Sunday, November 11, 2012

Assessment Problems

As a pre-service teacher, I’ve had limited interaction with FCAT data. I’ve seen students’ scores, but I don’t know how much information teachers actually have available to them. I’ve heard terms like “The Toolbox” thrown around, but it seems like our school is pretty good about allowing teacher flexibility to meet students’ needs. I’ve heard RTI mentioned once or twice by now, but I still haven’t seen it in action. Since I’m only there four, half days a week in math and science, that doesn’t necessarily mean much. Either way it’s nice to have a good framework, as laid out by Dennis (2009), for the future. I really like that this process emphasizes including students in the goal-setting process and making sure all teachers play a part. I also like that it doesn’t rely solely on tests like FCAT, but pulls in data from a variety of assessments. 

Caldwell (2008) brought up an important yet sticky point that the public puts more faith in standardized test results than classroom assessment. It is a debate my husband and I have periodically. I understand the reasoning though. One of the unique opportunities in being a teacher is doing what works best for you and your students, and you can’t really communicate that to the general public.

Being in a departmentalized classroom provides a sort of picture of the way different teachers’ approach to things like management and grading shapes the environment. Grading at the elementary level is hard though, harder than Caldwell (2008) conveys in my opinion. Children develop at such a wide variety of rates, and so it makes sense to consider things like effort. The students who aren’t quite there but really try might just be sitting on the edge of a developmental hurdle. At the same time, I don’t think something like attitude should lower a grade. I do like the suggestion to hold report cards until all assignments are in, but I don’t know that many schools would allow such practices. I think grading is something that should receive more discussion in our program.


Caldwell, J. S. (2008). Reading assessment: A primer for teachers and coaches (2nd Ed). New York City, NY: Guilford.

Dennis, D. V. (2009). "I'm not stupid:" How assessment drives (in)appropriate reading instruction. Journal of adolescent and adult literacy, 53(4), 283-290.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Comprehension and Vocabulary

The RAND Reading Study Group (2002) definition of comprehension strikes me. Comprehension is "the process of simultaneously extracting and constructing meaning through interaction and involvement with written language" (p. 11). That makes my head spin a little, and I'm 27 years old. We're taking away. We're building. We're interacting. We're a part of something. Duke (2003) says we're navigating and critiquing too. We're doing it all at the same time! No wonder these kids struggle with it. God forbid we ever tell them what we really expect them to do. When any of the basic literacy skills is missing, this becomes ten times more challenging.

Background knowledge is one of the trickiest areas of comprehension in my opinion. We're trying to help students make connections to things they already know and have learned (Pardo, 2004). However, they may have been struggling long enough that there are significant holes in their academic knowledge, and we have to rely solely on what they know from their personal lives. Now, it's great to be able to make text-to-self connections, but by the intermediate grades, we have to assume they've learned and remember some things from previous grades. This is a key point in the literacy cycle. Sometimes we have to play catch up.

I like that Pardo (2004) suggests we sometimes give students difficult texts to provide opportunities for them to practice their comprehension strategies. Stahl (2012) would agree if the reading occurs in a shared setting. Having the teacher read the "stretch texts" while modeling his or her thinking allows children both the chance hear a fluent reader and the strategies they will need to use once they are on their own. Teaching students how to select appropriate texts has always looked inauthentic to me. I'm not sure how to describe it, but telling students there are books they shouldn't read just seems wrong. I understand the purpose, but I think I have yet to see it modeled in a way that I would follow.

Stahl and Bravo (2010) bring interesting insight to the idea of what it means to "know" a word. I think it's important to remember that students don't just know or not know. They could be in any number of positions around the understanding of the fact that a word exists or that it means somethings sometimes or even all the possible meanings!

I'm intrigued by the study put forth by Bauman, Ware, and Edwards (2007). I'm impressed by the knowledge students took away, but it was so comprehensive. I know we have to give our all in everything, but sometimes (in compartmentalized classrooms for example) we don't have the chance to have our hands in everything in that way. Can we pick and choose and see similar results?

