Alexa Santo, Touro GSE Teacher Candidate on Linguistic Diversity

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Alexa Santo is a teacher candidate at the Touro Graduate School of Education, TESOL and Bilingual Department.  She is 23 years old and a first-year Spanish teacher in New York City with a passion for languages and cultures. Alexa looks forward to creating inclusive classroom environments celebrating all aspects of diversity in her classroom.

Alexa’s thoughtful reflection on linguistic diversity grew out of readings and discussions on multicultural inclusiveness and creating welcoming classrooms for all children.

Diversity is brought to the United States every day. New immigrants are coming from Asia, Africa, and Latin America (Stritikus & Varghese, 2010, 285). These immigrants are not easily accepted by the mainstream culture in society, which is portrayed in the school system as well. “The strongly negative attitudes toward immigrant students in U.S. society influence these students’ perceptions of U.S. schooling” (Stritikus & Varghese, 2010, 289). The new wave of immigrants faces different challenges than of the European immigrants from the 1900s. This new wave has one crucial difference, skin color. The immigrants are placed into an “hourglass society” where social mobility is limited (Stritikus & Varghese, 2010, 288). The neighborhood where they choose to live will influence where their children go to school. These new students are changing the dynamic of American public schools linguistically and culturally. The schools are getting a flux of new cultures and languages into the classrooms due to the linguistic diversity of each student. Through linguistic diversity comes dialect variations to the classroom. “Dialect variation contributes to our diverse tapestry of language use” (Stritikus & Varghese, 2010, 289). “Educational practices in the United States embrace the idea that standard English should be the dominant variety of language used in all written and oral language communication (Stritikus & Varghese, 2010, 290). One of the primary dialects in the public schools is the Black dialect, or Ebonics (Stritikus & Varghese, 2010, 290. Many African American students find themselves in low-level tracks with limited educational opportunities. Teachers need to focus on the main goal that students successfully use academic English ( Stritikus & Varghese, 2010, 297).

Reading through this chapter brought a lot of confusion, surprise, and shock. Through exploring this chapter, it was the first time I ever read or saw the word, “Ebonics”. I was not sure what the word meant, so I started to read about “Black dialect”. I was perplexed by this term, something I have never heard before. As I read on, it surprised me that this language had its own rules and is a legitimate language. Like many others, I thought Ebonics was “slang” language and thought of it to be improper, which never had a place of value in the classroom. I never thought of African Americans have their own dialect. I have heard this dialect many times before and have repeatedly thought it sounded wrong or strange. I found myself in agreement while reading with the statement that standard English should be used in the school system, that all of the students should be held to this standard. I was taken aback when reading about the court case, Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary vs Ann Arbor. I was confused on this term of Black Dialect being a system run language because it went against everything I had ever thought. I assumed that standard English was the only correct form of English to be used. I assumed that the language I often heard from certain communities where I live to be “slang” and improper even though I heard it every day. I think this idea that this language is wrong came from my home life and my schooling. I grew up in a very Caucasian neighborhood and went to a very Caucasian dominated elementary school. Once I went to middle school and high school my schools became very diverse. I grew up hearing my family and people I knew say that the way other people talked, if it was not like us, was incorrect or slang. The words were never spoken aloud, but the impression was there, that you did not want to speak this way if you wanted to be held to a high standard. In school, children who did not speak the standard English dialect were often always corrected for the language they used in the classroom. “Goin’” was not deemed correct and the students were expected to say “going”. I have held this assumption my whole life and never heard the term Ebonics for this dialect until this article. I never considered there to be a different dialect of English besides American English and British English, which are very different. I have learned about dialects my whole academic career by studying foreign languages, but I never would have considered this language to be a dialect prior to this article. My perspective of dialect had always been a European perspective of different dialects throughout Italy and Spain. In my current classroom, I would not correct a student for speaking Ebonics because I am not an English teacher. My focus every day is more on the Spanish language, but if I were an English teacher, I probably would have corrected the students because I viewed their language as improper.

My assumption and prior perspective were invalidated by Stritikus and Varghese’s article stating that Ebonics is a real, rule-governed, systematic language. “Dialect variation tends to be associated with race, social class, and geographic region, the dialects of groups with less social power tend to be viewed as inferior or incorrect versions of standard English. This is the case with Black English (BE)—also referred to as African American vernacular English—and Black Dialect” (Stritikus & Varghese, 2010, 290). Black dialect reflects a language that stems from slave descendants with roots from African language. This language is used every day in the black community it is part of their identity and use of expression (Lee, 2017). The legitimacy of Ebonics was recognized in the Oakland school board decision of 1996. “The board resolution stated that the district’s purpose should be to facilitate the acquisition and mastery of English language skills while respecting and embracing the legitimacy and richness of different language patterns” (Stritikus & Varghese, 2010, 293). I have learned and become aware of this dialect, that I am constantly surrounded by, is a proper dialect and is a recognized language. It is a dialect that should be respected and not treated as inferior.

Prior, I thought there was one way to speak Standard English, which was the only language to be used in the classroom. Now, I can see how certain views of teachers as well as my prior misconception, can prevent academic or achievement progress of African American students. If a teacher goes into the classroom with the viewpoint that the way the students speak is improper, incorrect or unsuccessful, automatically the students are set up to fail. Through the teacher’s personal opinions being projected onto the students, they are being set up for failure because the teacher will feel they cannot succeed, therefore the student will not. Their success rate is impeded because the teacher listens to their language, tells the students it is incorrect, and the students are left puzzled because this is their normal everyday language. Also, by insinuating this idea that their language is incorrect is affecting their social identity. It is putting a negative viewpoint on their community, friends, and families. A student will not be excited to learn if they feel threatened. Expectations of the students will be altered because by viewing their language as incorrect subconsciously you have lowered your learning expectations for them. In truth, Ebonics is an English dialect, just differing linguistically and culturally from my own dialect. Although their dialect is different, does not make my dialect more correct? It does not. This dialect is their real language. The students use this dialect because it is what is spoken at home and in their community. Then when they come to school, they are told it is not acceptable, that it is not standard English. Even though the dialects differ, we are able to communicate and understand each other with common understanding. We are speaking two different dialects that can communicate, therefore students should not be penalized (Lee, 2017). I have never spoken my thoughts to the students about their different dialect, but I have had thought that their language was incorrect. It is important to remember that every student has the ability to learn. All students need to receive the same opportunities and expectations regardless if they are different than the teacher. It is not the teacher’s right to judge a student. It is the teacher’s job to teach and provide the best learning environment for the students, which not cannot have racism, bias, or negative views.

