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Colorado TESOL News

Colorado Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages

Volume 36 Number 1

Winter 2014


CoTESOL Spring Conference 2014


Presenter: Beth Skelton


 "Building Academic Vocabulary: Helping ELLs Access Complex Text"

Saturday, April 12, 2014, 9:00-12:00 a.m.
Zalman Center ("Next to Harrison High School")
2755 Janitell Rd., Colorado Springs


Online Registration ONLY
    The registration fee is $30. This includes free CoTESOL membership through November 2014. Registration will be limited to 140. 
    There will be NO onsite registration. 
  • Registration Deadline:  March 30, 2014
    Hurry--Only 30 spaces left.


    2013 Fall Convention

    Blazing New Trails

    Jennifer Shank, 1st Vice President


    The 37th Annual CoTESOL convention was a spectacular success! The energy participants and presenters brought to the convention certainly illustrate the scene as all stakeholders participated in this engaging and purposeful event.

    A special thanks goes out to Del and Polly Fafach for volunteering and providing guidance and answers to participants questions. The Red Lion staff was very accommodating and responsive to our technology and break-out room needs. Ruth Moore, CoTESOL's former publisher liaison, brought in some impressive speakers and our board members sponsored exemplary sessions and forums. Finally, the CoTESOL Board is especially thankful for all of the presenters that work daily in the field and shared their expertise with colleagues. The coming together as one for the purpose of learning and sharing and reflecting is what keeps us moving forward and Blazing New Trails in this particular arena. Congratulations to John Jordan for his contributions. His presentation, Beyond Partner Interviews: Alternative Icebreakers and Introductions, was voted Best of CoTESOL by attendees!

    As we look back on this convention, there is no doubt that our record attendance and outstanding plenaries and participants have been added to the memories of CoTESOLs past. But just as we end one convention we begin to plan another. We are looking forward to seeing you at the 38th Annual CoTESOL convention as we are Riding the Rails of Engine-uity!

    Recap: 2013 Fall Convention Evaluations
    Erin Kimmel, Past President


    CoTESOL enjoyed record attendance at our 2013 Fall Convention, which was a huge success for us. As has been the case for several years now, we invited all attendees to evaluate the event via Survey Monkey.
    The feedback on the quality of the presentations and the program booklet was extremely positive. Respondents rated the quality of the publishers exhibits and lunch options slightly less highly.

    The least positive feedback was on the venue. While our membership has never expressed undue love for the Red Lion, the fact that they decided to improve their facilities while our convention was taking place did little to further endear them to participants. With that in mind, CoTESOL has been on the lookout for other venues for future conventions. However, in this survey, attendees reported having taken advantage of some of the amenities that have kept us at the Red Lion: free parking, free wireless, and attractive room rates. Additionally, while most responses indicated that our registration fee was average or better, attendees overwhelmingly declared that they would not support an increase in those fees to $200 to move to a better facility.

    We appreciate the time that people took to give us their feedback, and we carefully look at all ways we can improve year-on-year. We will continue to work hard to deliver a quality convention at a reasonable price this year and into the future.


    Letter from the CoTESOL President

    Chris Tombari, President


    Dear CoTESOL Colleagues,


    I want to wish you a happy 2014 and a happy Year of the Horse. (I hope you've remembered to stop writing Year of the Snake on your checks.) Your CoTESOL board began its new year on Saturday, February 8, with the most productive retreat I have ever been involved in. With almost half of the board members new to their positions, and with almost everyone in attendance, we ushered in the New Year with ambitious goals and an exciting convention theme, "Riding the Rails of Engin-uity" (talk about a train-ing!). We chose the railroad and train metaphor to continue last year's theme of honoring a significant piece of Colorado history while communicating our commitment to supporting the always innovative work and unstoppable dedication of our entire membership.


