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Colorado TESOL News

Colorado Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages

Volume 36 Number 2

Summer 2014

CoTESOL 38th Annual Fall Convention and Exhibition 
November 14-15, 2014 
Radisson/Red Lion Hotel Denver Southeast 
3200 S. Parker Rd., Aurora, CO., 80014 


Call for Proposals
Form for Submitting a Proposal Online
Deadline: June 21, 2014

2014 Fall Convention

Call for Proposals (Deadline: June 21, 2014) 


In this fast-paced, media savvy educational landscape, changes come fast and furious.  At this year's CoTESOL Annual Fall Convention (November 14-15, 2014), we invite you to come and share your creativity, expertise and experiences as you continue 
"Riding the Rails of Engine-uity" in your work and efforts as an educator. 


What inspires and ignites you?  Come and share knowledge about various cultures and working internationally.  Model the use of new technologies and pedagogical techniques via Web 2.0, all things "i" or favorite media. Demonstrate the successes you have experienced in content areas and language domains.  Illustrate effective strategies in supporting vocabulary development.  Share grammar activities that deliver a wealth of approaches and methods.  Whatever your passion, there are a variety of formats in which to present your knowledge and expertise.  These formats allow you to organize and exhibit your experiences and talents in a variety of structures and in a style that fits your approach, and our students' needs. 


Much of the success of this organization has come from you, researchers and partners in the field...and it still does.  So please, genuinely consider sharing your skills and interests at our fall convention and encourage your coworkers to do so as well. Often, what you think of as "common sense" or "obvious" is exactly what another colleague is looking for. Proposals can easily be submitted online at:  The deadline is June 21, 2014.  Because CoTESOL is one of the largest ESL conventions in the Rocky Mountain region, you will have the advantage of meeting new colleagues as well as reconnecting with old 'partners'.   


Chris Tombari, President

Jennifer Shank, Convention Chair

Sarah Austin, Program Chair

Bruce Rogers, Publishers' Liaison

Larry Fisher, Convention Registration

Dieter Bruhn, Hospitality/Entertainment Liaison


Is the Common Core Initiative a Bad Apple?

Michelle Stuart Raese,

Secondary Ed SIG Co-Chair


In 2010, the Common Core Initiative (CCI) was released with the mission to "reflect the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers...," and furthermore to "compete successfully in the global economy."  Originally supported by both Republicans and Democrats, it was initially adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia.  Recently, the initiative has experienced setbacks as more states, educators and parents shrink away and question the implementation and overall design.  Furthermore, in terms of students such as English Language Learners (ELLs), implementation becomes even more complex. 


According to Kathleen Porter-Magee, editor of the Common Core Watch blog, "There are still so many questions about how the Common Core is going to look in general education."

Many educators and parents voice concern and opposition over implementation of the standards and wonder whether the tests effectively and fairly measure learning. However, supporters maintain that the standards "establish clear, consistent guidelines for what every student should know and be able to do", and also "provide a way for teachers to measure student progress throughout the school year". As arguments become political, both Republicans and Democrats are sounding off.  Last year, the Republican National Committee passed an anti-CCI resolution, claiming that implementation federally infringes on states' rights.  Moreover, Democratic critics state that the CCI is neither based on research, nor offers evidence of improving upon the assessment of student achievement when compared to older tests. Furthermore, the use of the Initiative to evaluate the teachers and schools themselves is troubling-a predicament that many believe will undermine the purpose of the tests in the first place and create conflict of interest.


Several high profile educators also explain the difficulties of implementing CCI, such as Carol Burris and Michael Fullan.  Burris, award winning principal of South Side High School in New York, moved from enthusiastic supporter to staunch opponent.  She co-authored a letter speaking out against evaluating teachers by student test scores, which has signatures from 1,535 New York principals.  Burris argues that teaching and learning are being "distorted" for three main reasons.  First, a conflict of interest arises as schools and teachers are evaluated by students' scores and risk punishment through loss of funding or jobs. Students absorb pressure and fear over test scores and parents feel compelled to protect and remove children to avoid having them reduced to a data number.  Fullan, a celebrated international authority on school reform who helped to transform schools in Ontario, Canada, elucidates that curriculum and instruction should drive the CCI rather than standards and assessments.  He clarifies that the right driver of school change is capacity building, and that "data should be used as a strategy for improvement", not for punishment and accountability.


