EEIS News, Volume 28:1 (March 2006)

by User Not Found | 11/03/2011
In This Issue...
  • Leadership Updates
    • Letter From the Chair
  • Articles
    • Using TPR to Illuminate Stories: Reenacting the Rosa Parks Bus Protest
    • Coming Soon: TESOL’s PreK-12 English Language Proficiency Standards!
    • I Know but I Can Imagine
  • Announcements and Information
    • EEIS Author Session—Building a Boat of Words When All the World’s at Sea
    • EEIS Academic Session—Collaborative Partnerships for All Our Students
    • Volunteer Opportunity in Guatemala
  • About This Member Community
    • EEIS News—Call for Articles
Leadership Updates Letter From the Chair

Judy O’Loughlin, 2006 Chair, EEIS,

Dear EEIS Members,

Happy New Year to all of you! I hope that your holidays were restful and that you were able to spend time with family and friends.

Here it is February and we are only a few weeks away from the 2006 TESOL Convention in Tampa, Florida. As we “Dare to Lead” our profession to excellence, we hope that you will join us in this fabulous professional development event.

I thought that I would take this opportunity to tell you about our Interest Section’s upcoming meetings at TESOL 2006. We on the Elementary Education Interest Section (EEIS) Steering Board hope that you will become involved in your Interest Section (IS) and bring your expertise to IS meetings and planning sessions that represent the interests of all elementary ESOL teachers.

First, Jennifer Brown, incoming chair, is preparing a specialized EEIS program book that will be available to IS members at the EEIS booth at the convention. A link to the book will also be placed on the IS website. Ari Sherris is contributing student artwork to the EEIS program book.

If you wish to begin planning your days at the convention now, the TESOL website has a link to all of the presentations at the convention. You can create your own schedule of workshops, demonstrations, discussion groups, InterSections, and poster sessions at the convention by using the online planner at

Room 7 at the Convention Center will be the EEIS home this year, so look for EEIS meetings and sessions in that room. EEIS meetings at TESOL will be, as follows:

Tuesday, March 13, 6:30-8:00 p.m., Steering Board Meeting

Room 7, Convention Center

Generally this meeting is attended only by steering board members. However, I would like to open this meeting up to anyone in the IS who would like to join us and review our plans for the 2006 convention. We encourage you to join us, introduce yourself to the steering board, share your ideas for this and future conventions or sign up to work at the EEIS booth.

Wednesday, March 14, 5:00-7:00 p.m. EEIS Open Meeting

Room 7, Convention Center

All IS members should attend this meeting, during which we distribute the EEIS program book and discuss what’s new in the IS. Sometimes board members and other committee members (such as those on the publications and professional development committees) will drop in to meet and talk to our members.

Wednesday, March 15, 8:30 p.m. EEIS Dinner

At the 100-Year-Old Historic Columbia Restaurant

The EEIS has a reservation for its annual post-open meeting dinner in Tampa. We will dine at the historic Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City, a 10-block National Landmark Historic District of Tampa, with cobblestone streets and brick buildings. The restaurant is 100 years old and has been under the ownership of the same Cuban immigrant family since then. You can read about Ybor City at

We will all be able to dine in one dining room. However, we will have “festival seating,” which means that there will be smaller tables for groups of four to eight. We will have an a la carte menu and each of us will pay separately for our dinners. The menu contains choices ranging from salads to seafood dishes, called mariscos, to chicken dishes such as arroz con pollo Valencia (an original recipe), pork dishes, and beef dishes. The desserts, called postres, are all made at the restaurant. The costs full meal ranges from $18 to $25.

During our meal, we will have an authentic 25-minute flamenco show. A per-person charge of $6.00 for the show will be added to each of our checks.

I have made a reservation for 20 people. If you plan to join us for dinner and the show, you can send me an e-mail at The only way to add dinner guests beyond the 20 reserved is to call the restaurant the morning of the dinner. I will not be able to add people to our reservation later that day. So, to ensure that we all can be accommodated, please RSVP to me by March 15 at 10 a.m.