    If you are a new member to CoTESOL, we are, to quote our website, "a dynamic, growing organization of educators involved in various aspects of second language learning and bilingual education. Members include instructors, program administrators, students, researchers, and volunteers. We work with all ages and ethnic groups."
    And finally, I'd like to introduce myself. I have been teaching English in both foreign and local contexts for almost 20 years. I began as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mongolia in 1993 with the job of teaching English as a Foreign Language and Methodology to students in a rural provincial capital's teacher training college. Later, after moving to Colorado, I was hired onto the Spring Institute for Intercultural Learning on a four-month contract to manage a business English training program for Mongolian bankers (go figure). After almost 12 years of working there on myriad projects from refugee pre-employment training to community ESL projects to various intercultural communication seminars, I left to join the Community College of Aurora. You can find me now at CCA where I am the chair of the Aurora Language Center, a comprehensive ESL program that works with individuals from the basics all the way up to entering college-level coursework.
    I look forward to seeing you at the Spring Conference in Colorado Springs and at the Fall Convention on November 14 and 15. Until then, keep on chuggin', stay on the fast track, keep that train of thought, maintain your self-e-steam, ... oh those puns just keep coming. Thank you for your continued support of this organization.


    Chris Tombari

    CoTESOL President

    Stand Up Games for Literacy-Level Adult Learners

    Kate Goodspeed, Adult Ed SIG Co-Chair

    Have you ever noticed that certain competitive activities bring out the personalities of your learners? The quiet, shy learner confidently takes charge in a team activity. The pre-literate learner has mastered time-telling and can do activities that the readers can't do. The non-verbal student is a whiz with money.

    Recently, I went back into the classroom to teach a 0-1, pre-literate class to adult refugees. Coming from a very active, task-based, hands-on, job-preparation program, I wanted to provide this type of activity as reinforcement for my new students.

    For 20-30 minutes of the class, we divide into four groups (my class is usually about 15-17 students) and stand around 4 high tables. Each table has a related, but different activity. Teams work on that activity and (the students decided this spontaneously) when a team completes the activity they break into applause. The first team to complete the activity correctly gets one point. When all the teams complete their activities, they mix up the activity pieces and the teams rotate one table. In this way, everyone is able to participate in every activity each time. (Stand out of the way as the students scramble to the next table!) The great thing about these types of activities is that they can be repeated many times to practice, review, and consolidate. Students get better and better at each activity and their confidence grows and extends into other areas.

    Alphabetizing. Each table has a set oflower-case letters to be put in order. Then they match these to upper-case letters. This is extended to alphabetize pictures with the vocabulary word printed on each one and then file these into alphabetical index card boxes.

    Sorting and Inventory. Each table has a container of 10 different kinds of objects, such as scissors, paper clips, pennies, pencils -- whatever is handy in the classroom.   The students sort the objects into groups of like items. This activity is extended by learning the names of these objects through repetition and the matching of words to pictures. Finally, after the names have been mastered and the activity repeated a number of times, the students take inventory of these objects on an inventory slip.

    Matching numbers to quantity. Using number cards available at many dollar stores, quantity puzzles from Lakeshore, dominos, and cards created on my computer, four separate activities test students' abilities to match the numbers to quantities up to 20.

    Other activities have been money, time, and body part matching activities.

    Try this in your classroom. The students get very competitive, personalities emerge, and confidence grows. I give Hershey's kisses to the winning team after all the activities have been completed by all teams.  I hope to present these and other competitive stand-up activities at CoTESOL in the fall.

