Touro TESOL Teacher Candidate Christine Romonoyske on Sheltered Instruction for EDPN 673

The reflective journal writing provides students with a theoretically­ sound pragmatic format for process thinking and critical reflection on professional practice and professional development. Reflective journal writing is a part of an ongoing process of capacity building for critical reflection on practice in the field of TESOL as well as on one’s own socialization.

The reflective journal writing provides students with a theoretically­ sound pragmatic format for process thinking and critical reflection on professional practice and professional development. Reflective journal writing is a part of an ongoing process of capacity building for critical reflection on practice in the field of TESOL as well as on one’s own socialization. The reflective journal exercise has a specific sequence that student should follow. Below are the requirements for the reflective journal. (Herrera, 2007) To provide students with a framework to make connections between prior knowledge and new information. The framework engages students in a systematic process to guide their ongoing reflection, a process they can internalize and practice as constructive educators. Students will be able to engage in this process to improve their teaching throughout their careers. The following are some ways reflective practice has been described in the literature over the past two decades. Reflective practice is: A dialogue of thinking and doing through which one becomes more skilled (Schon, 1987) A process that helps teachers think about what happened, why it happened, and what else could have been done to reach their goals (Cruickshank & Applegate, 1981) An inquiry approach that involves a personal commitment to continuous learning and improvement (York­Barr, Sommers,Ghere, & Montie, 2001) The practice of analyzing one’s actions, decisions, or products by focusing on one’s process for achieving them (Killion &Todnem, 1991) A critical, questioning orientation and a deep commitment to the discovery and analysis of information concerning the quality of a professional’s designed action (Bright, 1996). A willingness to accept responsibility for one’s professional practice (Ross, 1990) A systematic and comprehensive data ­gathering process enriched by dialogue and collaborative effort (Osterman & Kottkamp, 2004) The use of higher ­level thinking, such as critical inquiry and metacognition, which allow one to move beyond a focus on isolated facts or data to perceive a broader context for understanding behavior and events (Hatton & Smith, 1995).

Touro TESOL Teacher Candidate Christine Romonoyske graduated from St. Joseph’s College with her Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood and Childhood Education. She is a NY State Certified Teacher working towards her Master’s Degree in TESOL. Christine shared that “I am excited to use the new strategies and methods I learned in my future teaching!”

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

Content-Based Instruction (CBI) is an approach in language teaching to provide instruction to English language learners based on content and language that the students will acquire. One model of Content-Based Instruction I want to focus on is Sheltered Instruction, also known as the SIOP model. The SIOP model includes eight components: lesson preparation, building background, comprehensible input, strategies, interaction, practice and application, lesson delivery, review and assessment. The articles Using Sheltered Instruction to Support English Learners by Amy Markos and Jennifer Himmel and the article Using the SIOP Model for Effective Content Teaching with Second and Foreign Language Learners by Veronika Kareva and Jana Echevarria both analyze the application and suggests the different strategies to be used in sheltered instruction in content areas including math, science, social studies, and language arts. The goal of sheltered instruction is to acquire the English proficiency and content area knowledge needed to transition successfully into mainstream instruction. Sheltered instruction will provide access to the core curriculum by teaching in a way that is meaningful and understandable for second language learners. Sheltered instruction will allow the students to learn the target language as they master significant skills and content. (Markos, A. & Himmel, J. 2016) At the early stages of English proficiency, students only participate in sheltered instruction during highly context-embedded areas such as music, physical education, and art. Their other content instruction is provided in their native language. When a student reaches an intermediate level of English proficiency, that student will then be eligible to transition into sheltered English for grade-level science and math. Finally, when the student reaches the advanced levels of English proficiency, that student can begin to learn language arts and social studies through sheltered instruction and officially move into the mainstream classroom. As a child’s level of English proficiency increases, so will their exposure and participation in sheltered instruction. (Markos, A. & Himmel, J. 2016) The process of sheltered instruction is to deliver language-rich, content-area instruction that is comprehensible to the learners in English. To be a teacher for sheltered instruction, you need to be certified to teacher the content area material, teach English learners effectively, understand second language acquisition, deliver comprehensible input, address the linguistic needs of ELLs, and have knowledge of the students’ language, culture, and community.

