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Supporting English Language Learners under New Standards

Wednesday, October 1, 2014 to Monday, November 24, 2014
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Course topic: 

The Course

The Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics, the Next Generation Science Standards, and new English Language Proficiency Standards all include a focus on argumentation, requiring that students construct claims supported by evidence and/or reasoning. In this course, we will explore how to support all students but particularly English language learners, in engaging in this key, cross-disciplinary practice.

In this course teachers will use a range of practical tools for gathering and analyzing language samples that show how students currently construct claims supported by evidence and/or reasoning, as well as identifying next steps in students’ development. These tools can support formative assessment and instructional planning. Focal topics include: articulating claims; linking evidence and/or reasoning to claims; and evaluating evidence and/or reasoning. We will also explore similarities and differences in argumentation across content areas and grade levels. This course will enable teachers to collaborate with other educators and build professional relationships that result in an online community focused on improving students’ abilities to engage in argumentation across content areas. This course is offered jointly by Stanford University and Oregon State University.

Grade Levels: K-12

Content Areas: Across all content areas

Language Products of Learning: Writing and Oral Language

More Information

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How much does the course cost?

The course is offered free of charge.

2. Are any materials or textbooks needed for this course?

You will be asked to complete readings as part of the course, but all required readings will be available for free via the course website. Several of the optional readings will also be free to participants and available online. To access additional optional readings online, participants may need to pay a small fee for copyright royalties to authors and publishers. Details about how to access these optional readings will be available via the course website.

3. How do I show my school that I completed this course?

Every participant who completes the course requirements will receive a free statement of accomplishment signed by the instructors. As to whether this free statement of accomplishment may be used for professional development units in your specific context, you would need to check with your employer. Specific requirements for receiving a statement of accomplishment will be available when the course begins.

4. Do I have to be a teacher to take this course? Who else might be participating in this course?

You do not have to be a teacher to take this course. The course may also be valuable to ELL coaches, teacher educators, and site and district administrators, among others. In order to fully participate in the course, however, you do need to have access to a classroom in which you can obtain student language samples and implement lessons (or collaborate with classroom teachers to obtain student language samples and implement lessons). This is because several of the course assignments require submitting language samples - either samples of student writing or brief transcriptions of students’ oral language - and reflecting on lessons.

5. Are there any tests or assignments?

The course will be organized into four sessions. Within each session, you will have one assignment to complete. In general, the course follows a cycle of inquiry approach in which you gather data about student language (specifically, samples of language students used when constructing a claim supported by evidence) implement a lesson based on your insights about student language, reflect on that lesson, and repeat the cycle again. In addition, you will provide feedback to your peers about their work. The final assignment will be to collaborate with your team to create a lesson plan inspired by the insights you have gained about supporting students in constructing evidence-based claims. There are no tests in this course.

6. If I complete all eight weeks of the course, how long should I plan on spending in the course and on coursework each week?

We anticipate that the course will take approximately 30 hours of time to complete. The course will be organized into four sessions, each spanning approximately two weeks. We anticipate that each session will take approximately 7-8 hours to complete, spread out over the approximately two week time span.

7. It sounds like the course has teams participating. How are teams set up?

You choose which team you would like to join. The course platform makes establishing and joining teams simple. You can set up a team with colleagues you already know. You can browse teams that others have set up, based on grade level, geographic area, and other features, and join a team that you find. Finally, you can establish a new team and make that team open for others, including people you don’t know, to join. Full details about the process of establishing teams will be available on the course website.

8. Is the course self-paced? Can I work ahead?

Some aspects of the course, such as readings and lecture videos, you can complete at your own pace. Within each of the four course sessions you can largely work at your own pace, but you cannot work ahead on future sessions. Because several assignments center around providing feedback to peers and collaboratively creating a lesson plan with your team, you will need to coordinate some aspects of your work with your teammates.

The Instructors

Karen Thompson

Assistant Professor, College of Education, Oregon State University

Dr. Karen Thompson is an Assistant Professor in the College of Education at Oregon State University. She holds a Ph.D. in Educational Linguistics from Stanford University and an M.A. in Education from the University of California, Berkeley, where she also earned an elementary bilingual teaching credential. Prior to entering academia, Dr. Thompson spent more than a decade working with English language learners in California public schools as a bilingual teacher, after-school program coordinator, and school reform consultant. Her research focuses on how policy, curriculum, and instruction interact to shape the experiences of English language learners in U.S. schools.

Sara Rutherford-Quach

Lecturer, Graduate School of Education, Stanford University

Sara Rutherford-Quach is a postdoctoral scholar with Stanford University. A former bilingual elementary teacher, Sara has more than 12 years of experience working with linguistically diverse students and their teachers and has conducted extensive research on instructional practices for English learners. Sara was previously awarded a National Academy of Education Spencer Foundation Dissertation Fellowship for her work on the role of silence and speech in an elementary classroom serving language-minority students. Her areas of interest include classroom discourse and interaction analysis; language, culture, and instruction in multilingual and multicultural educational environments; institutional, policy and curricular change; and educational equity.

Kenji Hakuta

Lee L. Jacks Professor of Education at Stanford University

Kenji Hakuta is the Lee L. Jacks Professor of Education at Stanford University. His research, publications, and professional activities have been focused on the education and development of bilingual children and youth for several decades. He works with various learning communities of district and state leaders engaged in reforming systems for ELLs. Most recently, he has been leading the Understanding Language Initiative at Stanford University in an effort to address the educational challenges and opportunities of the new standards for English Language Learners.


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