Gaining this new perspective will be crucial for my teaching career moving forward. In my classroom, I will continue to celebrate cultural diversity, but now I will include the recognition of the linguistic diversity of English. It is important to keep all of our students’ identities at the highest level of respect and that includes their language. I plan to have a welcoming classroom where each and every student feels comfortable speaking their language dialects and including their culture as Stritikus and Varghese suggest. “Maximum potential to succeed when their language and culture are used and developed in instruction” (Stritikus and Varghese, 2010, 303). A common practice of mine in the Spanish classroom is to never correct a student while he or she is speaking unless it is a crucial error because this can cause embarrassment. It will cause the students to become closed off and discourage them from participating in the future. I think this is an important strategy to include when the students are speaking English as well. If another teacher or I disrupt a student while they are speaking, they will not want to participate, and their learning will be affected. All languages and dialects will be honored in my classroom. Dialects of English different than my own will not lead to the idea of “incorrect” English, but a realization that it is different and to be honored with respect in the classroom. Teachers must do better in looking past stereotypes, our prejudices, and our preconceived notions of certain students in order to see how we can better ourselves and our curricula for the sake of teaching all students. If teachers are not culturally competent or willing to learn about their students to provide them with the best education possible, how can we expect our students, who are marginalized, to want to give us their all? Learning about all of my students’ cultures and linguistic diversity will be the major resource for my teaching. Students will benefit from cooperative learning using student-centered instruction that allows them to gain ownership of their learning (Stritikus and Varghese, 2010, 293). To gain ownership their cultural and linguistic differences need to be identified, treated respectfully, and given equal opportunities. It is imperative that instruction holds language variation and use of students’ nonacademic dialects, the connection between language and identity, and the relationships made through language (Godley & Minnici, 2008) at high importance. Every teacher needs to confront personal bias’ because students speak differently than them, has no place in the classroom. I will not let it have a place in mine.


Banks, J. A., & Banks, C. A. M. (Eds.). (2010). Multicultural education: Issues and perspectives. John Wiley & Sons

Godley, A. J., & Minnici, A. (2008). Critical Language Pedagogy in an Urban High School English Class. Urban Education,43(3), 319-346. doi:10.1177/0042085907311801

Lee, A. (2017). Why “Correcting” African American Language Speakers is Counterproductive. Language Arts Journal of Michigan,32(2). doi:10.9707/2168-149x.2162

Touro TESOL Teacher Candidate Sareska Tamayo Arias on Multicultural Education and Social Justice

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Prof. Jasmin Cowin, Ed.D.: Spring 2019 semester, one of the courses I am teaching is EDPN 671 Theory and Practice of Bilingual and Multicultural Education. This course reviews the impact of historical, legal, sociological, and political issues in relation to the education of culturally and linguistically diverse students. Students explore the evolution of attitudes regarding bilingualism and multiculturalism in the United States. Emphasis will be placed on developing multicultural competence as educators, with areas of focus including cross-cultural communication in the classroom and with parents; how the language and culture of the home and the community impact student learning; cultural factors in the relationships between the school and the community. Models of multicultural and bilingual education will be presented and analyzed. The course includes 10 hours of fieldwork.

Part of Reflective Practice is the requirement for Reflective Journal submissions twice a semester. Here an exemplary reflection by the Touro TESOL Teacher Candidate Sareska Tamayo Arias on Multicultural Education and Social Justice. Ms. Arias was born and raised in the province of Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. As a Cuban immigrant, she benefited from receiving documentation that allowed her to work, and eventually begin studying. As a result, she is on the path of earning a Bilingual Certificate that will allow her to work with Spanish-speaking students.

Ms. Sareska Tamayo Arias: Completing course’s assignment #1 led to me to browse one of the course recommended texts, Affirming Diversity: The Sociopolitical Context of Multicultural Education (4th edition), and by this, I was introduced to Sonia Nieto for the very first time in my educational career. Part of the assignment was related to stating our understanding of multicultural education. I looked for help in the additional texts. Chapter 9 of Nieto’s book is titled “Multicultural Education and School Reform” (2004, p. 345-365). When I finished reading the chapter, I felt that a veil had dematerialized. Chapter 9 presents Sonia Nieto’s definition of multicultural education. According to Nieto (2004), multicultural education includes seven characteristics: antiracist, basic, important for all students, pervasive, education for social justice, process and critical pedagogy (p. 346). Nieto states that multicultural education can be a way of transforming and enhancing the schooling of our students (p.362).

Antiracist or antidiscrimination education is identified as the core of multicultural education (Nieto, 2004). According to Nieto (2004) the existence of a multicultural program with an inclusive curriculum does not mean an antiracist’s program (p. 349). In order for a multicultural education to be anti-racist, Nieto (2004) explains that the students need to be having open and honest conversations about discrimination, that the teachers are teaching the students skills to fight racism, and that the curriculum includes multiple perspectives about historical events and worldviews (p. 347-348). Nieto adds that a school is committed to a multicultural philosophy once it considers if its practices and policies discriminate against some students (p. 350). Nieto summarizes the chapter with a call for our schools forming global citizens instead of American citizens, and to use multicultural education as an effective tool that promotes embracing our diverse society and world (p. 362).

  1. Initial Emotional Response

The association of multicultural education with anti-discriminatory practices triggered a mixed emotional response. I felt surprised since the content was new; confused since I could not understand how I have been in the educational system and had not heard of it before; upset since I interpreted the lack of exposure as a strategy to cheat me out of tools for empowering of self and others, and at myself for not acting on this chronic sense of dissatisfaction about the kind of multicultural practices that had been presented; overwhelmed by the complexity of the demands of  enacting the multicultural philosophy; and lastly, validated since until now I could not explain the dissatisfaction felt by the superficiality of the type of multicultural practices that I had experienced.

  1. Prior Assumptions or Opinions about the described highlight

Before reading the chapter, my definition of multicultural education was influenced by notions of becoming practitioner sensitive to cultural diversity, to multiculturalism. I was stuck in the following notion: There is a diversity of cultures, and I need to be aware of my biases and respect all cultures by adopting an “I do not know” humble posture when engaging with a client and by using a cultural conceptualization of the clients’ symptoms, needs and goals. Before this chapter, the extent of examples that illustrated my understanding of multicultural education was limited to presenting a “holidays and heroes” approach to diversity (Reyes & Kleyn, 2010, p. 25). Furthermore, prior to reading the chapter, I had assumed that by following the evidence-based practices when providing an evaluation to a student who is Spanish native speaker, I was meeting my requirements as an ethical and culture-sensitive professional. I am aware that I have taken the information given and adopt its practices without a question. Lastly, and so painful to admit, another learned assumption has been that multicultural education and practices are limited to the visible aspects of culture and not actively about race, and anti-discriminatory practices that promote social justice. As I write, I wonder about my own passive acceptance of these prior assumptions.

  1. Source of Assumption or Opinion.

These assumptions are a result of my own personal experiences while learning (personal and institutionalized education) the concept of diversity, racism, and privilege. These experiences include how racism was presented and embedded in every system in my country (Cuba). Then, these assumptions develop by my experiences in the USA, especially the ones that offered a more structured presentation of race, social justice and interpretation of multicultural education through the higher educational system.