If you want more information about the Columbia Restaurant you can read reviews at and

Restaurant: Columbia Restaurant
2025 East 7th Street

Ybor City, FL 33605

Time of the Reservation: 8:30 p.m. for dinner and a show
How to Get There: Trolley ride of about 15 minutes. [We can travel on the trolley as a group from the Convention Center and tour the historic area before our dinner.] Cost of Trolley: $4.00 for the entire day. Seniors over 64: $2.00.

Saturday, March 18, Noon-1:00 p.m. EEIS Planning Meeting

Room 7, Convention Center

Please note the new time for this meeting; this year it runs from noon to 1:00 p.m. (Generally, the IS planning meetings are held at 4:00 p.m.) We planned this meeting for an earlier time with hopes that you can join us

  • before you return home;
  • before you go sightseeing in Tampa;
  • before or after attending the plenary session;
  • before or after viewing the poster sessions; or
  • before a PCI you may have paid for and plan to attend!

We’d like to encourage you to drop in on the planning meeting between noon and 1:00 p.m. or to stay the entire time. We are looking for a few good men and women to help us plan for the 2007 convention.

Help Needed at EEIS Booth

Ede Thompson ( is in charge of the EEIS Booth and she would be happy to have you assist by spending 1 to 2 hours staffing the booth and talking to people who stop by. It’s a wonderful opportunity to meet other EEIS members.

Dino Salin is providing the artwork that will be displayed in the booth, and Christine Pankonin is chairing the button project. Our booth should look as wonderful as ever!

We are always so fortunate to have a very large booth, which draws the attention of attendees. The TESOL office staff and the board of directors have commented in the past on the wonderful art display and our button project, both of which are located at the booth.

Please feel free to write either Jennifer Brown ( or myself ( with questions, comments, or ideas, or to volunteer. We’d love to hear from you.

Articles Using TPR to Illuminate Stories: Reenacting the Rosa Parks Bus Protest

Elizabeth Bigler,

Many teachers are familiar with the Total Physical Response (TPR) method, developed by James Asher in the 1960s. In its most basic form, TPR consists of learners responding to commands to demonstrate their understanding of the language sequences. TPR Storytelling has developed as an offshoot of TPR, whereby stories are created within the classroom and reinforced in the learners’ minds through a series of focused questions. The questions provide comprehensible input for the learners while assessing their understanding at the same time. In recent years, I’ve begun experimenting with variations of both of these methods, and found that I can take my class to many interesting places using these vehicles.

Whereas many teachers find that TPR is limited in its use to teaching basic language such as command forms, action verbs, and nouns, I have found it serves as a lightning rod between my students and their comprehension of more sustained and sophisticated meaning, especially when we are reading stories, real or fictional.

For example, the death of Rosa Parks just happened to coincide with my receiving an easy biography about her from Scholastic Books, Let’s Read About Rosa Parks, by Courtney Baker, so I took the opportunity to read the book to my class. The learners are 3rd and 4th graders from Japan, who have no background knowledge about segregation or even slavery in America, let alone who Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rosa Parks are.

It often is up to ESL teachers to include, as part of our studies, social studies, history, geography, and so on, because if they are covered in other classes, the language is too difficult for students to comprehend or a prior understanding of basic facts is assumed. So, I feel an obligation to include some study of the civil rights movement as part of my class.

The book was very basic in its language, but even so, I could tell as we read that the students did not actually understand the scenario of Rosa Parks’ protest on the bus. In the midst of trying to explain, I realized that TPR would be a great way to illustrate the events of the book.

We set up the chairs like a bus. I got a volunteer to be Rosa, another to be the bus driver, the riders, the policeman, and so on. I set up the scene with enough chairs to match the number of student “riders,” so that the “bus” would be full. Then, as I narrated the story, one action at a time, the students responded by performing the actions. (As always with TPR, if the learner doesn’t understand the “command” (in this case, the narrative), you, the teacher, gesture, model, or physically guide them to the correct thing to do.) I insisted that the students do only the action that had been narrated, so their actions were sure to correspond with the language, to make sure that they understood what was happening, instead of just acting out the whole scene with the narrative running in the background.