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

After reading about sheltered instruction, the SIOP model, I was impressed to learn the many different strategies that are implemented into all content areas and language development to improve the effectiveness of teaching ELLs. I was inspired to find that there is a significant improvement in achievement of learning outcomes for English language learners by using the SIOP model. I was also impressed by the way the model was designed to combine features that are recommended for high quality instruction for all students, such as cooperative learning and reading comprehension strategies while including specific features for second language learners, such as language objectives in every lesson delivered, opportunities for oral language exposure and practice, the evolution of background knowledge, and academic vocabulary. (Echevarria, J. & Kareva, V. 2013)

Learning Process 3. Prior Assumptions or Opinions about the described highlight.

Before reading the articles about the SIOP model, I assumed that sheltered instruction, the SIOP model was only intended for ENL programs, not mainstream classrooms. I had the assumption that when the classified ELLs received their ENL program support, that was when the teacher focused on developing lessons for the students to focus on academic language development and academic content. I also assumed that when the students were out of the mainstream classroom and in their ENL program, the term “sheltered instruction” meant that the ELL students studied in classes separate from the mainstream classes and were not able to meet the same academic requirements as the English speaking students in the mainstream classrooms. I assumed that the ELLs would be focusing on mainly reading, writing, listening, and speaking in a separate location where they were able to speak in both their native language and English. I thought that when the students returned to their mainstream classroom after receiving their ENL pullout, they would participate in the classroom curriculum, but receive materials that were considered “watered down.”

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

I had the assumption of sheltered instruction taking place in pull-out ENL programs because when I heard the term “sheltered” I thought it meant that the students would be learning academic language and academic content in a separate classroom of their English-speaking peers. From experience working as a substitute teacher, I have seen both, mainstream classrooms and pull-out ENL programs, and I have noticed the ELLs focusing more on learning a new language and new concepts in their ENL program rather than in the mainstream classroom.

5. Assumption/Opinion Check – Validation/Invalidation

My assumption was invalid because according to Echevarria and Kareva, “schools are faced with teaching second language learners to meet the same academic requirements as other students. (2013) My assumption was also invalidated because in today’s schools, ELLs study alongside their English-speaking peers in the mainstream classrooms. During sheltered instruction, in the mainstream classroom, the teacher makes lessons understandable and meaningful for second language learners. It is the teacher’s job to make adjustments to the lessons to fit the needs of the ELLs. My assumption of curriculum being “watered” down for the ELLs in the mainstream classroom was also invalid. The article states, “Sheltered instruction is not a watered-down version of grade level instruction but is a means for making cognitively challenging lessons comprehensible to second language learners.” (Echevarria, J. & Kareva, V. 2013) In the SIOP model, the teacher will explain the tasks clearly and express the steps written and orally for the second language students. SIOP teachers will talk through the curriculum procedures and use many examples and models to develop the student’s academic language skills across the domains of listening, writing, listening, and speaking. Sheltered instruction is used for instruction in all content areas including science, math, social studies, reading, and language arts.