I completed my undergraduate studies in Chicago, IL and my graduate studies in Pittsburgh, PA. In the culturally diverse Chicago, I learned about the complex and insidious impact of racism while also feeling ‘not Latina enough.’ At that time, I thought that my personal history did not afford enough “struggle.” Despite being surrounded by strong voices, I did not have a supportive group (peers, professors, friends) who could guide the unpacking of my own notions about race/discrimination and my own privilege.

My graduate experiences in Pittsburgh further disconnected multicultural education from social justice. Race was comfortably avoided. Only one text was assigned (as an additional reading) in my entire four-year program in which the history of racism in USA was exposed. This text was assigned by the only not-White professor of my program. I completed an assignment using information from this book and suggested to the professor to make the text a required reading. He just smiled.

  1. Assumption/Opinion Check – Validation/Invalidation.

My prior assumptions were frozen within the safest and most comfortable space of the practice of multicultural education. These assumptions were learned which indicates that learning about the activism of challenging systemic racism (through multicultural education) continues to be missing from professional development.

As explained by Reyes and  Kleyn (2010) holidays celebrations and acknowledging heroes is important; however, there is a need to notice and to question the motives behind the elements of culture that are absent from the classroom discussion, the school posters, the textbooks, the ongoing dialogue. Nieto (2204) explains that antiracist multicultural education demands reflecting on opposing perspectives to then comprehend reality in its entirety (p. 358). She cites what Jonathon Kozol’s called the “tailoring” of heroes and history as the process through which schools sanitized the curriculums to avoid engaging students in the process of learning antiracist skills and engaging in social justice (Nieto, 2004, p. 347). Nieto (2004) presents as an example the “sanitization” of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and of how, for the schooling of our children, Nat Turner is “not safe” and Abraham Lincoln is (p. 348). The last 10 minutes of the On the Media’s episode “Bad Reputation” aired on February 15th of 2019 includes an example of making Dr. King, Jr. safe by trivializing and stripping away the socialism from his message (Garfield, 2019). Another powerful example mentioned in the episode is of the heroine Rosa Parks. Parks is famously known for her brave and peaceful act of resistant, and not by her role as an investigator for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in bringing awareness about the rape of Recy Taylor. In the episode, guest speaker Doreen St. Felix explains how the presentation of isolated and safe heroes during Black History Month undermines Black history. St. Felix explains that not only the presentation of the safe version of its heroes/heroines shapes how Black history is known, but also, only presenting isolated heroes takes the focus away from the essence of Black history. According to St. Felix, the essence of Black history is the sense of community activism and the force of a political movement. Doreen St. Felix concludes the episode by pointing out that the forces of racism shape the writing of history of the United Stated (Gardfield, 2019).

In chapter 9, Nieto (2004) presents that only by making antiracism explicit, then our students can learn the skills to confront racism (p. 348). Talking about racism within a classroom and with the goal of promoting the development of skills to participate in social justice and equity practices requires that teachers are prepared to unpack racism (at an individual and systemic level) and any expressions of discrimination. Nieto (2004) states the dual need of challenging the silence around racism and of preparing teachers to have these meaningful conversations in the school (p. 349). Determining the belief of pre-service teachers about discussing race was one of the research questions of Brown Buchanan’ study (2015). The participants in her study were mostly White, female pre-service teachers which represents the homogeneity of the U.S. teaching force (Brown Buchanan, 2015; Wilson & Kumar, 2017). Brown Buchanan concluded that since discussions about race were perceived as controversial, pre-service teachers avoided having them especially within their classrooms (2015). Furthermore, research indicates that teachers have a limited understanding of racism (Modica, 2012, as cited in Wilson & Kumar, 2017). Wilson and Kumar (2017) present the case of how teachers’ conceptualizations of racism are exempt from acknowledging the institutional nature of racism. The combination of avoiding talking about race plus having a limited understanding of racism results in a superficial analysis of our history, and a passive stance on social justice (Brown Buchanan, 2015; Wilson & Kumar, 2017). It seems that my institutionalized learning experience of multicultural education has been representative of such outcome.

  1. Realization/Aha Moment or Epiphany.

Agreeing with Reyes and Kleyn (2010), I continue to see the value of learning about the visible aspects of culture; what has changed is that now I know that it is not enough to celebrate heroes/heroines and only focus on the unidimensional, safe and sanitized part of his/her history. I am aware that in order to practice a multicultural philosophy, then I need to be having and be prepared to have conversations about race, racism, discrimination and actively promote social justice within my students. I now know that I have not been having these conversations and that often, I have taken refuge in the notion that talking about race is uncomfortable. I now know that by not having these conversations, I am helping to perpetuate many false ideas about racism and discrimination in the U.S (e.g., racism is a thing of the past).

Furthermore, I have learned that conversations about racism could help students and clients (if appropriate) explore their own responsibility concerning racism (e.g., how we are contributing to sustaining systems of oppression? [Nieto, 2004, p. 349]), and confront and change their racial attitudes. I now know that the way in which I participate in the schooling of my students/clients is important. Nieto (2004) calls teachers and staff to reflect on their own attitudes and practices in the classroom and school to understand how students are grouped (p. 350).

  1. Implications for future teaching practice.

rosa-parks-9433715-1-402In the time period that followed reading Nieto’s Chapter 9, the universe has been sending me opportunities to put in practice my newly found horizon on multicultural education. I was supporting a student to complete her Black history month project. She had chosen Rosa Parks and had included the typical information. Furthermore, the student had concluded that African-Americans were happy. Just like a fairy tale. I ceased the teachable moment opportunity and first, presented additional information about Parks, while inviting some reflection about the Black Lives Matter movement. As I plan to continue promoting reflections about systemic discriminatory practices, I am aware that I need to further develop my discourse on equity and social justice. Additionally, since one of the goals of multicultural education is for our students to develop skills to fight discrimination, I need to get informed about examples of students who as activists are calling out racism in the U.S. As a school psychologist, I need to critically consider my choices of testing materials. Many tests are known as vocabulary loaded (e.g., the WISC). Vocabulary development relates to experiences, and access to multiple and varied experiences is a privilege.


Brown Buchanan, L. (2015). “We make it controversial” Elementary preservice teachers’ beliefs about race. Teacher Education Quarterly, 3-26.

Garfield, B. (Presenter). (2019, February 15). On the Media: Bad Reputation [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from

Nieto, S. (2004). Multicultural Education and School Reform. In Affirming Diversity: The Sociopolitical Context of Multicultural Education, (4th ed., pp. 345-365). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

Reyes, S. A., &  Kleyn, T. (2010). Teaching in 2 languages: A guide for K-12 bilingual educators.  Corwin: Thousands Oaks, CA.

Wilson, M. B., & Kumar, T. (2017). Long ago and far away: Preservice teachers’ (mis) conceptions surrounding racism. International Journal of Multicultural Education, 19(2), 182-198.

Multicultural Book Evaluation by Touro TESOL Candidate Luz Alina Rivas

In this assignment, I asked Touro teacher candidates to select and evaluate multicultural books. Here a parsed version of the assignment: With thousands of books on the market, and dozens of publishers vying for your business, the selection of appropriate classroom materials is far from a simple process. High-quality multicultural literature shares five major characteristics: accuracy, expertise, respect, purpose, and quality. These five characteristics serve as excellent evaluation criteria. Each is discussed below, and sample questions for assessing these characteristics are offered. Your textbook evaluation should answer to all these points.