Here’s a simple version of how our reenactment went:

The driver was driving the bus. (Our “driver” had a hat and steering wheel.)

Rosa got on the bus. (She did it.)

She paid the driver. (Rosa mimed this.)

She was tired. (She made a “tired” face and body language.)

She sat down. (She did so.)

Other people got on the bus and paid. (They did so.)

They sat down.

All the seats were full.

A white man got on the bus.

He paid the driver.

He looked for a seat.

All the seats were full.

He saw Rosa.

She was black.

He was white.

He said, “Stand up.” (The students deliver their characters’ lines by repeating them after the teacher.)

She said, “No.”

He said, “Stand up!”

She said, “No.”

He went to the bus driver.

He told the bus driver, “She won’t stand up.”

The bus driver stopped the bus. (Passengers and driver can lurch.)

The bus driver went to Rosa.

The bus driver said, “Stand up.”

Rosa said, “No.”

The bus driver called the police.

The police came.

The police arrested her (gently pull the arms behind the back for handcuff action).

In my case, I stopped the TPR part of the story there and continued reading the book, gesturing and scaffolding as much as possible.

The black people in that town were angry.

They were angry because Rosa Parks was arrested.

She broke the law.

They thought the law was not fair.

They thought the law was bad.

They decided to try to change the law.

Martin Luther King helped.
He said, “Don’t ride the buses!”

Black people didn’t ride the buses.

They walked and drove cars.

They helped each other.

They didn’t ride the buses for a year!

The bus company was sad.

When the people get on the bus, they pay money.

The bus company didn’t get money from any black people.

The law finally got changed.

The black people could sit down.

They didn’t have to stand up for a white person.

Rosa wasn’t the president.

She wasn’t a rich person.

But she changed the country.

She is called “The Mother of the Civil Rights Movement.”

After we finished the story, I switched to TPR Storytelling questioning techniques to recycle the vocabulary and check the students’ comprehension. The questioning technique uses yes/no, either/or, and wh- questions (where, when, who, what, why, how, etc.) in many combinations. The yes/no questions and either/or questions are easier, requiring a reply of only one word or a word that is supplied by the question (“Was Rosa black or white?”); they can be used with beginner or low-level students. Comprehension can still be checked without requiring much output. The wh- questions are more difficult, as information needs to be supplied by the student. If a student has trouble with a wh- question, it can easily be changed to an either/or question. (Where did Rosa live? [Silence.] Did she live in Alabama or in New York?) Why questions, in particular, require a high level of output. Generally, why questions focus on higher level students. Typically, I type out the questions I want to ask for a story before class, as they can be hard to generate on the spot. I often print these out and give them to the students at the end of the class as homework review and as reading practice. I find doing so complements the aural practice, as the questions are the same but in written form. Students can zip through the questions if they understood the story.

Here is an example of the second part of the story being reviewed with the questioning technique.

Who was angry?

Were the black people angry?

Were they angry or hungry?

Why were they angry?

Were they angry because the bus was late?

Were they angry because Rosa was arrested?

Were they angry because the law wasn’t fair?

Who was arrested?

Was Rosa Parks arrested?

Was the bus driver arrested?

Why was Rosa arrested?

Who arrested her?

Did Rosa arrest the police officer?
Did the police officer arrest Rosa?

Did Rosa break the law?

What law did she break?

Did the angry black people think the law was fair?

Do you think the law was fair?

Was the law fair or not fair?

Why wasn’t it fair?