6. Realization/Aha Moment or Epiphany

I now realize that I had the misconception that sheltered instruction only took place out of the mainstream classroom. After reading the articles, I’ve come to realize that sheltered instruction, the SIOP model is an effective model for teaching second language learners. I learned that the model was beneficial because it promoted teachers to demonstrate curriculum content to second language learners through techniques and strategies that will make the new information the ELL students learning comprehensible. The article states that, “the model was designed to combine features recommended for high quality instruction for all students, such as cooperative learning and reading comprehension strategies with specific features for second language learners, such as language objectives in every lesson, opportunities for oral language practice, and the development of background knowledge and academic vocabulary.” (Echevarria, J. & Kareva, V. 2013) The SIOP model consists of 8 steps, but it not considered a step by step process. The model is framework to for effective lesson planning and delivery. The teacher can add their own style and techniques to promote a successful lesson. Step one is lesson preparation. The teacher will produce a lesson that enables the students to make connections with their own personal knowledge and experiences about the new information being taught. Step 2 is building background. The concepts from the lesson will be related to students’ background experiences. Step 3 is comprehensible input. The teacher will use the proper speech that is appropriate to the students’ proficiency level. Step 4 is strategies. The teacher will include methods and techniques that enhance comprehension for learning and keeping information. Step 5 is interaction. The teacher will allow the students to actively participate, while discussing ideas and information. Step 6 is practice and application. The teacher will provide the students with the opportunity to use hands-on materials or manipulatives to learn and practice content. Step 7 is lesson delivery. The lesson delivery includes the language and content objectives, student engagement, and the pace of the lesson regarding the student’s abilities. Step 8 is review and assessment. The teacher will incorporate review and assessment in daily lessons to assess student learning. (Echevarria, J. & Kareva, V. 2013) I have now learned that by using the SIOP model, teachers will become more motivated to improve their instruction and to use practices that will assist English language learners in both content and academic language.

7. Implications for future teaching practice 

In my future teachings, I will be sure to refer to the SIOP model in the classroom. As I am preparing my lessons, I will incorporate the 8 components of the SIOP model to ensure student success. It is said that in the schools where the teachers use the SIOP model, have experienced improvement in academic performance, and those are the results I want to encounter in my future teaching practices. During a lesson, I will connect the content being taught to the students’ background knowledge and experiences. In the classroom, I will post language and content objectives in the beginning and end of my lessons. I will also refer to them in the middle of the lessons so the students can take ownership of their language development, content learning, and their goals. When doing group activities, I will group the students in a heterogeneous mix of language abilities, allowing students of different levels of English proficiency to communicate with other English learners, as well as proficient English speakers. When working with the students in the content areas including math, science, social studies, language arts, I will provide them with many forms of input. I will present the students with posters, charts, diagrams, visuals, and hands-on activities. I will also allow the students to use graphic organizers to express their participation in oral and written instruction. Graphic organizers tend to make the content more comprehensible for English learners. Other tools I can provide the students with are outlines, highlighted texts, Venn diagrams, and discussion webs. All lessons that I perform will be age-appropriate and the proper educational level and language proficiency level of the student.


Markos, A., & Himmel, J. (2016). Using Sheltered Instruction to Support English Learners. Center for Applied Linguistics.

Kareva, V., & Echevarria, J. (2013). Using the SIOP Model for Effective Content Teaching with Second and Foreign Language Learners. 1-10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learning Process

3. Prior Assumptions or Opinions about the described highlight

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

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

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

5. Assumption/Opinion Check – Validation/Invalidation 

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

6. Realization/Aha Moment or Epiphany 

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

7. Implications for future teaching practice

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


English, A. (2013, January 25). Language Teaching Methods: Silent Way. Retrieved from

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

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

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

Gender Bias- From Colonial America to Today’s Classrooms by Touro GSE TESOL Candidate Amanda Giarrizzo

In order to detect gender biases in curriculum materials, there are seven components to analyze: invisibility, stereotyping, imbalance and selectivity, unreality, fragmentation, linguistic bias, and cosmetic bias.
“Occasionally, teachers divide their classrooms along gender-segregated lines in groups, work and play areas, and seating; more frequently, students gender-segregate themselves (Banks & McGee Banks, pg. 147).”

For EDPN 671 Theory and Practice of Bilingual and Multicultural Education, I focus on Domain 2. Culture: Candidates know, understand, and use major concepts, principles, theories, and research related to the nature and role of culture and cultural groups to construct supportive learning environments for ELLs.

Standard 2. Culture as It Affects Student Learning – Candidates know, understand, and use major theories and research related to the nature and role of culture in their instruction. They demonstrate understanding of how cultural groups and individual cultural identities affect language learning and school achievement.

