M. G. (2004). Multicultural education: Issues and perspectives. Hoboken, N.J: Wiley.


An Exploration of Learning and Teaching in 3D Immersive Environments: Transcending Boundaries, Immersive Technology Trends

Attractive online programs are not aggregations of online courses filled with PDF documents, short video clips and discussion boards all housed in modules, featuring standardized learning objectives, extensive rubrics (and possibly chatbots in the future). In such environments individualized student teaching and learning is sacrificed on the altar of efficiency and standardization.


Jasmin Cowin, Ed.D.
Assistant Professor, TESOL and Bilingual Programs
Graduate School of Education


The Fork in the Road

It started with Minecraft and my son. His fascination and hours of focus on and in Minecraft, paying little attention to all the lovingly displayed books on his bedroom bookshelf drove me to shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance. Realizing that I would not win this particular battle, I decided to join him on his Minecraft, Mario and Pokémon forays. His total focus, relentless research into different winning or creation strategies, and astonishingly deft manipulation of objects in 3D environments, created an increasing fascination of these gaming technologies, nascent virtual spaces, open simulation environments and their possible future impact on institutions of learning, teachers, and learners.

Attractive Online Programs

As higher education is under increasing demographic and financial pressure, the forecast looks grim. The survey How Enrollment Challenges Can Spur Change released by the Chronicle of Higher Education, January 2018, found that 52 percent of private colleges and 44 percent of public colleges didn’t meet their enrollment goals in fall 2017. Thriving in a competitive atmosphere for student enrollment “the most popular responses to enrollment and revenue shortfalls remained the same: Start attractive new programs, improve enrollment strategies, and pump up marketing.”

Attractive online programs are not aggregations of online courses filled with PDF documents, short video clips and discussion boards all housed in modules, featuring standardized learning objectives, extensive rubrics (and possibly chatbots in the future). In such environments individualized student teaching and learning is sacrificed on the altar of efficiency and standardization.  Attractive online learning programs need to connect with students through better tools to support experiential learning, “the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience. Knowledge results from the combinations of grasping and transforming the experience.” (Kolb) While the current ed tech field is populated with many contenders (and expensive losers), I chose to focus on six current trends at the forefront of teaching and training simulations.

Dr. J’s Six Trends

Augmented Analytics focuses on a specific area of augmented intelligence, using machine learning (ML) to transform how analytics content is developed, consumed and shared. One day, data storytelling might become ubiquitous in Virtual Worlds (VW’s) democratizing “data visualization with narrative techniques across multiple experiences and channels.” https://www.gartner.com/webinar/3900998?pcp=wb_ddc&srcId=1-3478922220

360° photos are controllable panoramic images that surround the original point from which the shot was taken. Essentially, they are situating the learner in the shoes of a photographer, allowing a look around a photographed setting as if in the middle of it. 360-degree photograph

360° videos, a fairly recent technology, enables learners to not only look around and interact with the setting, as in the case of 360° photos, but place “the viewer within the context of a scene or event rather than presenting them as an outside observer, and giving the viewer the ability to control the orientation of the scene and viewing direction.” https://studio.knightlab.com/results/storytelling-layers-on-360-video/an-introduction-to-360-video/

3D simulations are computer-generated environments, recreating lifelike experiences where learners freely interact with objects in the 3D simulation. Learners “gain hands-on training to quickly master new knowledge needed to perform certain tasks, either completely new or part of increased job responsibilities.” https://blog.matrixlms.com/5-types-immersive-technology-training/

Virtual Reality (VR) needs a VR headset which immerses the learner in the 3D environment, a Virtual World (VW). VW’s are becoming increasingly popular not only for gaming but also for teaching and learning in schools, professional environments, colleges and universities worldwide. According to Educational Virtual Environments “Virtual Reality (VR) immersive technologies support the creation of synthetic, highly interactive three dimensional (3D) spatial environments that represent real or non-real situations” (Mikropoulos and Natsis, 2010, p. 769).

MR (Mixed Reality) takes VR a step even further, as it introduces elements of Augmented Reality (AR)  in learning environments. AR’s “primary objective is to provide a rich audiovisual experience. AR works by employing computerized simulation and techniques such as image and speech recognition, animation, head-mounted and hand-held devices and powered display environments to add a virtual display on top of real images and surroundings.” https://www.techopedia.com/definition/4776/augmented-reality-ar

IN JokaidiaGRID

Richly conceived 3D environments feature all 7 e-learning affordances and lend themselves to a more communicative approach and the flipped classroom model. Unique technological characteristics such as the creation of 3D spatial representations, multisensory channels for user interaction and intuitive interaction through natural manipulations in real time enable more holistic teaching and  learning experiences. While the field is not quite there yet in terms of full online immersion teaching spaces, it is at the cusp of viability.  Working in beta spaces carries risks and rewards.  Risks are limited functionality, tech issues, and a learning curve for institutions, facilitators and students. However, creating novel tech experiences in 3D environments prepares not only students but also institutions for  the Fourth Industrial Revolution which according to Klaus Schwab ” is characterized by a range of new technologies that are fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds, impacting all disciplines, economies and industries, and even challenging ideas about what it means to be human.”

