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 2020

    Anti-Racist Language Teaching

    Keynote Speaker Dr. Nelson Flores: Translanguaging into Anti-Racist Language Teaching

    Nelson Flores is an associate professor of educational linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania. His research examines the intersection of language, race, and the political economy in shaping U.S. educational policies and practices. His current research projects include a longitudinal study of students in a dual language charter school in a predominately low-income Latinx area of Philadelphia that seeks to challenge deficit perspectives by documenting the complex linguistic practices these students engage in on a daily basis and a book project that examines the institutionalization of bilingual education in the post-Civil Rights era. Dr. Flores has been the recipient of many academic awards including the 2017 AERA Bilingual Education SIG Early Career Award, a 2017 Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship, and the 2019 James Atlas Prize for Research on Language Planning and Policy in Educational Contexts. He also serves on several editorial boards including The International Journal of the Sociology of Language, Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, and Multilingua.


    Session 1:

    • Crafting Translanguaging Spaces in a Third Grade Chinese Language Arts Class with Dr. Zhongfeng Tian (Childhood/Elementary)
      This workshop looks at how to design translanguaging spaces strategically and purposefully in a third grade Chinese Language Arts class in a Mandarin-English dual language program in U.S. Drawing upon Sánchez, García, and Solorza’s (2018) translanguaging allocation policy, the presenter will showcase what translanguaging documentation, translanguaging rings, and translanguaging transformation spaces look like in practice and how these flexible multilingual spaces help bilingual learners develop content and language skills and foster their positive bi/multilingual identities and critical consciousness. Participants will walk away with concrete design ideas on incorporating translanguaging pedagogies in curriculum and instruction to maximize all students’ learning opportunities.
    • We Are Not A Monolith – Considering Diasporic Languages in The Classroom with Joselina Tejada (Childhood/Elementary)
      In this workshop we will define the term diasporas and examine the ways in which the African diasporas are included and excluded in our school literacy programs. We will use ‘windows and mirrors”” to explore how our students’ linguistic and ethnic identities within the diasporas can be better included in the classroom, thus creating an environment in which the individual differences between students can be acknowledged and celebrated. We will explore our own awareness and presumptions about the cultural and linguistic identities of our Black students. Do we assume that all our black students speak African American Vernacular? Do we acknowledge that Afro-latinx students are both Black and Latinx and may have different linguistic experiences from African American students?
    • Beyond Papers: Reimagining Democracy and Citizenship with Newcomer Youth with Rita Kamani-Renedo, Adriannys Rosario, and Amalineda Jean Francois (MG/HS)
      This workshop will share insights from a high school social studies classroom for newcomers. Through in-depth examinations of the Civil Rights Movement and LGBTQ Rights movements, and learning activities that leveraged students’ linguistic resources and funds of knowledge, students reimagined their conceptualizations of citizenship and democracy to develop a racial justice lens on history. Participants will come away with concrete strategies for teaching heterogeneous, multilingual learners that is rooted in culturally sustaining pedagogy and lived civics, challenging racist notions that language learners are not capable of engaging in complex learning that helps them read the world.
    • Mejorando Ourselves: How a Bilingual/ ESL Summer Program for Middle Grade & High School Students Targeted Anti-Blackness with Anel V. Suriel, Diana Cornwall, and Alyx Cuccinotta (MG/HS)
      In this workshop, we will share how Bilingual/ ESL middle and high school teachers in our district collaborated to identify and target anti-Black ideologies and language practices within our four-week remote learning summer program. Honoring students’ requests in our address to the Black Lives Matter movement, we will share how we selected engaging, meaningful texts and activities to engage students in identifying, resisting, and creating anti-racist stances. Participants will be asked to reflect with us on the texts selected and student work created as we collaborated to undo and resist anti-Blackness within and amongst ourselves.
    • Interrogating the Ideological Commitments of Curricular Texts with Dr. Érica Saldivar García and Dr. Heather Woodley (All)
      Informed by raciolinguistic ideologies, critical race theory, and sociocultural theories of literacy, this hands-on workshop engages practitioners, teacher educators, and those engaged in curriculum development in an interrogation of the racially charged ideologies undergirding language curricula and children’s books. Using concrete examples in both primary and secondary contexts, this workshop provides practitioners with a concrete process through which they can review various curricular texts.

