Touro TESOL candidate Antonia Torres-Gearity receives 2020 Bilingual Teacher of the Year Award by THE NEW YORK STATE ASSOCIATION FOR BILINGUAL EDUCATION

As a Professor is is a life-affirming experience to see one’s students succeed. Tonight, my TESOL teacher candidate Antonia Torres-Gearity received her 2020 Bilingual Teacher of the Year Award by NYSABE.

As a Professor it is a life-affirming experience to see one’s students succeed. Tonight, my TESOL teacher candidate Antonia Torres-Gearity received her 2020 Bilingual Teacher of the Year Award by NYSABE.

I was thrilled to be present at NYSABE supporting Mrs. Antonia Torres-Gearity, a gifted educator and TESOL candidate at Touro College, TESOL and Bilingual Department. Her dedication to our profession, caring for her students and passionate work ethic inspires me.

Congratulations to Touro TESOL candidates Mrs. Antoni Torres-Gearity to her 2020 Bilingual Teacher of the Year Award.

NYSABE represents educators, parents, members of community-based organizations, private agencies, and institutions of higher education as well as advocates involved in the education of English language learners/bilingual students in New York State.

Touro GSE TESOL candidate Mrs. Antonia Torres-Gearity

Touro GSE TESOL Candidate Eleonora Israilova’s Materials Critique and Redesign Analysis

One assignment in the Touro TESOL course EDPN 673 Methods and Materials for Teaching English as a Second Language is a Materials Critique & Redesign. In this assignment candidates will: (1) prepare a written critique description of the material or resource, analyzing its effectiveness on ELLs and (2) based on their analysis, redesign one section/activity of the original material so that it meets the need of ELLs. The materials chosen will promote culturally and linguistically responsive classrooms and instructional practices. I chose Eleonora Israilova’s submission as it was not only outstanding but features classroom realia and a robust, thoughtful redesign of her chosen textbooks.

by Jasmin Bey Cowin, Ed.D. , Assistant Professor and TESOL Practicum Coordinator, Touro College, GSE

One assignment in the Touro TESOL course EDPN 673 Methods and Materials for Teaching English as a Second Language is a Materials Critique & Redesign. In this assignment candidates will: (1) prepare a written critique description of the material or resource, analyzing its effectiveness on ELLs and (2) based on their analysis, redesign one section/activity of the original material so that it meets the need of ELLs. The materials chosen will promote culturally and linguistically responsive classrooms and instructional practices. I chose Eleonora Israilova’s submission as it was not only outstanding but features classroom realia and a robust, thoughtful redesign of her chosen textbooks.

Eleonora Israilova comes from Uzbekistan and speaks Russian, Tajik and Spanish. She was 10 years old when she came to America. Ms. Israilova stated that “currently I teach Kindergarten in my community with the same linguistic needs as my background and this assignment was tailored to fit the needs of my ELLs population.”

Materials Critique and Redesign
Matching Books with Readers is an important literacy component for ELL students. One of the most important components is vocabulary recognition, which requires an understanding of unfamiliar words when reading (Apthorp, 2006; Spencer & Guillaume, 2006, Vardell, Hadaway, & Young, 2006.) Also, a bilingual student may speak English in a way that commands a perfect understanding of his second language when in reality the oral vocabulary is much stronger than the reading vocabulary.

Each child has a unique learning style, but bilingual students benefit from reading nonfiction passages because real-life contexts help them visualize vocabulary words for meaning (Apthorp, 2006). Selecting highly visual literature containing photographs (Vardell, Hadaway, & Young, 2006) or that are related to scientific concepts that describe the natural world as children
understand it is best for bilingual students (Spencer & Guillaume, 2006). Therefore, for this materials critique and redesign, I chose to use three books that are nonfiction children’s books.