Works Cited

B, Livia. “5 Types of Immersive Technology for Training.” MATRIX Blog, MATRIX, 19 Mar. 2018, blog.matrixlms.com/5-types-immersive-technology-training/.

Carlson, Scott. “How Enrollment Challenges Can Spur Change.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 21 Jan. 2018, http://www.chronicle.com/article/How-Enrollment-Challenges-Can/242276.

“Data Storytelling With Multiexperiences.” Gartner IT Glossary, Gartner, Inc., http://www.gartner.com/webinar/3900998?pcp=wb_ddc&srcId=1-3478922220.

“The Fourth Industrial Revolution, by Klaus Schwab.” World Economic Forumhttp://www.weforum.org/about/the-fourth-industrial-revolution-by-klaus-schwab.

Kolb, David A. Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development. Pearson Education, Inc., 2015.

Mikropoulos, Tassos A., and Antonis Natsis. “Educational Virtual Environments: A Ten-Year Review of Empirical Research (1999–2009).” Computers & Education, vol. 56, no. 3, 2011, pp. 769–780., doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2010.10.020.

Shukla, Umang, et al. “An Introduction to 360° Video.” Knight Lab Studio, studio.knightlab.com/results/storytelling-layers-on-360-video/an-introduction-to-360-video/.

Taylor, Stephen. “The Fork In The Road.” PoemHunter.com, 15 Feb. 2009, http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-fork-in-the-road-2/.

“What Is 360-Degree Photograph? – Definition from WhatIs.com.” WhatIs.com, whatis.techtarget.com/definition/360-degree-photograph.

ESL Textbook evaluation for EDPN 673 by Touro TESOL teacher candidate Yevette Jensen

Touro TESOL teacher Candidate Yevette Jensen is 22 years old. She graduated from St. Joseph’s College with her Bachelor’s degree in elementary education. Ms. Jensen currently working towards her Master’s degree in TESOL and looks “forward to applying everything I will learn in my future classroom!”

The assignment in the course Methods and Materials for Teaching English calls for an evaluation of ESL Textbooks.

ESL Textbook evaluation assignment

Refer to Matching Books and Readers by Nancy Hathaway

With thousands of textbooks on the market, and dozens of publishers vying for your business, the selection of appropriate classroom materials is far from a simple process. To help you make well-informed decisions, here are some widely held myths about EFL/ESL textbooks and then three key steps to guide your evaluation of materials and selection of the most appropriate textbooks for your instructional needs.

Evaluation and Selection

Choose 3 chapters/sections OR 3 books (either from a textbook series, library, or a set of supplemental texts to review). Prepare a written description minimum of 2 pages per chapter/book/resource and critique of the material or resource, analyzing its effectiveness for ELL students. Your critique must address the following questions:

  • Know your students’ needs: four categories: (1) language background, (2) proficiency level, (3) goals, and (4) preferred approaches to learning.
  • What are your students’ native languages?
  • Can they read and write in their native language?
  • In what settings have they studied English (e.g., classroom, tutoring, self-study)
  • Proficiency level in English – Are they beginners, or do they already know some English? Are all students at the same level? Are they stronger in some skills (e.g., reading and writing) and weaker in others (e.g., listening and speaking)?

2. Know your instructional objectives
Taking the time to clearly define your objectives—or to understand the list of objectives provided by the institution in which you teach—will greatly limit the scope of your search for the right textbooks. To do this, you should ask questions such as this:

Given my students’ language background, proficiency level, learning goals, and preferred approaches to learning, what can I realistically expect them to be able to do as a result of my English instruction?

Then move from their needs to teaching objectives. With a list of objectives in hand, you can narrow your textbook selection considerably. You do this by matching your objectives with the proficiency level, content focus, and activity types of a number of potential choices.

3. Know your personal teaching preferences
The third step in the selection process is the assessment of your own teaching style and teaching preferences. To help you to think about the teaching-learning environment that is most ideal for you, as well as your expectations of a textbook, you can begin with questions such as these:

Classroom environment: roles of teacher and students

What teacher role(s) suit your personality and teaching style? Do you prefer the role of director (one who carefully guides students in their learning exercises and activities, usually having them interact more with you than with each other), the role of facilitator (one who organizes and monitors pair work and small group work), or some combination of these roles?

The “fit” between teaching style and textbook choice

How dependent are you on the textbook content for planning your lessons? For example, do you prefer to stick to the textbook, using it as your basic syllabus? Or, do you like to vary your approach based on the content of the lesson?
Are you good at adapting materials and/or creating supplemental activities?

