The Language Series

Past Conferences

The original Language Series, titled “The Dual Language Series,” focused on the needs of Dual Language teachers and took place over three Saturdays. Because the methodologies that Dual Language teachers use are effective across the board for all teachers, regardless of the setting, we later changed the name and focus of the program to include all educators of children pre-K through high school.

In 2012, the conference was renamed as “Beyond the Language Series” and revamped to take place over the course of a single weekend. In 2017, the conference was modified again and took place on one Saturday under the name “The Language Series.”

Throughout the conference’s history, we have maintained the same goals for the event: to focus on supporting hands-on, interactive, differentiated language development that supports all learners in all settings. Each year we choose a topic that is timely and inclusive of those who support our work, including parents, coaches, leaders, and school staff.

Below is an archive of past conference speakers and workshops:

  • Fall 2018

    Language Series WorkshopMultiple Pathways to Learning in the Age of Accountability

    The 2018 Language Series explored teaching methods designed to support educators who are seeking to enhance their practice in spite of prevailing, one-dimensional accountability pressures. We focused on student engagement in both language and content development through multiple pathways: music, project based learning, multimodal literacy, and others.

    Featured Keynote Presenter:
    Dr. Nancy Cloud

    Nancy Cloud serves as Professor Emerita at the Feinstein School of Education and Human Development at Rhode Island College in Providence, Rhode Island where she coordinates the M.Ed. in TESL and Bilingual Endorsement Programs and teaches graduate courses on second language and literacy development. She frequently works with teachers in schools to promote effective instructional practices and responsive curriculum for English Language Learners. Her most recent publications include Dual Language Instruction from A to Z: Practical Guidance for Teachers and Administrators, with Fred Genesee & Else Hamayan, Literacy Instruction for English Language Learners: A Teacher’s Guide to Research-Based Practices, and Teaching Adolescent English Language Learners: Essential Strategies for Middle and High School, a book written with three exemplary urban teachers of adolescent ELLs.

    Workshops:

    • Promoting a Community of Writers: Never Enough Writing Supports in the Language Aware Classroom with facilitator Yolanda Rodriguez
      Participants will experience a hands-on approach to teaching writing to linguistically diverse learners and language strugglers. We will discuss strategies to increase the fluency and confidence of writers within a nonfiction unit of study in a dual language classroom. We will explore together and in small groups ways to implement these strategies in our own classrooms as we support writing output in a language aware classroom.
    • The “I” and the “Us:” Exploring Multi-Modalities and Building Community Through Language Learning with facilitator Hannah Ingram
      This workshop will guide you in how to incorporate multi-modal literacy strategies in your curriculum as an important way of embracing the diverse experiences of students. Participants will look at examples of integrated curriculum from an inclusion and a general education classroom to deepen their understanding of how students make choices, access content, and become critical thinkers. There will be opportunities to make connections to your classroom curriculum and apply these multi-modal strategies to your own setting. Key components of the workshop include responsive practice, a student-driven curriculum, linguistic ways of knowing and expression, the development of meta-cognitive and meta-linguistic awareness, and social justice.
    • Music Moves the Room: Using Songs, Rhythm, & Music Games to Enhance Language Development & Bring Joy to the Day with facilitator Sally Cleaver
      Participants will learn to infuse all aspects of classroom life with music to enhance language acquisition. Musical games, songs, and rhythms will be shared and participants will create warm-ups, transitions, routines, and original classroom songs that best suit the community and grades in which they teach. Music is an incredibly complex activity, incorporating various components of the human brain. It is linked to memory, the emotional center of the brain, the motor cortex, and other areas. In the classroom, music can be used to soothe, to excite; to help students remember and learn, and to transition. The possibilities are endless. Come explore with us!
    • Let’s Play! Using Games to Support Language Development Across the Grades with facilitator Teresa Elguera
      Humans learn language from interacting with one another. When we play with babies, they listen and watch, noting tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language. We communicate with them and they understand us even though they don’t understand our words. Children will play together across language barriers, finding ways to laugh and to begin to process one another’s language. As we get older and more self-conscious, we are less likely to be playful with people we “can’t understand” and feel worried about making fools of ourselves or being silly. In this workshop, we will use games and humor to play with language and consider how these or similar games could positively influence both the learning and community in our classrooms.
    • Working with Very Young Dual Language Learners in Project Time: Planning Experiences for Language Development with facilitator Antonia Bendezu
      As linguistically diverse young children engage in their expanding environment, they are continuously exploring and experimenting with language. Through the use of projects in the classroom, teachers can use enriching experiences to support children’s language development and many ways of expression. In this workshop, teachers will have the opportunity to sample project time areas, then through discussion, deconstruct the areas and the planning involved to scaffold language acquisition. Teachers will walk away with ideas to implement effective project-based strategies in their own settings.
  • Fall 2017