    Urgency of Our Work
    Dr. Susan Holloway,
    Content Area Ed SIG Co-Chair
    Writing about the importance of expertise in instruction for language learners in the CoTESOL newsletter definitely falls under the category of preaching to the choir! Members of CoTESOL are each committed to providing the best experience to our students, and the CoTESOL board provides the venue of our spring and fall conferences featuring speakers with new ideas and tools that are both fun and effective to implement in the classroom. While our conferences focus on enlightening and collegial experiences, upon returning to the classroom, it is easy to feel the stress of meeting English Language Acquisition (ELA) students' varied and pervasive needs within a climate of policy driven high stakes testing.   I feel that it is helpful to maintain clarity of purpose about what we do by reviewing what the literature says about the urgency of our work with language learners. The following paragraphs are an invitation to understanding about the exigency of our work with the K-12 population of language learners.
    Despite our commitment and expertise, research tells us that overall, the needs of language learners are often unmet in classrooms in Colorado. Reduced expectations and watered down curriculum for ELA students tend to limit both access to college success and career choices, and ultimately limit access to economic wellbeing (Fry, 2003; NAEP, 2011). Magnifying this disparity is the fact that the number of ELA learners is growing in our country. Current census data indicate that school districts throughout the United States increasingly serve a student population whose home languages and cultures are diverse, (Slavit & Ernst-Slavit, 2007) with an estimated 5 million ELA learners in public schools (Mahoney, MacSwan, Haladyna & García, 2010). Further, the "gap" between the best students and ELA students has remained intransigent in recent years, whereas renewed efforts have shown gain in other categories such as learning disabled, eligibility for free and reduced lunch, and race/ethnicity such as Hispanic, Black, and Native American. (NAEP, 2011).
    The academic frustration encountered by ELA students is widespread in the state of Colorado. In a report from the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) Office of Language, Culture and Equity, Dr. Barbara Medina (2011) confirms that Colorado has been a destination state for Latinos in the United States between the years of 1996 and 2011. Over those years, Colorado has experienced an over 100% growth in its ELA population. In a research area called the Denver Corridor which is a 14-mile long stretch including 13 Denver neighborhoods and one Aurora neighborhood and serving roughly 32,500 school-age children (ages 5 to 17), more than 80% of schools are under-performing (Denver Children's Ed Stats, 2012).
    The only nationally representative assessment of student achievement, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) provides further evidence calling for reform of K-12 ELA students' experiences of mathematics and literacy. For instance, results from the NAEP 2011 exam show that the average scale score for Colorado's ELA students is 243 with over 70 percent scoring below basic level, which is the lowest category of proficiency. Colorado reports only 3 percent ELA students to be proficient or advanced in eighth grade mathematics (NCES, 2012).   Dr. Barbara Medina of DPS comments that ELA student scores begin to fall dramatically in middle school, and are at the crisis point by the time they enter high school. At the high school level, ELA students show the most marked unsatisfactory scores, with proficiency and above scoring less than 10 percent (Medina, 2011).
    In light of the image painted by these statistics, our work as teachers committed to serving this population is cut out for us, and your continued engagement in CoTESOL, your professional organization that supports excellence in policy, curriculum and practice is warranted.



    Colorado Department of Education Website at
    Fry, R. (2003, June 12th). Hispanic youth dropping out of U.S. schools: Measuring the challenge. Washington, DC: The Pew Hispanic Center.
    Medina, B. (2011). Culturally and linguistically diverse learners in Colorado. State of the State, Office of Language, Culture and Equity, Colorado Department of Education.

    Mahoney, K., MacSwan, J., Haladyna, T., & García, J. (2010). Castañeda'sthird prong: Evaluating the achievement of Arizona's English learners under Restrictive Language Policy. In P. Gándara & M. Hopkin (Eds.), Forbidden language: English learners and restrictive language policies (pp. 50-64). New York: Teachers College Press.

    National Center for Educational Statistics (2012). National Assessment of Educational Progress, US Dept of Education, 2011.

    Slavit, D., & Ernst-Slavit, G.(2007). Middle School Journal, 39(2), 4-11.

    CoTESOL Board Comes Together for Annual Holiday Dinner

    Hilario Benzon, Communications Liaison



    On Sunday, December 15, 2014, outgoing and incoming members of the CoTESOL Executive Board joined together at the Ale House at Amato's for our annual CoTESOL Holiday Dinner. At the holiday dinner, we celebrated a successful year and another fantastic fall convention. We honored the work of board members who served this past year including the service of Erin Kimmel, President, and Ruth Moore, Publisher Liaison. Additionally, we welcomed the new board members to another successful year on the CoTESOL Executive Board.