    Session 2:

    • Emergent Bilinguals’ Language Practices at the Center of Literacies Instruction with Dr. Laura Ascenzi-Moreno and Dr. Cecilia Espinosa (Childhood/ Elementary)
      In this presentation we will introduce ways that you can deeply know your emergent bilinguals and their families’ language practices. From this starting point and with translanguaging at the core, we present ways that teachers can engage children in literacy practices that normalize bilingualism/multilingualism and challenge notions of gender, racial and linguistic stereotypes through a variety of literacy experiences both in reading and writing. In this work, we emphasize the importance of connecting to family and community literacies as we navigate through this new terrain of remote/blended learning.
    • Establishing Anti-Racist Language Norms for Teacher Planning and Family Communication with Carly Spina (Childhood/Elementary)
      This workshop will walk through ways to establish and maintain an asset-based lens of our learners and families through the creation and expression of language norms that can be used in professional, collaborative conversations with other educators and leaders. We will explore common phrases that educators have heard (or said) in problem-solving meetings, such as “They’re low in both languages” and juxtapose with an asset-based language lens of “They’re developing in two languages simultaneously.” We will discuss some research, some examples, and some key take-aways to start trying this alongside co-constructing professional norms for collaboration.
    • “Maestra, Can I draw my pensamientos?”: Synthesizing with Sketchnotes with Claribel González (MG/HS)
      In this session, participants will explore the benefits of sketchnoting as a transformative and innovative technique for students to showcase their understanding of concepts across content areas. Participants will analyze examples that demonstrate how bilingual students infuse their entire linguistic repertoire into their sketchnotes to disrupt monolingual spaces and reach deep levels of analysis and develop critical thinking skills.
    • The Role of Children’s Literature in Anti-Racist Approaches to Teaching with Families with Dr. Eliza Braden and Dr. Sanjuana Rodriguez (All)
      In this workshop, presenters will describe what a critical family literacy workshop developed for Black parents, elementary students, and educators to discuss issues of race and anti-Black racism. Presenters will share children’s literature and the associated prompts and questions that might be used with families and children in the facilitation of discussions of race. The insights from one participating family from Senegal who relied on transnational literacy and language practices to maintain and guide racial socialization will be shared. Presenters will also model how to use a number of critical literacy invitations with families.

    Session 3:

    • Using Postmodern Picture Books as Mentor Texts: Centering Linguistic Practices that Disrupt Eurocentric Narrative Styles with Laurie Rabinowitz and Dr. Amy Tondreau (Childhood/Elementary)
      We will identify characteristics of post-modern picture books (e.g. non-linear narratives, playfulness, interruptions and absurdity, and reader becoming the co-author) and invite participants to explore representative examples. Then, we will connect the use of post-modern pictures books to critical writing practices that disrupt Eurocentric narrative styles. Finally, we will invite participants to engage in the practice of re-writing a leveled reader using a post-modern approach. We will challenge participants to use post-modern characteristics to make leveled readers more linguistically diverse and inclusive. We will end by asking participants how they might translate this activity into their classroom settings.
    • Uncovering Students’ Bilingual Voice in Writing with Hulda Yau (Childhood/Elementary)
      This presentation will outline the steps to follow in developing students’ bilingual voice in the writing process. It will offer participants the opportunity to view short video clips of the implementation of this writing craft in a 2nd grade bilingual classroom through mentor texts and student conferences. Presentation will be given in English and Spanish.
    • Creating an Anti-Racist Comunidad: Centering las Voces de Latinx Students in the Secondary Spanish Classroom with Michaela McCaughey and Jen Lopez (MG/HS)
      This session will examine the books “En Comunidad” and “This Book is Anti-Racist,” within the context of the high school Spanish class. Teachers of dedicated heritage courses, as well as mixed-level classes with Latinx students, will benefit from this session and the lessons learned from these invaluable and timely resources. Examples will be shared from the books, as well as many real-life classroom examples of how to best put these lessons into practice. There will be a focus on multimodal literacies and engaging text options throughout, as well as options for bringing this work into the distance learning format.
    • Amplifying Voices: Expansive & Embodied Writing Pedagogies with Dr. Tracey Flores (MG/HS)
      Somos Escritoras, is space for Latina girls that invites them to share their voices through writing, art and theater. Through reading and discussion of culturally sustaining literature and art, girls are examine their lives & worlds, creating art and writing that reflects their experiences. This session will discuss the intentional building of spaces, remotely and in-person, texts the reflect embodied experiences and strategies for supporting our writers to amplify their voices in the classroom and beyond.
    • Moments that Force Us to Look: Anti-Racist Reflective Practice with Dr. Emily White and Cathleen Wiggins (All)
      This collegial inquiry activity is about anti-racist reflective practice that starts with oneself. It is experiential learning. Participants are invited to share a “moment” of miscommunication or failed encounter involving intersectionality (race, language, culture). It models a mini-protocol that allows a personal lens (one’s “politics of location”) with probing questions to add perspectives about role and systems.