BibblioburoThis contribution is by Luz Alina Rivas, a TESOL teacher candidate at the graduate school of education, Touro College.

Multicultural Book Share 1 – Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Journeys anthologies Dual Language Classroom books: Biblioburro; A True Story from Colombia/Biblioburro; Una Historia Real de Colombia – Grades 2-3

In an effort to find high-quality multicultural literature and evaluate my textbook materials, I probed through 3rd Grade – Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Journey anthologies. I search for five major characteristics: accuracy, expertise, respect, purpose, and quality in the anthologies stories: Roberto Clemente & Trail of tears. They were outstanding. However, I also found one of the best selection of multicultural and social justice books for children, YA, and educators. It is a dual language book added to these for a 3rd Grade reading curriculum titled Biblioburro; A True Story from Colombia by Jeanette Winter.

Accuracy is shown in the colorful illustrations of this multicultural social justice children’s book. Cultural aspects such as basic illustrations of animals, food, dress, flora and fauna from Colombia’s landscapes are evident and appear to be painted in a folk art tradition style. Diversity exists among the members of each cultural group portrayed in the story.  Each member of an ethnic group has slightly different facial features although not detailed and realistic in appearance. Groups of people do not appear to have identical faces in illustrations; they merely appear allegorical due to the style. Non-English words are spelled and used correctly. The historical information embraced by the author/illustrator included is striking.

Jeanette Winter has shown sufficient background knowledge to create accurate portrayals of the cultural group, as the author/illustrator has been a renowned picture book creator that conducted related research in her career on various cultures. She is an acclaimed author/illustrator of many highly regarded picture books, including The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq; Mama: A True Story in Which a Baby Hippo Loses His Mama During a Tsunami, but Finds a New Home, and a New Mama; Wangari’s Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa; Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan; Henri’s Scissors, Mr. Cornell’s Dream Boxes, and most recently, Malala, a Brave Girl from Pakistan/Iqbal, a Brave Boy from Pakistan. In Biblioburro, Winter lightly touches on the internal conflict between the paramilitaries and the guerrilla groups that escalates and recedes constantly within the country of Colombia. The disruption in political stability and the problematic drug trade further worsen the state of the country as well, increasing the threat of violence and repression throughout the country, including rural areas. The protagonist, Luis Humberto Soriano Bohórquez, a former schoolteacher, decided to confront the threat of a degrading education and literacy caused by the state of the country through his donkeys (or burros in Spanish), who bear a mobile library, where people may borrow books from him as long as they could be reached via burro.

As far as Respect, Winter exhibits respect for the cultures she portrays by avoiding the representation of stereotypes in the character’s speech, appearance, and behaviors. She also avoids using a condescending or negative tone in relation to the cultural characteristics of the characters and setting. Minority characters are portrayed as equal in societal worth to majority characters and are not represented in subordinate social positions.

The book Biblioburro contains a universal theme of “Love and Sacrifice,” and “Heroism – Real and Perceived”. He, like a great educator, also helped children with homework and read books to the several villages he passed by during his 10 years of traveling away from his wife. Although the book “Biblioburro,” paints the journey as relatively calm, Luis Bohórquez has been robbed, threatened with violence, had been injured through an accident, and usually had to travel 5-8 hours to get to each village.  However, there should be a purpose for using a particular setting or for representing characters of a particular cultural background. In order to assess the purpose of the usage of this culture, I considered if the cultural setting adds to the work and if it seemed superfluous. I concluded that Luis Bohórquez’s is relatable for many countries around the world. The work would succeed equally well if is used in a different cultural setting or with characters from a different culture.

In terms of Quality: Multicultural literature must meet the general quality standards applied to all other literature, such as well-developed plots, settings, and characters for texts, and the distinctive use of composition, color, and perspective for illustrations. To assess quality, I consider that the work is valid and supported by true life events and the dialogue sounds natural; nothing forced. Biblioburro; A True Story from Colombia is an item of high quality overall, independent of its multicultural characteristics.

In this discussion, I have spotlighted yet more high-quality multicultural literature in the textbook Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Journeys Anthologies and a dual language multicultural book assessed by five major characteristics: accuracy, expertise, respect, purpose, and quality.

Multicultural Book 2  – Lee & Low Multicultural Children’s Book Publisher – Bippity Bop Barbershop by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley Illustrated by E.B. Lewis

In an effort to find high quality multicultural literature and evaluate my textbook materials, I used Lee & Low Multicultural Children’s Book Publisher which we use in addition to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Journey anthologies. I searched for five major characteristics: accuracy, expertise, respect, purpose, and quality. These five characteristics serve as excellent evaluation criteria for the multicultural book Bippity Bop Barbershop by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley Illustrated by E.B. Lewis.

Throughout the book, accuracy can be found in all cultural aspects such as a detailed depiction of a barbershop environment and the use of shears and clippers, large mirrors and the look of actual furniture, etc. They are portrayed vividly. Realistically illustrated, E.B. Lewis captures African American life in an honorable way. Inside the barbershop, two men are playing checkers and a group of men are watching a basketball game. Sounds of clippers and scissors are heard. Furthermore, diversity exists among the members of the culturally portrayed. For example, slightly different facial features of each member is evident. Groups of people have distinct individual types of hair to the applause of the illustrator. For example dreadlocks, curly afro, and baldness are also shown. In terms of historic content, everything depicted is correct, true and realistic with sprinkles of other cultures of people as well.

As far as expertise, creators of multicultural literature have more than sufficient background knowledge to create accurate portrayals of a cultural group. According to any author/illustrator notes or biographical information, the author and/or illustrator are more than qualified to write or illustrate material relating to the culture(s) portrayed.  The author, Natasha Anastasia Tarpley and E.B. Lewis who are of African American descent have collaborated on several books regarding African-American children realizing their self-worth and their life’s experience. “I Love My Hair”, a best seller, as well as other acclaimed titles: Girl in the Mirror, Destiny’s Gift, Joe Joe’s First Flight, The Prince and the Frog; Princess Tiana and the Royal Ball. She is the recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. E.B. Lewis is the illustrator of two Corretta Scott King Honor Books, including The Bat Boy and His Violin by Gavin Curtis and Talkin’ About Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman by Nikki Grimes. The author and/or illustrator conducted related research. They not only lived among the groups of people represented in the work but are African America as well.

