Friday, February 17, 2012

What Do We Do With All of These Standards?

 It comes as no surprise to you that good instruction is grounded in standards.  But when it comes to educating ELLs, we are often talking about three or more sets of standards.  There are state content standards, Common Core Standards, and English language development standards.  If you also provide instruction in Spanish, you have the Spanish language development standards and Spanish language arts standards.  Often we are left wondering how these sets of standards relate to each other and how we could best use them to guide our instruction and classroom assessments.  For those of us living in states that have adopted the Common Core Standards, we need to set aside some time to understand these standards and begin to integrate them into our teaching practices.

Judy Sauri, principal of Edwards School in Chicago, recently expressed
that she is very concerned about the roll-out of the Common Core Standards at her school, especially when it comes to English Language Learners (ELLs). Edwards Elementary serves over 1,500 students, and approximately 44% are ELLs. The Chicago Public Schools have been disseminating information about the Common Core via leadership meetings.  However, from Ms. Sauri's perspective, there has not been much opportunity to discuss how these new standards should be interpreted for ELLs.  When it comes to providing instruction in Spanish, Judy wants to be sure that the standards are incorporated appropriately.  She doesn’t want to return to the days of being asked to write up kindergarten lesson plans that must incorporate Mother Goose.  As she put it, "Why would I use Mother Goose when I am trying to teach language arts in Spanish? There are many more appropriate ways to teach ELLs when you are using the native language."  Judy is hoping to send a team of teachers to the Common Core and More Summer Institute so that her team can begin to "unpack" the Common Core Standards for ELLs, and figure out the implications for teaching and learning. 
Image: Tammy King, 2010
Our office has been buzzing about the Common Core and More (CoCoMo) Institute for the last few months.  It is a joint project between the WIDA Consortium and the Illinois Resource Center.  The CoCoMo Institute will be in Santa Fe, New Mexico from June 10-15, 2012.  Districts from across the Consortium are invited to send a team of teachers, school leaders and administrators to the training.  Over the course of the week, your Professional Learning Team will be guided through a structured process that will “unpack” the standards and connect the academic language of the content standards to the appropriate language standards.  Participants will design an articulated plan for standards referenced curriculum, instruction and assessment for their language education programs. The training will be differentiated for:
  • Teams interested in working exclusively with the Common Core and the English language development standards
  • Teams interested in working with the Common Core , English and Spanish standards (i.e. bilingual/dual language programs.)
 If you would like more information or have questions about the summer institute, click here or here or email

Written by: Tammy King

No comments:

Post a Comment