Another question I have is how to get students to actually use the tools we provide. Imparting the knowledge of how to use the Vocabulary Rule and Word-Part Clues is great, but I get the feeling from some students that it will take a lot to get them to care enough to use them (Bauman, Ware, & Edwards, 2007). I wish we had the insight as children to take good notes on our own literacy journeys. When did decoding become natural for me?

Bauman, Ware, and Edwards (2007) respond with fostering word consciousness. The students with whom I'm working now need more than personal dictionaries and lessons on how much more interesting it is to read writing with varied vocabulary. I think games and challenges might be the best inspiration.

I know I've covered motivation before, but now that I've spent some time in the classroom, it's clear: Motivation is key. I was reading Pardo's (2004) article while working on an unrelated assignment, and I realized how important it is to me that my students do authentic work. I don't want them to do busy work until they get an idea. I want them to care enough to want to learn.

*On a side note, I found a cool site with lots of online wordy resources. Check it out.


Baumann, J. F., Ware, D., & Edwards, E. C. (2007). "Bumping into spicy, tasty words that catch your tongue": A formative experiment on vocabulary instruction. The reading teacher 61(2), 108-122.

Pardo, L. S. (2004). What every teacher needs to know about comprehension. The reading teacher, 58(3), 272-280.

Rivas, K. (2010, May 24). 50 coolest online tools for word notes [Blog]. Retrieved from

Stahl, K. A. D. (2012). Complex text or frustration-level text: Using shared reading to bridge the difference. The reading teacher, 66(1), 47-51.

Stahl, K. A. D., & Bravo, M. A. (2010). Contemporary classroom vocabulary assessment for content areas. The reading teacher, 63(7), 566-578.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Reading Levels

I am really interested in the idea that we should be providing text books that are on students' independent reading level rather than their instructional level (Allington, 2002). Yes, we want high standards. We want to push our students, but we also want them to be able to read and comprehend their content material! I think a large factor is how much they are reading independently versus with the support of their teachers and classmates.

Wouldn't it be nice if students' word recognition always aligned with their comprehension? Unfortunately, educational decisions are rarely that simple as Halladay (2012) points out. As I've posted previously, I'm still pretty much in favor of not counting students' reading errors if they don't affect comprehension. As long as students get the message, there are so many other things to worry about! Maybe I'm naive.

The assumption that "certain levels of decoding and comprehension difficulty cause frustration" (Halladay, 2012, p. 59) is so complex, but ultimately, I think a lot of it comes down to projecting our own issues on children. I know there is a book sitting on my bookshelf, Making a Killing, The Political Economy of Animal Rights (2007). I would love to read it, but it's definitely at my frustration level (which is hard to admit). I keep it there, thinking someday I will just dig in, but I don't. I've tried, and I get frustrated and quit.

Someday, Mr. Torres...

Children aren't necessarily the same. They can read a book that's "too hard" and still have a good time. Do they comprehend all of it? No! According to Halladay (2012), they may not comprehend half of it, but it doesn't always bother them. I think this means that we as teachers need to be aware of our students' interests and provide a wide spectrum of titles they may want to try. We should be forgiving if they decide a book isn't a good fit after they start it because we do that too. They may just push themselves a little farther than they would have otherwise though, and in my book, that's a very good thing.


Allington, R. L. (2002). You can't learn much from books you can't read. Educational leadership, 60(3), 16-19.

Halladay, J. L. (2012). Revisiting key assumptions of the reading level framework. The reading teacher, 66(1), 53-62

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Informal Reading Inventories (IRIs)

How do we find time to assess and instruct our students? If we must take 20-30 minutes just to do one informal assessment, how can we do this for 17 or more other students AND plan AND instruct AND do formal testing as well?? It seems impossible. Caldwell (2008) shared some examples of group IRIs, but I think that would be a last resort.