I often go through 50 or more of these questions to review a part of a story. The trick is to use them quickly and painlessly. You can ask some questions for the whole class to answer, and call on individual students with a card method for others. (I have each student’s name on a card and quickly zip through the cards, altering the difficulty of the question if necessary.) The speed of the questioning keeps the kids on their toes and keeps the activity from becoming tedious. It provides lots of comprehensible input and really increases their listening comprehension, as they have to listen to the exact words, but in natural-speed English. “Did the man want to stand up?” has a different meaning than does “Did the man want Rosa to stand up?” My class, even the very low level learners, has gotten very good at distinguishing these kinds of differences, because they get immediate feedback after answering.

Before doing an enactment like this, vocabulary needs to be pretaught. Hand gestures can be used to demonstrate the meaning in many cases, such as the hands behind the back gesture for “arrest.” I demonstrated the concept of “fair” by doling out pennies: “10 for Student A, 10 for Student B, 10 for Student C, 1 for Student D.” Their surprised faces told me that they understood the concept; then I asked, “Is this fair?” We talked about the term law in the same kinds of ways. “Can you drive a car? Why? Can I take something from a store without paying for it? Why?”

These techniques can be used with any story the class encounters, fiction or nonfiction. When Martin Luther King Day came this year, we studied more about the Civil Rights movement. The seeds planted from the 10-minute activity weeks before yielded a wonderful harvest. They remembered very well and were able to articulate the names, events, and issues involved! “My” kids demonstrated a deeper level of understanding of the events than they would have had we treated the book on only a linguistic level. It occurred to me that these techniques could easily be incorporated into content classes as well, as even English-proficient students can benefit from “experiencing” stories and historical events as actors.

An electronic mailing list exists for TPR Storytelling teachers at the elementary level. Many of the contributors are foreign language teachers (for example, Spanish teachers in American elementary schools), but the ideas shared are often completely transferable to ESL scenarios. To subscribe, go to

I encourage my fellow teachers to explore the possibilities of TPR and TPR Storytelling. For me and my students, they have opened the door to many meaningful and productive classroom experiences.


Asher, J. (1990). Learning another language through actions (6th ed.). Los Gatos, CA: Sky Oaks Productions.

Baker, C. (2004). Let’s read about Rosa Parks. New York: Scholastic Books.

Shapiro, N., & Genser, C. (1994). Chalk talks. Berkeley, CA: Command Performance Language Institute.

Liz Bigler is an ESL teacher at Seigakuin Atlanta International School, a two-way English-Japanese immersion school. She will be coleader of a discussion, Wednesday, March 15, 7:30-8:15 p.m., in Room 12, on TPR Storytelling techniques in ESL settings at the international TESOL convention in Tampa.

A special thanks to Mary Lou McCloskey for her encouragement and photographic skills.

Coming Soon: TESOL’s PreK-12 English Language Proficiency Standards!

Margo Gottlieb,

Over the past decade, more and more English language learners with diverse languages, cultures, and educational experiences have walked through our school doors. As teachers of this heterogeneous group of students, we have also witnessed the rise of content-based instruction within an educational arena of increased accountability. Standards have continued to anchor teaching and learning, and with this growing demand for our students to demonstrate what they know and are able to do, the time has come to revisit TESOL’s 1997 standards.

These factors have been the impetus for the revision, a 2-year process whereby we sought input and feedback from the TESOL membership. It is with great pride that we present TESOL’s PreK-12 English Language Proficiency Standards. The centerpiece of the document is a response to the language demands second language learners face every day in their classrooms. Included are the social and intercultural dimensions of second language acquisition as well as the integration of academic content with oral and literacy development in English. Equally important is the recognition of the students’ native languages and cultures.

The acquisition of English is a complex undertaking, irrespective of the students’ age. The pace of language development may be accelerated for students who have a strong foundation of conceptual understanding and literacy development in their native language. For others, who may have limited formal schooling or learning disabilities, the process is longer, as conceptual learning must go hand-in-hand with language development. As teachers of English language learners, we are responsible for targeting how our students use language, the context of that interaction, and the types of support that will facilitate their access to meaningful communication. We need to differentiate instruction and assessment according to our students’ levels of English language proficiency and articulate realistic, yet ambitious, expectations of our students’ language performance.

