EEIS News, Volume 27:2 (September 2005)

by User Not Found | 11/03/2011
In This Issue...
  • Leadership Updates
    • From the Chair
  • Articles
    • Success Story
    • Charles and the OHP
    • Keep Those Words Alive
    • Teacher as Learner/Learner as Teacher: Thematic Projects and Student-Led Conferencing
    • Reflective Teaching Resources
  • Announcements and Information
    • In Memoriam- Kathy Weed
    • EEIS News: Call for Submissions
Leadership Updates From the Chair I hope that your school year is off to a good start after a restful and rejuvenating summer break. Your convention team—Janet Orr, Jennifer Brown, and I—is working hard to provide you with a wonderful program for the 2006 convention in Tampa. The EEIS has received many interesting and exciting proposals focused on different aspects of English language learning for elementary education. When the program is finalized, we will update you on what you have to look forward to at the Tampa Convention.

I want to thank all of you who have read and reviewed proposals. Your efforts were greatly appreciated. I also want to thank those of you who proposed workshops, demonstrations, papers, and reports. The increased number of submissions increased the number of our time slots; our program will be a full and interesting one.

As this school year begins, I’d like to encourage you to write your thoughts, ideas, and questions on our electronic mailing list ( The EEIS e-list often becomes quiet in the summer. It’s time to wake it up. Did you know that our EEIS e-list was the pilot e-list for TESOL and the most active one now in existence? Do write in, so we can keep our reputation as the most active e-list! Any member who has access to the list can start a virtual conversation on the list. If you are not a member of the listserv, you may wish to join by updating your membership profile on the TESOL website.

Many of our past back-to-school discussions have been related to placement of new students, assessment—who to test, materials to use, how to develop new instructional units—and development of a schedule or program. You may also just check in and describe how your new year is going. However, please note the few things not permitted on the e-list:
  • offering your services or those of another for hire
  • promoting or selling a product for personal gain
  • requesting that people respond to a commercial request for information for new books or materials to be published for profit

These and other guidelines are sent to you when you join the e-list.

It is an honor and pleasure to serve as your chair this year. I hope to see all of you in Tampa in March 2006. For now, I wish you a wonderful beginning to your school year.

Good health and happiness,

Judy O’Loughlin

Articles Success Story

Jessica Oakley

As teachers of ESL students, we look at each step in the learning process as a success story no matter how small or trivial it might appear to others. And learning is certainly not limited to academics. Social skills are just as important. Our students are faced with the challenge of meeting family and peer expectations, as well as personal expectations. In order to keep their self-esteem high, teachers find every opportunity to praise students for their successful steps. We continue to do this even when students think our enthusiasm is silly and respond to us with a smile and a roll of the eyes. Somehow, we know that we are getting through to them. This is what keeps us going.

It is easy to be so caught up in day-to-day achievements and struggles that sometimes we forget to step back and look at the big picture. A few days into the new school year, I sat down to talk with a student who had exited the ESL program last May. She had come a long way since I first met her 3 years ago. This young girl had to deal with learning a new language, adjust to being adopted from an orphanage, and make new friends. So when I sat down with her, I was glad to find out that things were going well for her. When I mentioned the two new students I would be working with this year, she said, “Oh yes, I know them. I met the boy over the summer. We talk together in Spanish, because he knows Italian and we can understand each other. I also met the girl. I sat with her at lunch today. They both know a lot of English.”

Later that day, I thought about our conversation. This is when I realized how much had changed. A student who had to overcome such obstacles was now able to help and encourage new students in the ESL program!

Jessica Oakley is an ESL teacher in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania.

Charles and the OHP

Marga Kapka,

Charles, a French-speaking second grader, came to International Programs School in Al Khobar, from the local French school. He was referred to me by his teacher, with comments such as “sometimes I think he’s only acting like he understands” and “he will easily start to cry during class when he doesn’t understand.” She told me that in the lunchroom Charles sits wordlessly at the grade 2 table, looking dejected and lost.

Before the 2003–04 school year started, I had been immersed in setting up the ESL program, which, in the fourth year of our school’s existence, still did not have an ESL program. For our faculty, I distributed referral forms and a handout with guidelines of language expectations based on TESOL’s ESL Standards for Pre-K–12 Students.

My enthusiasm to begin ESL classes was temporarily thwarted because I was asked to take over the grade 4 language arts class until the arrival of the new teacher, whose visa had been delayed. Because I taught English in grades 7 and 9 during the morning block, and now was ensconced in the grade 4 classroom every afternoon, the ESL program was on hold. Charles would have to wait.

And wait he did. It was mid-October when the teacher arrived, allowing me to relinquish my grade 4 duties and turn my attention to students in need of ESL. I scheduled Charles for an interview at the first opportunity. His body language illustrated his anxiety, but he broke into a huge smile when I spoke a few words in French and made a joke. Immediately, I instructed him to say, “I don’t understand” when he didn’t understand what I said, an easy enough task using my knowledge of basic French. A more difficult task was convincing Charles that it was okay to say, “I don’t understand” in his classroom, to his teacher, and in front of his peers. Not surprisingly, he showed reticence.