One disadvantage to being in a departmentalized math/science classroom, both as an intern now and I'm sure also as a teacher, is that it takes more time to learn if a student is struggling with the material because of a reading issue, one of the reasons Caldwell (2008) suggests for performing IRIs. Sure, teachers can talk with each other and share test scores, but there certainly isn't time for a math/science teacher to be performing his or her own IRIs. That means they have to wait for the other teacher to conduct IRIs, wait for the time to talk with that teacher, and remember to take good notes on the students about which they are concerned.

Thinking of the way I read to myself, I think I fall opposite Caldwell (2008) on the debate over counting errors that do not affect meaning. Sometimes I get into the flow and substitute words or read things that aren't actually there. Does that mean I'm reading it incorrectly or that I'm challenged by it? Maybe sometimes, but I think it just happens naturally. I'm not sure I should count that against my students. On the other hand, there is a difference between word accuracy scores and comprehension scores.

I think Walpole & McKenna (2006) touch on some of the ways to deal with this issue. With a slightly different approach you can target both what you're assessing and how you move forward. Also, as Flippo et al (2009) point out, with time and practice, I can hopefully choose the most appropriate IRIs for my class. I think (hope) it's just another thing I will figure out once I've started doing it.

I'm also on the fence about tracking miscues. I've done a miscue analysis with an ELL, and it was a lot of work to track everything. Using the traditional coding system gives you good information later, but it would be difficult to do much more than make checks if you track as the student is reading. If you can record the IRI as Caldwell (2008) suggests, the audio may be useful then to remind yourself what the student actually said.

I am definitely tucking the Flippo et al (2009) article away for later use. There are so many things to learn as a new teacher, and clearly from the tone of this article, even seasoned educators struggle with choosing the right IRIs for their needs. Having a guide to which questions I need to be asking will surely be an important tool.


Caldwell, J. S. (2008). Reading assessment: A primer for teachers and coaches (2nd Ed). New York City, NY: Guilford.

Flippo, R. F., Holland, D. D., McCarthy, M. T., & Swinning, E. A. (2009). Asking the right questions: How to select an informal reading inventory. The Reading Teacher, 63(1), 79-83.

Walpole, S., & McKenna, M. C. (2006). The role of informal reading inventories in assessing word recognition. The reading teacher, 59(6), 592-594.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Words Their Way

I think word study is great, but I'm curious as to what activities are developmentally appropriate for intermediate grades. I've seen tons of activities in K-2, but to my knowledge, I haven't really seen it in 4-5. Maybe I have, and I'm just not recognizing it as such. You see a lot of vocabulary, but where is the place for word study in the upper elementary classroom? How can you keep students from feeling like they're doing "baby work?" I think there must be a place for it because students still ask, "How do you spell it?" if it's a word with which they are unfamiliar. If they had stronger general knowledge, they would be able to at least attempt to apply the rules to new words (Caldwell, 2008). Maybe they just don't understand that there are rules.

Personally, I find the history of how the alphabet and spelling patterns in the English language have evolved interesting. I wonder if elementary students would as well. Probably not; I'm just a nerd. I love the idea, though, that students are reliving the historical development of our language in every step towards their own mastery (Caldwell, 2008).

Thinking back to spelling tests I've taken and ones I've witnessed in observation, I only remember being taught how to spell the words, not why. Not until high school do I remember much instruction on the relationships between words. Now, this doesn't mean it didn't happen. I just don't have any memory of it, and I haven't seen it in my most recent time spent in classrooms. Clearly, Caldwell (2008) points out how important and interwoven these things are, and I hope my future classroom can reflect this.

While it's a little dry, I love what Words Their Way really boils down to. It's the same as the idea of teaching through problem solving as we are encouraged to do in math (Vane de Walle, Karp, & Bay-Williams, 2010). We need to provide appropriate learning experiences to our students rather than telling them each and every piece. As Caldwell (2008) states, "We must fit our instruction to what our students are using but confusing" (p. 21).