Key Questions to be addressed in Materials Critique

  • What are the lesson objectives the material infers?
  • Can the identified methods and techniques be used appropriately to the teaching situation that you have in your classroom? (Describe your classroom situation in detail) Your students’ needs: four categories: (1) language background, (2) proficiency level, (3) goals, and (4) preferred approaches to learning.
  • Do the techniques used in the material advocate for achieving the stated/assumed objectives most effectively?
  • Do the techniques maintain the engagement of the learners and at what level of instruction (beginning, intermediate, advanced proficiency)?
  • How are the techniques appropriate for all types of students and can they be easily adapted in your classroom?
  • What are the identified methods and are they used appropriately to the teaching situation that you have in your classroom?
  • Do the techniques used in the material advocate for achieving the stated/assumed objectives most effectively?
  • Do the techniques maintain the engagement of the learners and at what level of instruction (beginning, intermediate, advanced proficiency)?
  • How are the techniques appropriate for all types of students including special needs students and can they be easily adapted in your classroom?
  • List which NYS TESOL standards this book addresses.
  • List key vocabulary.
  • Create a general Bloom’s Knowledge Matrix per selection – this means you will have 3 matrixes

Here the submission by Touro TESOL teacher Candidate Yevette Jensen: Materials Critique 673

Reflections on the article Sociocultural Perspectives on Foreign Language Learning by Samantha Solomita TESOL Course EDPN 673 Touro College

This week I am featuring TESOL candidate Samantha Solomita’s thoughtful Reflective Journal assignment. All teacher candidates are required to write reflective learning journals for every course as part of the TESOL Touro program, CR-ITI-BE in TESOL and CR-ITI-BE in Bilingual Education.  As teacher candidates prepare for a career in TESOL and Bilingual education becoming a reflective practitioner the hallmark for metacognitive learning and taking an active role in one’s own learning. Therefore, the TESOL Program at Touro College, CR-ITI-BE in TESOL, CR-ITI-BE in Bilingual Education requires Reflective Learning Journals for both professional growth and assessment.
Purpose: To provide teacher candidates with a framework making connections between prior knowledge and new information. The framework engages teacher candidates in a systematic process to guide their ongoing reflection, a process they can internalize and practice as constructive educators. Teacher candidates will be able to engage in this process to improve their teaching throughout their careers. Teacher candidates reflective journal entries will be included in the final portfolio.

Bio: Samantha Solomita, a TESOL candidate at Touro College, GSE currently teaches a 12:1+1 bridge self- contained class in  Sunnyside, Queens. Her class is composed of 3rd and 4th graders who have learning disabilities and are mostly English Language Learners. Ms. Solomita is certified in childhood studies and students with disabilities 1-6 and holds a Masters in Educational Psychology.

Description of Highlight(s) – chapter, article or event that pertains to EDPN 673 course. 

In the article Sociocultural Perspectives on Foreign Language Learning, the authors Mansoor Fahim and Mastaneh Haghani discuss how the sociocultural theory (SCT) relates to learning and teaching a second language. According to Fahim and Haghani (2012) “In sociocultural theory learning is thought of as a social event taking place as a result of interaction between the learner and the environment (p. 693) Therefore, language learning is optimal when the learner is actively involved in their learning and interacting with others. Language and learning are also strengthened as the individual participates in cultural, linguistic, and historical settings. For example, the learner is involved in interactions within peer groups, families, sports activities, etc. Sociocultural theory uses a holistic approach in which meaning is developed through complex forms rather than isolated concepts; therefore, learners have a role in their own learning process. They are problem solvers and meaning makers in their language acquisition process. In addition, this theory stresses an interconnectedness among teachers, learners, and tasks. Social interaction is believed to facilitate the learning process. Learners work together with their teacher to solve the problems. As they work together to solve a problem, individuals are internalizing how to solve the problem on their own. As the learner is developing the language, he/she is benefiting from others participation in the process. With the support of peers and teacher, students can develop language (Fahim & Haghani, 2012). Vygotsky introduced a concept called Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). With this concept, Vygotsky argues that “psychology should be more concerned with the potential abilities of a child, i.e. what a child will be to accomplish in the future but he/she has not achieved yet” (p. 694). Therefore, scaffolding must take place so that the child can grow and develop. Scaffolding can be referred to as social assistance. Scaffolding can also be anything a learner benefits from. Therefore, scaffolds may be textbooks, dictionaries, and diagrams; however, scaffolds can also be peer feedback and teacher support. Scaffolds may be direct or explicit instruction. The key is that the learning takes place within the learner’s zone of proximal development. Therefore, no learning is “out of reach.” Another concept of SCT is internalization. There needs to be an enhancement of interactions among the learners. The expert role can be applied to the teacher but also to learners as well. Reciprocal teaching may be adopted to have expert learners teach students who are still developing the language. Teachers could adopt a learner-centered approach to instruction to help students with internalization (Fahim & Haghani, 2012). Another essential component of SCT is the activity theory. Activity theory focused on task-based performances which provide learners with an active role. The learner becomes socially and academically motivated which leads to success in the language learning process. Engaging the students in interviews, role-plays, and other real-world tasks increase the value of learning for students. The learners’ motives, goals and values contribute to their success in language acquisition. Overall, the SCT argues that learning is optimal when it is within the learner’s zone of proximal development, scaffolds are provided, and there are interactions within social contexts (Fahim & Haghani, 2012).