The English language proficiency standards offer a tool for teaching. As seen in the banner, the standards focus on language development, understanding, and use within and around school. They are organized around grade-level clusters (preK-K, 1-3, 4-5, 9-12) and are presented within language domains (listening, speaking, reading, and writing). The standards are further broken down into strands of sample performance indicators that offer developmentally appropriate suggestions for scaffolding language instruction across five levels of English language proficiency.

Although the standards themselves are intended to remain constant, the other components are variable. We cannot emphasize enough how this document is intended to beflexible and dynamic. Teachers and administrators are welcome and encouraged to adopt, adapt, or apply the contents to best fit their situation. For example, English as a second language and bilingual professionals may wish to adjust the number of levels of English language proficiency to be symmetrical with those of their state. Through professional development, teams of teachers, by grade-level cluster, may choose to substitute or interchange suggested topics according to curricular demands or extend the sample performance indicators within one language domain across others as a backbone for thematic units of instruction.

PreK-12 English Language Proficiency Standards draws on current theory, classroom practice, and standards from an array of national organizations and states. It contains an overview, ideas for implementation, a list of standards-based topics by grade-level cluster, a glossary, and references for original and secondary sources. In upcoming years, the document will be supplemented with an implementation guide of illustrative vignettes, lesson designs, and units of instruction.

Our vision for standards-based reform relies on the collaboration of teachers so that academic content is woven into oral and literacy development for English language learners. It is our sincere hope that this up-to-date resource will be used by each and every teacher who works with these students, irrespective of the type of instructional model provided. It is meant to be analyzed, amended, and adapted so that ultimately our students partake in rich and rewarding educational experiences.

Learn more about the new standards in Tampa. The Unveiling the PreK-12 English Language Proficiency Standards session will be held on Friday, March 17, at 3 p.m. in the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel, Meeting Room 8.

Margo Gottlieb, PhD, is Director of Assessment and Evaluation for the Illinois Resource Center, and chair, TESOL’s PreK-12 English Language Proficiency Standards Committee, as well as a former EEIS chair. Margo served as the lead developer of the World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment Consortium (WIDA; English Language Proficiency Standards.

I Know but I Can Imagine

Leslie Morris,

What mental images come to mind when we talk about authentic assessment for English language learners? This hot topic has led to discussions in many corners of the academic world, where time and resources are dedicated to best practices regarding our ESL learners. We know that standardized assessments have a reputation for assessing declarative knowledge and therefore fall short of tapping into the deeper levels of student knowledge sometimes known as procedural knowledge (Valdez Pierce, 2005). When we assess this level of knowledge we show that we value students using strategies and processes. We recognize their use of academic language functions, and we focus on what students can do, rather than on the terminology that they should know or on discrete content-area facts.

Teaching poetry forms is one way to help students develop procedural knowledge, which often encompasses declarative knowledge as well. When using poetry, students can work in groups, which provide natural scaffolding; they acquire new vocabulary and are introduced to new language functions and semantic structures.

Short pieces help reluctant writers get thoughts down and encourage confidence and discussion, which are the underlying forces for deep structure of the semantic or surface structures of the stories that bring out the meaning of our students’ life stories.

I have gotten many writing ideas from Linda Christensen, a friend and leader in the National Writing Project (NWP; The NWP is a social justice movement that promotes the use of writing as an important means of curriculum reform as well as an effective tool for teachers to reflect on their own teaching practices. For this lesson I decided to use her “I am from” poem with my first- and third-grade students because it is interactive, can be written in groups of two or more, and incorporates multiple voices. Students are asked to think about the places, people, and language that have meaning in their own lives.

The flexibility of the form allowed me to use the poem for a guided writing exercise with a first grader. The following is our joint effort.

I Am From

Little Brown Monkey who sits on a branch
A leopard that roars and spies on my ranch
A large red bucket that takes me to the beach
And summertime farm trips to pick my own peach.

