High-Leverage Actions That Can Make a Difference

    by Freddy Hiebert | October 29, 2009

    Our third CREATE* conference in Austin TX on October 5-6, 2009 was a resounding success. The theme of the conference, “Improving Outcomes for English Language Learners: Oral Language and Literacy Learning Across the Curriculum” clearly is a topic on which there is substantial need. The conference was sold-out (not a typical pattern in current economic times for an education conference). Attendees represented 31 states and the District of Columbia. For those of you who couldn’t attend, you can attend the conference virtually after December 1 (estimated) when the powerpoints will be available at the CREATE conference website.

    As facilitator of the conference, I promised attendees that I would reflect on what I view to the important take-aways from the conference and share them in this venue. Translating research findings/suggestions into action can be a challenge. Some research findings require replication before they can be translated. Other research findings require consideration follow-up to be translated in meaningful and appropriate ways in classrooms. But there are some findings that are ready for translation and can make a big difference. I’ve chosen four actions from research presented at the conference that are ready for prime-time and that, I believe, can have the greatest leverage in supporting the learning of English Language Learners (ELLs) and their classmates. I’ll be highlighting one of these actions on each of four consecutive column/blogs:

    • High-Leverage Action #1: Talking About Things That Matter (Oct. 31)
    • High-Leverage Action #2: Spanish Cognates & Written English (Nov. 7)
    • High-Leverage Action #3: A Picture is Worth a 1,000 Words (Nov. 14)
    • High-Leverage Action #4: Academic Vocabulary: Connections and Repetition (Nov. 21)

    By the way, if you want to read a summary by Mary Ann Zehr, a reporter from Education Week who attended the conference, here’s the link to the article entitled, Oral-Language Skills for English-Learners Focus of Researchers.

    You might also be interested in virtually attending the conferences from the last two years as well. Leaders of professional development and instructors of graduate and undergraduate courses will find a rich reservoir of resources related to these conferences in that a bibliography of related readings that participants were given prior to the conferences is available, as are powerpoints of all presentations.

    2008: Math, Science, & Social Studies: A Focus on English Language Learners in Middle School.

    2007: Academic Language and Content: A Focus on English Language Learners in the Middle School.

    *CREATE is the National Research and Development Center for English Language Learners, funded through the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Click here for more information about CREATE.