Supporting Explanation.

Candidates recognize that language and culture interact in the formation of students’ cultural identities. They further recognize that students’ identities are tied closely to their sense of self‐worth, which is correlated to their academic achievement. Candidates know that all students can learn more readily when cultural factors are recognized, respected, and accommodated, and they demonstrate that knowledge in their practice. They further understand that students’ academic achievement can suffer if classroom instruction does not respect students’ cultural identities.

Here a reflection by Amanda Giarrizzo who is currently in her 5th year of teaching and 3rd year as a Special Education Teacher. She currently teaches 3rd grade ICT at the Jamaica Children’s School in Queens. This is Amanda’s last semester as a graduate student in the Touro TESOL Masters program.

Multicultural Education: Issues and Perspectives, Chapter 6: Gender Bias- From Colonial America to Today’s Classrooms

(Banks, J. A., & McGee Banks, C. A. (2010)

by Amanda Giarrizzo

When comparing Colonial America classrooms to today’s there are many differences. In Colonial America, few girls were able to attend school. When the girls did attend school, they were not receiving the same formalized instruction as boys. The boys would learn writing and concepts necessary in order for them to further their education; on the other hand, girls would learn how to become housewives. The girls would be taught how to be in the kitchen and caretaking skills. During this time, gender biases originated. Over time, slowly but surely, women were extending their educations. However, they were still not equal to males. Title IX was a big stepping stone for females, not only in education but in the world. Title IX of 1972 states, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance (Banks & McGee Banks, pg. 140).” Title IX support women in sports, education, employment, and health.”

Unfortunately, despite the advancement of women gender bias still exists in classrooms today. The main two places where gender biases exist in schools today are with the curriculum and interactions. Curriculum content is an extremely influential part of student’s lives because this is what helps them understand concepts. However, if the curriculum contains gender biases, then students will think that biases and stereotypes are typical and accepted. This is why educators must assess curriculum materials and determine if they are gender fair. Many books in curriculums nowadays present gender biases, by including male dominance, women and men in “traditional” careers, male aggressiveness, boys causing trouble, male-centered stories, brave boys, and helpless girls.  In order to detect gender biases in curriculum materials, there are seven components to analyze: invisibility, stereotyping, imbalance and selectivity, unreality, fragmentation, linguistic bias, and cosmetic bias. Invisibility refers to the fact that within the materials there is not teaching about certain groups or events. Stereotyping refers to pointing out certain roles or having “stereotypical” traits portrayed by certain groups of people. Linguistic bias refers to using language/words to create a bias between groups of people. Imbalance refers to holding a single interpretation of any issue. Unreality refers to ignoring the full reality of nations. Fragmentation refers to separating discussions into different viewpoints. Lastly, cosmetic bias refers to creating a false picture of the material presented inside of a text. For example, the pictures on the outside of the materials may pretend to be diversified, but the actual content does not connect (Banks & McGee Banks, pg. 143-144). The other place that gender biases exist in classrooms is social interactions. Teachers may not even realize they are being gender biased during classroom routines and activities, but it is likely. Instances, where teachers do not redirect certain students for talking out of turn, can turn into a gender bias. For example, the author discusses an instance wherein a classroom boys are calling out and responding to each other’s answers, without raising their hand and being called on. It is not until a girl calls out that the teacher redirects the students to raise their hand (Banks & McGee Banks, pg. 145-146). This is considered bias because the boys did not get redirected, but the girl did. “Occasionally, teachers divide their classrooms along gender-segregated lines in groups, work and play areas, and seating; more frequently, students gender-segregate themselves (Banks & McGee Banks, pg. 147).” This is another example of how gender biases exist in classrooms. It is essential we limit these instances, in order to promote gender fairness.