Second, Burris notes the CCI expounds five skill areas in English Language Arts-- writing, reading, listening, speaking and collaboration.  However, the tests only measure writing and reading, with emphasis on vocabulary.  Burris writes eloquently that "Real learning occurs in the mind of the learner when she makes connections with prior learning, makes meaning, and retains that knowledge in order to create additional meaning from new information.  In short, with tests we see traces of learning, not learning itself."  Furthermore, Fullan writes

"the right drivers - capacity building, group work, instruction, and systemic solutions - are effective because they work directly on changing the culture of school systems (values, norms, skills, practices, relationships); by contrast the wrong drivers alter structure, procedures and other formal attributes of the system without reaching the internal substance of reform - and that is why they fail."


Finally, for Burris and many parents, the company which creates the exam for New York also happens to be the company that profits from selling test prep materials to schools who are under pressure to earn attractive scores, and it employs researchers who claim that the test measures "college readiness". In addition, the measure of "college readiness" is disputed. In New York, the State Education Department designed a college readiness index, also known as an "aspirational performance measure".  Made up of two scores, one for math and one for Language Arts, it represents a probability relationship between high school students' scores and their abilities to earn a C in freshman Math or English at a City University of New York (CUNY) college.  The idea that combining the two scores indicates a measure of college readiness is challenged. For younger students, schools will inform parents and their children whether they are on their way to "readiness" based on predictions made from high stakes scores with no empirical evidence of predictability on future college or career performance.  However, supporters believe that scores are an important piece of a whole that can reflect overall performance.


Meanwhile, how do the standards affect ELLs?  Recent statistics revealed in 2011, indicate that there are over 400 native languages being spoken by ELLs, and that they come from a variety of proficiencies and backgrounds in their learning of English.  In addition, they are the most rapidly growing population in US schools.  So, is it appropriate and attainable to hold these students to the CCI standards while at the same time applying reasonable accessibility accommodations?  A teacher's guide developed by WIDA to support teachers in CCSS implementation is expected to take two years to complete.  We will have to wait and see.

Core Values of Education

Michael Regan and Elizabeth Schroeder,

Higher Ed SIG Co-Chairs


University of Colorado president Bruce Benson in a missive to CU faculty and staff recently added his views to the ongoing debate about education as an individual benefit vs. a public good. We, as co-chairs for the Higher Ed SIG, would like to take this discussion further and provide CoTESOL membership with one means of applying this debate to our professional lives. We believe that both schools and educators need to define their goals, and educational goals for an individual's benefit and for the public good are a good starting point for reflection. Even with these as starting points, however, defining our goals as educators is not necessarily an easy task. Whether the purpose of our work as teachers emerges out of a trend, a tradition, or a choice, belies the fact that the core values of our schools may often supersede our own beliefs, for the better or for the worse. As concerned and invested educators, we are then encouraged to ask: On what foundations do our schools' core values rest? How can we find out? And, what of our own teaching principles? Where and how do we articulate those?


The first place to look for a school's core values is in their Mission Statement. The Mission Statement makes public the principles that guide an institution and the educational goals that the institution upholds. Denver Public Schools (DPS), for example, promise in their Mission Statement to lead the nation in student achievement and graduation rates; students there will be "well prepared for success in life, work, civic responsibility, and higher education." Notice that DPS's Mission Statement embodies both the public good (civic responsibility) and individual benefit (success in life). Preparing students for additional education (Higher Ed) is a core goal and indicator of success.


The Community College of Aurora (CCA) also emphasizes the key word 'success' in their Mission Statement. Primarily, for CCA, this 'success' is realized by preparing students "for transfer and employment." CCA's Mission Statement contains descriptors of providing for the public good (e.g., to diversify and strengthen human resources), while also promoting individual benefit, in this case through the development of the Lifelong Skills of Communication, Critical Inquiry, Personal Responsibility, Quantitative Reasoning, Technology, and Aesthetics (see their website for a more complete description).


