Originally posted January 16, 2014 by Diane Staehr Fenner on Colorin Colorado

Happy New Year, everyone!

Welcome to my inaugural 2014 blog post. Similar to Lydia’s recap of the highlights from our 2013 blog posts, I wanted to look ahead and share a few of the topics that we anticipate featuring during the next few months. We will also be welcoming some more guest bloggers in coming months who can write on their area of expertise.

It’s going to be an exciting year, and we’re so grateful that you’ll be joining us!

Upcoming Highlights

Here are some of the areas we’ll be focusing on:

  • New English language proficiency/development standards: California and ELPA21 have been working on new language standards, and we’ll be taking a look at how the new versions of these language standards for ELLs take the Common Core into account. We’ll also focus on how they can be used as a tool for planning and delivering CCSS-based instruction for ELLs.
  • The role of ESL teachers in the Common Core: One of our favorite topics!  We’ll continue our in-depth conversation on the role of ESL teachers in Common Core implementation, exploring what kinds of opportunities that the Common Core present for ESL teachers to establish themselves as experts, advocates, and leaders in their own settings. We’ll also look at different kinds of structures and practices that can improve collaboration with mainstream and content colleagues. We’ll draw from some upcoming work Diane is doing with districts in a few states around this topic.
  • Instructional strategies: We’ll first share some information in terms of strategies that we haven’t yet explored to support ELLs with CCSS-based instruction. For example, we’ll focus on these questions (and more)! What kinds of strategies can be used for: (1) writing text-dependent questions for ELLs at different levels of English language proficiency, (2) teaching anchor reading standards to beginner ELLs, and (3) helping content-area teachers feel more comfortable teaching language?  We’ll also be looking at some examples from our colleagues in the field.
  • Policy: We’ll explore the issues around waivers and assessments in Common Core implementation for ELLs, focusing on the unique ELL considerations that we need to keep in mind when discussing these topics.

Big Ideas

In addition, we’ll be keeping our eyes on more “big picture,” or global, ideas which will serve as themes that underlie our posts in 2014. I continue thinking quite a bit about how ELLs and their teachers (all of their teachers, not only their ESL teachers) fit in to the implementation of the CCSS.  It’s important to keep in mind what ELL instruction and assessment have looked like (or look like currently) as we dive into the CCSS, and to bring all of those experiences with us when it comes to implementing the CCSS for ELLs.

Another underlying theme will be to focus on ways to support ELLs’ strengths and integrate their cultures and languages into instruction, as well as share ways to help content and grade level teachers build on their own expertise. The importance placed on new paradigms for collaboration between ESL and content teachers will definitely be woven throughout our posts, building upon the idea that ELLs truly are everyone’s kids.

Finally, I’ll continue to explore the broader debates that are taking place around the CCSS and how they affect ELLs in particular so that we can keep ELLs’ needs front and center in these conversations.

What Topics Interest You?

As always, we’d love to hear your input on topics that are of interest to you in 2014. What would you like to read about on the blog? What would you like to share from your experiences? Please comment below or send Diane an email at