In the end, there are a few steps that can be taken in order to create a gender-fair classroom. Steps that are important to take include analyzing materials and textbooks that you are teaching from. In order to stop biases, we need to show them to students and confront them. It is encouraged to do so when engaging in everyday content lessons.  Another suggestion is for your students to create a list of famous men and women. As a class, you should analyze the data gained and identify patterns. If you notice that you are not equal with learning about both genders, then make a change. Third, it is important to analyze your own classroom groupings and seatings. It is important to diversify these groups by all different factors, in order to ensure equality. Fourth, it is important to enforce a no tolerance rule with negative language use. It is imperative to create an environment where everyone is accepted; promoting acceptance can guide the way for students to be respectful to all. Lastly, extend your own knowledge and professional learning on gender equity. It is imperative to understand gender fairness, in order to reinforce it (Banks & McGee Banks, pgs. 151-152). To conclude, it is essential we analyze our curriculum and interactions with our students in order to promote gender fairness. Once these are monitored and actions are taken, gender equity in classrooms will be more noticeable.

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

I was surprised to find out about the different ways gender bias is identified in school. I was excited and inspired to read about the history of women overcoming and lessening biases in different environments. I was inspired to hear about ways to create a gender-fair classroom.

Learning Process

  1.  Prior Assumptions or Opinions about the described highlight

I assumed that gender bias in education, meant to only have one gender of students participate in activities. I also assumed that it meant that one gender was becoming overrepresented during classroom discussions. I figured that gender bias could be considered when there are boys teams vs. girl teams, or solely boys tables and solely girls tables within the room. I essentially assumed that the gender bias had to specifically segregate the two genders.

I believed that gender bias also included when someone makes comments about gender and stereotypes, such as women belong in the kitchen, men are the alphas, men need to work, women can’t do that. All of these are showing a bias against the other sex because they are saying one sex is more prevalent in instances than the other.

  1.  Source of Assumption or Opinion

I assumed that gender bias meant to only have one gender of students participate in activities because of the definition of the words gender and bias. The word gender refers to someone’s sex: female or male. The word bias refers to being in favor of or against one specific group. In this case, I assumed that gender bias in education meant that the teacher would be in favor (bias) of one gender of students having them be the ones to participate in activities, participate in classroom discussions, sit at tables together, complete tasks in groups together, or have teams together. Another reason why I believed that this was gender bias, was because in high school my 7th grade Social Studies teacher was sexist (or showed gender biases). In his class, the girls would try to participate and raise their hands to volunteer many times; however, the teacher chose a boy majority of the time. The teacher was a football coach and knew many of the boys from there, he would choose his players more often than anyone else. In addition, there were many instances throughout the year, where the teacher would not allow females to use the bathroom during his class. However, the teacher would allow the boys to use the bathroom and get water. This experience made me aware of some forms of gender biases that are present in classrooms.

My assumption of gender biases having to do with the language people use against someone’s sex came from personal experiences and previous education. When I was in highschool I learned about different biases and stereotypes that exist within the world. Within my history classes, I learned what a bias was and how people use language in order to show they are biased. I was able to apply that knowledge to understand that using derogatory language towards a gender, would be considered having a bias.

5. Assumption/Opinion Check – Validation/Invalidation

My assumption what gender bias in education meant, only having one gender participate in classroom activities was validated in a few different ways when reading the Bank’s. The text states:

“Occasionally, teachers divide their classrooms along gender-segregated lines in groups, work and play areas, and seating; more frequently, students gender-segregate themselves (Banks & McGee Banks, pg. 147).”

This shows that gender segregation is a form of gender bias. In the chapter, the author discusses an instance wherein a classroom boys are calling out and responding to each other’s answers without raising their hand and being called on. It is not until a girl calls out that the teacher redirects the students to raise their hand (Banks & McGee Banks, pg. 145-146). This form of bias shows a male-dominated conversation and different expectations for students of different genders. This example supports gender bias being only one gender participating in classroom activities specifically, discussions.