Within a few days, however, Charles was raising his hand and talking in class, even if only to say, “I don’t understand.” His teacher agreed that Charles would use the same method in her classroom as in mine. She encouraged and praised Charles for raising his hand and using the phrase, thereby reinforcing vocalization while extinguishing negative feelings associated with appearing incompetent.

Twice weekly Charles came to ESL; not much time, but because he was highly motivated and intelligent, he made enormous progress. In addition to reading his journal entries to me and making up dialogue for wordless stories, Charles enjoyed telling and illustrating stories. His imagination knew no boundaries. It occurred to me that the overhead projector might be a useful tool in story sessions with him. The device was familiar to him, but in his classroom, only the teacher used it.

For the next session, I set up the overhead, which contained rolls of plastic that could be scrolled from left to right to create a moving story. I supplied overhead markers of as many colors as I could get my hands on. Giving directions to Charles was easy: draw pictures and tell the story. Wide-eyed and delighted, Charles, a natural raconteur, began. As he drew and narrated, I watched, occasionally commented, and wrote his story verbatim, asking questions for clarification.

After school, I typed his story on the word processor and printed out a copy. At the following session, we revisited his illustrations kept on the plastic roll of the overhead. Slowly he scrolled the pictures in time to the narration. Then we switched roles: I scrolled and he read. By now, Charles was beginning to self-monitor, which was reflected in his corrections of grammar errors from the initial telling of the story.

Over the next few weeks, Charles repeated the process, illustrating, writing, and correcting two additional stories. From the three, he chose one to convert into a handmade book using construction paper, which he took home.

Motivating students to engage in language through stories is a timeless method that teachers the world over practice. For ESL students, using the overhead as a tool to create stories can be liberating and exhilarating. Manipulating the projector, a real hands-on activity, facilitates language exchange, promotes self-confidence, and provides a conversation piece. In Charles’ case, this was certainly true. From a taciturn little boy with a terrified face and stiff body movements, Charles opened up, blossomed, and became talkative. Collaborating with his grade 2 teacher, I worked on specific goals for Charles to increase comprehension of both spoken and written English, expand vocabulary, teach self-monitoring, increase ability to initiate questions, and raise self-confidence in language use. Charles achieved most of these goals through story-illustrating and -telling techniques in combination with his daily exposure to English in the classroom. I knew his classes in ESL were successful when the grade 2 teacher told me during lunch recess not only that he now raises his hand begging to be called on, but also that she had to admonish Charles that day in class for persistently talking to his neighbor.

Marga Kapka is an English and ESL teacher at the International Programs School in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia.

Keep Those Words Alive

Judy Stephenson,

At the beginning of each 90-minute class for my third to fifth graders, I write a question and two or three vocabulary words on the board. The question focuses on what I want them to learn that day. The vocabulary words may be new or simply presented in a new context during this lesson. I save the last 15 minutes of each class for journal writing. Students use the question and vocabulary words to write a short paragraph entitled “What I Learned Today.” Before they leave the classroom, I check their paragraphs and they correct the mistakes. This strategy has been successful because students

o know exactly what I expect them to learn each day;

o learn new vocabulary and uses within the context of the lesson;

o practice writing sentences organizing their writing; and

o have a visual reminder of the important points to study for tests.

This process has served me well as a teacher. Even better, it keeps the students focused on what skills and content I address each day. Checking their journal entries tells me very quickly and clearly what needs to be retaught.

Jail Time

While students write in class, I seem to be constantly repeating, “No, that word can't be spelled by the rules. It's a rule-breaker.” To help the students visualize this idea, I asked a first-grade student to make a “jail” on a poster board. Every time we run into a word that can't be spelled phonetically, we glue it in the jail. In addition, whenever students are writing and need to spell a word that is a rule-breaker, they can use the jail as a resource. Now we have so many words the students have alphabetized them—another skill they learned through this exercise. Although this began as a first-grade project, I now use the jail for all my classes.

Judy Stephenson is an ESL teacher at Oak Forest Elementary, Memphis City Schools, Memphis, Tennessee.

Teacher as Learner/Learner as Teacher: Thematic Projects and Student-Led Conferencing

Mitchell Bobrick,

A wonderful part of attending the TESOL conference is the ability one has to bring ideas sparked from the sessions back to the classroom before the end of the school year. This was the case for me after attending Laura Lukens’ poster session, “Modifying Elementary Content Areas Projects for English Language Learners.” I adapted Ms. Lukens’ American Hero Project, a creative T-shirt biographical report, into a “Tree-shirt” that served as a culminating experience for an ecosystem unit in my elementary newcomers’ classroom.

Students gathered information from the media center, classroom library, and Internet sources to complete cloze-style research reports about the rain forest. For example, one student’s research report said,

The __________ lives in the __________ layer of the rain forest. It eats ___________.