    Multiliteracies: Exploring Multimodal Pedagogies for Academic Success

    One participant discussing a collage with two tablematesLanguage is nuanced, multi-modal, and ever-changing. By language, we mean not just words but all the forms in which communication can be represented. In the 21st century, innovative pedagogies affect the way we teach, using various ways of accessing content that are reflected in multiliteracies. The Language Series 2017 focused on teaching methods to better engage students in language and content development: not only digital technology but also explorations, music, sounds, block building, and others.

    Featured Keynote Presenter:
    Detra Price-Dennis, PhD
    Teachers College, Columbia University

    Dr. Detra Price-Dennis led us in the exploration of this topic in her keynote. Workshops with experienced practitioners and researchers inspired and engaged through hands-on activities and specific examples.

    Workshops:

    • The classroom as a learning laboratory: Using projects as a tool for language development with facilitator José Daniel Sandín
      Through photos, videos, anecdotes, and examples, this workshop models essential practices of the project approach as a multimodal avenue for learning. Students work on relevant and purposeful context-rich projects through collaboration, asking questions, and making choices within a supportive “learning laboratory” classroom. Projects bridge the divide between the classroom and the outside world as students explore, discover, and learn using their senses and joyful creativity. In this hands-on workshop, participants explored Project Time to identify tools and resources that can be applied at any grade level.
    • Fostering student agency and voice: A critical multiliteracy approach to developing narrative skills with facilitator Mimi Rosenberg
      Critical rewriting of familiar stories can be a powerful technique for building a strong sense of agency and voice in upper elementary and middle school students who bring a wide variety of language and literacy experiences. In this workshop, we looked at how a multiliteracies approach to rewriting literature can foster the development of students’ abilities to engage in a critical interrogation of text. Participants experimented with multimodal materials as they considered how this experience can support students with diverse abilities and challenges by incorporating this approach in their own teaching.
    • The Many Languages of Block Building: Creating spaces for emerging literacies through play with facilitator Rebecca Burdett
      In this workshop, we discovered together how to make the block area a place of greater innovation, communication, and community building within the early childhood classroom. In this hands-on workshop, set in Bank Street’s own block areas, we started at the beginning, thinking about how to create a space that works for every builder; sharing routines that ensure a safe and productive building experience for all, and focusing on the powerful ways that block building supports oral fluency. We examined documentation of particularly rich project work in the block area and consider the multiliteracies our ENL students used to construct meaning.
    • Music as a pathway for learning at every age with facilitator: Alina Vayner
      In this workshop, participants gained an introductory understanding of why music is important for the growing minds of children and how musical activities in the classroom can support everything from language acquisition to emotional regulation. Participants also got the tools they need to incorporate music into a wide variety of classroom routines, and they had the opportunity to design a musical activity to suit the specific needs of the children with whom they work. Music is an incredibly complex activity, incorporating various components of the human brain. It is linked to memory, the emotional center of the brain, the motor cortex, and other areas. In the classroom, music can be used to soothe, to excite, to remember, to learn, to transition. The possibilities are endless.
    • Sounds in Motion: Using Body Movements to Train Auditory Perception, Language, and Early Literacy with facilitator Stephanie Light Kuhnel
      This workshop was designed to inform classroom teachers, speech-language pathologists, and reading/learning specialists, of a unique, engaging, and effective program that helps early learners from pre-K through first grade acquire phonemic awareness, listening, early literacy, vocabulary, and articulation skills through the use of body movements that are part of the verbo-tonal system. The program has been shown to be beneficial to children who are in both regular and special education classes, those who are English Language Learners, students who qualify for Title 1 schools, and older students who are having difficulty learning to read. Beginning in 2015, Sounds in Motion  was selected to be used in 43 elementary schools in the NYC Department of Education in an Early Literacy initiative.
  • Fall 2016

    Building on Students’ Linguistic and Cultural Assets for Academic Success

    Conference attendees dancing in partnersThe 17th Annual Language Series was held on November 18 and 19, 2016, and featured a keynote presentation by Ofelia García.