My assumption of gender bias having to do with the language that people use against someone’s gender was validated many times throughout the chapter. The text states,

“Linguistic Bias: Words Count- Language can be a powerful conveyor of bias in both blatant and subtle forms. The exclusive use of masculine terms and pronouns, ranging from our forefathers, mankind, and businessman to the generic he, denies the full participation and recognition of women. More subtle examples include word orders and choices that place males in a primary role, such as “men and their wives.” (Banks & McGee, pg. 145)”

This paragraph describes how word choice, which is language, can be used to show a bias against someone’s gender. In addition, the textbook gives suggestions on how to create a gender-fair classroom. Within the suggestions, there is one that refers to the language used within your classroom. “Do no say “boys will be boys” to excuse sexist comments or behaviors… As a teacher, you are the model and the norm setter: “If you do not tolerate hurtful prejudice, your students will learn to honor and respect each other.” (Banks & McGee, pg. 152)” This shows how language can represent gender biases.

6. Realization/Aha Moment or Epiphany

Now I realize that there are many different ways that you can be gender-biased in a classroom. I realize that not being consistent with enforcing expectations for all students, can be considered a gender bias. I now know that I have to be more consistent with instructing ALL students to follow the same set of rules, at all times. I know that I cannot have some students speak out (and not redirect them to follow the expectation) but then redirect another student for doing the same thing. This instance is considered biased and now I know that no matter what the situation I need to reinforce the expectations.

I also realized that some of the texts and materials that are used to instruct the students are gender biased. The chapter book Peter Pan is one that I used to teach my students about character traits, motivation, and actions. Throughout this book, there are many examples of gender bias. Within Peter Pan, Wendy is portrayed as the mother of the boys. Peter asks her to stay in Neverland in order to take care of the Lost Boys. This supports the stereotype that all women should become mothers and stay home taking care of the men/boys. Due to this stereotype, the book is gender biased.  Furthermore, the Lost Boys, Wendy’s brothers, and Peter Pan are always the ones to fight off the bad guys and protect Wendy. This could be viewed as a gender bias as well, signifying Wendy can’t defend herself or that the men always have to be the protectors.

I am also thinking back to when I was in high school. We read books such as to Kill a Mockingbird. Within To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout was considered a tomboy because of the way that she dressed, she wore overalls all the time. In addition, she was considered a tomboy because of the way she played, she enjoyed being outdoors and participating in activities that took place outdoors. This is gender bias because it is portraying girls as not being allowed to enjoy the outdoors and dress in a certain way.

Another realization is that most content I teach provides an imbalance of genders. If I asked the students (like the text suggested) to create a list of famous men and women, they would probably write down more men. This shows me that our curriculum is gender bias toward women. Moreover, during the winter break, my students were tasked with researching a famous African American for Black History Month. 11/12 of the boys in my class researched and completed their project on a male and 8/9 girls researched/completed their project on a famous woman. This could be because the girls wanted to learn about more women since they don’t. It could also be that the boys are more comfortable learning about men.

7. Implications for future teaching practice

In the future, I will alter a few approaches to my teaching in order to foster a gender-fair classroom. First, I will definitely be sure to reinforce following the expectations for all students. I will try to not let any friends speak out of turn, without being redirected to follow the expectation. This may sound something like, “Please make sure you follow the expectation of raising a quiet hand to speak. When you do so, you may share your answer.” In order to ensure and monitor that I am following through with this expectation, I will use a talking piece for classroom discussions or questioning. During this time, only the person who is holding the talking piece (because they have met the expectation on how to raise a silent hand) will be able to share their response/thoughts. Having this talking piece will hopefully help me redirect other students to follow the expectations, and minimize the number of times I show bias with redirecting some students, but not all.

Another way I can foster a gender-fair classroom is by infusing more women profiles in our social studies curriculum. I only spent one day talking about women in history, for the month of March. The students were able to choose an influential woman from a list, research her, and provide some facts about her on a worksheet. The students were then tasked with creating a postage stamp to represent that woman and why she is important. I feel as though, one day was not enough to suffice for the amount of learning about men we do. I believe that during March, Women’s history month, the students should be learning about influential women that helped shape today’s world. In order to not stray completely from the Social Studies curriculum, I figured we could research important women in the different cultures we are learning about. For example, we are learning about China right now. We can research influential women that contributed to China’s success or influential Chinese women in our country, who are successful and important. If this is not an option, we should at least be spending two weeks researching women influencers. This will create a gender-fair classroom because most of the people we seem to focus on in history are men.