2. Initial Emotional Response (surprised, embarrassed, sad, inspired, excited, puzzled, etc.)

Initially, I was surprised when I read this article because I did not think that the sociocultural theory applied to language learning. I have researched and read a lot about Lev Vygotsky’s theory in my undergraduate and graduate courses; however, I do not remember any research focusing on language learning. I was surprised and excited to learn that there are connections between what I have learned in psychology courses and TESOL courses. I was surprised that the sociocultural theory connects to language learning; therefore, I was eager to reflect on this article.

Learning Process

3. Prior Assumptions or Opinions about the described highlight

Prior to reading this article, I thought that second language learning should be mostly teacher-directed. I assumed that for students to learn the language they needed to be passive learners. I thought ENL teaching was very teacher-directed with limited interaction and discussions between peers and teacher. I thought that students simply listened to the teacher and repeated what the teacher stated. I perceived ENL teaching as teaching the basics of English such as grammar, spelling, and verb agreement. I also thought ENL teaching incorporated mostly drill practices and repetition. In addition, I believed ENL was a pull-out service which was separate from content. I thought students were pulled out to practice basic English skills which were not aligned to the curriculum taught in the classroom. Therefore, as a student, I thought that ENL teachers were separate from classroom teachers. I did not realize that an ENL teacher could be a classroom teacher as well. Lastly, I also thought that ENL teaching incorporated specific teacher feedback as opposed to self- and peer- feedback.

4. Source of Assumption or Opinion What made you have such an assumption? (

I had this assumption because most of the videos that I have watched for this course have been very teacher-directed. Also, the readings from earlier on in the course were also more teacher-directed methods. For example, the Audiolingual Method, the Grammar-Translation method, and the Direct Method and very teacher-centered. The teacher is the expert and the students practice language without really understanding the content. The student’s role is mostly to listen to language and then repeat words and phrases. However, when I read the title of the article, I knew that the sociocultural theory focused on interactions; therefore, I was eager to read the article and make connections to language learning. Another reason is, before I became a teacher, I always thought that ENL was teaching simply English. I did not realize that it was integrated. I envisioned the ENL teachers doing basic grammar and sentence structure. From elementary school, I remember the ENL teachers having their own rooms and the students only going to their rooms. I do not remember ENL teachers ever coming into my classroom or teaching general content.

5. Assumption/Opinion Check – Validation/Invalidation 

My assumptions about the instruction of a foreign language were invalidated due to research on sociocultural theory and other methods of teaching. For example, Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory proposes for students to be active in their learning in order to create meaning. According to Fahim and Haghani (2012), “the theory also lays great stress on the dynamic nature of interconnections among teachers, learners and tasks and advocates the concept of learning which stems from interactions among individuals” (p.694). Therefore, according to SCT, learners should be engaged in tasks that are meaningful and challenging. Students show optimal growth when learning is within their zone of proximal development and they are supported by peers and teachers. According to SCT, language learning is best when there are meaningful interactions between students and teachers. Similarly, further research has supported and validated the points made by Vygotsky regarding language learning. For example, in the article On Teaching Strategies in Second Language Acquisition Yang Hong argues for creating a learner-centered classroom. According to Hong (2008), “In the learning process, the teacher can guide, facilitate, present materials clearly and answer questions, but the teacher cannot learn the language for students or even make students learn the language” (p. 64). The teacher’s role is the role of the facilitator. It is up to the student to take initiative for their learning. Teachers should facilitate the learners through meaningful tasks. For example, “second language learners are more motivated on tasks that they value (Hong, 2008, p. 66). Students may value a task more if it is applicable to their daily life or if it incorporates their interests. Teachers can try to increase value by incorporating authentic literature, using culturally relevant topics, or providing student choice. Also, Hong argues that teachers should provide opportunities for success. Therefore, teachers should choose tasks that are authentic and appropriately challenging. Appropriately challenging tasks are supported by the Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development. In addition, the Silent Way method also uses some strategies which are reflective of the sociocultural theory. Using the Silent Way Method, the teacher does not have to explicitly model for students. The teacher provides students with learning tasks and activities that encourage student responses. According to Richards and Rogers (2016), “the materials are designed for manipulation by the students as well as by the teacher, independently and cooperatively, in promoting language learning by direct association” (p. 108). Therefore, the students work together to make sense of the content and develop the language. The students rely on each other to strengthen their language; therefore, the students work collaboratively and provide specific, constructive feedback. Also, the silent way uses materials that are meaningful to the students. For example, According to Richards and Rogers (2016). “the materials are designed for manipulation by the students as well as by the teacher, independently and cooperatively, in promoting language learning by direct association” (p.108). Like the sociocultural theory, the Silent Way integrates tasks that are meaningful and authentic in order to promote language learning.