By way of respect, these creators of multicultural literature exhibit respect for the cultures they portray. As I assessed respect, I considered questions such as: Do the author and/or illustrator avoid the representation of stereotypes in the characters’ speech, appearance, and behaviors? They do. The characters’ speech, appearance and behaviors are not exaggerated nor disrespectful. They illustrate various life-styles and hairstyles of African American men. So that, this shows that the author and/or illustrator avoid using a condescending or negative tone in relation to cultural characteristics of the characters and setting. Yes; in no way is there any demeaning descriptions or stereotypes. Furthermore, the tone is not at all condescending but reflect the loving relationship between father and son and his budding relationship with his barber. Like most little boys, he is afraid of the sharp scissors, the buzzing razor, and the prospect of picking a new hairstyle. But with the support of his dad, the barber, and the other men in the barbershop, Miles bravely sits through his first haircut. In this companion book to the bestselling I Love My Hair, a young boy, Miles, has made his first trip to the barbershop with his father.  Written in a reassuring tone with a jazzy beat and illustrated with graceful, realistic watercolors, this book captures an important rite of passage for boys and celebrates African-American identity. It is very happy and optimistic as well as realistic. The minority characters are portrayed as equal in societal worth to majority characters and are not represented in subordinate social positions. There is no representation nor does it reflect a legitimate reason for this representation, or is it due to cultural biases of the author/illustrator.  

In terms of the quality of purpose: Although good literature contains universal themes, there is a purpose for using a particular setting or for representing characters of a particular cultural background. To assess purpose, I considered questions such as: Does the cultural setting add to the work, or does it seem superfluous? This particular setting for representing characters of a particular cultural background is helpful in describing African American culture and it invites other readers to see universal life experiences in a different light. In fact, the work would succeed equally well if it used a different cultural setting (or characters from a different culture). This multicultural literature share meets the general quality standards applied to all other literature, such as well-developed plots, settings, and characters for texts, and the distinctive use of composition, color, and perspective for illustrations. As I assess the quality, I considered whether or not the work rings true to me as well as whether or not dialogue sounded natural and not forced.  Overall, this is a high-quality item independent of its multicultural characteristics. Its depiction of ordinary life events to portray a little boys’ experience on his first trip to the barbershop is done beautifully by way of prose as well as paint. The artwork, in my opinion, is in some ways similar to Norman Rockwell’s style and thematic paintings of everyday life.

In this discussion, I have found another high-quality multicultural literature resource in Lee and Low publishers and have assessed five major characteristics: accuracy, expertise, respect, purpose, and quality in one of their many multicultural books.

The Cognitive Dimension: Lee & Low Multicultural Children’s Book Publisher – Bippity Bop Barbershop by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley Illustrated by E.B. Lewis via Music Education.

The Knowledge Dimension Remember Understand Apply Analyze Evaluate Create
Facts Describe

Your first haircut
Describe: Jazz music

Repeat: steady beat pattern with Ta (SLOW).

Identify quarter rest, Ti and Ta rhythm patterns

Recognize sounds for p and b

Distinguish: differences between Ta’s and Ti’s
Distinguish between sounds for p and b.
Key vocabulary:


Bippity Bop

Jazz Chants with p and b.
Interpret the book:

Bippity Bop Barber Shop


Rhythm patterns

Rank Jazz Chant for Bippity Bop Barbershop Categorize

Different genres by listening

Concepts Music Concepts:







Kindergarten MU:Cr1.1.K

a. With guidance, explore and experience music concepts (such as beat and melodic contour).


  • Phonology
  • Morphology
  • Syntax
  • Semantics
  • Pragmatics

Standard 1a-2 Language as a System

Explain how plosives “p” and “b” are produced with the mouth. Show Jazz Chant:

“Bippity Bop Barbershop!” (2x)
“Where do you go when your hair is long?”
“Cut your hair!”


“P” and “b” sounds


Whether or not they are on a steady beat

Modify by adding Orff instrument support
Processes Outline a sentence containing p and b sounds Estimate Produce Sounds Produce

Jazz Chant

Defend Design
Procedures Reproduce the sentence containing p and b sounds on a steady beat Give an example of a jazz chant and ask how to write it. Relate Identify

P and B


Critique Plan to Perform in Black History Month
Principles State the sentence Solve by writing Converts in to chant Solve

Combination of jazz chant and rhythm


Which is best for Bippity Bop Barber Shop


if necessary

Metacognitive Appraise their skills on rhythm and production of sounds. Interpret it with music Interpret the chant Discover

Your composition

Predict your performance Actualize

And perform your jazz chant


English Language Learners and Reading Instruction by Nicole Haff

Every semester, as part of my mission to highlight student contributions, I feature student work in my blog. Here a Reflective Journal focusing on English Language Learners and Reading Instruction written by Nicole Haff, a current student at our GSE, Touro College.

Touro College “Our programs are informed by a commitment to learning from practice. This idea is more than a theoretical postulation. Rather, our approaches to teaching and learning, program development, and continuous improvement are designed intentionally to draw on sound evidence about the needs of our partner schools, evidence from candidate performance, and feedback from alumni, to name a few.” Jacob Easley II, Ph.D. Dean, Graduate School of Education

Nicole works as a certified teacher on Long Island. She holds a Masters Degree in Special Education and is currently working towards her TESOL certification at the Graduate School of Education, Touro College, TESOL and Bilingual Department.

Reflective Journal One:

Description of Highlights: The purpose of, “English language learners and reading instruction: A review of the literature” (Snyder, Witmer, & Schmitt, 2017) was to review the recent research and literature (published between January 2003 and July 2015) on reading interventions used specifically with ELLs across elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools. Researchers hoped to determine the precise characteristics of interventions, which result in large effects for the five basic reading components for ELLs- phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary. Snyder, Witmer & Schmitt (2017) recognized that while extensive research exists on reading interventions used with mainstream, native English students, there seemed to be a more limited amount research exploring what specific practices have been successful for ELLs. After a comprehensive review of the peer-reviewed literature, just 10 studies were determined to meet the specific inclusion criteria. Findings also illustrated a significant deficit of substantial research that identified large effect sizes for reading interventions used with middle school and high school ELLs. Of the 10 included studies, 2 targeted ELLs in middle school and none targeted ELLs in High School. Elementary interventions that produced large effect sizes in phonemic awareness, phonics, and comprehension were Proactive Reading (Vaugh et al., 2006) and Reading Rescue (Ehri, Drewyer, Flugman, & Gross, 2007). Reading comprehension and vocabulary acquisition was very high in students who used Story retelling and higher order thinking for English Language and Literacy Acquisition ( STELLA).

Similarly, interventions based on robust and in-depth vocabulary instruction, with opportunities for verbal discourse, significantly improved vocabulary in ELLs. Large effect sizes for middle school ELLs’ fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension was evident when ELL literacy objectives were aligned and integrated with content-area objectives. The remaining findings of the reviewed literature illustrate that even if an ENL educator’s objective is to focus and improve upon a single reading skill, instruction should still encompass phonics, phonemic awareness, fluency, and vocabulary to be most effective (Snyder et al., 2017).

