From the category archives:


Highlights and Viewpoints from Foundations’ Beyond School Hours Conference

by Jennifer Kobrin March 2, 2011
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Last week in Atlanta, Foundations hosted our largest Beyond School Hours conference yet. Almost 2,000 attendees came—representing all fifty states and a wide cross section of our country’s educational sector. For me, BSH is about building partnerships and engaging in national dialogue about what we can do (and are doing) to help kids. Beyond School Hours is one of the only national education conferences that puts afterschool at front and center, highlighting out-of-school time programs—and the people who make them happen—as critical to kids’ success.

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A trip to the Roots Conference in California (and Pedro Noguera)

by Jennifer Kobrin February 19, 2011
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This week I traveled to Visalia, California—an incredibly beautiful place at the foothills of the Sierra mountains in California’s Central Valley—to give a workshop at the first annual Roots Conference. On the second day, Pedro Noguera spoke for almost an hour. Two major themes came up during his talk. One: there are examples of effective schools out there but we are not doing enough to replicate them. Two: the problem is not the kids, or their parents.

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What Does it Mean to Know a Word? Strategies for Teaching Vocabulary to English Learners

by Jennifer Kobrin February 9, 2011
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We know that teaching vocabulary should be part of any effective instructional program for English Learners. To help EL students, we need to know what it means to learn a word, and to use this knowledge when teaching vocabulary.

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2010: A Year of English Learning

by Jennifer Kobrin January 5, 2011
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On Monday, children all over the U.S. returned to school to start the second half of the year. Although teachers (and former teachers like me) know the real year begins in September, I’m going by the calendar to present a look back at the year of English Learners and Learning in 2010.

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Home for the Holidays

by Jennifer Kobrin December 22, 2010

Every family has their own take on holiday celebrations. Some families sing certain songs or eat special foods. Others are a little more wacky. My family likes to make their grown children reenact childhood photos (let’s hope mom doesn’t find those My Little Ponies this year!).

Whatever your holiday tradition, if you have school-aged kids, chances are you will have a few days at home next week. So, before your family resorts to something as weird as mine, try some of these holiday ideas. I’ve separated this language and literacy-themed roundup by age range, but some of the younger kids might enjoy the older kid activities, and vice versa. The list includes both online and off-line activities.

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Tongue Tied: Bilingual Education, in Policy and Practice

by Jennifer Kobrin December 7, 2010
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Last week, hundreds of Chicago’s tiniest English language learners were among the first in the nation to receive state mandated bilingual instruction. According to Education Week, the new Illinois legislation calls for preschools with over 20 speakers of the same language to offer bilingual instruction, and for all lead teachers to be properly credentialed.

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Dia Del Pavo: A Thanksgiving Tale

by Jennifer Kobrin November 18, 2010

They call him El Presidente. Since the beginning of this school year, the other students have noted a striking likeness to our commander in chief. Although the physical resemblance may be uncanny, I suspect it’s not the only reason this student carries such an impressive nickname. When I met El Presidente in Andrea D’Asaro’s ESL club, part of the Prep Zone afterschool program Foundations, Inc. runs at Mariana Bracetti Academy Charter School in North Philadelphia, I was struck by his natural leadership abilities and willingness to help younger students.

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Leveraging Afterschool for EL Success

by Jennifer Kobrin October 27, 2010
Leveraging Afterschool for EL Success

“English Learners…I’m not sure we have any of those” the site director of a community-based afterschool program in California told me last year. I was skeptical. The program was in a neighborhood that had seen a large influx of Latino immigrants over the past 10 years. What’s more, a teacher from a neighboring school said more than half of her students struggled with English.

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Tales from the Road: Supporting English Learners in Indiana

by Jennifer Kobrin October 13, 2010

Earlier this month, I facilitated four training sessions in Indiana on supporting English Learners, in conjunction with the Indiana Youth Institute. During the past ten years, the population of immigrants in the Hoosier state has nearly doubled in size—some estimate the number of English Learners enrolled in K-12 education has grown by 80% (others put this figure closer to 200%).

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The Importance of Talking

by Jennifer Kobrin September 15, 2010
Spoken Language and Literacy

Several years ago, I was involved with a study focusing on young children’s language and literacy development in rural Central America. Over several weeks, our team traveled to remote villages, often fording rivers swollen by mountain rains in a jeep or lugging stacks of supplies over precarious footbridges. It was not an undertaking for the faint of heart.

Using a survey, we asked first-graders’ parents if they read books, counted and named objects, or told stories to their children regularly (in addition to gathering socio-economic and demographic data).

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