New CELDT practice for 6-8th graders

I just completed a comprehensive practice module for the CELDT test for grades 6-8. It is in sliderocket format, but you can print out the slides if you want, or work form a SmartBoard or regular projector.

Note: The teacher says parts are meant to be read aloud by an instructor. Also, it is a work in progress,so I appreciate any corrections and feedback. Please share with anyone who is struggling with reclassifying English Language Learners in the middle grades.


Extra, extra, READ all about it!

If ever you’ve educated the young and have tried to impart the joyous importance of reading you know that while even Sisyphus might empathize with you, he does not envy you.

Why Reading Mattersa documentary by science writer Rita Carter, explores the effects of reading on the evolved brain and if multimedia, specifically video games,threatens those evolutionary gains thus far.  Despite not being programmed to read, she explains, when we do, it exercises and strengthens our ability to empathize with the characters of a novel and learn from their past mistakes in order to apply those lessons to real life.  Some scientists argue that video games, in particular, do not exercise the brain enough in that way due to their lack of content.  Though the evidence is inconclusive, I agree; while video games exercise other brain functions like eye hand coordination they do not exercise empathy enough. Even the collaborative qualities of mission-based, multi-player videos games do not develop the narrative and character enough to give us the empathy the real world is so desperate for us to learn.  What do you think?  Does digital media threaten the evolutionary benefits of reading?

For English Language Learners, their educators, and parents this documentary explains why for them practicing reading is even more crucial to academic development.  In part 2 of 6, minute 5, Professor of Education Usha Goswami at Cambridge University validates what most of us who learn English as a Second Language have known all along: English is much harder to learn than any other language!  She asserts that English is so hard that our brains must develop a whole different system to support this function than when we learn any other language.  For educators this is huge, science validates the frustrations of our students trying to learn content and English at the same time.  It is huge for them to know that there is nothing wrong with them nor with us trying to lead them down this rabbit whole.

Mobile Tech in Classrooms Boost English Learners – New America Media

Mobile Tech in Classrooms Boost English Learners – New America Media.

This past summer  New America Media  featured a zapaTECHISTA classroom in a news piece about the benefits and uses of mobile learning devices in a classroom filled with English Language Learners. Jacob Simas and Vivian Po, two reporters for NAM, the collaborative journalism project that brings together over 2000 ethnic media outlets, visited our Hayward, CA 6th grade classroom as the year was winding down to interview students, teachers, and the principal to get a handle on the issue of whether using mobile devices in classrooms can really begin to bridge the digital divide.

Here is a link to the full article:

Obama Holds Town Hall on Latino Education Issues

U.S. President Obama took time out of bombing Libya to answer some questions about what his administration is or is not doing to address the problems facing the English Learners and Latino students in our schools. Jorge Ramos of the  Univision network put this “Foro Comunitario” together las Monday as part of their feature entitled “El Presidente, Los Hispanos, y la Educación.”

The event took place at the Bell Multicultural High School in Washington D.C and in conjunction by the Gates Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, and advocacy groups. (Even NASA is credited on the Univisión website as having had a hand in it. )

Obama spoke in his usual, calculated manner, pointing out things he has said before, unveiling no  surprises, but as a whole  the forum  served as a good landscape view of the Obama administration’s positions on issues that affect the Hispanic community, and the national educational trajectory in general.

Here are some of the highlights, in case you don’t want to sit through the whole 45 minute video:

Jorge Ramos confronted Obama with the statistic that his administration has deported more people than any other, to which he responded that his administration has made the deportation of “criminals” rather than normal hardworking people a priority. The latter group, he argued, has seen a decrease in deportation.

In one of the most poignant moments a student asked via video, why she received a deportation order, challenging his assertion that they were only trying to deport criminals. The POTUS responded with administration talking points on the importance of securing borders and getting comprehensive immigration reform passed.

Then he fielded a tough question on the amount of money the U.S. spends on war compared to what it spends on education. He tiptoed around it, and said that the defense budget was built over many decades. He claimed that in his new budget, even with all the wars he is still committed to fighting, he was able to increase the overall education budget by ten percent. Balance, balance, he argued.

He then gave the usual billboard advice to parents on the importance of reading to your child and staying involved in school, and going to college. He also did more than his fair share of tooting his administration’s horn on his accomplishments on making college more affordable and such. He was clearly in campaign mode at times, and managed to crack a few jokes where he could.

But the atmosphere was punctured by a woman who spoke about her son who died as a result of bullying, who asked why did he not answer her letters and what we was planning on doing about it at a national scale. He said he was sorry to hear about it, and went on to tout what he was already doing about it.

Obama also went down the list of tech devices he owns–ipad, computer, blackberry–which led to the final question, delivered by another student, Diana Castillo, about access to technology.

Obama raced through the answer, but said “if” schools know how to use technology well, every student should have access to the computer. “Technology is not a magic bullet,” he said and added that

Another student challenged him on the amount of standardized tests, which he found excessive. Obama replied by saying that those tests are being used to punish students an schools too much, and that we needed a “less pressure-packed atmosphere” and that we should perhaps consider giving tests every few years. Obama and his Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, have hinted such things in the past, but it was refreshing to hear him say that he doesn’t want students evaluated solely on standardized tests, and that education should not be focused on “teaching to the test”.

To what extent they are going to move on this given the sad state of the Congress is still to be seen, although signs are not hopeful–but not altogether hopeless either.

To CELDT or not to CELDT?

Despite widely known issues with the reliability and validity of the California English Language Development Test, as well as other standardized tests that assess English language proficiency throughout the nation, California continues to determine the future of 1.5 million English Language Learners according to its results.

Brush up on your knowledge of the issues:

Stokes-Guinan, K. & Goldenbery, C. (2010).  Use with Caution: What CELDT results can and cannot tell us. CATESOL Journal. Retrieved by

Would you like more?  Let us know.