I am from
A Fisher Price doctor’s kit that brings people back to life

A fan that cools me quick like a knife
Ken and Barbie who play with each other
The secrets of dollhouse, which I can discover

I am from
Mom who makes me chicken teriyaki
Kugel, sushi, and cucumber maki
Dad who is silly and reads me wondrous tales
Of faraway places and mermaids with scales

I am from
My sister who says you’re my best pal
And Jessie, my best friend who says I’m her gal.
Lavender baths with mango shampoo
And Sonny, my gecko, who says I love you.

All of these friends and people are mine.
This is the end of my first little rhyme.

When using this poem with my third-grade class I designed a graphic organizer to get them started. Research points to the importance of graphic organizers and pictures as beginning points and important tools to scaffold writing for English language learners. After asking students to draw pictures of the artifacts that have meaning to them, I had them revisit these sketches to include the words or phrases that come from home and define their family members in relation to them. The graphic organizer served as a focus point which I modeled and then shared with them as a group on the overhead projector. One class did a gallery walk looking at the drawings and phrases of their fellow class members and, by means of pasting sticky notes on their graphic organizers, sharing positive connections or an observation regarding the picture or phrases that also had meaning for that student.

I chose a group poem to make the writing interactive, which increases the dynamic for group communication toward a common linguistic goal within the genre. Working as a group also increased the sense of community in the class and built accountability into the idea that what we communicate has value as we honor the words from our respective homes.


List of some toys that have meaning for me


List of some foods that have meaning for me


List of some people who have meaning to me

Words and places

List of phrases or places that define me

I am from (toys)


I am from (food)


I am from (people)


I am from (places people take me and words that people say to me) ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________.

The following poem is the result of our group effort:

I Am From
(room 306) Cramp School
I am from Puerto Rico where it is hot
Rocky road and bubblegum ice cream.
I am from Philly where it is so cold that I could freeze to death.

Hello Kitty and my Barbie dolls all around my room who talk to me
And keep me company.
I am from pizza any way I like it
Rice and chicken from my mother
My dad who keeps saying, “Don’t fight with your brother.”

Mrs. Morris saying, “Do your work and hello”
Strawberry red, bright orange, and lime-green Jell-O.
Yogurt for breakfast and pizza for lunch,

“Now read this test passage and use your best hunch.”

In the following commentary, I invite a point of view on No Child Left Behind, which would be more inclusive of procedural rather than simply declarative knowledge. To assess authentically, we want to give positive regard to those administrators and policymakers who would deliberately take into account the structures that would promote the higher level thinking and planning that is required for our students to survive and thrive as productive citizens in a democratic society and global workplace.

I Know but I Can Imagine

In these times, I know what it’s like to be a teacher who feels limited by curriculum constraints.

I know about schools where teachers feel devalued by administrators who are on the curriculum express train.

I have heard stories about how some teachers are humiliated in front of their students and colleagues when administrative expectations have not been met.

In these politically difficult times, I feel the wet tears of frustration running down the faces of my friends who came willingly to an underpaid and unappreciated profession to respond to an inner calling.

I was one.

It never occurred to me that what I could imagine would be a dream that I would have to fight for. I imagine that public school teachers could create learning communities where conversations could be private, safe, and professionally driven.

In this perfect world, the research that drives teacher reflection would be supported by time to reflect and meet to discuss how to build community between and among students as well as teachers.

In this perfect world, students would be guided by reading instruction designed specifically to meet their individual, developmental needs.

In this perfect world, teachers would have the knowledge and craft to ask students thoughtful and probing questions that would be appropriate for their skills and abilities, which would enable them to scaffold learners to their next level to gain a deeper understanding of oral language and text.

I could smell the aftereffects of the popcorn party celebrating the first piece of student work that didn’t necessarily rhyme but that was nourished by the ideas that come from a poem entitled “I AM FROM.”

I would hear the laughter and the tears of conversations between and among special education students and those whose first language is not English as they turn and talk about how they relate to Beverly Cleary’s character, Ramona, after the new baby is first brought into the house.