The three books are National Geographic Readers: Frogs! by Elizabeth Carney, National Geographic Readers: Caterpillar to Butterfly by Laura Marsh, and Ladybugs by Cheryl Coughlan. These books are great for ELL students because they are colorful, include rich vocabulary, and diagrams that show labeled parts of the animals. Younger children are usually drawn to informational texts about animals because it satisfies their curiosity and interest in their favorite topics. When students are interested in reading about a favorite topic, they are more
likely to be motivated to read and dig deeper for answers to their questions about the world and make constant connections to themselves.

Another reason I chose the aforementioned books is because unbeknownst students in my class are mostly of Russian, Tajik, and Spanish native languages. I have noticed that their vocabulary bank is limited as they are likely to come from conversational backgrounds. By using informational texts in my classroom, my ELL students will expand their academic vocabularies in areas that do not necessarily come up in everyday conversation. Nonfiction texts will challenge my ELL students, but it will also give them a broader vocabulary base, especially texts from the fields such as science and social studies. Moreover, ELL students are able to make real life connections with nonfiction texts. Many nonfiction books include photographs to illustrate the details. Photographs are a great visual aid when grappling to understand the English text. Photos contain more details and a precise depiction of the world around us than illustrations. When students are able to refer to photographs, they will increase their comprehension level and make connections to the real world they see around them. Students will be confident when they have a clear picture of what is being taught and are able to have higher order thinking skills that help to perform better overall.

Touro TESOL Candidate Radhika Hira on Teaching According to the Stages of Literacy Development

Discussion Boards are invaluable for students to develop their analytic skills, reflect on their readings and interact with their peers. Here an outstanding DB by Touro TESOL Candidate Radhika Hira on Teaching According to the Stages of Literacy Development.

Radhika Hira, a preservice elementary school teacher and yoga teacher in New York will graduate with her MA in Dual Inclusive Elementary Education from Teachers College this fall, and is working on a TESOL extension from Touro as well.
Radhika states that “I’m kind of known for my positive attitude! I think it is my biggest strength in a classroom – it allows my students to have a growth mindset. Since they feel safe in making mistakes, it encourages risk taking as they learn to be learners. This is a tumultuous time in the world, and I am excited to be there for my students. They need us to be ‘present’ more than ever.”

This DB focuses on your reading of Teaching According to the Stages of Literacy Development

  1. How would YOU in YOUR professional teaching practice, track and assess reading levels ? Please be specific.

Over 60 years ago, Betts (1946) described a framework for levels dependent on difficulty in his book, Foundations of Reading Instruction: With Emphasis on Differentiated Guidance. This framework was based on research done over 70 years ago now, and with 41 children. The framework resulted in four levels of reading which are still applicable today. (1) the independent level, (2) the instructional level, (3) the frustration level and (4) the probable capacity level. The fourth level is based on material which is read to a student but the first three are based on the decoding and comprehending ability of the student when reading a text.

Today there are at least 7 systems that level children’s book based on this, and mathematical algorithms using word length and sentence length. (F&P, Lexile, Accelerated Reader, Reading Recover/Benchmark, DRA, DRP, & Fleish-Kincaid). I have personally used F&P running records and miscue analysis as tools to assess students reading levels. My experience leads me to see miscue analysis as a far more authentic tool to measure reading needs of students so that we can focus on improving proficiency as opposed to levels.

Educators, parents and administrators take levels seriously and while I agree that levels are an important and even elegant tool to create a framework for students in some respects, as an educator I primarily always keep in mind that they are a teacher’s tool and not a reader’s label. The following are the principles from Glasswell and Ford’s 2011 article, Let’s start Leveling about Leveling, that I plan to live by in my own professional practice:

• Leveling takes a complex idea and makes it too simple: Reading is a complex process. It involves the reader, the text, background information, culture, linguistic ability, preference and interest all in one. Boiling this down to a mathematical algorithm that assess the word length or number of words on a page in isolation makes levels simplistic and requires that a teacher weigh everything else in and employ professional judgement as well.