Initial Emotional Response: After reading this study, I was very surprised to learn that such an insignificant amount of research has been done on ELLs and effective reading interventions. I was even more shocked and angry when I read that there was not one piece of literature that targeted High school ELLs that met the current studies inclusion criteria. I felt angry because the presence of non-native and linguistically diverse students is by no means a recent or uncommon occurrence. As discussed in our course reading, “first wave immigrants” of the past had many of the same assimilation issues as the immigrants of today do. (Banks & McGee Banks, 2010). I also felt a sense of relief and justice that the researchers conducted this literature review. Now that this problem has been clearly identified, and not just assumed, further research can be done. The feeling of justice rises within me in hopes that the much needed additional research will lead to an increased number of highly effective, research-based interventions that are specifically designed with ELL’s unique needs, cultural backgrounds, and linguistic differences in mind. With this being said, I was glad there was some beneficial research done on this topic and found value in learning exactly which literacy interventions serve elementary-age ELLs most effectively.

Learning Process

1. Prior Assumptions: Before reading this study, I assumed that there was an adequate and acceptable amount of research related to ELLs and effective literacy practices. I understood that there was likely a great deal more of literature that existed on reading instruction for mainstream students. However, I also assumed that there was a sufficient amount of studies that identified best practices for ELL literacy acquisition to be utilized by educators and administration.

2. Source of Assumption: I believed these things because our federal government has put a great amount of importance on using research-based interventions. We have legislation that requires public schools to use programs and curriculum that are evidence-based, to ensure that all students receive what they uniquely need to achieve and receive a fair education. Two of these Acts include, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004, and the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015. When taking my teacher certification exams, I was repeatedly asked to respond to very specific prompts in which I had to decide upon, utilize, and defend a research-based practice to address a students’ unique needs and learning style, while meeting the given learning objectives. Throughout my college and post-graduate carrier (and in workplace professional development) I have been taught the importance of employing interventions that are backed by research, as well as the worth of staying up to date on the literature. This personal experience, in combination with the fact that immigrant and linguistically diverse students in our schools is not a new phenomenon, as discussed in our course readings, led me to assume there was plenty of research available on ENL reading interventions.

3. Assumption/ Opinion Check: My assumption was invalidated because according to Snyder, Witmer & Schmitt (2017) there is an overall lack of research regarding ELL reading interventions. After an exhaustive review of any articles that contained even one of the terms: phonemic awareness, phonological awareness, alphabetical principal, reading comprehension, reading fluency, vocabulary, in addition to one term like: English language learner, English as a second language, language minority, bilingual, culturally diverse, linguistically diverse, dual language, or limited English proficiency, only 144 documents were produced. And of this 144, only 10 meet the other, simpler inclusion criteria. Just two included middle-school participants and none had high school participants (Snyder et al., 2017). This statistic further disproves my original assumption, as I was sure all grades would be covered in the extensive research I thought existed. Finally, if one was to break down the sample even further based on factors such as native language, time spent in the new country, current level of English proficiency, or acculturation status, researchers predict the amount of literature to identify effective literacy interventions for these groups would be extremely minimal (Snyder et al., 2017).

4. Realization/Aha Moment- I now realize that just because morally and idealistically, there should be more extensive research available related to this topic, as researchers and other educators would agree, it doesn’t mean we live in a perfect world where that is already true. Initially, I truly did believe that the majority of researchers had already been equally invested in interventions for the linguistically diverse, minority students for much longer, and at a higher rate than it appears. I now see that I may have had “rose-colored glasses on.” An “Aha” moment for me was when I read the not even one study from the sample provided reading interventions for high school students. Once I read that, I really understood how much further our educational system has to go. Literacy is an educational necessity and valuable life skill, and many students do come to English speaking schools for the first time in their teens. Having effective interventions in place for these individuals to become literate will greatly impact the rest of their lives. When I truly took in that there weren’t any such evidence-based practices in place for 9th-12th grade ELLs, it became apparent to me that despite how for we have come in multicultural and bilingual education, we are still undeserving and overlooking a large group of students.

5. Implications for future teaching practice: After reading this, I will do my best to make sure that I never unintentionally under serve or overlook a student in my class. Though I do not teach high school ELLs, I am sure this example illustrated in the current study is just one of the dozens of ways ELL students are unintentionally overlooked. One way I can try to prevent this (in any classroom), using both written and verbal discourse, is to check in with students’ needs and feelings. If this is an ENL class the use of conversation will lend itself to vocabulary and language skills while writing back and forth in a journal can aide in reading and writing skills. Though those are positives in themselves, my main goal would be for me to ask students: is there anything I am doing, or our school is doing to unintentionally upset, hurt, or mistreat you? Am I overlooking something that could make a big difference for you?. Secondly, after reflecting on my thoughts and this literature, I want to be more aware of when I am unconsciously glossing over controversial issues in my mind because I do not want to look at hard truths. If I let myself believe that certain global, national, or educational affairs are in a better state than they truly are, with my “rose-colored glasses” it could lead to me being a less effective, less culturally responsive, and less reflective teacher.


Banks, James.; Cherry A. McGree Banks. (2010). Multicultural Education Issues and Perspectives Seventh Edition. (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey, USA)

Snyder, E., Witmer, S. E., & Schmitt, H. (2017). English language learners and reading instruction: A review of the literature. Preventing School Failure, 61(2), 136-145. Retrieved March 10, 2019.

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.”

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.”

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.”

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.”

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,

Carlson, Scott. “How Enrollment Challenges Can Spur Change.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 21 Jan. 2018,

“Data Storytelling With Multiexperiences.” Gartner IT Glossary, Gartner, Inc.,

“The Fourth Industrial Revolution, by Klaus Schwab.” World Economic Forum

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,

Taylor, Stephen. “The Fork In The Road.”, 15 Feb. 2009,

“What Is 360-Degree Photograph? – Definition from”,

Farishta Mohd, Touro TESOL Teacher Candidate’s Literacy Unit on America’s Indian Removal Policies

Imagine you are given 48 hours to pack your things and move to another home. Would you move? Why or why not?
“I fought through the civil war and have seen men shot to pieces and slaughtered by thousands, but the Cherokee removal was the cruelest work I ever knew.” ~John Burnett, US Army

Farishta Mohd is in her second semester at Touro College. She graduated from CUNY Queens College with a BA in History and a minor in Secondary Education. She teaches as a pre-kindergarten teacher at a private school in Flushing. As a former ELL student, she as attuned to the difficulties English Language Learners experience.  With her TESOL degree from the Graduate School of Education, Touro College, she hopes to address ELL needs and “pave the way for a brighter future for them just like my teachers and professors continue to do for me.”

Ms. Mohd’s timely unit on America’s Indian Removal Policies focuses on uncovering the concept of the Indian Removal Act and the role of the US government in this pivotal time of US history.

Trail of Tears

 America’s Indian Removal Policies

Content and Skills Summary

In this three-week unit, students will uncover the concept of the Indian Removal Act and the role of the US government in carrying it out. Students will examine America’s Indian removal policies, including events leading up to the passage of Andrew Jackson’s Indian Removal Act and the effect it had on NativeAmericans. Students will examine primary source documents from the 1830s, to gain insight on the political strategies, perspectives, culture clashes, and historical consequences of this time period.

