Diane Staehr Fenner / October 19, 2012

Published here at the Colorín Colorado blog

Welcome to the first weekly Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for English Language Learners (ELLs) blog! I’m Diane Staehr Fenner, and I’ll let you know a little more about myself in just a bit. Before I do that, I’d like to tell you how this blog came about and what its purpose is.

How The Blog Came To Be

The idea for this blog came from Colorín Colorado’s Manager, Lydia Breiseth. Lydia has been following news and updates about the CCSS and ELLs for more than two years. As Lydia saw an increasing amount of work targeted towards ELLs, she wanted a way to get the word out quickly about that work as well as to create a space to have timely discussions online.

Currently there is a lot of information being released through different venues related to the CCSS. For example, Education Week’s Learning the Language blog, written by Lesli Maxwell, covers many CCSS related news items. Yet there has not been one widely-read blog that exclusively focuses on the CCSS for ELLs until now.  And so, with the generous support from the American Federation of Teachers’ Innovation Fund, here we are!

The Blog’s Purpose

As you most likely are aware, forty six states have adopted the CCSS in English language arts/literacy and mathematics as the basis for their content standards. In addition, around eleven percent of all school-aged children are ELLs, and that number is projected to rise to forty percent by 2030.

ELLs are no longer the sole responsibility of the ESOL, ESL, or bilingual education teacher. ELLs are everyone’s kids, and with the implementation of the CCSS, it is of even more importance that we ensure ELLs receive not only an equitable but also an excellent education. We know that the way in which ELLs access and work with the CCSS will not be the same as for native English speakers, and this blog will help focus the national conversation around the strengths as well as unique challenges of implementing the CCSS for ELLs.

This blog will serve several purposes:

  • To give teachers and administrators information that will serve them as they implement the CCSS with their school, district, or state’s ELLs
  • To provide updates for researchers and policymakers as they help shape the landscape in which the CCSS are implemented for ELLs
  • To share information with parents of ELLs so that they have a voice in this conversation
  • To bring together the various stakeholders involved in ELL education by highlighting recent developments in organized efforts from across the country, such as the Understanding Language project, to ensure that ELLs and their teachers are supported as they work with the CCSS
  • To shine a light on best practices and innovative, thoughtful approaches to implementing the CCSS for ELLs that are now taking place in various grassroots efforts across the country
  • To share new resources and lesson plans that are worth passing on as they are made available
  • To offer an opportunity for discussion around the relationship between English language proficiency/development standards and the CCSS
  • To reflect on the ways that language and language instruction are intertwined with the CCSS themselves

This blog will cover as many of these efforts as possible each week, and I encourage you to contact Colorín Colorado ( with any news of what you, your school, district, state, university, or organization is up to in terms of implementing the CCSS for ELLs.

A Little Bit About Me

As for me, I’m a former English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) teacher and English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teacher who later earned my doctorate in Multilingual/Multicultural Education with an emphasis in Literacy. My small business, located in the Washington, DC area, works with states, districts, universities, museums, and organizations to ensure that ELLs succeed and that those who educate them have the tools they need to make that happen. Much of my recent work has been around the implementation CCSS for ELLs, and I have been privy to many conversations taking place across the country related to how to give ELLs the best chance to achieve the CCSS.

I see myself as an advocate for ELLs through all of the work I do, and I envision this blog as a way for us to come together across the nation to share information, have thoughtful conversations, and collaborate to ensure that everyone who works with ELLs seizes this opportunity to improve the educational landscape for ELLs. Thank you for joining me on this journey.

Diane Staehr Fenner