Professional Development Opportunities

Professional development is essential to effective instruction, especially when ELLs are involved.  At DiversityLearningK12 we understand that student and community demographics, faculty resources, district curricular guidelines, and other contextual factors must be integral to this process. We have built workshops and interactive sessions around questions that often arise. But we also customize professional development to the particular needs of schools and districts. 

One intensive option is a Professional Development Mini-Conference -- for example, a weekend event featuring Strategies for Strengthening English Language Development. Click here for more details and a sample proposal.

Another approach is our Field Support Model, which provides sustained mentoring to the educators of ELLs, for example, in Sheltered English Strategies at the Secondary Level.

Here are more examples of what we can offer:


Introduction to English Learners

Large numbers of ELLs have recently enrolled in our district. What do we do now?

Based on English Learners in American Classrooms: 101 Questions, 101 Answers (Crawford & Krashen, 2008), this workshop for administrators and board members provides a broad overview of challenges facing the educators of ELLs. Topics include: Students, Programs, Pedagogy, Research, Literacy, Heritage Languages, Legal Requirements, Assessment and Accountability, Public Opinion, and Language Policy.

Language Acquisition Theory

How do we acquire language?

A comprehensible review of language acquisition theory, presented by the originator of the theory, Stephen Krashen: the difference between acquiring and learning a language; the limits of consciously learned knowledge; the "secret" of language acquisition (we acquire when we understand messages!); the role of affective factors; and the basics of application. This theory is the basis of our current practice in language teaching, bilingual education, and literacy development.

Sheltered English Instruction

How can English and academic content be taught simultaneously?

“Sheltered” instruction can make content area instruction in English more comprehensible for ELLs. This workshop focuses on the theoretical basis for sheltered instruction, considers how it functions within state policy contexts, illustrates what it looks like in the classroom, and demonstrates how teachers can incorporate sheltered strategies in their classrooms. Different models of sheltered instruction (such as SIOP, GLAD, and CALLA) will be placed inside a framework that makes all sheltered models accessible to educators, yet honors teachers’ expertise in creating sheltered instructional strategies that fit their specific classroom contexts.

Sheltered Instruction in the Language Arts Classroom

How can language and content be integrated, when the content is the language?

Sheltered instruction is designed to provide “comprehensible input” in a second language through the medium of academic subject matter. But what does this mean for the high school English teacher, or the elementary Language Arts teacher, whose subject matter is the second language? This session will address this dilemma by using the creative arts as the subject matter to be integrated with second language development. Through Readers Theatre, educational drama, music, movement, visual art, and poetry, participants will discover ways of making language development both engaging and instructive.

Sheltered Instruction in the Mathematics Classroom

How can instruction be tailored to the specific needs of ELLs learning math?

While sheltering mathematics instruction requires teachers to modify the language they use in content-specific ways, it involves numerous other forms of scaffolding as well. This session will begin with a theoretical overview of the role of sheltering in second-language acquisition, then provide practical applications in mathematics, with examples and hands-on activities. Teachers will learn how to engage ELL students by tapping into their prior experiences and cultural backgrounds, incorporating technology, and applying strategies to develop formal mathematical discourse and reasoning skills.

Sheltered Instruction in the Science Classroom

How can instruction be tailored to the specific needs of ELLs learning science?

This session is designed to help science teachers facilitate ELL students’ development of scientific habits of mind and process skills, science concept understandings, and English language and literacy skills through inquiry-based science instruction. Techniques for sheltering instruction, promoting academic language and literacy in science, and designing linguistically and culturally responsive science lessons will be shared as teachers participate in constructivist, inquiry-based science lesson activities.

Sheltered Instruction in the Social Studies Classroom

How can instruction be tailored to the specific needs of ELLs learning social studies?

This session will engage participants in a review of the sheltering strategies currently used in social studies instruction while providing examples of ways in which the strategies can be extended and enhanced. The presentation will also guide participants through a sample lesson demonstrating a way for students to make personal connections with historic events and to help develop the linguistic and reasoning skills required to comprehend social studies concepts.

Long-Term English Language Learners

How do I meet the linguistic and academic needs of long-term English language learners?

A large and growing number of ELLs have been in U.S. schools for six years or more and still have not tested fully proficient in English. Current research on long-term ELLs will be presented, focusing on student characteristics, schooling experiences, programming needs, and policies at stemming the growth of this population. The workshop will also feature explicit strategies for literacy instruction in both English and the native language for the teachers of long-term ELLs.

Teaching Recent Immigrants and Refugees

What are some effective strategies for developing academic literacy and conceptual knowledge among late-entry ELLs?