I might feel the hugs of my students after they receive their first pen-pal letter saying:
Dear Alexandra,
I am so happy that we will be getting to know each other and by the way what is your favorite holiday?

I might taste a different kind of rice than the kind we make at my house, as a result of a potluck retreat where teachers would come together to look at and discuss student work, to bring it to a deeper level, to make it a more satisfying piece of work for the learner, not just to meet standardized test score requirements.

I would hear that belly laugh from administrators who are truly engaged in the knowledge that differentiated instruction can be a perspective, whereby we explore the nature of how we question teachers regarding their relationships to students and other teachers.

I know that I can find research that supports the idea that kids who come from financially modest backgrounds can and will learn and achieve at proficient and advanced levels.

I can imagine whispering to you that the quiet hum of your classroom must have been achieved through a great deal of introspection, teacher modeling, and conferring.

I can imagine that you must have often taken an interest in other people’s work
that your door would be so open to me.


Valdez Pierce, L., & O’Malley, J. M. (1996). Authentic assessment for English language learners. New York: Addison Wesley.


Allen, D. (1998). Assessing student learning: From grading to understanding. New York: Teachers College Press, Columbia University.

Block, C., & J. Mangieri. (2003). Exemplary literacy teachers: Promoting success for all children in grades K-5. New York: Guilford Press.

Calkins, L. (1994) The art of teaching writing. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann Press.

Calkins, L. (2001). The art of teaching reading. Boston, MA: Addison Wesley Educational Publishers.

Christensen, L. (2001). Rethinking our classrooms. In H. Bigelow (Ed.), Rethinking schools: Teaching for equity and justice. Milwaukee, WI: Rethinking Schools, Ltd.

Cummins, J., & D. Sayers. (2001). An international proverbs project. In H. Bigelow (Ed.), Rethinking our classrooms: Teaching for equity and justice. Milwaukee, WI: Rethinking Schools, Ltd.

Garmston, R. J., & B. M. Wellman. (1999). The importance of professional community. In The adaptive school: A sourcebook for developing collaborative groups (pp. 15-19). Norwood, MA: Christopher-Gordon.

Graves, D. (2001). The energy to teach. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann Press.

Hole, S., & G. McEntee. (1999). Reflection is at the heart of practice. Educational leadership, 58: 8, 28-31. Arlington, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Leslie Morris is currently a fellow advisor for the New Teacher Project. She is also a teacher consultant for the Philadelphia Writing Project and a Reading First Coach who works with teachers of predominantly English language learners in the school district of Philadelphia.

Announcements and Information EEIS Author Session—Building a Boat of Words When All the World’s at Sea

Jane Kurtz,

Inviting an award-winning children’s author to TESOL has become an EEIS tradition and is a highlight of our annual convention. Jane Kurtz was selected for this year’s Spotlight Session. In her presentation titled “Building a Boat of Words When All the World’s at Sea,” Jane will share her experience of growing up in Ethiopiaand then returning to the United States to a culture that had little understanding of the part of the world she had left behind. This disorientation led Jane to develop skills in reading and writing that helped her survive, and eventually flourish, in the alien culture she had entered. Writing children’s books provided a way for Jane to share her childhood memories and teach others about the beauty of Ethiopia.

Jane’s list of accomplishments is impressive. She has written 22 books, including nonfiction books, early readers, picture books, novels, and professional books for teachers. In 2001, Jane was one of 14 authors invited to the Presidential Inauguration in Washington, as part of Celebrate America’s Authors, where she spoke about the importance of reading. Her books have received numerous honors and awards, including the Golden Kite. Most recently, Bicycle Madness was nominated for the 2005-06 Children’s Crown Award, and Soba: Under the Hyena’s Foot received a nomination for the 2005-06 Lamplighter Award. The Washington Post named In the Small, Small Night one of the five best picture books of 2005.

The EEIS author’s session is one that many TESOL members look forward to attending every year. Jane’s talk will begin at 2:00 on Friday afternoon, March 17,and will be followed by a book-signing session. Copies of her books will be available for purchase. Jane’s website,, has additional information about her life, books, and the special projects she supports.

