Community Support for ELLS

community support for ellWhen building a support network for English language learners (ELLs), community organizations can play a valuable role and offer resources that schools may not have at their disposal in order to work with ELLs and their families. While the community schools model is one way that these partnerships can grow and thrive, a school need not be an official community school to have effective partnerships. Follow this link to learn more about supporting ELLs and their families.


Using an interpreter for conferences or communicating with families?

If you plan to use an interpreter to connect with our ELL families this year please follow the link to our new document: How to Work with an Interpreter – Tips & Advice.”

interpreterWe hope this information will help you have productive and effective conversations with our ELL Families when using an interpreter.

Thank you,

Catherine Carrison, Ph.D.

ELL Department Manager

Evergreen Public Schools

360.604.4007 ext. 4470

Dual Immersion: Carrying the torch for linguistic diversity!

I am so proud to work in Evergreen Public Schools where programs and people demonstrate the power of linguistic diversity that our students bring to our classrooms. The Columbian featured our Dual Immersion program that recently rolled up to Wyeast Middle School.  Our elementary Dual Immersion schools, Marrion and Pioneer, are the foundation. It is in these elementary schools where Dual Immersion students, English-learners and English-only, begin a lifelong journey in which both Spanish and English open doors to countless opportunities and pathways to success. Please take a minute to read about the fabulous work our schools are doing in carrying the torch for linguistic diversity!WYE-dual-language_08

Revoicing: A Tool to Engage All Learners in Academic Conversations

kids talk nissenAt a session at the Washington Association of Bilingual Educators conference I attended last month, the speaker, Sarah Ferris, is an ELL Coach in the Bellingham Public Schools, presented her teaching tip article called Revoicing A Tool to Engage All Learners in Academic Conversations. I found it very helpful in naming some of the work and research I’ve been trying with teachers this year to get ELLs talking in the classroom. I linked it above in hopes that you will find or be reminded of some helpful ways to increase talking in your classroom through teacher revoicing, paraphrasing and questioning strategies.

Remember, if students can hear it, read it, and say it, they can write it and that will translate into comprehension and application!

This school year I’ve been lucky enough to be in a position where I am able have time allotted in my day to research, plan, co-plan, collaborate and co-teach best  and next practice lessons with teachers to work toward getting students of differing levels of English language proficiency contributing to the classroom conversations. It has been a blessing to be able to set goals to actually get students talking in classrooms instead of trying to get them to be quiet enough to get anything done!

Now you might think I’ve completely lost my mind but I assure you, kids talking in class, and I mean talking about the things we want them to be talking about and using the language we want and they need to be using is actually really good! We know that in order to understand and communicate what we learn, we do that through the vehicle of language. To be able to understand what we read and learn, to communicate in oral or written word, to process, comprehend and communicate complex thinking, we need to have the language to do so.

Here is an example. ELL students do plenty of inferring all day, in all situations of their lives, not just school.boys talk nissen The newer they are to the English language, the more they have to infer about what is happening around them to function, fit in, navigate life and ultimately to survive, let alone learn. Yet until you explicitly teach students what inferring means, how, when and where we do it and name it, they have no idea that is what they are doing all day. We have to provide the language, the structure of how and when to use the language, and to then help them identify how using inferring gets to deeper levels of thinking and understanding.

Part of the process of language learning is the act of using the language in all domains of language acquisition. The domains are reading, listening, speaking and writing. Reading and listening are receptive language functions and speaking and writing are productive language functions. They all go together. If students are listening and reading and taking information in, that is good AND they also need to be producing language in the forms of speaking and writing to really understand and go deeper in their application.

Understanding all of the above leads me to this…We have to get our ELL students
involved in academic discussions in our classrooms all day in all content areas!
This year I have been working with teachers on ways to get ELL students engaged through sentence frames, sentence starters, and learning tasks that involve students posted framestalking to each other in whole group, small group, and partner work. We have been finding our ELL students making gains in their writing as a result of the explicit instruction, scaffolding, and increased talk time for all students. Sentence frames have provided access for academic language and how and when to use it and discussion frames have promoted real conversation and dialogue.


Happy talking!