Language-learning institutes likewise publish Mission Statements. Consider the recently updated Mission of the University of Colorado Boulder's International English Center (IEC). The IEC is not a large educational organization compared to DPSD and CCA; it is an academic English-language learning program serving approx. 200 students. Their Mission indicates that students in the program have both long-term academic and professional goals, a statement bridging individual benefit with public good. Of note, the IEC's Mission emphasizes the teaching approaches that will help students achieve these goals, specifically "innovative practices and experiential learning." Their Mission goes on to describe the core values of the program, including Excellence in Teaching and Service, Professional Development, Respect, Integrity, and Stewardship and Sustainability.


DPS, CCA, and the IEC provide three examples of Mission Statements from learning institutes around Colorado. As teachers, can we follow suit and also make explicit our own teaching principles? Can we learn as teachers to justify our personal approach to teaching, which through our careers we constantly put to the test, assess, and adjust? The teacher's equivalent of a Mission Statement is a short document known as a Philosophy of Teaching, in which we describe our teacher beliefs and explore our identities as educators. What teaching approaches guide your methodological choices? What understandings of language and of language learning inform your beliefs? What do your students want to achieve? How do you help them? What do your classroom lessons look like on a day-to-day basis? When you draft and later update your Philosophy of Teaching, consult the Mission Statement of the school where you teach/dream of teaching. What are the school's core values? How closely do these values align with your own values and beliefs? Do you consider both the public good and the individual benefit of education?


Look for future blog posts about these questions and others at CoTESOL's new website ( You are invited to post your reflections.


An Interview with Kat Bradley-Bennett, Director of St. Vrain Community Adult Education

Connie Davis,

Teacher Education/Action Research SIG Co-Chair


On March 18, 2014, I interviewed Kat Bradley-Bennett, the director of St. Vrain Community Adult Education (SVCAE).  She provided a wealth of information and some snapshots of this new program.




After a long history of providing adult education in Longmont, in June 2013, the St. Vrain Valley School District closed the adult education program due to budget considerations. In response to that action, a dedicated group of community members and adult education staff sought out a new fiscal host and were awarded AEFLA and EL/CIVICS grants and started designing and implementing a new program. They based a lot of the new program design on the old St. Vrain Valley Adult Education.


Program Structure


The new St. Vrain Community Adult Education (SVCAE) program is part of El Comité de Longmont. The school currently offers six levels of ESL and free citizenship study, with a goal of serving 250 ESL students and 50 citizenship students by the end of June 2014. Despite the devastating floods last September that affected many attending students, the program has persevered and is now in its second semester of instruction. There are 130 ESL students enrolled plus about 40 students who are studying for citizenship. At first, the SVCAE was holding ESL classes in four different locations, but now all ESL classes are held in the First Congregational-United Church of Christ in Longmont. They plan to offer a short, six-week summer session which will end the second week in July.


ESL Lab and Volunteers


An important element to the program is the ESL Literacy Lab for struggling students where learners can work one-on-one with volunteer tutors on targeted language skills and needs. The lab is one way SVCAE coordinates with Front Range Community College by connecting TESL certificate students with ESL students. Volunteers are integral to the program in ESL classrooms, citizenship classrooms, and the ESL Lab. Clerical volunteers are currently needed.


Partnering with the Community


SVCAE is creating strong ties with the community.  It shares office space in the El Comité building in downtown Longmont. The El Comité Board oversees SVCAE at this time. The location is ideal, close to the public library, justice center, Our Center, and other social and community organizations and services. Other ties to the community include the Boulder Valley School District for ABE/ASE referrals, and the First Congregational Church of Christ where classes are being taught.


Success Stories & Special Projects


SVCAE is proud of the fact that they are successfully embedding technology into their classes in all levels. They have eleven laptops and use a self-designed technology curriculum to integrate computer skills into the ESL curriculum, helping students increase their reading and motivation for learning.  As an accompaniment to the Ventures series being used, SVCAE takes advantage of online practice through 'Ventures Arcade', an excellent tool which includes practice in basic mouse and keyboarding skills. This tool is available to anyone. Once those basic skills are established, students branch out into learning about Word and Excel documents.