• Leveling takes a simple idea and makes it too complex: An example best illustrates this point. In the popular F&P system, “for level J texts, consideration is given to 10 key text characteristics (genre/forms, text structure, content, themes and ideas, language and literary features, sentence complexity, vocabulary, words, illustrations, and book and print features). Across those 10 characteristics, 66 specific criteria are further identified. In contrast, a K-level text is analyzed using the same ten characteristics with 71 specific criteria. J- and K-level texts share 21 identical criteria and many more criteria that vary only in degree. For example, sentence length in J books is 10+ words; in K books, it is 15+ words. Length ranges in J-level texts from 24–36 pages; K-level texts are 24–48 pages. In the end, a book like Henry and Mudge: The First Book is assigned to the J basket, while Frog and Toad Are Friends finds its way into the K basket.” (Glasswell, 2011,211) In addition to being inaccessible to teachers to replicate for a text that is not leveled, it is not clear if these decision are made based on empirical evidence or simply collective characteristics which are subjective. Additionally, research supporting these methods are not necessarily valid or reliable.

• Reading levels are not the same as reading needs: This might be the most critical principle to keep in mind when I implement reading levels. Readers within a level might differ drastically in their needs. Even if readers have the same number of miscues, self corrections and errors, the reasons behind these could be vastly different indicating a distinct skill that needs to be addressed for the reader.

• Progress does not equal proficiency: Readers progressing from one level to the next are not necessarily acquiring proficiency since the emphasis is more on the text and the level than the reader. Additionally this often creates competition & judgement in relation to reading which can create more aversion to reading for many.

• Readers have rights (as well as levels): This quote from the F&P blog really sums up the importance of ensuring levels are always kept in check and come after a reader’s right to read and consume knowledge as they desire.

“Fountas and Pinnell on Leveling: A Teacher’s Tool – Levels can be a resource for you and your colleagues to guide student choices for independent reading, but they should not be a limitation or a requirement. Leveled books are instructional tools for teachers who understand them—nothing more. Above all else, a level is a teacher’s tool, not a child’s label.” (F&P, 2016)

  1. Watching the webcast and looking at the Reading Rockets resources was there anything that you will be able to incorporate into your professional practice?

There were many moments in the webcast that resonated with me and reinforced ideas that I have about practice. Dr. Pressley stressed throughout the webcast how teachers need to consistently keep abreast of new developments and spend time deep diving into the resources they have, even if those are limited. This is important as an educator to keep in mind and always ensure we attend PDs, and keep abreast of what is happening in the field so we can make informed decisions for our students to support them.

Carol Ann Tomlinson talks about “The student leading the teacher.” (23.57) and I believe this is critical since we need to follow our student’s lead. This can only result in better motivation, engagement and a sense of enhanced learning for the classroom community. However, Tomlinson’s work has it’s foundations in gifted education and is not empirical but is based on the intersection of readiness, interest and the student’s learning profile so that content, process or product is modified. It is a responsive approach based on consistent observation of the student. While crucial to consistently assessing students, this approach also makes the teacher central in terms of creating modifications. It takes pre-set content and then tries to adapt it for different learners. This understanding makes me more convinced of the benefits of a UDL (Universal Design for Learning) instructional strategy more than ever. UDL is based in neuroscience and on the principles of the 8 multiple intelligences. While it has foundations and is connected to special education, it is a ‘lens to look through so we can remove barriers and center learners.’ It provides for multiple means of representation, action and expression as the three pillars of lessons and teaching to bring all students access to content in ways they learn best. It is a constructivist approach where in addition to readiness and interests, aspects of the whole student like family, culture, and community are also included. As Carol Ann Tomlinson says “as capturing their best ways of learning” (Tomlinson, 32.49) and “taking advantage of every skill opportunity”(Tomlinson, 9:58).

I believe a UDL approach as opposed to differentiation makes it less challenging for us as teachers because you don’t go into a lesson with set content that then needs to differentiated based on students. You approach the lesson and offer students different ways to access, learn and represent their learning right from the start. If your starting point is that, the process becomes far less intimidating and challenging. It is a resource that “gives you more flexibility rather than hamper it.” (Tomlinson, 41.00)

  1. List Challs stages of reading development aligned with age, 1 key teaching principles, and 1 key teaching practices for each stage.