Rhonda Walton

ELD Specialist, Marrion Elementary

Recommended Reading about Personalized Learning:

students at the center book cover

As we learn more about the Evergreen vision for Personalized Learning, I have found this book to be a great resource. Bena Kallick and Allison Zmuda write with a clear and practical voice for easy reading. This text is helping me better understand Personalized Learning and it’s purpose.

If you are and ASCD member you may already have the book. If you want to preview it before you buy by clicking this link.

I also highly recommend subscribing to Allison Zmuda’s blog to get regular updates and other resources.

See a sample from chapter 5:

chapter 5 students at the center





Opportunities for Sheltered Instruction PD for Secondary teachers!

We are offering another round of SIOP Training for Teachers starting on May 3rd  

Here’s what teachers have to say about the training:

“It was a great PD, I learned a lot of tools to use in the classroom as well as recognized things that I was already doing in the classroom.”
“Great training! I gained skills that I’ve been using in the classroom!”
“The material was presented in a manageable way, and was interesting and engaging. I appreciated the enthusiasm of the presenter as well as the carefully planned flow of activities vs. note-taking.”
“As an educator that holds a Graduate Degree in Teaching English Learners, this training was just as good if not better than my courses. Lindsay was engaging and able to capture the essence of SIOP in her delivery. Every educator should be so lucky to attend and be part of this vital training.”
“This was a great training. I’ve been using many of the teaching techniques and my students have responded very positively. Thank you!”


This course is an introduction to the SIOP Model for Secondary classroom teachers. Participants will learn about best practices of Sheltered Instruction which increase academic language development for all learners. Participants will actively take part in SIOP activities that can be applied to a variety of different grade levels and content areas. Clock hours and extra pay are provided for attendance and participation.

SIOP Training for Teacher dates:

Introduction to Sheltered Instruction – SIOP Session A Wednesday 5/3/2017 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm Covington Rm 156
Introduction to Sheltered Instruction – SIOP Session A Saturday 5/20/2017 8:30 am – 11:30 am Green Large
Introduction to Sheltered Instruction – SIOP Session B Saturday 5/20/2017 12:30 pm – 3:30 pm Green Large
Introduction to Sheltered Instruction – SIOP Session B Wednesday 5/17/2017 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm Heritage Room 118
Introduction to Sheltered Instruction – SIOP Session C Wednesday 5/24/2017 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm Covington Rm 156
Introduction to Sheltered Instruction – SIOP Session C Saturday 6/3/2017 8:30 am – 11:30 am ASC Green Large
Introduction to Sheltered Instruction – SIOP Session D Saturday 6/3/2017 12:30 pm – 3:30 pm ASC Green Large
Introduction to Sheltered Instruction – SIOP Session D Wednesday 5/31/2017 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm Heritage Room 118

To register for SIOP Courses in GoSignMeUp:

  1. Go to
  2. click on “ESL/Bilingual Education”
  3. click on SIOP Training and the list of available SIOP Training dates will appear
  4. click “Add to cart” for the dates you would like to attend (please choose one of each: A,B,C,D so that you are registered to attend each session in alpha order)
  5. you should get email updates and confirmation of your registration from GSMU

If you have questions about registration please don’t hesitate to email me, and my clerk, Cindy Shufflebarger, we are happy to assist you!

It’s testing season! Special considerations for ELLs and computer based assessments.

ell computer testOne of the biggest challenges for students in adjusting to computer-based assessment that we cannot overlook is the “digital divide” that exists between students from low-income homes (currently two-thirds of ELLs nationwide¹) and students whose families can afford access to technology in the home. These divides also tend to exist in terms of students’ more limited access to technology in schools which serve low-income neighborhoods.

Computer-Based Common Core Testing: Considerations and Supports for ELLs

This blog post focuses on a different angle of the assessment debate, which does not directly involve the content of ELL tests but rather considerations that are important for schools and districts to address in planning their assessments. It first examines various initiatives taking place across the nation in terms of CCSS assessments for all students and takes a peek at field test results for ELLs. It then provides an overview of accommodations on CCSS content assessments and of English language proficiency assessments for ELLs. Next, the post explores which aspects of computer-based assessment might prove to be especially challenging for ELLs and ends with some resources to support ELLs’ success in computer-based testing.