    Session 4:

    • Language in Community: playing with the youngest learners with Melina Gac Levin (Early Childhood)
      Nido Forest was founded with the intention of supporting language learning through play and relationship. Our goal is to cultivate an appreciation of language by connecting Spanish to joy, community, and the world. The development of the project has challenged me to reflect on the role of translanguaging, how to meaningfully address deficit narratives, and how to communicate respectfully and effectively with children and their caregivers. Participants will be invited to consider the ways in which programs can intentionally practice anti-racist language teaching by planning for it from the first contact with families to the eventual powerful interactions during class.
    • Taking an Anti-Racist Stance as a Teacher- Researcher with Natalie Kuhl and Amy Crehore (Childhood/Elementary)
      How can teacher-researchers leverage their research to do anti-racist teaching? We will ask participants, “What stories need to be told in the community where I teach and how will I center them?” As white dual-language teachers in the Bronx, we will get vulnerable and talk about our status as outsiders, and strategies that helped us to get informed, with the aim of doing soul-affirming, language-rich, student-centered social studies. Learning the history of the South Bronx changed our vision of the neighborhood, correcting our deficit/racist views. We crafted a unit that privileged community voices, shrinking our presence and promoting the agency of students. We would provide participants with tools to start similar journeys.
    • Building Multilingual Students’ Identity and Fluency as Writers with Alethea Maldonado (MG/HS)
      My workshop will be based in my experience, philosophy, and goals as a teacher: building my multilingual students’ identity and fluency as “multilingual writers through exploring their multiliteracies/multilingual lives, collecting their writing in the writer’s notebook through teaching various writing strategies, meaningful conferencing, and publishing to a real audience. I have taken on a Children’s Book Unit each year in which my students go through the Writer’s Workshop each day with a REAL audience in mind: I use a space at a Dia de Los Muertos event at a cultural center to display my multilingual students’ books through a class-made altar.
    • Multimedia Units and Social Issues with Jessica Velez (MG/HS)
      In this workshop, I will go over a nonfiction unit for middle schoolers that builds-in social justice issues, student choice and narratives, and multiple ways of creating material. For teacher candidates, this unit serves as a model on how to center students and the problems they both care about and are affected by. Pedagogically, it also asks teachers to be mindful of the content they use in the classroom, how they present it, how they assess assignments, and whether students have a voice in their work or not.
    • “They Leave a Little Bit of Themselves Behind”: Language Learning, Disability, and Community-Based Resistance with Chelsea Stinson (All)
      This workshop addresses the need for critical partnerships between school-based professionals and multilingual parents and caregivers, who understand and resist the linguistic restrictions placed on their emergent bilingual children of color in school. Participants will explore how restricted access to linguistically affirming and supportive learning experiences for emergent bilingual children of color—especially those with disabilities—affects inclusion and belonging. Focusing on the assets and experiences of families illuminates the realities of the educational programs in which many of these students are enrolled. Participants will also explore recommendations for cultivating supportive and linguistically affirming critical partnerships between through community-based networks.