Recent immigrants and refugees are not only likely to be ELLs with interrupted schooling; in many cases they are non-literate in any language. As a result, they struggle both with reading and writing skills and with the basic conceptual framework necessary to understand the subject matter of content instruction. Participants in this interactive session will learn how to build on the experiential and cultural knowledge of non-literate ELLs of any language background – while respectfully negotiating their belief systems – to promote their acquisition of fundamental academic concepts and to accelerate their development of literacy, from understanding the speech-print connection to critical reading skills to content-area-appropriate formats of writing.

Teaching in Two Languages

How is teaching in two languages different from teaching in just one?

Based on the book Teaching in Two Languages: A Guide for Bilingual K-12 Educators (Reyes & Kleyn, 2010), this workshop provides an overview of the use of language, culture, curriculum, instruction, and assessment in bilingual programs and classrooms. Participants will learn what constitutes the essential components of instruction that is simultaneously engaging, cognitively demanding, and bilingual.

Native-Language Instruction

What methods of instruction in students’ native language(s) are both practical and effective?

Research grounded strategies and methodologies for teaching literacy and academic content in the students’ native language(s) are the cornerstones for this workshop. Participants in this workshop will be actively engaged in trying out some of the highlighted practices, and in creating learning activities to use in their own classrooms and schools.

Bilingual Program Design and Development

How can bilingual programs be successfully developed, implemented, and improved?

Participants will be guided through this interactive session as they plan to develop new bilingual programs, or improve those that already exist in their school or district, within their specific educational context(s). The Interactive Bilingual Program Planner (© DiversityLearningK12) and the Educational Placement Planner for ELLs (© DiversityLearningK12) will be distributed to assist in planning and building programs and in placing students. Adaptations will be made to these instruments where appropriate.

Two-Way Bilingual Immersion

How can my school meet the challenges that are unique to two-way bilingual immersion education?

Whether a dual immersion program is new or well-established, it may face issues such as: How to support the minority language outside of the classroom and the school; how to engage parents from both language communities to participate in the program; how to ensure that all children are challenged academically. This interactive session will help participants shape a two-way bilingual immersion program that fosters the linguistic, academic, and crosscultural development of students, and that builds a community of families from diverse ethnolinguistic backgrounds.

Identity Construction in Dual Language Classrooms

How might dual language programs impact students later in life?
To answer this question, former students of a well-established dual language program, all high school graduates and a good number of them in college, look back and discuss what their bilingual schooling has meant to them. One of the common themes that emerge suggests that identity construction be included as an important component  of dual language programs.

The Power of Reading

What is the best, most efficient, and least expensive way of increasing test scores in reading?

The information provided in this workshop is aimed at increasing student achievement without pain and making teachers' lives easier. Study after study has shown that reading for pleasure, self-selected reading, is the most powerful tool we have for developing reading ability, writing ability, grammar, vocabulary, and spelling. This presentation will provide the evidence, a discussion of how to encourage reading, and the role of reading in first-language, second-language, and bilingual education programs.

Constructivist Strategies for Teaching English Language Learners

How does constructivist practice differ from traditional teaching methodologies?  How can constructivist methods and strategies be used for both English language development and native language instruction?

Using the book Constructivist Strategies for Teaching English Language Learners (Reyes & Vallone, 2008), participants will learn, through both discussion and active involvement, how to teach language, literacy, and content in ways that engage learners. The strategies and methodologies highlighted in this workshop are based on a constructivist approach that, when combined with appropriate modifications, can make curriculum simultaneously accessible to ELLs and “mainstream” students.

Constructivism in the Dual Language Classroom

How can bilingual teachers make constructivism and dual language work together?

Constructivism and dual language are seldom seen as related concepts in education. Constructivism is an educational philosophy with an associated and well-developed pedagogical and curricular practice. Dual language is usually conceptualized apart from any approach to curriculum and instruction. Yet dual language programs should be just as much about curriculum as they are about language, and some of the most effective curricular approaches are constructivist. This interactive session helps practitioners design programs along those lines.

Teaching Immigration: A Critical Approach for Secondary Educators

How should educators introduce immigration issues at the secondary level?

Heated debates over immigration have a direct impact on an increasing number of secondary students; others who are nearing voting age will have a voice in how the nation responds to issues involving legalization or criminalization of the undocumented, violence and discrimination toward immigrants, the Dream Act, and other questions of human rights. Using the text Immigration: The Ultimate Teen Guide (Kleyn, 2011), this workshop will offer guidance to educators on how to approach these issues in social studies and language arts classrooms. 

Integrating English Language Instruction and the Creative Arts

How can the creative arts be used to teach English and bring learning to life?