6. Realization/Aha Moment or Epiphany 

I had an “aha!” moment when I realized how the recent articles I read and the videos I watched related. The articles I mentioned all stress the importance of students collaborating to develop language. In addition, students provide each other with feedback during this process. The teacher works as the facilitator who guides the students through meaningful, authentic tasks. The teacher provides scaffolds such as various materials, teacher support, and peer support to assist the students throughout their language learning process. I believe that this type of second language teaching and learning is the best for my students. For the first few weeks of this course, I was having a difficult time applying the information from the readings and my observations from the videos to my teaching. A lot of the new content I learned about second language teaching was teacher-centered. Methods such as the Audiolingual Method and Communicative Language Method seemed very time consuming and hard to fit in with teaching the general curriculum. Similarly, methods such as Grammar Translation Method and the Direct Method seemed to be very specific and difficult to integrate into content. However, after recent readings and videos, I am envisioning how I can implement strategies into my classroom to teach and support second language learners. After learning more about the Sociocultural theory, I realize that students need to work together more to develop language. Instead of modeling as a teacher, I can have my students act as models for each other. The learning is more valuable when the students are presented with engaging tasks. Therefore, I would like to incorporate more tasks such as the one in the Silent Way video (English, 2013). In the video, the teacher provided the students with a hands-on experience of a floor plan. Students were able to manipulate the pieces and make sense of language as a group. This was a great example for me, students developing language through participating in a meaningful task. Through this task, students learned vocabulary terms, spatial relationships, and prepositions. This was a great “aha!” moment for me because I was able to actually see the concepts that I was reading about portrayed in a lesson. This video helped me put the readings into perspective. Moving forward, I trust that I have research-based practices that I can apply to my classroom to best support my English Language Learners. My thoughts have been changed about second language teaching. I no longer believe that second language teaching should be teacher-centered and teacher dominated. I believe to teach a second language I should use tasks that are meaningful and authentic. In addition, I should provide opportunities for the students to collaborate and provide feedback to one another. I believe that if the students value the learning, they will truly internalize it and strengthen their language.

7. Implications for future teaching practice

As I reflect on what I have learned so far in this course, I plan on making many changes to my teaching and classroom environment. I will incorporate many aspects of the sociocultural theory into my classroom. I would like to incorporate the Zone of Proximal Development as I plan for lessons. As I plan for tasks, I want to ensure that I am selecting materials that are within the ZPD for my learners. I want to make sure that it is appropriately challenging, yet not out of reach; therefore, students can experience success as they work with scaffolds. I plan on scaffolding for my students. Scaffolds will vary depending on the lesson. Scaffolds I would like to include for my students are words walls, reference books, familiar charts, and sentence stems. In addition, I will provide support as a teacher such as prompting questions and guiding the students to refer to resources. In addition, students will scaffold for one another by providing peer feedback. In addition, I would like to implement the Activity Theory in my classroom. For example, I will provide my students with meaningful learning opportunities for them to practice language and learn content simultaneously. For example, I will infuse more group work and partner work into my lessons so that students have an opportunity to share and learn from one another. I will have students participate in authentic, meaningful tasks that target language needs. For instance, my students struggle with prepositions. I would love to incorporate an activity like the one in the video. I would try to connect it to content that is in our curriculum. When my students create dioramas of the rain forest, I can have them practice and use prepositions in their speech and writing. Students task can be to describe the plants and animals in their rainforest using spatial relationships and prepositions. As a group, students can work together to decide where the plants and animals go in the diorama and how to describe them. Similarly, I would like to incorporate real-world mathematics problems in which the students can practice their mathematics vocabulary because that is also something my English Language Learners struggle with. I do anticipate some challenges with incorporating the sociocultural theory into my classroom. I think it will be difficult to incorporate meaningful, authentic tasks into the classroom daily; however, I do believe that it is very beneficial for my learners. Therefore, I will try to start building tasks by evaluating each unit and developing a task per unit. As I continue to develop tasks, I hope to build a repertoire of meaningful tasks that can be implemented into many lessons in all content areas. Overall, there are many strategies that I have learned through coursework that I am eager to implement into my classroom. I trust that implementing concepts from the sociocultural theory will have positive impacts on my English Language Learners.


English, A. (2013, January 25). Language Teaching Methods: Silent Way. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=xqLzbLCpack

Fahim, M., & Haghani, M. (2012). Sociocultural Perspectives on Foreign Language Learning. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 3(4). doi:10.4304/jltr.3.4.693-699

Hong, Y. (2008). On Teaching Strategies in Second Language Acquisition. US- China Education Review, 5(1), 61-67.

Richards, J. C., & Rodgers, T. S. (2016). Approaches and methods in language teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

The Silent Way – a discussion contribution for EDDN 673, Methods and Materials for Teaching English as a Second Language at Touro College, GSE by TESOL candidate Rose Linehan

This discussion board focus for EDDN 673 was on The Silent Way, an unconventional Language Teaching Method in today’s teaching landscape. It was based upon ideas outlined in Caleb Cattegno’s book “Teaching Foreign Languages in Schools the Silent Way,” published in 1963. Like most cultural events of the 60s and 70s, it was a reaction to previous approaches and methods that were considered excessively rigid and constricting. The basic method that underlies this approach is simple but potentially quite powerful: The teacher is silent, only speaking if the students are struggling.  While Silent Method is currently not used in schools I believe understanding the different methods and their applications gives teacher candidates for TESOL and Bilingual  Education powerful ideas to incorporate into their clinical teaching approaches. (Adapted from https://www.fluentu.com/blog/educator/silent-way-teaching-method/)

Rose Linehan holds her Bachelor’s Degree in History with a concentration in General Education and Students with Disabilities 1-6, with a minor in Psychology. She is a New York State certified teacher currently working in the East Meadow School District as an Intervention Teacher while obtaining her Master’s Degree in TESOL at Touro College.