    CoTESOL Executive Board Retreat

    Hilario Benzon, Communications Liaison


    On Saturday, February 8, 2014, members of the CoTESOL Executive Board met at the Westin Hotel in Westminister, CO, to begin planning for another successful year of CoTESOL. At the board retreat, board members under the direction of President Chris Tombari reviewed the goals, duties, and responsibilities of Special Interest Group Chairs while also brainstorming 2014 Convention Themes. This years Fall Convention theme is "Riding the Rails of Engine-uity!" This retreat proved to be an extremely productive meeting and we look forward to another great year of CoTESOL.
    Recap: 2013 Fall Convention
    Recap: 2013 Fall Convention Evaluations
    Letter from the CoTESOL President
    Stand Up Games for Literacy
    Urgency of Our Work
    CoTESOL Holiday Dinner
    CoTESOL Executive Board Retreat
    Quick Links

    If you have an questions or comments about this newsletter, please contact the CoTESOL Communications Liaison.
    Hilario Benzon
    Christine Deines,
    Communications Liaisons/
    Newsletter Editors 


    Job Openings

    EF Foundation for Foreign Study, a non-profit high school foreign exchange program, is hiring local coordinators to place and supervise international exchange students with caring host families in your area. This opportunity is part-time and flexible. Coordinators set their own hours and decide how much or how little they want to work. The coordinator position interweaves with everyday life while also providing supplemental income and fantastic travel incentives. Qualified IECs will travel with EF to Germany and Austria in 2014. Bring exchange to your community and earn the ability to see the world with your EF family! For more information contact Lexie Fleege at 617-619-2231 or or visit




    2014 Fall Convention

    Get Ready!!

    2014 Fall Convention:
    Riding the Rails of
     November 14-15, 2014
    Radisson/Red Lion Hotel  
    CoTESOL Executive Board

    Past President

    Erin Kimmel


    Chris Tombari

    1st Vice President

    Jennifer Shank

    2nd Vice President

    Sarah Austin

    Executive Secretary

    Larry Fisher

    Communications Liaison

    Hilario Benzon

    Communications Liaison

    Christine Deines

    Publishers' Liaison

    Bruce Rogers

    Hospitality and Entertainment

    Dieter Bruhn

    Socio-Political Liaison

    Adult Ed SIG Co-Chair

    Genevieve Hale

    Adult Ed SIG Co-Chair

    Kate Goodspeed

    Teacher Education /

    Action Research SIG Co-Chair

    Connie Davis

    Teacher Education /

    Action Research SIG Co-Chair

    Virginia Nicolai

     IEP/Higher Ed SIG Co-Chair

    Elizabeth Schroeder

     IEP/Higher Ed SIG Co-Chair

    Michael Regan

     Secondary Ed SIG Co-Chair

    Madhavi Tandon

     Secondary Ed SIG Co-Chair

    Michelle Raese

    Elementary Ed SIG Co-Chair

    Lisa Marie Antweiler

    Elementary Ed SIG Co-Chair

    Daniel Schweissing

    Content Area Ed SIG Co-Chair

    Susan Holloway

    Content Area Ed SIG Co-Chair

    Sandy Stokely


    Liliana Graham


    Mission Statement


     CoTESOL supports its members.

    • Encourages participation in professional discourse.
    • Supports collaboration, networking, leadership and research.
    • Provides professional development.
    • Disseminates information


    CoTESOL supports students and education.


    • Advocates and fosters respect for language and culture.
    • Promotes high standards.
    • Upholds the profession of English language teaching.  
    Contact Information


    c/o Larry Fisher

    63 UCB

    Boulder, CO.  80309