I often wonder if we will even need the things we learn in the future. So much information is right at our fingertips, and all we have to do is "Google it." However, without the ability to spell, read, and comprehend we will be in the dark despite the light all around us.


Caldwell, J. S. (2008). Reading assessment: A primer for teachers and coaches (2nd Ed). New York City, NY: Guilford.

Van de Walle, J. A., Karp, K. S., & Bay-Williams, J. M. (2010). Elementary and middle school mathematics. Boston, MA: Pearson.

RTI, A Little More Informed

There are some pieces of Response to Intervention (RTI) that stand out as really valuable. The ideas of shifting resources to educating rather than classifying students, providing more opportunities to learn to students in need, visual record keeping, and adjusting the educational approach as necessary are the things we should be doing for everyone if you ask me (Dickman, 2006). However, there are also aspects that seem burdensome. Testing students every two weeks sounds like a test in patience for teacher and student. Just the other day a student in my class asked if we were going to have a test every  week. Of course this is how progress is charted and intervention is adjusted, so it's a necessary evil.

The most easily recognizable benefit to RTI is that it eliminates the old situation of waiting for students to fail before seeking help (Klotz & Canter, 2007). This is so important. Just one bad school year can make it nearly impossible for a student to catch back up. I can't imagine how a slow decline to the point of failure could damage a student's chances for success.

One thing I found interesting was that rather than saying the intervention should end when students meet some goal or are "on level," the Problem Solving & Response to Intervention Project (2011) states that intervention should continue as long as student shows a positive response. Is this true even if students catch up to their peers?

Ultimately, my opinion of RTI is just that it is what we have right now. I don't think I can really say whether it's great or awful until I'm in the classroom every day living it. Then I will not only be able to get the feel for using it, I will have a better reference for some day in the future when something else seems like it would work better. For now, RTI seems like a good idea to help students from falling away.


Dickman, G.E. (2006). RTI and reading: Response to intervention in a nutshell. Retrieved from

Education Evolving. (2005). Response to intervention: An alternative for traditional eligibility criteria for students with disabilities. Saint Paul, MN: Wedl, R. J. 

Klotz, M. B., & Canter, A. (2007). Response to Intervention (RTI): A primer for parents. Retrieved from

Problem Solving & Response to Intervention Project. (2011). FAQs. Retrieved from

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Response to Intervention (RTI)

The Response to Intervention (RTI) process is intimidating. We come to teaching because we want to teach. I think this is the first time I've really, really thought about what happens when a learning disability is identified. I can see how it would make a teacher feel intruded upon or questioned as demonstrated in the Mesmer & Mesmer (2008) article. The students are your responsibility, and I see how it could feel like a personal failure, even when it's absolutely not.

Also a little scary is the reality that students struggling with literacy need teachers with the most expertise (Johnston, 2011). As someone just entering the field, this fact leaves me with some tough questions. What if the school at which I end up has limited resources? What if the experts aren't good enough? What if I'm some day a student's best hope??

Another question arose from the Mesmer & Mesmer (2008) piece. The student used as an example responded positively and worked with his teachers. What do you do, though, when your student isn't quite as agreeable? Right now, that seems like a battle on top of a challenge.

Caldwell (2008) eases the panic that begins to rise as I consider these things. She describes assessing students' reading abilities like any other complex skill. I compared this to my own experience in roller derby. I didn't even know how to skate when I started, so I had to learn that first. Then, how to stop. From there came hitting and agility and rules. Now, something that seemed impossible a few years ago is a passion. Hopefully I can gain the same confidence as a teacher.

As evidence, Caldwell (2008) breaks the assessment process into four steps:
1) Identify what to assess.
2) Collect evidence.
3) Analyze the evidence.
4) Make a decision.

Of course, there's more to each of these, but just looking at it from here is a good starting place.