The Silent Way Video

1. What did the students learn in this lesson?

Throughout this lesson, the students learned a few different topics with the Silent Way Method. Students learned vocabulary and prepositions with a location as they both related to a house.

• What was introduced?

Fidel chartThe first thing that was introduced was the different pronunciation of ‘the’ with the help of a color-coded word chart, a Fidel. Next, the teacher introduced a floor plan to the students using different colored rods. The teacher created the floor plan of a house so that students could practice words such as other, another, front wall, back wall, etc. With the floor plan, students also learned other vocabulary words such as living room, kitchen, bed and dining room. Furthermore, the teacher introduced students to the appropriate word structure in sentences.

• What points were practiced?

The first point that was practiced was the pronunciation of ‘the’, which was practiced with the Fidel chart. Students reviewed many words always coming back to ‘the’ and making sure the pronunciation was correct. The next point that was practiced was with the floor plan. By creating the floor plan the teacher was able to have students come up with their own answers using the language while only guiding them. In the Silent Way, it is important that the students are responsible for their own production of the language. Therefore, the teacher uses a variety of strategies to guide the students and allow them to come up with the language on their own. The next point that was practiced was labeling the different rooms and their locations. This point was practiced by having the students sit together in a circle and ask them questions about where certain furniture should go. The students answer with the help of the teacher’s cues. Students need to be watching the teacher closely.

• What was mastered?

Students were able to master the location of certain areas within the house and the floor plan. Students were able to determine what location the teacher was pointing to, such as the living room, dining room, etc. Students were also able to master using prepositions as they related to the house and floor plan. In addition to mastering the location, students were able to decide where certain pieces of furniture went where in the house. They were able to decide what furniture would go in what room. Lastly, students continued to perfect their sentence structure when speaking with the tools used by the teacher to guide them.

2. How were the four basic language skills (listening, speaking, reading, writing) used in the lesson?

The four basic language skills were used throughout this lesson. The students had to listen closely to the teacher from the very beginning. As soon as the lesson started students had to be listening to the correct pronunciation of different words in order to learn. Students had to make sure to be listening to each other as well because it is important that students learn from each other as well as the teacher. Speaking was used throughout the lesson when students were constantly working with the language. Students were continuously speaking and practicing the language. It is important that the students speak up and practice the language so the teacher can take note and see what they are learning. It is important that students are speaking because mistakes are important and once they are addressed the content can be retained more easily. Reading was used at the very beginning of the lesson with the Fidel Chart that the teacher used. The teacher pointed to different words on the colored chart and students read them out loud. The teacher was listening for the correct pronunciation. If there were a mistake the teacher would have the students keep trying until they got it right. At the end of the lesson, students also read out loud sentences that they had written. Writing was used at the end of the lesson when the teacher had the students write about what they learned about the house today. The teacher gave the students some time to complete the writing and then asked for volunteers to share their sentences. The teacher was looking for correct pronunciation and sentence structure within their sentences.

3. Describe any assessment or corrective feedback the teacher incorporated during the lesson.

The teacher was informally assessing the students throughout the lesson. The teacher was observing students during the lesson and listening to how they were interacting with the language. When it came to errors made by students the teacher worked hard to help the student’s self-correct. While providing corrective feedback to the students the teacher used different techniques to guide the students, such as gestures. The teacher makes sure to guide the students to realize their own errors and correct it themselves. This makes sure that the teacher is as silent as possible when it comes to the language. This is beneficial because students are responsible for their own production of the language.

4. Have you ever seen the Silent Way Method before this course incorporated in a classroom for ENL’s?

I have not seen the Silent Way Method incorporated into the classroom for ENL’s before this course. I can see how this method would be very beneficial for the students. I like that students are guided to self correct their own language. I think it is very important for the students to be able to produce as much language as possible on their own. I would be very excited to see the Silent Way Method incorporated into more lessons for ENL students!


English, A. (2013, January 25). Language Teaching Methods: Silent Way. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=x qLzbLCpack

Larsen-Freeman, D. (2000). Techniques and Principles in Language Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Richards, J.C., & Rodgers, T.S. (2009). Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

TEACHER-TRAINING DISCUSSION by Touro GSE TESOL teacher candidate Crystal Demma for EDPN 673 – Methods and Materials for Teaching English as a Second Language

Crystal Picture

Touro GSE TESOL teacher candidate Crystal Demma holds a Bachelor Degree in Early Childhood and Childhood Education. She is a NY certified teacher working on her Master’s Degree for TESOL and works in the Brentwood Union Free School District where there is a high population of ELL students. Here her personal quote, ” I have worked closely with these students, and truly enjoyed the relationship we built.”

Every week in our Touro online course EDPN 673 – Methods and Materials for Teaching English as a Second Language, teacher candidates analyze and reflect on videos and readings with direct applications to their teaching practice.  This discussion board contribution by Crystal Demma shows the dedication and thoroughness of Touro’s candidates.


