This summer, WestEd offers virtual workshops to support educators’ efforts to provide English Learners with the high-quality education they deserve to thrive in school, career, and life.

In the second of this two-part Q&A series, Johnpaul Lapid shares details about the Strengthening Early Language and Literacy for English Learners in Grades PK–2 online course, July 19-22. Lapid, a School and District Improvement Facilitator at WestEd specializing in support for English Learners, is one of several facilitators of these summer courses.

What is the purpose of the Strengthening Early Language and Literacy for English Learners in Grades PK–2 course, and why should educators attend?

This course presents an opportunity for primary grade teachers to deeply consider how to support the development of academic language and literacy for young English Learners. In particular, the course focuses on three powerful components: Engaging children in interactive read-alouds using complex, culturally relevant texts; cultivating quality interactions and text-based discussions; and scaffolding early academic writing.

What sort of tasks provide educators with a student’s perspective of language learning?

Throughout the course, educators will experience engaging lessons from a student’s perspective and learn how to plan and facilitate quality lessons that bridge theory and practice.

The course is designed to be highly participatory and interactive across both the asynchronous and synchronous learning settings.

Can you tell me more about the course structure?

The course is organized into four modules, all of which will have the same structure and flow:

  • Asynchronous preparation: Engage in readings, video analyses, and online discussions about the module’s major themes to prepare for the live session.
  • Live Session: Engage in synchronous lesson exemplar activities from a student’s perspective to experience how the module’s themes can be translated into powerful learning opportunities for students.
  • Asynchronous application and reflection: Continue to engage in exemplar lesson tasks as students analyze ideas and tasks from the exemplar lesson activities, and engage in lesson planning.

Participants will collaborate and share ideas with other participants in synchronous and asynchronous environments across all four modules.

Many schools are reopening as vaccination rates continue to increase. But some schools may still be in remote learning mode. Will you address how to use the strategies introduced in the course while teaching in distance learning environments?

The approaches in the course apply to all instructional settings. While the lesson exemplar experiences will be facilitated virtually, we will debrief their application and support planning for in-person, virtual, and hybrid learning environments.

Who participates in the course?

This course is designed for PK–2 educators of English Learners, including teachers, teacher leaders, and instructional coaches from across the United States and internationally. In our last cohort, participants collaborated, planned, and reflected upon their learning from various urban and rural areas along the West Coast, an urban community in Maryland, and even a province in China. We encourage school and district teams to participate together for optimal learning and successful implementation.

How do you address different areas of participants’ expertise?

We put participants in collaborative groups for both synchronous and asynchronous discussion tasks. We find this allows participants to get to know their colleagues from across the country and capitalizes on each of their unique perspectives and expertise.

Will participants engage in lesson design during the course?

They will individually and collaboratively produce lesson plans and materials that will be ready for immediate classroom implementation.

Meet Your Instructors

WestEd staff who specialize in English Learners and early language and literacy development facilitate the course. They are all former educators who have a range of teaching and coaching experience in the service of diverse populations of students from across the country.

Johnpaul Lapid provides guidance and support around language analysis, academic discourse, and close reading and writing to site and district teams.

Melanie Packham specializes in English Learner support, family engagement, and elementary literacy. She works with schools, districts, and state education agencies to improve instruction for English Learners.

Kathia Romo Ben Sadok supports schools and districts to improve instructional practices and educational outcomes for English Learners/Multilingual Learners. She specializes in English Learner support, elementary literacy, and dual-language learning.

Ruth Sebastian supports schools and districts to improve the instructional practices and educational outcomes for English Learners/Multilingual Learners and diverse learners.

Read the first Q&A in this series about the upcoming Accelerating Writing Development for English Learners summer online course.