In the end, RTI needs to be like a balanced diet (Mesmer & Mesmer, 2008). Despite the needs of the student, they still need a whole instructional plan.

I think that while some teachers rely heavily on constrained skills and their measurability, I'm drawn to the unconstrained (Stahl, 2011). I want to push students to the limits that aren't really there. Of course, instruction in any classroom should span the spectrum (and literacy and RTI do), but I think the open-endedness you find after students master constrained skills like writing their names and high-frequency words is what draws me toward the intermediate grades. It's just more fun!

Caldwell, J. S. (2008). Reading assessment: A primer for teachers and coaches (2nd Ed). New York City, NY: Guilford.
Johnston, P. (2011). An instructional frame for RTI. The reading teacher, 63(7), 602-604.
Mesmer, E. M., & Mesmer, H. A. E. (2008). Response to intervention (RTI): What teachers of reading need to know. The reading teacher, 62(4), 280-290.
Stahl, K. A. D. (2011). Applying new visions of reading development in today's classrooms. The reading teacher, 65(1), 52-56.

Me in Primary Sources

Animoto is a great tool, and educators can sign up for a free upgraded account. Here's an example of what you can do with Animoto:

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Motivating Children to Read - Blog #1

As someone who loves to read, it is difficult to grasp the idea that some people don't. I hate that point in the semester (around week one) when it becomes clear that the "just for fun" books will have to take a backseat to textbooks and journal articles until the next break. Looking back, I'm not sure from where this love came. My father doesn't read at all. My mother and I shared books at times as I got older, but is that it? I found most of the required reading in school boring. Now, though, I love sinking into a good book.

If, as Edmunds and Bauserman (2006) say, extrinsic motivation doesn't work for reading, where does that leave us as teachers? We have a room full of varied interests and personalities, so how can we choose literature that will appeal to everyone? I think a large part of our success is dependent on our ability to think like our students. In their study, Edmunds and Bauserman note that children often cited the characteristics of books as their motivation to read. A hardcover from the eighties is unlikely to scream, "Pick me!" to a nine-year old, but something that looks funny or flashy might just do the trick. Beyond that, the books need to appeal to our students' interests. What do they like, and about what would they like to know more?

The Elementary Reading Attitude Survey (ERAS) provides a good, uniform way to assess your students' feelings about reading (McKenna & Kear, 1990). Students will probably enjoy incorporating a cartoon character into their work, and the visual element allows it to work for a range of ages as well as languages. There's some value in something more tailored to the students in front of you though.

Caldwell (2008) provides an embarrassingly simple way to survey your own class about their reading habits and interests. First, ask, and take notes. Beyond that, for the students who don't just know what they like, have them flip through their reading textbooks, noting stories and genres that catch their attention. List everything on the board, and then have each student choose the three in which they are most interested. Use that information to guide the choices you make for your whole-class reading.

As a mother, one of my favorite parts of Edmunds' and Bauserman's (2006) research was the role parents, particularly mothers have in influencing their children to read. As a teacher, however, it can be frustrating because this often means motivating not only our students, but their parents as well. Read to your kids. Tell them what you've read recently. Tell them what you liked to read when you were their age. They listen. Maybe your child will read something great and share it with a friend.

Image Courtesy of The Book Chook

Since peers also play an important role in motivating students to read according to Edmunds and Bauserman (2006), I would like to utilize this in my own classroom. Perhaps a book review display, something less formal than book reports, or maybe a time when students can orally share the books they're enjoying with the class if they would like would be effective. At the same time, could it backfire? What happens to the recommendations of an unpopular student?

Motivating students to read will certainly pose a challenge as we enter classrooms. I suppose a good way of thinking about it isn't that some people don't love to read. They just don't love to read yet.

Caldwell, J. S. (2008). Reading assessment: A primer for teachers and coaches (2nd Ed). New York City, NY: Guilford.
Edmunds, K. M., & Bauserman, K. L. (2006). What teachers can learn about reading motivation through conversations with children. The reading teacher, 59(5), 414-424. 
McKenna, M. C., & Kear, D. J. (1990). Measuring attitude toward reading: A new tool for teachers. The reading teacher, 43(8), 626-639.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Science IS Fun!