The front of the shirt is the actual report. More advanced students take notes about their topic and organize notes for the report without the cloze style mentioned above. The back of the shirt depicts labeled illustrations about the topic. Some students also include other types of poetry in addition to cinquain, discussed during writing workshop. Students added essential vocabulary (important nouns and adjectives for their ecosystem), cinquain poetry, and illustrations to the shirtsleeves that focused on a topic they studied for the unit (toucan of the rain forest). To make the most of the experience, the class created a series of questions that were agreed upon as questions they should be able to answer about their work during the unit. With the aid of community language facilitators, the questions were translated into English. Parents were invited into the classroom; the questions were used as a scaffold for dialoging about the project, ensuring that parents and students communicated. The experience became a form of student-led conferencing, and family members and the teacher were able to observe the learning. Students took responsibility for their learning, which demonstrated that this type of conference evaluation was a productive part of the process.

Mitchell Bobrick teaches at West Gate Elementary School with the School District of Palm Beach County, Florida.

Reflective Teaching Resources

Black, S. (2001, November). Thinking about Teaching. American School Board Journal 18, 11. Retrieved July 20, 2005, from

Georgia Southern University College of Education. Reflective Educators for Diverse Learners: Conceptual Framework. Retrieved July 20, 2005, from

Mohammed, N. (2005). Reflective Teaching: Improving Teaching Through Systematic Inquiry. Retrieved July 20, 2005, from

The Reflective Teaching Model. Retrieved July 20, 2005, from

Tice, J. Reflective Teaching: Exploring Our Own Classroom Practice. Retrieved July 20, 2005, from

Zeichner, K., and Liston, D.P. (1996). Reflective Teaching: An Introduction. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Announcements and Information In Memoriam- Kathy Weed

Judie Haynes and Janet Orr

Kathy Weed, a member of the Elementary Education Interest Section and editor of Essential Teacher, died on May 22. Kathy was an EFL/ESL teacher and a teacher educator for 30 years. She began her career as many have, as a Peace Corps volunteer in Cameroon teaching middle school students. Upon her return to the United States, Kathy explained in an interview with Ellen Garshick, “At the time, the late 1980s, mainstream education, particularly at the primary level, was not particularly concerned about second language (L2) students. I was one of few voices who pushed for more awareness of language acquisition processes and skills in working with other language speakers. Now, of course, such awareness and skills are decidedly needed.”


In 1997–98, she served as a Fulbright Scholar in Dakar, Senegal. From 1999 to 2001, in Sonora, Mexico, she taught in the undergraduate English language teaching program at the University of Sonora; worked with a bilingual (Spanish/English) pre- and primary school to set up a student teaching program with California State University, San Bernardino; and conducted a yearlong in-service program for teachers. Kathy taught classes to primary school master’s degree candidates at the University of Natal, Edgewood, in South Africa. Kathy was active in her profession while maintaining a mobile life as a Foreign Service spouse and positively impacting the education community everywhere she went.

She was an active member of TESOL and wrote many articles about teaching English language learners. Those of you who were at the EE Business Meeting at TESOL 2005 in San Antonio will remember Kathy from the discussion about Essential Teacher, the TESOL publication that Kathy edited. She came to TESOL in March from Geneva, Switzerland, less than 2 months before she died. During these last stages of her illness, she ran a daylong Essential Teacher meeting and went to dinner with the section editors and writers. When she returned home, she edited the fall issue of Essential Teacher and sent it off to TESOL Central Office. Those of us who worked with Kathy are in awe of her fortitude, dedication, and bravery.

The Elementary Education Interest Section mourns the loss of a valuable member and sends its most sincere regrets to her family. Donations can be made in her name to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

EEIS News: Call for Submissions

EEIS News is soliciting articles on research and classroom methods, materials, and practices related to English as a second or foreign language in any elementary education setting.

EEIS News welcomes articles that apply to classroom situations and that focus on ESL/EFL classroom practices/instruction, second language acquisition, language assessment, advocacy, administration, parent/public concerns, and other related areas. Given the newsletter's electronic format, authors are encouraged to include hyperlinks.

Submission Guidelines

Articles should

§ include a title, author, and author’s e-mail address

§ be no longer than 1,500 words

§ include a 1- to 3-sentence (approximately 50 words) abstract

§ contain no more than five citations

§ follow the style guidelines in Publications Manual of the American Psychological Association, Fifth Edition (APA)

§ be in MS Word or ASCII format

Please direct your submissions and questions to

Janet Orr


Carlyn Syvanen

EEIS News Publication Schedule:

  • July 15 Submissions due to EEIS News editors
  • August 15 Compiled EEIS News submitted to TESOL for copyediting
  • September 15 Distributed to EEIS members
  • January 15 Submissions due to EEIS News Editors
  • February 15 Compiled EEIS News submitted to TESOL for copyediting
  • March 15 Distributed to EEIS members