Banks, J. A., & McGee Banks, C. A. (2010). Multicultural Education: Issues and Perspectives (7th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Touro College GSE – Online Discussions & Exemplary Student Contributions



Jasmin B. Cowin, Ed.D.


Assistant Professor of  TESOL/ Bilingual Advanced Certificate Programs

Graduate School of Education , Touro College


O: 212-463-0400

232 West 40th Street, Room 408

New York, NY 10018

As an Assistant Professor at Touro College, Graduate School of Education some of my teaching is online.  Part of the student-centered online learning experience are weekly discussion boards with questions and responses related to the assigned readings.

I believe discussion boards are reflective in nature as they provide students with “reflection and maturation time” to absorb and consider the required readings on a deeper level, see Reasons to Use Online Discussions. As courses move forward, student posts often mature in-depth and feature more thought-out commentaries on discussion boards.

In my opinion, the best online postings often personalize and connect the readings to their teaching experiences as is the case with the contribution of Mr. R.,a teacher candidate at the TESOL/ Bilingual Advanced Certificate Programs, Touro College, Graduate School of Education. Mr. R.’s contribution on chapter 3 – Crosslinguistic influences, Understanding Second language acquisition by L. Ortega is exemplary.   Mr. R. interweaves his analysis and reflection of the chapter with personalized references to his classroom experiences as an educator. The following discussion board contributions are published with the express permission by Mr.  R.

Understanding Second Language Acquisition by Lourdes Ortega

From reading Ortega and thinking about your own experience/observations as a teacher and a learner, how can an L1 negatively influence an L2 (e.g., L1 Mandarin Chinese and L2 English)? What about the other way around (e.g., L1 English and L2 Mandarin Chinese)? Are there any interesting asymmetries? (The Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis would predict reciprocal influences.) In your written response, please choose two languages to exemplify your discussion.

According to Ortega, Transferability can hold components that can negatively impact the L2’s development. This is represented by a study publicized in the Netherlands. It explains that learners both consciously and subconsciously have an intuition about how transferable certain phenomena are. One example provided in the text involves a study of the transitive and intransitive meaning of certain verbs in three different groups of L1 Dutch learners. The results showed that L1 learners who were more proficient in their L2 less likely accepted the intransitive verbs in comparison to the group of students who were beginners in the L2 language of English. The text suggests the reason why this may be the case is that the younger learners are more likely to rely on their L1 language when transferring both transitive and intransitive verbs, however, their older counterparts are more likely to mark those transfers as too similar to their L1 and therefore prevent themselves from transferring it. Ortega identifies this theory as “beyond success”, which was an expression created by Kellerman in 1985.
As an educator who has worked with ENL students of all levels, one phenomenon has presented itself over and over again.  Students who I’ve provided instruction to during their beginner levels were always more likely to use cognates as indicators that would assist them when reading out loud during guided reading instruction. As several other students who held higher levels of proficiencies in their L2 were placed in my classroom, it was obvious that some, although at a higher reading level, in fact, demonstrate more mistakes when they were given a running record in relation to phonological mistakes of pronouncing prefixes correctly. My further analysis of their running records was able to provide me data that could support this theory mentioned in the text.

2. From reading Ortega and thinking about your own experience/observations as a teacher and a learner, how does L1 positively influence L2 (e.g., L1 Arabic and L2 English)? What about the other way around (e.g., L1 English and L2 Arabic)? Are there any interesting asymmetries? (Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis would predict reciprocal influences.) In your written response, please choose two languages to exemplify your discussion.