The inherently motivational qualities of the creative arts provide natural scaffolds to English language acquisition that are consistent with constructivist teaching and learning. In this interactive session, participants will learn how to integrate the arts and second language instruction through active participation in creative writing, the visual arts, music, movement, and drama. Everyone should dress comfortably and be prepared to move, sing, shake, write, draw, improvise, laugh, and have some fun.

Third Space Teaching and Learning: Theater in the Native Language

How can the theater arts be used to integrate home and school learning?

The metaphor of the “third space” is sometimes used to describe an in-between or hybrid context in which children can apply their family and community “funds of knowledge” to create something new. The third space merges the “first space” of children’s home, community, and peer networks with the “second space” of more formalized settings like school. This interactive session will explore how teachers can use theater arts to create meaningful classroom spaces in which ELLs can use their cultural and linguistic resources to make sense of what they are learning.

Culturally Responsive Education

How can culturally responsive strategies help me work with students and families?

Designed to increase school professionals’ awareness of the impact of culture on individuals and systems, this workshop will guide participants through reflections about their own cultural beliefs and behaviors. Participants will learn culturally responsive strategies to influence students’ learning and overall well-being, focusing on ethnic identity, first-language proficiency, and second-language acquisition.

Success as a Secondary Student 

As a Latino/a secondary student, how can I make school work for me?

This interactive session will provide healthy strategies to cope with the challenges of bilingual-bicultural adolescence as participants explore their own thoughts and aspirations. Students will receive materials on factors that promote the success of Latino/a students and have time to work on their own plans for success, including personal goals and strategies for using individual, family, and community resources.

Parental Engagement for Families of ELL Students

How can I partner with the parents of ELLs to support the academic success of their children?

This session highlights the centrality of creating, maintaining, and assessing responsive school systems that promote reciprocal family/school engagement to enhance academic achievement for all students and especially for ELLs. As teachers are called to re-examine core assumptions about engaging so called “hard to reach” families, they will learn how to assess and improve their own and their school’s level of responsiveness to ELL students and families, how to develop sustained partnerships with families of ELLs students and how to meaningfully extend learning to home and community.

ELLs in Mainstream Classrooms

As a mainstream teacher, what do I need to know to better serve English language learners?

This workshop, specifically designed for K-6 teachers serving linguistically diverse students, begins with a brief oveview of language acquisition theory. Using an interactive, hands-on approach, the session will then provide practical strategies and resources to develop literacy skills, including vocabulary. In addition, ideas will be shared on how to make homework accessible for parents of ELLs.

Difference or Disability?

How do I determine whether my bilingual students need to be referred for special services?

Differentiating between a linguistic or cultural difference and a learning disability among second language learners is a complex process for school professionals. Strategies for making accurate placement decisions is the subject of this workshop, which features an overview of bilingual assessment theory, second-language acquisition, ethnic identity, acculturation theory, and assessment alternatives.

School Librarians and ELLs

How can school librarians get ELLs excited about the world of literature?

School librarians often have the responsibility of engaging ELLs, along with mainstream students, in the world of literature.  How can a love of the written word be fostered in a second language? This session will offer school librarians hands-on activities and numerous ideas for accomplishing this. What is more, these activities can be used with not only ELLs, but with mixed groups of ELLs and mainstream students.

Federal Legislation and Policy for ELLs

When and more important, how will Congress reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act?

With school reform now a front-burner issue, the federal role in K-12 education is being rethought and redefined. Today's political climate brings major opportunities, as well as major risks, for English language learners. No Child Left Behind … Race to the Top … high-stakes testing … test-based “merit pay” for teachers … these are just a few of the controversies yet to be resolved. How far will policymakers go in addressing the long-neglected concerns of ELL educators, parents, and students?

Our Offerings

Professional Development
Media Training
PD Mini-Conference
Field Support Model

Hot Topics

Introduction to ELLs
Language Acquisition
Sheltered English Instruction
Sheltering Language Arts
Sheltering Math
Sheltering Science
Sheltering Social Studies
Long-Term ELLs
Recent Immigrants & Refugees
Native-Language Instruction
Bilingual Programs and Methods
Dual Language
Creative Arts
Culturally Responsive Education
Parent Involvement
ELLs in Mainstream Classrooms
Special Education
School Librarians & ELLs
Federal Legislation & Policy

Design Your Own

To request workshops and interactive sessions based on concerns unique to your school or district, please email us and provide the relevant information.

Unsure of where to begin? Assistance is available through our educational consulting service. DiversityLearningK12 consultants will come on site to talk with your faculty and administration, tour your schools and educational facilities, and partner with you in creating the professional development support your school or district needs.

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P.O. Box 19790, Portland, OR 97280