Grades: Grades 3-5

Personalizing and differentiating instruction for English Language Learners

On September 26th and October 3rd, I’ll be sharing my most essential strategy for supporting English Language Learners: providing genuinely differentiated instruction that meets my students exactly where they are.

I know from first-hand experience with my students that taking steps to personalize my teaching goes a long way toward empowering my English Language Learners. In fact, getting to know your students’ stories before you teach fuels each child and arms them to achieve and succeed!

To better serve my students, I assess their academic and linguistic abilities early on by introducing a fun survey that requires them to answer questions about who they are in their home country and who they are in their new country. The survey’s engaging questions ease their anxiety about performing in another language by encouraging them to translate and construct meaningful sentences in their first and second languages.

Next, I drive my instruction by being animated and accessible—I use body language. I make sure to face students while speaking. I’m careful to speak slower and enunciate each word. And I employ lots of visuals, lots of academic language, and lots of social language interactive word walls.

Then, I make sure I personalize each student’s learning in a way that meets and then just exceeds their present competencies and comfort level.

On September 26th, I’ll introduce each of these strategies in a free, one-hour workshop designed to show new and continuing ELL teachers exactly what they can do to personalize and differentiate instruction for their students. You’ll have a chance to reflect about these strategies and to begin personalizing them for your own classroom. Then, our group will meet again on October 3rd to share ideas and help fine-tune participants’ approaches.

Register for this TeachingPartners Live Workshop now, and TeachingPartners will send you a appointment you can drop right in your online calendar. You’ll also get a reminder closer to September 26th to make sure you’re ready.

Using mathematical routines to engage all learners

On October 15th and 22nd, I’ll share how to use mathematical routines in your classroom to build number sense, develop inquiry, and engage students in the Standards for Mathematical Practice. One thing I love about these routines is how easy they are to implement, and how they have the flexibility to be used as a five-minute warm-up or a full lesson for a wide range of learners at varying grade levels.

When you use instructional routines in your classroom, students are more deeply engaged in the mathematical content because of the familiar and predictable structure. In addition, using routines in sequence provides opportunities for students to build on what they know from previous sessions. Because these tasks are low-floor/high-ceiling and of interesting content, they create an inviting space for even your reluctant students to share their thinking. In turn, as students communicate in mathematical ways through these interactive routines, they develop more mathematical habits of mind.

During the first interactive Workshop on October 15th, we’ll engage in the routines ourselves to experience them from the perspective of a learner. We’ll reflect on each experience, paying special attention to how it can be implemented to support and challenge all our students. We’ll also look at the Standards for Mathematical Practice and consider which standards are highlighted as we engage in each routine. After our first session, you’ll have the chance to try these routines with your students. When we meet again on the 22nd, we’ll share our experiences from implementing these activities within in the classroom. We’ll discuss successes and challenges as well as new ideas and questions.

As you can with other TeachingPartners Live Workshops, you can earn a six-hour Certificate of Participation from TeachingPartners for your participation in both Workshop sessions. And, if you add your phone number during registration, TeachingPartners will text you reminders as we get closer to the date.

Workshop Five: Presenting the Transformation

Last fall, CTQ and TeachingPartners launched a new teacher-driven campaign that gives voice to the positive power teachers have in shaping their professional practice. We’re inviting teachers to document their stories of professional impact because we believe that sharing more fully the ways in which teachers make positive changes in their classrooms, their schools, and their communities can shine a light on the many ways teachers lead within their profession. We believe, too, that sharing these stories of impact will help teachers become better partners with administrators, parents, and students, and that together we can advance what it means to be a teacher inside and outside the classroom.

The “Stories of Impact” campaign kicked off with the start of the 2017-2018 school year, showcasing teachers’ true power to create positive change in their profession, and encouraging other teachers to do the same. To ensure that as many teachers as possible can take part in this campaign, we’re also helping teachers to develop and share their stories.

This workshop, Presenting the Transformation, is the last of five Stories of Impact Workshops. Join CTQ Virtual Community Organizer Ben Owens  as he shares the fifth and final step in telling your professional story: choosing the medium in which you present your story of professional transformation and impact.

Teachers who complete this Workshop–or any of the five CTQ Workshops that comprise this TeachingPartners Live Collaborative–are eligible to receive a Certificate of Completion direct from TeachingPartners. You can also use what you learn in to create a piece of writing that you believe has the potential to influence others–other teachers you know, faculty and administrators, and even people outside the education community. Thanks to CTQ you can also verify the successful implementation of these skills with a micro-credential you can share with your school or district.


Introducing open-ended problem solving to engage students in mathematical procedures and outcomes.

Traditionally, teaching problem-solving in mathematics includes presenting students with “closed problems” that encourage them to follow a single procedure to reach a single outcome.

I’m moving away from this approach in my class. Instead, I’m encouraging students to approach math problems with many different strategies for reaching a single solution. I’m also asking them to help establish a context for specific mathematical problems so that they can see the real-world application of the math skills they’re developing.

Here’s how I do it:

  • First, I listen closely to students to discover the subjects students are interested in and what they care about.
  • Next, I pose questions asking how they would approach a particular problem and facilitate their research in the interest area.
  • Then, I introduce ways they can apply math skills as part of a related project.

For example: When one student became interested in helping polar bears, I turned this interest into an opportunity for problem solving for the whole class. Through questioning, I was able to lead the students to discovering and solving open-ended mathematical problems related to this real-world project.

Open-ended problem solving is important because kids want to come up with their own ideas when they solve problems. Providing this opportunity makes me feel like a “true teacher.” I’m not giving students answers, sharing procedures, or telling them how to do things. Instead, they’re learning through their own process—one I facilitate by asking questions. And, my whole classroom community benefits: I can more easily give extra time to students who need more foundational, procedural practice and students who are ready to engage more have the opportunity to do so.

Using author’s craft to build student comprehension and to model writing.

Looking at literature closely helps build comprehension and eventually students can use the strategies they identify in their own writing.

In my capacity as an instructional coach in literacy, it’s central to my practice to help build confidence of both students and teachers. I work with teachers in lesson planning, do observations in the classroom, and interact directly with children.

Sometimes, I go into the classroom and work with groups of students to model the strategy for teachers. Other times, I work with the entire class and do a shared reading, then talk about what we noticed.

There is also a lot of behind the scenes work where I work with a teacher to do lesson planning. For example, we work on “sign-posts” or the moments in the lesson where students turn and talk, or the times when you let students grapple with a problem.