    The Language Series supports educators in understanding the critical role that language plays in the social and academic success of all students. The focus of the Fall 2016 Language Series was on how to use the social language of our students for academic language development. By building on students’ linguistic and cultural assets, the school community both strengthens and affirms the social language that students bring to school. This creates a strong foundation for academic language development. A strong predictor of academic success is the ability of a teacher to draw upon a student’s background and social language. If done well, this serves as a bridge to developing a deeper understanding and appreciation of content knowledge and academic language. Some of the questions explored:

    • How can we create classroom and school environments that celebrate students’ linguistic and cultural assets?
    • How can we honor and utilize the linguistic resources that students bring to school to negotiate and acquire academic content?
    • How can we provide multiple points of access to the curriculum through rigorous cognitive engagement?
    • How can we design curriculum that encourages students to use their home and school language(s) to make meaning?

    Workshops:

    • Fostering Communication Using Culturally Responsive Practices and Authentic Collaborations with our Youngest Communicators with facilitators Gabriel Guyton and Kristina Satchell
      We looked at how to build on very young children’s linguistic and cultural assets while supporting their social and cognitive development. Through large and small group discussions as well as hands on activities, we explored the importance of early language for very young children and strategies for supporting each and every child and their family paying special attention to concepts of family and culture exploring core components and specific strategies for culturally and linguistically responsive teaching during the early years.
    • Imagination in Language Learning: Building Preschool Curricula around Folk Stories and Role Playing with facilitator Ana Lomba
      Stories are effective frameworks for learning and developing language in context. Even the content of a simple story for preschoolers can lead to deep socio-emotional, cultural, or subject explorations. Dramatic play is the ideal complement to a story frame. Dramatic play leads to increased comprehension and oral performance, among many other things – and preschoolers engage deeply. At no other age are stories as powerful and beloved by an entire segment of the population. Tapping into young children’s imagination and providing them with tools expand their dramatic performance in new directions. In this presentation, author Ana Lomba illustrated how she planned her Magic Worlds® curriculum for language immersion. Participants planned together a simple frame for their own story-based lesson plans.
    • Songs and Singing as a Gateway for Language Development in Early Childhood with facilitator Betsy Blachly
      Songs and singing are essential tools for language development. Songs can support a piece of curriculum, or celebrate a group’s accomplishments, or transition to a different focus and mood. When spontaneous singing starts in a room, it is a signal that the children are happy and engaged in their learning. To extend the use of singing even further, volunteering words to a song motivates many learners; done as a group it becomes compelling.
    • Group work that sets out to rewrite words of a beloved song triggers word retrieval and associations that stimulate the brain. As an example, songs called “Zipper songs” offer these cohesive moments; any word that is suggested works. Melody and rhythm propel this excitement. The beauty of classroom singing is that, in the safety of the group, shyer children find confidence to join in with their voice and “try out” words that come to mind: success, and pride in success, is palpable.
    • Challenging the Dominance of Standard American English: Using Code-Meshing Pedagogy to Take Advantage of Students’ Full Linguistic Repertoires with facilitator Pamela Jones
      It is the rare person who speaks a single language variety! As our students come to us with a range of language resources, we must adopt frames of mind and pedagogical approaches designed to utilize their full linguistic repertoires. In this workshop, we expanded our notions of what constitutes a language, examined our language biases, considered how to delve deeply into our students’ language knowledge, and used code-meshing to increase points of entry for our students. Canagarajah & Young (2014) define the code-meshing approach to teaching English as one that “extends (the) teaching of literacy skills by allowing students to write in their native language variety…by urging students to exploit and blend (grammatical) differences.” Participants in this workshop analyzed samples of code-meshing, practiced generating code-meshing samples from their own language systems, and considered how to apply code-meshing to an aspect of their English Language Arts curriculum or another content area.
    • Incorporating Translanguaging in Your Classroom with facilitators Gladys Aponte and Tim Becker
      This workshop focused on incorporating translanguaging strategies and spaces into the curriculum. Translanguaging allows educators to better assess and build on students’ diverse backgrounds, inspire linguistic confidence, and develop metalinguistic awareness. Participants looked at examples of translanguaging in various classroom environments and analyzed student work to reflect on how to best support learning in multilingual environments.
    • Language Matters! Supporting Mathematical Discourse in the Classroom with facilitator Amy Withers
      This workshop explored the role of discourse in the mathematics classroom. How do we support the development of ideas and language in mathematics? All students, including ELLs and those with language-based disabilities, need supported opportunities to communicate their mathematical thinking and develop mathematical language. The workshop focused on the “why” of mathematics while exploring strategies to support and develop productive discourse for all learners in a classroom.
    • Oh, The Places We’ll Go! Integrating Movement and Dance into the Curriculum for Meaning Making with facilitator Clara Bello
      Most of the big milestones achieved in life have involved some combined use of the connection between the body and the mind (eating, crawling, walking, running, etc.). However, too often students are asked to shut down their bodies and focus only on their brains. For the little ones, this can make for an unnatural learning environment; for our older students, this can disengage the mind and take the joy out of learning. This workshop explored different entry points for incorporating movement into the content areas. The purpose was to reunite the mind and the body in the pursuit, acquisition, retention, and creative reuse of knowledge. Through movement activities, we discovered how much more meaningful education can be if there is an authentic purpose at its core, strong connections that can be formed, and valuable insights to be gained. Some content areas we explored are social studies, math, language arts, and science.
  • Fall 2015

