Episode 10. Can you check me now? Formative assessment in math.

Formative assessment has proven to be a powerful strategy that teachers can employ to increase student performance. In a large scale, 2011 study, Phelan and colleagues, developed a framework and professional development program for nearly a hundred teachers and four thousand students who participated in brief formative assessments as an augmentation to a school’s  6th grade math curriculum.

We discuss the study as well as some definitions of types of assessment and their use in class. Take a look at our Zotero library for full citations.

Episode 9. Long Term English Learners. Separating Myth from Reality.

If students are expected to reach full proficiency in English within 5-7 years, what should we do about those who don’t? In a 2010 landmark report, Laurie Olsen wrote about the “Reparable Harm” of Long Term English Learners (LTELs) in California. Because of state and federal language policy, this widespread issue affects most U.S. schools and districts.

Nearly ten years after the report, what do educators understand about this group of students and how to help them? What are the myths surrounding their needs? We discuss English Learner education policy and how best to reach kids who are not meeting standards. Full citations are in our Zotero library.

Production note: This is our last show before summer vacation. We will only be producing shows about once a month until school gets back in session for the fall.

Episode 8. Attention! English Learner Intervention.

There has been a growing concern for the reading achievement of English Learners (ELs). Many schools and districts invest thousands – if not millions – of dollars in interventions to ensure that students gain reading skills and catch up to their peers. We discuss Snyder, Witmer, & Schmitt’s (2017) reviews on effect sizes of various reading interventions. In addition, we talk about a 2017 study of graduation rates of ELs in New York City schools.

Take a look at and join our Zotero library for the full citations.

Episode 7: Academic Language. It’s not just vocabulary.

Usually we teach academic language by focusing on vocabulary. So what is “academic language” besides the “language of the classroom?” In validating a test to measure academic language, Uccelli, Galloway, Barr, Meneses, & Dobbs (2015) propose a more precise definition that includes morphologically complex words, understanding dense syntactic structures, resolution of pronoun reference (anaphors), and argumentative text organization.

We discuss various dimensions of academic language and suggest some ways to teach it in the classroom. Take a look at our Zotero library for full citations.

Episode 6: English Learner Accountability post-NCLB

In 2001, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was reauthorized as No Child Left Behind (NCLB) under the premise of greater accountability and school choice. It was passed with bipartisan support, but over the course of the subsequent 12 years became increasingly criticized from all sides of the political spectrum. Looking ahead to the ESEA reauthorization and the end of NCLB, Hopkins, Thompson, Linquanti, Hakuta, & August (2013) provide recommendations on English Learner accountability that is more meaningful for teachers and policymakers.

Our Zotero library has a full bibliography.

Episode 5: Big Data and Education

Educational Data Mining (EDM) and Learning Analytics (LA) are emerging fields that apply big data to education. What are they? Can a K12 teacher be helped by these coming changes?

Educational Data Mining and Learning Analytics by Ryan Baker and George Siemens is an excellent introduction to the field. We also draw from an article titled “Using Educational Data Using Mining to Assess Students’ Skills at Designing and Conducting Experiments within a Complex Systems Microworld” (Gobert, Kim, Sao Pedro, Kennedy, & Betts, 2015). We used the linguistic analysis tool, Coh-Metrix, to analyze the first 15,000 characters of text from the preceding article. You can download the resulting analysis here. Of course, our Zotero library has full references.

Episode 4: Understanding Math Vocabulary

Students must learn math concepts and vocabulary simultaneously. Computational knowledge and fluency flow from being able to speak the language of math. We discuss ways that students can interact with the language, learn vocabulary, and our own classroom struggles trying to teach students to be more mathematically literate.

We read and discuss the  2015 article by Riccomini, Smith, Hughes, & Fries, “The Language of Mathematics: The Importance of Teaching and Learning Mathematical Vocabulary.” See our Zotero library for a full bibliography.

Episode 3: Disciplinary Literacy in Science

We discuss disciplinary literacy in science. Teachers can activate and develop students’ science literacy through the use of trade books. We mention a variety of strategies, including book groups and genre studies.

Full reference:
Fang, Z. (2013). Disciplinary Literacy in Science. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 57(4), 274–278. https://doi.org/10/gcw8qc

Episode 2: Historical Thinking

We discuss historical thinking. Skills students use in history include sourcing, contextualizing, corroborating and close reading. History isn’t just memorization of facts, but developing critical thinking skills specific to the discipline.

More info:

Read more about historical thinking at the Stanford History Education Group.

We referenced Elise Fillpot’s article (2012). Historical Thinking in the Third Grade. The Social Studies, 103(5), 206–217. https://doi.org/10/gcsms3

Episode 1: Teaching Disciplinary Literacy

Our first episode! We discuss Teaching Disciplinary Literacy to Adolescents.

Shanahan, T., & Shanahan, C. (2008). Teaching disciplinary literacy to adolescents: Rethinking content- area literacy. Harvard Educational Review, 78(1), 40–59. https://doi.org/10.17763/HAER.78.1.V62444321P602101)