In analyzing primary documents students will use close reading to find the origins, context, purpose and the author’s arguments. Students will use modified versions of primary source documents. Students will annotate keyphrases that capture the author’s central idea. When comparing and contrasting opposing points of view students will use explicit language from the text. Students will use the guideline Instructions for Examining Primary Sources Regarding Indian Removal to break down primary source documents. 

To demonstrate their mastery of the content students will take a stand for or against the Indian Removal Act by organizing a skit. Students will role play and bring the words of historical figures to life. Students will use their annotated primary sources to assemble a skit that will display their understanding of differing perspectives on the Indian Removal Act.  

All activities, lessons, in-class tasks and take home assignments will encompass the four basic foundations of language: reading, writing, speaking and listening.  


  • Read primary document
  • Look for the development of ideas and the use of academic language.
  • Find the author’s point of view by evaluating his arguments, claims and ideas.


  • Write answers to guiding questions from the primary source  
  • Show awareness of audience
  • Follow the Conventions of Standard English in capitalization, comma usage, and spelling.
  •  Use descriptive language in conveying your ideas about the author’s point of view
  • Cite quotations from readings
  • Annotate key phrases, words and sentences that support the author’s argument   


  • Orally share  responses to guiding questions  
  • Ask questions and make comments about the text’s structure and features
  • Discuss the author’s point of view about the topic


  • Listen to questions posed about the text’s structures and features
  • listen to peer presentations
  • Listen to peers reading chunks of primary source documents
  • Listen to teacher say each vocabulary word and its definition at the beginning of each lesson

Reading strategies like the one below will be utilized throughout the unit to help students comprehend the texts.

Learning Objectives

Students Will Be Able To:

  • Compare and contrast opposing points of view when reading primary source documents  
  • Identify main ideas and opinions of an assigned reading
  • Identify the details from the text that support the author’s main ideas, opinions and themes
  • Explain orally and in writing an author’s use of academic language
  • Summarize the author’s point of view/purpose from assigned reading
  • Apply conventions of Standard English for capitalization, comma usage, and spelling in written text.
  • Take notes by gathering and categorizing or organizing graphically or outlining and sequencing while reading informational text
  • Create in writing an effective claim or argument against or for the Indian Removal Act
  • Investigate the role of the US government in the removal of Native American tribes in 1830.
  • Define the phrase “Manifest Destiny” and its significance in The Indian Removal Act of 1830.
  • Evaluate and assess the reasons given to remove Native Americans from their ancestral homes. 
  • Identify Cherokee reactions to the removal act


Formative assessment

  • After reading the primary source documents Andrew Jackson’s Second State of the Union Address December 6, 1830,  and Memorial and Protest of the Cherokee Nation, 1836
  • Students will first annotate key phrases, words or sentences that show the authors’ main idea. Using textual evidence students will then list the reasons for each authors’ claims. Students will work in small groups using the guide Instructions for Examining Primary Sources Regarding Indian Removal
  • Giving feedback and evaluating peer presentations
  • Close reading annotations
  • Self-questioning and taking a stand
  • Organizing  and presenting skits


  • Use questions to examine the text’s topic, information, and structure
  • Analyze key details and language to increase understanding
  • Compare and contrast two opposing points of view
  • Use context clues to decode the meaning of new and unfamiliar words
  • Use writing strategies to summarize key ideas of primary source documents
  • Close read to get the gist of the text
  • Use text explicit words, phrases and sentences that support the main idea
  • Work in small groups  
  • Close reading to get the gist of the primary source document
  • Use text explicit word/phrase/sentences to explain the impact of the Indian Removal Act on Native Americans.
  • Organize a skit to show the Cherokee Nation’s perspective on their forced removal.
  • Compare and contrasting the message conveyed by each document.
  • Use context clues to figure out word meaning
  • Will work in groups to analyze primary documents  

Instructional Materials

  • Andrew Jackson’s Second State of the Union Address December 6, 1830
  • Memorial and Protest of the Cherokee Nation, 1836
  • Instructions for Examining Primary Sources Regarding Indian Removal
  • Examining Primary Sources-Reading Group Roles

Lesson # 1

Common Core State Standards:


Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions


Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.


Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.

Vocabulary: announce, benevolent, pursued, consummation, propose, savage annihilated and unconstrained.

Motivation: Imagine you are given 48 hours to pack your things and move to another home. Would you move? Why or why not?

Guiding Questions

  • What were the different points of view offered regarding the removal of Native Americans in the 1830s?
  • What role, if any, does the removal of Native Americans play in the theory of the United States’ “Manifest Destiny”?

Learning Objectives SWBAT

  • After completing this lesson, students should be able to:
  • Evaluate and assess the reasons given to remove Native Americans from their ancestral lands.
  • Compare and contrast different primary source documents with differing points of view
  • Make connections between the removal of Native Americans and the theory of “Manifest Destiny.”

Language Objective SWBAT

  • Read modified primary source documents proficiently and independently.
  • Annotate key words/phrases/sentences that explain the reasons why Native Americans were removed from their lands
  • List textual evidence that show differing points of view on the removal act

Procedure: Today we are going learn about a group of people who were forcibly removed from their homes. They were a Native American group known as the Cherokees. In 1830, President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act to remove Indians from their lands. Not all Americans were in agreement with this new act and many indicated their disapproval. President Jackson, in addressing his Second State of the Union, gave his reasons for removing Native Americans. We are going to get in groups of five and look at some primary documents. One will be President Jackson’s Second State of the Union. Another will be Memorial and Protest of the Cherokee Nation, 1836. A third document will be Native American Voices – Colonel Webb (Choctaw).  Each group member will have an assigned role. Read the handout Examining Primary Source-Reading Group Roles and decide what you will do. You will read the primary source documents.You will use the handout Instructions for Examining Primary Sources Regarding Indian Removal to break down the text.

Exit Ticket: List the differing points of view from the documents you analyzed with your group.  Use specific words from the text. Present your findings as a group.  

Name:                                 Your Role

Title of Your Document:

Instructions for Examining Primary Sources Regarding Indian Removal

1. Group Up: Arrange your group so that you are in a circle so that everyone can see and effectively communicate with everyone else.

2. Skim: First, silently skim the document provided to you. Does anything pop out first? (i.e. do you see any clues as to what the document may be about; is there anything that catches your attention or that you find interesting or confusing?; etc.)

3. Read: Together, carefully read through the document provided to you. The language may be confusing to you, or seem difficult to understand. Take your time and reread as needed. As you read, mark the text:

  • Circle any words that are unfamiliar to you. Underline any parts of the document that you think are most important or that stick out to you.
  •  If you are confused by any part of the document, write a question mark by that line or section. You can also write outquestions on the text.
  • If anything surprises you or evokes a strong emotional response from you, you can write an exclamation mark by the line or section.
  • If a particular thought pops in your head that connects to the reading, write it in the margins.

4. Discuss: The “Facilitator” will lead your group in discussing the following questions. You can also raise your own questions for discussion.  