English, A. (Ed.). (2013, January 25). Language Teaching Methods: Suggestopedia.
1. What did the students learn in this lesson?
• What was introduced?
• What points were practiced?
• What was mastered?
2. How were the four basic language skills (listening, speaking, reading, writing) used in the lesson?
3. What were the contents of the different posters? What functions did they fulfill?
4. Examine the contents of the passage itself. In the contents, what is suggested?
5. What direct suggestions does the teacher make to the students?
6. Examine the teacher’s manner: What variations do you see from activity to activity, from beginning to
end? What might explain these variations?
7. What forms of indirect suggestion, beyond the teacher’s manner, were used?
8. In the initial concert, the teacher asked the students to both watch the actions and listen to the words being read. This is an example of an activity with a dual focus. Which other activities divided the students’ attention? Specify the focus for each activity.

1. Lesson-
• The students learned about verbs, the pronunciation of past-tense verbs (t or d sound), vocabulary, and intonation of phrases.
• She introduced acting out verbs as you are speaking them and verbs in the passage.
• The class practiced pronunciation of past-tense verbs, listening/speaking to a partner, acting out verbs, reading from a paper, repeating dictation, past to present tense of same words, and writing down dictation
• I believe repeating dictation and acting out the passage was mastered. They did this multiple times in differing variations. They did this with the class, with partners, and with a student demonstrator.

2. The four basic language skills were used throughout the lesson in multiple activities. The teacher had the students use more than one language skill at a time to create dual focus. The students were expected to listen to a passage, verbs, and sentences while also doing another action. Sometimes this action included orally repeating, reading, and writing. One example of the students using two language skills is the activity at the end of the lesson. The teacher dictated a sentence to the students (listening), and the students wrote down what they heard (writing). Another activity that required students to practice language skills was when the class chorally read the passage and acted it out together. There were many more activities that helped refine the language skills of the students.

3. The posters hanging in the classroom had a purpose. One poster she specifically drew the class’ attention to had past-tense verbs. This could be to help the students visualize the written word and focus on listening to the sounds of the word. The other posters were there to create a comfortable and non-threatening environment. The students learn best when they are in a positive learning environment.

4. As I listened to the passage a few times I realized that it had some implicit suggestion within. I believe that it was implying that although Sarah had a lot to do she was still calm, relaxed, and assured she would complete her task. The video states, “She stretched lazily and placed her feet one by one on the floor… She tiptoed through the boxes, which lay everywhere, and put a kettle of water on to boil.” This shows me that the character is not overwhelmed and implies that it is best to remain calm and at peace.

5. The teacher makes direct suggestions in the lesson. In the beginning of the lesson, she asks the students to sit back and relax. She adds that the students should take a deep breath and think about something pleasant like the beautiful weather they were having. Another direct suggestion she makes is at the end of the lesson during the closing. She advises the students to read the piece of paper with sentences on it and think about the pronunciation and intonation of the words.

6. The teacher uses different variations of activities. The first activity, the teacher spoke very slowly while acting out the passage. The second activity she started off the same by giving a direct suggestion to calm the students and then began. She read at a faster pace without using body movement. Next, she asks the students to act it out together instead of her doing it alone. She emphasizes the intonation more than the beginning. She speaks slower as the students try to keep up. I think her mannerisms change because she is trying to help guide the students when they are working together with her. She continues to give positive feedback and suggestions. Once she starts playing the game with the verbs with t or d she jokes around with the students. She laughs with them and makes it feel like they are playing a game. This could be because she wants the students to associate learning with fun. This is another technique to help imply relaxation and create a positive learning environment.

7. There was a lot of indirect suggestion in this lesson. The teacher decreased the fear of the students by creating a positive and pleasant learning environment. She played music, put out flowers, and displayed posters. Another example of indirect suggestion is the ball activity. The teacher used a game involving a ball with the class. This suggests to the students that learning can be fun and non-threatening. According to the video, learning should be facilitated in a comfortable environment because it increases the students’ confidence; therefore, the students will perform better and ultimately learn more in a non-threatening positive classroom.

8. The video displayed many activities that used dual focus:
• Activity 1- Listen to teachers sentence, repeat sentence, act out the story with body movement
• Activity 2- Listen to partner, act out dictation/Read aloud the passage, watch your partner’s actions
• Activity 3- Listen to past-tense verb, hold up sound card
• Activity 4- Listen to present-tense verb, catch a ball, dictate past-tense version of the verb
• Activity 5- Chorally read aloud passage, watch one student act out the dictation
• Activity 6- Listen to sentence, write down dictation

Reading Response:

1. As I was reading this chapter I noticed that there were not a lot of reading activities. There were many methods, but many of them had a focus off of reading. It was believed by some theorists that language is primarily what is spoken so that is how they would try to acquire the L2 instead of writing or reading (p. 49, 1986, Richards & Rodgers).
• Direct Method- Teachers taught from books containing short reading passages in the foreign language. After the class read they would study lists of vocabulary that was in the reading.
• Reading Based- Read passages in the foreign language, then discuss the passage in English to deepen comprehension
• Structured Linguistics- Studying characteristics of the language like morphemes, phonemes, words, structures, sentence types, etc.