EEIS Academic Session—Collaborative Partnerships for All Our Students

Jan Lacina, Linda New Levine, and Patience Sowa

Teaching is a very private profession. Teachers typically see themselves as autonomous decision makers—entrepreneurial individuals whose solitary classroom work is grounded in the very organization of schools. Creating collaborative cultures in schools is a difficult task, requiring teachers to move from a comfortable position of independent autonomy to one of interdependent support. True collaborative interdependencies are rare among teachers.

The EEIS Academic Session discussion on collaborative partnerships is based on research that the three authors conducted with elementary teachers in schools in Texas,Florida, and Missouri. The research originated with these questions:

  • Why do teachers collaborate?
  • What characteristics do collaborative partnerships exhibit?
  • How does collaboration improve the school experiences of language learning students and professionally advance their teachers?

The session will present the results of the research, answering these questions and providing insight as to how classroom, ESL teachers, and other school staff collaborate to

· develop curriculum

· support standards-based instruction

· increase language achievement

· infuse culture into the curriculum

· support student advocacy

· support community involvement

· deal with assessment issues

We hope that you’ll join us for the EEIS Academic Session on Friday morning, March 17, from 9:30 to 11:15. The session will be held in room 23 of the Convention Center.

The morning session will be followed by an afternoon discussion session that will present a case study of a typical school situation requiring group decision making. Participants will discuss the issues involved in the case study and share ideas as to how collaboration could resolve some of the difficulties. The Friday afternoonproblem-solving session will also be held in room 23 of the Convention Center, from 4:00 to 4:45.

Volunteer Opportunity in Guatemala

Carlyn Syvanen,

A fellow retired teacher and I were talking about all the activities we have been involved in since we had retired. We agreed that we needed a new term for this part of our lives. Retirement does not fit the busyness of our lives. I was reminded of this when I saw a Barbara Smaller cartoon in the New Yorker that shows a younger man sitting across the desk from an older man and the younger man asks, “Have you given much thought to what kind of job you want after you retire?” However, this may have been more a comment on the poor funding of some retirement accounts than on all the opportunities there are for us to be involved in after retirement!

For those of you who may be retired or otherwise have 6 weeks open next winter, I have a great volunteer opportunity for you. You can teach English in a Mayan vacation school in November and December 2006.

Children in Mayan vacation school.

This past December, my husband and I spent a month in Guatemala with the founder of the Aid and Education Project ( Their mission is to promote education and health among the poor in Guatemala. They offer scholarships to help kids stay in school. A computer literacy program by which they get used computers from the United States to set up in schools is just one aspect of the project. Another program supports young Mayan women in higher education, and Mayan culture is taught in schools in order to promote pride in the children’s heritage.

In Chichicastenango, a Shaman blesses the ceremony for the visitors.

These young women are in a program to support them in higher education.

We traveled to several villages with vacation schools. The long school vacation there occurs during November and December. One of the goals of the vacation schools is to teach the children who are all Mayan about their history and culture. Some English is taught also, but the schools have to depend on volunteers, with mixed results. After meeting the dedicated people working in this project we decided that next year we would like to go back and teach English for the 6 weeks of the vacation school.

As one of the goals is to teach the children about their Mayan heritage, I am also in the process of developing English lessons based on Popol Vuh stories for children. If you would like to help with this project, by developing materials and/or teaching, contact me at

Carlyn Syvanen, the coeditor of the EEIS newsletter and a retired ESL teacher, keeps herself busy with travel and writing.

About This Member Community EEIS News—Call for Articles

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. In light of 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 the 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:

    July15 Submissions due to EEIS News editors

    August 15 Compiled EEIS News submitted to TESOL for copyediting

    September 15 Newsletter distributed to EEIS members

    January 15 Submissions due to EEIS News editors

    February 15 Compiled EEIS News submitted to TESOL for copyediting

    March 15 Newsletter distributed to EEIS members