  • What parts of this text did you underline as most important or interesting and why?
  • What does this document tell us regarding America’s Indian Removal policies in the 1830s?
  • What emotions or feelings are evident in this document? Or, what emotions or feelings would it have aroused in Natives, government officials, and/or European settlers?
  •  What is the purpose of this document? What evidence in the text makes you think this?
  •  Predict what impact you think this document, or the subject matter it addresses, will have on Native Americans and on the European/American settlers.
  • Based on this document, who would be impacted by America’s Indian removal policies and in what ways?  
  • Imagine you are living in the 1830s and you come across this document. How would you feel about it and why?
  • As you read this document, what images came to mind? If you were going to create a painting based on this document or the subject it addresses, what might your painting contain or look like and why?

 5. Prepare to Present: Each group will present.  In order to teach the remainder of class about the document your group read and discussed, assist the Presenter in preparing to summarize the text and your discussion/opinions regarding the text for the remainder of class. In addition, choose at least 3-5 sentences of the text that you think are most important that the Presenter will read to the class during his/her presentation.

6. Extra Time? If your group has time left after completing all of the above steps, each of you should return to the question posed above: If you were going to create a painting based on this document or the subject it addresses, what might your painting contain or look like and why? Reconsider this question, then as individuals, create your own piece of art that in some way represents or symbolizes the document you read. The Task Manager will retrieve the art supplies you need from the teacher.

Examining Primary Sources – Reading Group Roles

  • Facilitator: Your job is to lead the discussion on the reading provided to your group. Pose discussion questions to the group and ensure that every voice is heard (including your own). Make sure the group stays focused on the task assigned. While ensuring everyone else participates in the discussion, you should also provide your thoughts. Make sure you listen to your other group members and add on to their ideas whenever possible. Pose any of your own questions that come to mind as well.
  • Recorder: Your job is to take notes during the discussion your group has regarding the reading assigned to you. Make sure you write down a final answer to each discussion question. You will assist the Presenter in preparing his/her notes for the summary he/she provides to the other groups. You should also participate in the discussion by providing your thoughts to the questions posed regarding the reading assigned to your group. Make sure you listen to your other group members and add on to their ideas whenever possible. Pose any of your own questions that come to mind as well.
  • Task Manager: Your job is to monitor the time as your group works and to provide time warnings (i.e. “10 minutes left,” “5 minutes left,” etc.) to your group. Make sure that your group equally divides its time among the questions and tasks, while ensuring all aspects of the assignment are completed before time is up. If any supplies are needed, you are responsible for getting them and ensuring they are returned. Also, assist the Facilitator in ensuring everyone in the group participates and stays on track. You should also participate in the discussion by providing your thoughts to the questions posed regarding the reading assigned to your group. Make sure you listen to your other group members and add on to their ideas whenever possible. Pose any of your own questions that come to mind as well.
  • Presenter: Your job is to summarize your group’s discussion for the remainder of class once time is up. Make sure you do this in a way that teaches the other groups about the reading assigned to your group. Be prepared to speak in a clear, concise manner. The Recorder can help you in preparing and writing the summary to be presented. You should also participate in the discussion by providing your thoughts to the questions posed regarding the reading assigned to your group. Make sure you listen to your other group members and add on to their ideas whenever possible. Pose any of your own questions that come to mind as well.
  •  Q & A-er: Your job is to keep track of any questions that your group members pose throughout the discussion. Whenever possible, assist in finding the answers to these questions. (For example, you may need to look up a word in the dictionary, or consult your text book for further information on a topic.) If the group needs the teacher’s assistance, you are responsible for communicating the group’s questions or needs to the teacher. Also, after the Presenter summarizes your group’s reading and discussion with the remainder of class, you are responsible for answering any clarifying questions other groups may have of your group. You should also participate in the discussion by providing your thoughts to the questions posed regarding the reading assigned to your group. Make sure you listen to your other group members and add on to their ideas whenever possible. Pose any of your own questions that come to mind as well.


Robertson, Kristina. Preparing an engaging social studies lesson for english language learners. 

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Paulina Araya on the ESL Textbook Project EDDN 634, Touro College

A textbook in a classroom is essential for the teacher and students as a guide throughout the school year. A textbook gives a teacher an idea of different ways to teach a certain topic. If the school you are working for has a curriculum, they provide the textbook which makes teaching a lot easier. Unfortunately, not all schools have a curriculum and many teachers must make up their own curricula including choosing using the textbooks best for students.

Paulina Araya has been teaching for four years with two years in Queens (D.O.E).  She is currently in her second year in Suffolk County, Long Island. Ms. Araya taught ELLS during Summer School in Queens for two years in a row and absolutely fell in love with the ENL population so she decided to pursue her career in TESOL. Plus, her husband along with her parents are former ELLS. She is at my second to last semester at Touro, currently taking an online course along with a Monday night class and next semester all that remains is the Practicum. She is excited and can’t wait to graduate in June 2019.

At my school district, the most common textbook used for ELLS is called EDGE Reading, Writing and Language. EDGE consists of 7 Units. Each unit has an Essential Question that follows a Genre Focus, a Focus Strategy and implications for Grammar and Writing.

Unit 1: reflects on What influences How you Act? Genre Focus: Short stories, character, plot and setting. Focus strategy: Plan and Monitor the grammar and vocabulary, sentences, subjects and predicates, Subject-verb agreement and personal narrative for writing. Unit 2: focuses on How do families affect us? Genre focus is Nonfiction: Author’s purpose. Ask Questions for Focus Strategies and for Grammar Subject pronouns, Present tense verbs, and subject-verb agreement. For students writing the focus is news articles.
Unit 3: Do we find or Create Our True Selves? Short stories: Narrator’s Point of view for Genre Focus, for Focus strategy: make inferences Grammar: Present, Past, and future tense, subject and object pronouns and for writing short stories.
Unit 4: How much should people help each other? Genre Focus is Nonfiction: Text structure and features. Focus Strategy is to determine the importance of structure. Grammar: possessive words, prepositions, and pronoun agreement. For their writing students will write a problem solution essay.
Unit 5: Do people get what they deserve? Genre focus, Short stories: Theme for Focus Strategy Make connections, Grammar adjectives, and adverbs. Writing is the description of a process.
Unit 6: What rights and responsibilities should teens have? The Genre Focus is Nonfiction, Structure of Arguments. Focus strategy is synthesizing information. Grammar focuses on indefinite pronouns, word order in sentences and compound sentences. The writing assignment is a Persuasive Essay.
Unit 7: What do you do to Make an Impression? Genre focus is Drama and Poetry, focus strategy is visualizing. Grammar aspect is compound and complex sentences, present perfect tense. The writing assignment is a literary analysis.
All seven units are common core structured and are preparing students to focus on specific strategies for the ELLS to pass the English Regents. There’re multitudes of visuals, graphic organizers, sentences starters, rough draft instructions for essays, key vocabulary review, critical thinking questions, and short stories that relate to ELLS. There is also a website that helps students facilitate their learning while at home or out of the classroom.