2013 Fall Workshop Recap

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Here are just a couple highlights:

"Advocacy of ELLs"
Ilyse Leland, Director of ELLs in Cicero District 99

Ilyse is an awesome, energetic and vibrant speaker whose energy and excitement of advocating for ELLs is contagious. She started her presentation with a children’s story about “Moose” who wanted to be part of the ABC story but who was overlooked and ignored – a perfect choice as an allegory to explain most ELL and bilingual teachers’ experiences, and what English language learners experience in their day to day life in the schools throughout America. She also showed a video clip from Univision, which summarized the facts about bilingualism in America today. BAM! She caught the attention of her audience right away!

The statistics that she shared on the dropout rate of high school students was staggering and quite alarming! She quoted some very revealing charts and statistics from the author Diane Staehr Fenner and showed reasons why students drop out from school. The number one reason: boredom! Yes, many children are bored, not because the content is too challenging or uninteresting, but because teachers are not engaging their students. The message is clear: teachers need to change their strategies and methods to get students involved in their own learning, challenging them cognitively as well. Ilyse did an excellent job of modeling everything that we teachers need to do. She engaged her audience, gave us plenty of information to ponder, offered opportunities to share with people in the audience and outlined what we need to do as teachers to advocate for the bilingual population in our schools and communities.

Finally, instead of leaving us with depressing statistics about the “gloom and doom” of what educators are presently facing, she offered us an upbeat message: know your students, build relationships with them, expect great things from them, engage your students and go make a miracle happen!

Ilyse referred to Diane Staehr Fenner throughout this plenary message Check out on Dr. Staehr Fenner’s website:

Summary written by Barb Gomez, ITBE Board

“Over and Underrepresentation of ELL Students in Special Education Programs”
Presenters: Anastasia McNulty and Valerie Jones
The presenters discussed the difficulty in determining whether ELL students should receive Special Education services. As a result, ELLs are often over- or under-represented in ELL Programs. Assessment is particularly challenging as current tests and test practices compromise their validity and reliability. The presenters suggested the use of an observational model, including documentation of students’ actual academic difficulties. Test scores should not be used in isolation.
A lively discussion ensued as participants explained the challenges they face in their schools with determining Special Education eligibility of ELL students.

Summary written by Debbie Sternecky, ITBE Board 

ITBE Link - Winter 2014 - Volume 41 Number 4

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