‘0-6 Years

STAGE 0: By age 6, children can understand thousands of words they hear but can read/write few if any of them.

Principle: They should be exposed to rich experiential learning and shared reading so that they can develop a rich vocabulary. Practice: Their vocabulary and language is developing and are encouraged to draw and scribble. Games, play, word walls and verbal exchanges are instrumental. Purposeful writing is important.

6-7 years

At the end of STAGE 1, most children can understand up to 4000 or more words when heard but can read/write about 600.

Principle: Direct and systematic phonics instruction and Shared, guided and interactive reading and writing are a focus.

Practice: Vocabulary is still developing and in addition they can listen to and discuss stories and write recounts/retells of stories. Invented spelling is encouraged.

7-9 Years

At the end of STAGE 2, about 3000 words can be read, written and understood and about 9000 are known when heard. NB: children’s written language may be up to 3 years behind oral language.

Principle: Continued Phonics in conjunction with learning to express ideas and writing purposefully.

Practice: Exploring interesting though familiar, topics, collection data, word walls, guided reading.

9-13 years

At beginning of STAGE 3, listening comprehension of the same material is still more effective than comprehension and composition. By the end of Stage 3, literacy and listening are about equal for those who read very well.

Principle: Consolidation of constrained skills; speaking, listening and viewing for a range of purposes in diverse knowledge areas to focus on main idea and key strategies of evaluating and analyzing.

Practice: Literacy practice is replaced by reading and writing meaningfully for authentic purposes through complex activities like debates, and discussions.

  1. What did you learn for your own professional practice that was surprising after reading: Teaching According to the Stages of Literacy Development

While reading the article the one thing that stood out to me was the idea that inventive spelling should be encouraged in Stage 1. While I think I’ve instinctively seen this occur and I understood it, it was nice to see it as part of the stage of literacy development. It also makes perfect sense in combination with the idea that phonics are just about being introduced and the student’s understanding of phonemes and the sound letter connection is most important at this stage.

References:

Brace, E. (2017, April 10). Teaching According to the Stages of Literacy Development. Retrieved November 13, 2020, from https://www.theliteracybug.com/journal/2017/8/4/literacy-

teaching-in-accordance-with-the-stages-of-literacy-development?rq=Teaching+According+to+the+stages+of+literacy+development

Fountas&Pinnell. (2016, September 29). A Level is a Teacher’s Tool, NOT a Child’s Label. Retrieved November 18, 2020, from https://fpblog.fountasandpinnell.com/a-level-is-a-teacher-s-tool-not-a-child-s-label

Glasswell, K., & Ford, M. (2011). Let’s start Leveling ab

Touro College TESOL candidate Eva Sipe’s SIOP lesson plan and presentation for EDDN 637

Context and Overview

The focus in the Touro TESOL course EDDN 637 Second Language Learners and the Content Areas is on practicing effective approaches, methods, and strategies for teaching and evaluating English language learners in the content areas (ELA, social studies, math and science). Teacher candidates are required to design a sheltered instruction lesson following the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) Model, a research-based and validated instructional model that has proven effective in addressing the academic needs of English learners throughout the United States.  Candidates need to explain how and why they’ve decided on the specific lesson content and language needs to be addressed.  Activities focus on assessing student needs before, during and upon lesson completion to enhance future instructional planning.  An outstanding SIOP lesson plan was submitted by Touro TESOL candidate Eva Sipe.

Eva Sipe, a 3rd Grade NYC Public School Teacher in Brooklyn, NY, has taught Special Education since 2005 and taught English Language Learners since 2016. She received her Undergraduate Diploma and Master’s Degrees in Comparative Religions and Philosophy at the Catholic University of Lublin in her native country, Poland. She received her Dual Master in General and Special Education from Touro College and her Advanced TESOL Certificate from Adelphi University. She is currently pursuing an Advanced Certificate in Bilingual Education at Touro College to better serve the bilingual population of students at her school.