As per Ortega, L1 is able to positively influence L2 when the L1 holds certain similarities such as the ones mentioned in this chapter. According to Ortega, research that was collected amongst Finnish students who also spoke Swedish had fewer advantages when learning English as an L2 language when comparing them to Swedish students who also spoke Finnish and were learning English as an L2. Ortega explains that certain similarities in typological features that exist between the Swedish and English languages contributed to the advantage.
One of my own experiences in relation to this is not only knowledge-worthy but also gently humorous. In my first year of teaching, there was a student who arrived from Portugal and spoke no English whatsoever, therefore he was placed in a newcomer’s class with a majority of the students who spoke Spanish as their L1. As the year progressed the students became more familiarized both socially and academically, therefore at which point many of us noticed that this student began to grasp the Spanish language at a much faster rate than English. It was clear that the students’ L1 language of Portuguese had many similarities, including cognates that descended from a common language to that of the L1 of the other students. In addition, much of our focus has always been on identifying common roots between our students L1 and their L2, in this case, English having been their L2. Through this emphasis in our instruction, we may have inadvertently identified those same similarities between the L1’s of our students; therefore the students grasped Spanish much faster than English. It truly was one of those cases where the students learned from each other and at the time I found it very intriguing as a first-year teacher.

3. What other issues, such as language universals, complicate cross-linguistic influence? And how is it that sometimes, even if a negative transfer occurs, it does not result in ungrammaticality? Please give examples to support your claims.


One additional issue mentioned in the text, that complicates cross-linguistic influence is titled Markedness. This source of universal language influence is covered in the text between the distinction of voiced and voiceless final stops. According to the text, English and German languages have the same number of voiced and voiceless consonants, however, based on how they use it within the word differs and can produce performance difficulties in their L2 language, more precisely due to the influence of markedness.

In regards to negative transfer that does not result in ungrammaticality, Ortega identifies errors of omission, also titled avoidance. According to a study by Jacqueline Schachter, ungrammaticality was avoided due to the lessening in probability for when a language learner would use the specific transferable component of their L1, as opposed to having the opportunity when they could. The example most extensively mentioned in the text is when examining the use of relativization by Chinese and Japanese L1 learners in comparison to Persian and Arabic L1 learners. The latter of the two pairs attempted to use relative clauses much more often than the former, consequently producing more errors, and taking additional risks in the L2 usage. The former of the two pairs displayed the consequences of avoidance because the Chinese and Japanese languages differ much more in English than that of the Persian and Arabic languages.
4. Consider Ortega’s discussion of avoidance (particularly Schachter, 1974), underuse, and overuse. How can understanding these phenomena better inform our understanding of cross-linguistic influence? Please give examples to support your claims.

The understanding of Avoidance discussed in Ortega’s text can better inform our understanding of cross-linguistic influences by providing a more in-depth look at the influences of those avoidances. Ortega provides examples of misdirection when observing the results produced by Jacqueline Schachter’s study in 1974. Although on the surface, her study showed that Chinese and Japanese L2 writers were displaying fewer mistakes than that of the Arabic and Persian writers. However, when further analyzing the writing samples, it was clearly obvious that fewer mistakes actually went parallel with how many attempts were made that would result in such a mistake, this case being in relation to relative clauses.

This phenomenon attempts to explain the impacts that exist from the idea that “accuracy equals appropriate development”, and how this idea can affect an L2 learner in a negative way. Furthermore, the idea of overuse and underuse better frames a picture of how L2 learners from variously different L1 languages can actually underuse a specific rule, based on the equivalency of such usage in their L1 language. The motivators in Ortega’s text indicate that these language differences can be attributed to semantics as well as the morphological rules in the L1’s language. In a practical and relatable view, as an educator, one can learn to understand why it’s so important to understand the differences that exist within the L1 languages that many of our students possess. However, no matter the similarities in educational placements that several L2 learners receive within an educational system, it’s important that we understand the difference that may influence their success at developing their L2. This will provide us with a more individualized picture of each student, precisely focusing on his or her language differences and how they may provide support to their L2.