A New Face in the EL Department

We are happy to introduce our new Secretary IV, Salwa (Sue) Dakroub.
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She is a great addition to our department and we are excited to have her. Sue replaced Val Ferrante.  Sue comes to us from McCollough-Unis.  Sue is here to support the department and schools in supporting the needs of ELs.
Sue’s extension is 78044 and email is dakrous@dearbornschools.org
Sue brings with her a wealth of knowledge, experience and commitment.
We are lucky to have her!

Mary, Mary…

It is with regret but warm wishes that the EL Department announces the retirement of Mary Niebel.  She is an integral part of the team (and a fun part too!).



One way to look at it is that your retirement actually means that you got promoted to one of the best roles in your life.  Congratulations!

Thanks for everything you have done for your colleagues and the EL Department.  Hard work, dedication and joy are only a few precious things you have shared with us every day.  If you put as much effort into enjoying your retirement as you have all the years you’ve been working with the EL Department, your retirement will truly be amazing!

May the years ahead bring you great joy and relaxation.  We will truly miss you Mary!

-EL Department



Socratic Seminars in Action

AVID students at Stout Middle School are practicing Socratic Seminars.  The linked video (below) captures a Socratic Seminar based on an article claiming all students should have paid employment while going to school.

Socratic Seminars are structured, collaborative dialogues, focusing on a common text or resource.  Students prepare for the dialogue by analyzing the text and preparing questions to spur the discussion.  This strategy provides a format for students to practice skills in critical thinking, reading, and inquiry, as they participate in the inquiry-based dialogue.

CLICK HERE to watch Stout students in action


ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 is the WIDA Consortium’s next generation English language proficiency assessment system.  Beginning February 2016, we will begin administration of this new summative assessment from grades 1–12.  An online assessment will replace the earlier paper-based assessment.

ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 is aligned with the WIDA English Language Development Standards and assesses each of the four language domains of Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing.  The online test contains similar item types to the original paper-based test, with new features made possible through the use of the online test environment.wida access

^screenshot of Listening practice test

The Kindergarten and Alternate ACCESS for ELLs assessments will not change from previous years and remain paper-based.

Full Steam Ahead

Bilingual Resource Teachers had a full day of learning today.

  • The day started by delving into Language and Literacy to review the 7 Steps of a Language-Rich Interactive Classroom using the 12-minute research strategy.
  • The learning continued by revisiting the RAN strategy and discussing benefits and adaptations for all levels from Kindergarten to 12th grade. (see previous blog for more information on how to implement this strategy with students.)
  • Another important focus included a topic essential to English Learners… Oral Language Development!  With explicit instruction and the right resources in hand, ELs can learn the patterns of the English Language by repeated encounters with language structures that have a gradient of difficulty.
  • Finally, Resource Teachers spent an adequate amount of time sharing important feedback by participating in WIDA’s validation survey before the finalization of the NEW 2016 Can Do Descriptors.



Learning Through Reflection

Susan Stanley, Principal at Salina Elementary reflects on this week’s Language and Literacy work related to Planning and Teaching with the ELA Standards in Mind:

“We have had some very powerful learning this week at Salina Elementary.  I truly believe that our staff has made great leaps in their understanding of Content and Language Objectives as they apply to their grade level standards.  Taking the time to dissect and plan those standards into meaningful learning for our ELs with a common vocabulary, stretched our beliefs and learning for us all.

The teachers left excited and renewed.  It was the definition of an effective PLC.  Amy Markos is such an excellent facilitator.   We are all going to see the results of this week of learning.

On behalf of the teachers and students of Salina, thank you again for bringing this learning to our building.”

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Keeping the Focus

The successful implementation of standards-based instruction requires teachers to embrace a continuous improvement cycle that focuses on effective teaching and learning practices.

With guidance by Dr. Melissa Castillo, the principal trainer of MelCast Educational Consulting, teachers at Oakman Elementary are reflecting deeply on their content and language objectives aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

They have committed to looking at the standards to make good decisions about the skills they need to teach aligned to those standards.  The planning continues by then designing an academic task aligned to the standard that can be used to measure how well students are meeting the standards.

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Planning with the Standards in Mind

Dr. Amy Markos, National Language and Literacy consultant and trainer, is back in town working with dedicated staff from Geer Park and Salina Elementary.  The goal for the PD is to help teachers understand the ELA standards and how they look like when teaching and learning within the literacy framework.  She also worked to guide them toward planning measurable, observable Content and Language Objectives during reading instruction.  It was a great, meaningful day of learning!