    Session 5:

    • Literacy in the Home: Supporting the Literacy Practices of Language- Minoritized Parents and Families with Klem-Marí Cajigas and Liz Atack (Early Childhood)
      How can public libraries, class/school libraries and teaching staff support the development of early literacy skills among language-minoritized children? This workshop will examine the ways a literacy outreach program emphasizes the home language practices of language-minoritized families as a tool to foster their children’s literacy development. Participants will learn more about the “Loving & Learning Family Literacy: Bringing Books to Life” workshops at the Nashville Public Library including: the use of culturally and linguistically relevant books, the emphasis on traditional oral communication and expression, encouraging the continued use of their home language, and connecting families to library resources. Participants will begin to develop their plans for their own literacy outreach program (with their school, with class library, with public library) to support family partnerships and confidence as everyone’s role is affirmed and encouraged when developing life-long readers.
    • Energize and Empower Through Workshop Teaching: Rethinking Strategies and Structures for Bilingual and Multilingual Learners with Emily DeLiddo (Childhood/Elementary)
      Identity, experience and interest can bring a workshop model to life for all readers and writers, especially our bilingual/multilingual learners. This session will explore what needs to happen within the classroom to effectively weave those essentials into reading and writing workshop. When we center student voices, create spaces for writing that is bilingual/multilingual and deepen opportunity for access to a variety of reading practices that honor the bilingual/multilingual readers we design an environment brimming with hope. We will also explore small, meaningful elements to consider within whole class experiences that support language and literacy acquisition within the balanced literacy framework and, possibly more importantly, strengthen community.
    • What’s in a Name? with Ron Woo (All)
      Slights like mispronouncing names devalue a students’ self-worth and their affect cultural identity. The mispronunciation of a student’s name has been deemed a raciolinguistic microaggression. Once internalized, in addition to feeling “othered”, students start to feel that their name, their culture and background have no value in the classroom. As teachers strive to be more culturally responsive educators, a good first step in doing so is by pronouncing students’ names correctly. This workshop will explore some ways educators can learn to pronounce their students’ names correctly.
    • School and Community Partnerships: Going Beyond Acknowledgment of Students’ Funds of Knowledge with Melisa Stoller (All)
      This workshop will focus on ways to build and sustain relationships across school leadership, school teaching staff, support staff, families and community members. Strategies on the use of stories, knowledge of students’ journeys, and creative partnerships will be shared. Examples from an elementary school will be shared and participants will be supported in developing their own plan of actions with resources that can be used by stakeholders across different settings to create a more equitable approach to teaching and connecting with bilingual and multilingual learners.
  • Fall 2019

    Reading, Writing and Talk: Inclusive Teaching for Diverse Learners

    Featured Keynote Speakers:
    Mariana Souto-Manning & Jessica Martell

    Mariana Souto-Manning, Ph.D., is Professor of Early Childhood Education and Teacher Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Professor Souto-Manning serves as Director of the Doctoral Program in Curriculum and Teaching and Director of the Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education Programs. She holds additional academic appointments at the University of Iceland (2017-2021), King’s College London (2017-2020), and Hunter College (2018-2019).

    Professor Souto-Manning is Founding Co-Director of the Center for Innovation in Teacher Education and Development (CITED). She has served as Chair of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Research Foundation and directed the federally-funded Quality Universally Inclusive Early Responsive Education (QUIERE) Project. Before becoming a university-based teacher educator, Souto-Manning was an early childhood teacher in public (pre)schools in Brazil and in the United States.

    From a critical perspective, Professor Souto-Manning’s research examines inequities and injustices in early childhood teaching and teacher education, (re)centering methodologies and pedagogies on the lives, values, and experiences of intersectionally minoritized people of color. As she problematizes issues of colonization, assimilation, and oppression in schooling and society, she critically examines theoretical and methodological issues and dilemmas of doing research with communities of color. She considers questions such as “critical for whom?” and “according to whom?” as she investigates issues pertaining to equitable teaching and learning, focusing on languaging and literacy practices in pluralistic settings. Souto-Manning regularly collaborates with teachers and engages in community-based research.