I think the most effective reading activity would be the Reading Based Approach. It is important to expose students to text in the target language; however, it is even more valuable to discuss the text in their L1. This gives them the opportunity to digest and make sense of the text. Some students may not have understood the entire reading, and discussing it as a whole class can fix any misunderstandings they had. I believe discussing ideas deepens comprehension and increases speaking skills. This would also allow me the opportunity to evaluate if they understood the text or not. Students who do not participate and are unable to answer my questions probably struggled with the reading. I should make note who struggled and use this data to target my instruction. I could give them an easier text, or read the passage with them after they read independently.

English, A. (Ed.). (2013, January 25). Language Teaching Methods: Suggestopedia. Retrieved July 2, 2019, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=139&v=3rkrvRlty5M

Richards, J. C., & Rodgers, T. S. (2009). Approaches and methods in language teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Thoughts and Musings: Project Libra – Facebook’s GlobalCoin White Paper is Public

by Jasmin Bey Cowin, Ed.D.

Facebooks Project Libra, the long anticipated, secretive GlobalCoin White Paper finally went public https://libra.org/en-US/white-paper/. It creates more questions about the implications of decentralized blockchains,  low-volatility cryptocurrency, and smart contract platforms. According to the White Paper the decentralized currency will be Byzantine Fault Tolerant (BFT). Byzantine Fault Tolerance (BFT) is the ability of a decentralized system to provide safety guarantees in the presence of faulty, or “Byzantine” members. (BFT consensus protocols are designed to function correctly even if some validator nodes — up to one-third of the network — are compromised or fail.)

The Switzerland-based Libra Association, a group composed of Facebook and its global corporate partners with an entry fee of $10 million, will be making all the governance decisions surrounding this new global currency. Chris Hughes, who left Facebook in 2007, tweeted on Friday that Libra is both “brilliant and frightening” because it shifts crucial power into the hands of private companies. In the Financial Times op-ed, he wrote:

Let us imagine that Libra works as planned. Hundreds of millions of people around the world will be able to send money across borders as easily as they send a text message. The Libra Association’s goals specifically say that ability will encourage “decentralised forms of governance”. In other words, Libra will disrupt and weaken nation states by enabling people to move out of unstable local currencies and into a currency denominated in dollars and euros and managed by corporations. quoted from https://gizmodo.com/facebook-co-founder-says-libra-will-empower-corporation-1835735044

Bitcoin oracle Andreas Antonopolous’ (https://aantonop.com/) initial review and reaction to the Facebook GlobalCoin Initiative: “While Facebook’s Libra doesn’t compete against any open, public, permissionless, borderless, neutral, censorship-resistant blockchains, it *will* compete against both retail banks and central banks. This is going to be fun to watch.”

Larry Cermak, Director of Research at The Block @TheBlock__ , was more specific in his observations: “Just so we are clear, Libra is: not decentralized not censorship resistant not guaranteed to work technologically not guaranteed to be cleared by regulators not clear in regards to tax implications” from https://lnkd.in/eiBXe6d

Here my concern: Will Facebook through GlobalCoin pose a threat to the US Dollar? GlobalCoin will be a stablecoin. Stablecoins are cryptocurrencies designed to minimize the volatility of the price by being pegged to currency, or to exchange-traded commodities such as precious metals or industrial metals. GlobalCoin will be pegged to a “basket of fiat currencies”. The Wall Street Journal reported that the social media giant has signed on more than a dozen backers for its GlobalCoin cryptocurrency. “Each of the new backers will invest roughly $10 million in the project as part of a governing consortium for the cryptocurrency. The crypto will operate within the company’s messaging infrastructure – WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger.” quoted from Nikhilesh De.

Featured Image: Facebook Stablecoin Initiative is Internally Called “Project Libra”
Glen Bates May 6, 2019 https://news.ibinex.com/2019/05/06/facebook-stablecoin-initiative-is-internally-called-project-libra/


RCNY at the United Nations presents“The UN and Decolonization”

Ambiehl headshotAs Chair, it is my pleasure to invite you to The Rotary Club of New York, International Breakfast Meeting at the UN – Jun 19, 2019. Non-Member Guests and Visitors may register by contacting Andreas Runggatscher at Our featured speaker will be Josiane Ambiehl, Chief of the Decolonization Unit, Dept. of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, UN. Her topic will be: “The UN and Decolonization”, focusing on how decolonization has evolved from the 50s/60s until today. About Josiane Ambiehl Josiane Ambiehl currently serves as the Chief of the Decolonization Unit in the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs of the United Nations. As such, she is providing guidance to the leadership of the Organization and Member States on decolonization matters and the 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories under the purview of the Special Committee on Decolonization (C-24). UN Church Center – 10th floor 777 United Nations Plaza New York, NY 10017 hashtagDecolonization hashtagUnitedNations hashtagRotaryClubofNewYork hashtagPeacebuilding