I had a great time in my Science Education course over the summer. We had an amazing professor in Sami Kahn. Here are some photos from our time together:

Bromeliads are really cool.

A Silk Floss Tree

Moon phases with Oreos.

Building roller coasters

Sorting through owl pellets

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Max, A Case Study

We interviewed Max (a pseudonym) about his experience as an English language learner. Explore the case study using the following links:

Student History: Max is a Spanish-speaking 13 year old going into the eighth grade. He moved from Colombia with his mother in 2010. They came to Tampa to be near family, which includes grandparents and cousins, and also to escape the violence of their native country. His father stayed behind in Colombia.

Max attended school in Colombia but finds school here in the U.S. to be easier. He knew no English when he came to this country, but bilingual peers and family members helped him as he began to learn the language. Max lives with his grandparents and mother. His mother does not speak any English. His grandfather speaks very limited English and works as a pastor providing services in Spanish to the community.
It was clear from our time together that Max’s family places great importance in being polite and courteous. As we left out interview, Max’s grandfather reminded him to take my bag which he brought all the way to my car and even put inside. Max’s grandfather also folded my stroller and put it in the back of my car. This was all evidence of the type of values Max’s culture holds.

Country/Culture of Origin:

Colombia is a country in South America with indigenous Indian, Spanish, and African roots (BBC, 2012). Colombia provides a number of important exports including petroleum, coffee, and coal. However, the country has been better known for many years for the danger posed by drug-related violence and kidnapping.
Colombians value good manners and proper etiquette (Árquez & Broadfield, 2006). Women and elders are treated with great respect. Colombians also prefer to maintain personal space, so it is appropriate to keep an arm’s length distance.
Their educational system is similar to what we know in the U.S. Children go to elementary school on through secondary school to acquire a diploma (Árquez & Broadfield, 2006). At that point, ideally students go to university, but often only the middle- and upper-class citizens can afford to attend.

While the official language of Colombia is Spanish, there are differences in cadence and dialect depending on the region (Árquez & Broadfield, 2006). Those living in the interior portions of the country speak in a more grammatically correct fashion, while those on the coast speak with more rapidity.


While Max’s English is improving, he does find it to be a barrier at times in school. His teachers try to help him by giving him extra wait time, but he still needs more CALP to be successful. Max also does not like to read because he has difficulty understanding English writing. He lacks confidence, as demonstrated by his decision to read a picture book instead of a chapter from a longer book for his reading sample. Improving Max’s reading skills can help him learn to enjoy literature more and perform better in school overall.


Max’s mother and grandparents. Max’s mother does not speak English, and both she and his grandparents wish for Max to do well in school so he can continue his education at the collegiate level.

Friday, June 15, 2012

English Only?

Since the late 19th century, our country has held an ongoing debate over language (Barron, 2005). Arguments have ranged from a desire to unify our country to keeping the tongue of our current enemies out of our schools. The ACLU (2007) is completely opposed to "English only" laws, stating they "abridge the rights of individuals who are not proficient in English and... perpetuate false stereotypes of immigrants and non-English speakers" (p 1).

The following survey sheds some light on the thoughts and opinions that may be found on this topic. The group of 42 people surveyed was predominantly female, most between the ages of 24 and 34. All but two were raised in English-speaking homes. However, one grew up in a home where Russian was the primary language and another spoke both English and Korean at home. Similarly, most respondents do not have regular contact with non-English speaking communities, but a few regularly visit ethnic markets. This question was posed because those who regularly attend religious or civic activities in non-English languages may provide a unique point of view on the topic.

1. Which category below includes your age?

2. What is your gender?

3. What was the primary language spoken in your childhood home? (Please choose only one.)

4. Do you regularly go anywhere where English is not the primary language spoken (e.g., civic, community, or religious institution)?