    Language and the Brain: How We Learn Best

    Conference attendees working in partners, looking at a documentThe 16th Annual Language Series took place on November 6 and 7, 2015, and featured a keynote presentation by Dr. Mark Bertin, MD. Dr. Bertin lead us in the exploration of how understanding brain development can guide the learning process. Understanding the workings of the brain facilitates learning and helps us to become more effective teachers and care providers. Two of the most vital and proven areas of development that influence learning are language and a set of self-management skills called executive function. Children best thrive in teaching and learning environments that mirror and support typical child development.

    Workshops:

    Supporting Receptive Language Through Transitions and Meetings with facilitator Eve Selver-Kassell
    This workshop focused on strategies and routines that support all students, particularly those with receptive language delays, during classroom transitions and meetings. Through viewing video, pictorial and anecdotal data, participants had the opportunity to learn about how explicit expectations, consistent language, structured routines and interactive meetings can enhance the participation of ALL learners throughout the school day. Participants were given time to analyze one component of their school day and develop actionable plans to bring newly-found strategies into their classrooms.

    Let’s Be Hands-On! Using American Sign Language in the Classroom with facilitator Serena Leigh Krombach
    Introducing American Sign Language (ASL) to students focuses attention on how we communicate, whatever our spoken language, and helps us practice using our bodies, faces, and especially our eyes to support common understanding. In this workshop, participants learned how ASL aids in classroom management, multisensory literacy learning, and fine motor development, as well as enrich awareness of linguistic, cultural, and physical diversity. The focus of the workshop was experiential learning: Participants joined in songs and fun activities to take with them back to school.

    The Classroom as a Learning Laboratory: Project-Based Learning and Your Curriculum with facilitator Tamara Kirson
    Project-Based Learning (PBL) invites students to learn language by working on relevant and purposeful context-rich projects. Students focus on developing 21st-century skills such as autonomous learning, collaboration, asking questions, making choices within the supportive “learning laboratory” classroom. “In PBL classrooms, students…exhibit more engagement, are more self-reliant…” (Thomas, 2000). These projects bridge the divide between the classroom and the outside world as students reveal their in-depth knowledge, sense of community, and joyful creativity to an authentic audience. In this interactive workshop, participants were introduced to the theories and elements of Project-Based Learning. They were provided tools and resources about PBL and collaborated to build a PBL schema for their classrooms.

    To Dance Is to Know: How to Enhance Content Knowledge Through Movement and Dance with facilitator Ana Inés Rubinstein
    This workshop introduced participants to a variety of approaches for meaningfully integrating dance and movement into math, social studies, science, or language arts units. Participants examined dance-integrated units through a critical lens to ensure that movement activities not only increase student engagement but also deepen understanding of academic concepts, promote critical thinking, and encourage further questions and exploration. The presenter provided a range of sample lessons and resources, and guided participants toward the creation of their own dance-integrated lessons for implementation in their own classrooms.

    Curtain Up: Place-Based Teaching & Learning in the New York City Theater District with facilitators Peggy McNamara and Bryan Andes
    This workshop introduced participants to place-based teaching and learning approaches that teachers use as they guide their students to investigate a place in their school community called “the theater district,” an important industry in the neighborhood. Participants examined this in-depth study of theaters where first-grade students learned about the roles, responsibilities, and interdependence of people who work in and attend theaters, and then had the opportunity to recreate their own understanding by generating their own show. Through viewing video and pictorial and anecdotal data, participants had an opportunity to investigate teaching strategies and consider how they would use them in their own settings.

    Mama, Me, Mine: Insights from the Youngest Communicators with facilitator Alanna Navitski
    The emergence of a child’s communicative abilities over the first five years of life is remarkable to consider, requiring a complex integration of motor abilities, cognitive understandings, and social awareness. At the heart of these developmental processes lies the need for connection and understanding for which the human brain is designed. This workshop explored the growing body of research that describes the power of emotionally powerful experiences and responsive relationships in the development of skillful communication. Practical strategies for bringing these insights into interactions with children was highlighted.