    Jessica Martell is a 4th grade NYC public school teacher. She has taught for 22 years in dual language and ICT classrooms. She is committed to disrupting educational inequities that have targeted racially and linguistically marginalized students through culturally-relevant teaching practices. Jessica had a B.S. in Elementary Education from SUNY New Paltz and M.S. in Bilingual Education from Hunter College, CUNY. She is currently a doctoral student at Teachers College, Columbia University. She is co-author the 2016 winner of the American Educational Studies Association Critics’ Choice Award, Reading, Writing, and Talk: Inclusive Teaching Strategies for Diverse Learners, K-2.


    • The Language of Dance and the Dance of Language, Led by Ana Rubinstein
      This workshop offers interactive movement strategies that engage K-12 learners in the development of language. Workshop attendees should be prepared to move and participate as we apply dance education pedagogy to activities that ignite language acquisition. We will have opportunities to practice through Total Physical Response, student collaboration and peer feedback. We will also provide inroads for full participation for students with disabilities. Focus on grades: K – 12
    • Academic Conversations in the Content Area Classroom, Led by Lillian A. Stevens & Marisol Parra
      What does an interactive bilingual classroom look and sound like when there’s a range of bilingual learners across the proficiency spectrum? How can teachers design for and scaffold the discussion so that ideas originate from the students and get shared across the group for all learners to grasp new content ideas? What about academic register, how does modeling come into play in re-casting and encouraging responses to sound a bit more like bona fide historians? All of these questions will be explored with two veteran dual language teachers. Lillian brings her expertise from the classroom and her current research on bilingual teacher language practices alongside Marisol, a native Spanish-speaker with a decade of experience designing content lessons with high expectations and high levels of support. Participants will review classroom discussion transcripts of conversations from a 4th grade Dual Language social studies classroom. They will create a script of student-teacher interactions that emulates the principles of academic discourse. Crafting student responses based upon a range of language proficiency levels will also be addressed. This session is intended for upper-elementary and middle school teachers of emergent bilinguals, as well as administrators and support staff who work with students across the language proficiency spectrum. Focus on grades: 3rd and up
    • Upholding Student Identities in the Classroom: Developing Language Through Readings, Discussions, and Projects, Led by Benelly Alvarez, Julissa Acevedo, & Grasilel Diaz
      This workshop will take a look at different ways teachers can incorporate culturally relevant literature into their classrooms. We will discuss, share, and practice ways that students can make text-to-self connections with literature through personal student projects to support the development of receptive and expressive language. Facilitators will share project photos and videos of work done in a 1st grade and 4th-grade dual language inclusive classroom. We will also discuss practical ways to create culturally relevant multimedia/mixed media projects. Focus on grades: PreK – 12
    • Differentiation in the Classroom as a Tool to Support All Learners, Led by Judy Gutierrez & Santiago Mayorga
      This workshop will explore the use of differentiation supports in English Language Arts and Mathematics. Through photos, videos, and examples this hands-on workshop will model essential supports and effective teaching practices that foster learning for all learners in a respectful and nurturing environment. We will also give participants opportunities to apply these practical strategies to their settings. Focus on grades: K – 8
    • One Child, Many Languages: Effective Practices in a Linguistically Diverse Early Childhood Setting, Led by Margaret Blachly & Carmen Colón
      How can an early childhood classroom be all things for a young child’s social, emotional and cognitive development….AND build capacity for bilingualism? In this workshop, two Bank Street faculty members, Carmen Colón and Margaret Blachly will share the work they have done researching and showcasing the early childhood dual language practice at Castle Bridge School. They will introduce an e-book, created to offer teachers and teachers-in-training explicit examples of discrete practices that support children’s holistic language development in the K-1 classrooms. Through video footage of classroom practices and interviews with teachers, as well as discussion questions and guides, the e-book will open up new ideas and support teachers in taking next steps in their own setting. Throughout the workshop, Margaret and Carmen will facilitate the study of the Castle Bridge practice to support teachers in making plans for their own practice. Focus on grades: Pre-K – 2nd
  • 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.


    • 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.


    • 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?


    • 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.


    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.