The next few questions were asked to begin to understand both what respondents know about our nation's language history and how they feel about an official national language. When asked if there currently is an official language of the United States, the tally was almost right down the middle but leaning toward the correct answer: No. While a number of states, including Florida, have adopted English as their official language, there is no such federal statute (Lewelling, 1992). When asked if there should be a national language, though, about two-thirds responded affirmatively. 

As Barron (2005) points out, there is often confusion about these topics due to long-standing rumors about a vote that could have made German our official language. However, the vote was actually over whether laws should be translated into German as well so that those who had not yet learned English could understand them. The majority of respondents were not fooled, though, with 75% stating correctly that there had never been another language officially considered to represent the United States. Only three people believed German had once been considered as an official language.

5. Is there an official language of the United States?

6. Should there be an official language of the United States?

7. To your knowledge, has the United States ever considered adopting an official language other than English? (You may select more than one "Yes" answer.

The final three questions moved on to test more personal opinions about how non-English speakers should receive services in our country. Respondents were also permitted to leave comments for these questions which provides some additional insight. When asked if speakers of other languages should receive government services (the example of courtroom translation was provided) in non-English languages, approximately three-quarters responded in favor. Some believed that because these services may affect both citizens and non-citizens, it is still important to provide translation when necessary. As one respondent pointed out, "In cases where it is necessary for an individual to fully comprehend something, say for legal reasons, then every attempt should be made to make sure that person can, even if that means providing full translations."

Next, respondents were asked if students should be required to speak English only in our schools. This question was more evenly split. Just over half of respondents feel that students should not bear this requirement. The comments revealed a variety of opinions, though. Some equating such a requirement to racism and others demanding students speak English if they want to attend a U.S. school. One suggested special classes and tutors but pointed out that ultimately, schools are supposed to equip students for the real world, and students will likely need English in college and their careers. An educator commented, "I taught in Orlando in a school where 85% of the population spoke Spanish as a first language and was sad that those students were falling behind solely because they were learning English at the same time as the rest of their subjects. Many just gave up." This brings us to the next topic of bilingual education.

Bilingual education includes programs in which students learn both in their native language and English working on both second language acquisition and academic content (Peregoy & Boyle, 2008). Some opponents of such programs believe it slows non-English speakers' assimilation into American culture (ACLU, 2007). Most of the survey respondents did not agree with this though. Only about a quarter believe that bilingual education will hinder students in this way. One respondent pointed out that her own experience with education in a foreign country led her to the common sink-or-swim point of view. She believes the idea that she would have been taught in English while living in a foreign country would have seemed absurd to her educators. Another respondent also believes bilingual education discourages assimilation but at the same time wishes there were such programs for her own school-age children to learn English (such as the highly successful two-way immersion programs of Canada).

8. Should speakers of other languages be provided government services in non-English languages (e.g., courtroom translation)?

9. Should students be required to speak English only while in school?

10. Does bilingual education discourage assimilation?

In the end, I was surprised both by what I learned about the English Only Movement and the opinions of my peers. While the viewpoints appear to lean away from English only, the comments reveal that there are still strong viewpoints in favor of such restrictions. It would be interesting to see how responses evolved with the addition of more non-native English speakers or even with more males. As such, I will re-open the survey to continue observing the data. I will post a follow-up if there is much change in demographics or opinion.

Take the survey here: English Only Survey.

Comments are welcome!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Welcome to my educational blog. I'm a graduate student at University of South Florida in the Master of Arts in Teaching program. I have a BA in Communication: Public Relations from Greenville College, but I decided that while I love using my PR and marketing skills in my volunteer work, I would enjoy a teaching career much more.

I'm currently interning in a fifth grade classroom, and I'm very excited about this school year. In my coursework, I often encounter things I would like to share with others. This is where you will find that information.

Enjoy, and feel free to comment!