Challenges and Needs


One in four adults in Colorado doesn't have a high school diploma or equivalency - the need is gigantic. SVCAE's biggest challenge at this time is financial. Grant funding pays for books, teacher salaries, supplies and 5% of administrative costs. SVCAE depends dearly on donations to fulfill the director's salary and remaining expenses. One big need and goal is to find a  permanent building that can house both the El Comité offices and the adult school where they can keep supplies and set up classrooms with adult furnishings.


What CoTESOL members can do to offer support


Kat recommends that CoTESOL members keep tabs on the House Bill HB 1085, Adult Education and Family Literacy Act in Colorado.  The two best sites for watching this bill are the Colorado Center for Law and Policy and the Bell Policy Center


"It has often been a scramble as we learn how to navigate this new school environment without the infrastructural support of a school district. But the community is taking notice! We are living proof that when there's a will there's a way." - Kat Bradley-Bennett



2014 Colorado World Refugee Celebrations 


World Refugee Day was established by the United Nations to honor the courage,

strength and determination of women, men and children who are forced to flee their

home under the threat of persecution, conflict and violence.

Please join us for activities throughout the month of June to celebrate and recognize our

refugee neighbors and friends who now call Colorado home, and to provide you with

opportunity to learn more about the resettlement process, support local agencies that serve refugees, and enjoy the music, dance, food and rich culture of our refugee



Please note that the schedule is subject to change. Please refer back to this

website for current information:


You'll find updates to the online schedule and revised versions to download as a

PDF file.

If you have any questions or need additional information, contact Joe Wismann-Horther

at 303-863-8029 or e-mail Joe at:


Call for Proposals
Common Core Initiative
Core Values of Education
Interview with Kat Bradley-Bennett
Jop Openings
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

Interested in a Volunteer CoTESOL Board position?



Join Us!


  TESOL Professional Development

Online Courses

  7 July - 3 August 2014

Help your ELLs succeed in science with this online course. Explore the role of cultural perspectives in learning science, guiding principles of second language acquisition, and methods of instructional alignment of objectives, teaching, and assessment of scientific learning.

Register online before Wednesday, 2 July.


 7 July - 3 August 2014

Explore assessment, intervention, and identification techniques effective in separating difference from disability. Learn what tools and strategies are available and appropriate to use.

Registration closes Wednesday, 2 July.


14 July - 10 August 2014

Do you feel confident discussing grammar in the classroom? If not, these two online courses can help. Courses can be taken in any order or concurrently.

Registration for both courses closes Wednesday, 9 July.

Thank you to TEOL's Grammar Partner, Oxford University Press.



20 - 21 June 2014
 Columbus, Ohio USA

Spend 10 dynamic hours in one concentrated area of study with a top leader in the field. Workshop topics focus on key issues and areas of practice in the profession, from teaching sciences and writing to collaborating in multilevel classes.



Space is limited. 

Register online today.





TESOL Connections
Conducting home visits with culturally and linguistically diverse families can be both educational and challenging; learn how to make them effective and productive for everyone.


Students who use active listening strategies develop skills that enable them to monitor their own metacognitive processes; learn how to model and evaluate these strategies.
ELLs often avoid watching the news because they find it too difficult. Use this fun, interactive, and interest-based collaborative learning project to introduce ELLs to TV news. Handouts included.
Executive Board
CoTESOL Executive Board
Past President
1st Vice PresidentJennifer
2nd Vice President

Sarah Austin

Executive SecretaryLarry
Communications LiaisonHilario
Communications LiaisonChristine
Publishers' LiaisonBruce Rogers

Hospitality and EntertainmentDieter
Socio-Political Liaison  
Adult Ed SIG Co-Chair

Kate Goodspeed

Adult Ed SIG Co-ChairGenevieve
Teacher Education / Action Research SIG Co-ChairConnie
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-ChairDaniel Schweissing

Content Area Ed SIG Co-ChairSusan
Content Area Ed SIG Co-Chair

Sandy Stokely


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