A Word with Shawn Slakk: ExcELL

Shawn Slakk, Vice President and Senior Training Consultant brings a wealth of experience to the Symposium. Having lived in the Pacific Northwest and being raised in a highly diverse neighborhood, school, and church, English was not the only language he heard on a regular basis. Both of his parents worked on learning Spanish as part of their ministry (Shawn is a 4th generation lay minister-but teaching is now his ministry rather than in a church). Each parent had other languages they were interested in such as Russian, Hebrew, German, Farsi and many others. He was always fascinated with other languages. In college, he worked on both Japanese and Spanish. For various reasons, Spanish became his passion and he lived and studied in Spain for a year and Costa Rica. Shawn has a Bachelors’ degree in Spanish Education and English Education. Had it been an option at the time, he would have loved to have a bilingual certification as a teacher.

A little over 3 years ago, Margarita and I became partners and have worked ever since to refresh, update and integrate all the good things we hear teachers telling us about ExC-ELL and continue to train across the nation both ExC-ELL and ACE-LERA.

Shawn was first introduced to ExC-ELL in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, Charlotte, NC where he became the liaison for the district working with and facilitating the ExC-ELL Institutes. He also coached in the district, allowing him to work closely with Margarita and the rest of the team. He then moved to Massachusetts’ DOE to help them create a SEI endorsement course which was based on ExC-ELL (with a few other connections). At the time, Massachusetts was working with the DOJ’s Office of Civil Rights education branch and Margarita was the DOJ’s expert witness to ensure that the whole state’s EL population received correct EL strategies and instruction in the general classroom. Shawn and the team created the RETELL Endorsement (Rethinking Equity and Teaching for English Language Learners), a 45-hour graduate level course for educators and administration that served ELs. This endorsement is a requirement for any Massachusetts’ teacher or administrator to renew or obtain a teaching license.

Typically, the ExC-ELL training and institutes are typically 3 days or 18 hours of PD, with suggested follow-up sessions of in-class coaching and renew, refresh, revisit or TLC/PLC sessions to help sustain the new learning and implementation. In other words, ExC-ELL and ACE-LERA trainings are not one-shot PD sessions. Many things of course can be learned and implemented with just the training, but implementation is so much better when there is follow up (and of course if the WHOLE school team is trained and coached too.)

Shawn will be doing three ExC-ELL sessions for Novice teachers, one each in vocab, reading comprehension and writing based on the curriculum breakout sessions. These will introduce to and in some instances be modeled for the participants their proven language and literacy acquisition and integration strategies. Also included in each session will be ways to involve the whole class in cooperative learning as well as a bit of theory for language and literacy acquisition for any language.

I’m hoping the attendees can see a new way of analyzing existing DL programs or ways of designing new ones. I’m hoping they can see the connection between pre-teaching vocabulary as a precursor into reading comprehension for mastering core content, and for producing academic writing for different purposes and subjects to keep students at grade level in both languages.

Additional Presenter Information

Photo of Guadalupe EspinoGuadalupe Espino is one of the Senior Associates for Margarita Calderón & Associates. She has been a Research Associate for Johns Hopkins University, in charge of assessing large cohorts of students in two longitudinal studies and developing curriculum materials in Spanish. She has co-authored a reading series for Students with Interrupted Formal Education, books and training manuals dealing with language and literacy in Spanish. Her extensive experiences include Director of Preschools, classroom teacher, trainer of K-12 teachers in Spanish literacy throughout the U.S. and Mexico, and a powerful very well-loved trainer of Latino parents.

"Growing up on the border made me aware of the benefits of two languages for everyone."

Photo of Barbara CohenBarbara Cohen studied Linguistics as an undergraduate and became involved in dual language education as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines. While there, she worked with an under-served population on Mindanao who were dual language learners, schooled in both their home language, Maranao, and English. Since that time, she has worked to support dual language acquisition in many situations both in the US and abroad.

Patricia Griselda Pérez
Author: Patricia Griselda Pérez

Dr. Patricia Pérez holds an A.A. from Ohlone College: B.A. and M.S. degree from California State University, East Bay and an Ed.D. from the University of San Francisco. She serves as an educator, consultant and teacher coach, which provides professional development, curriculum development and multicultural awareness services to local and international educational institutions and corporations. Dr. Pérez is fluent in Spanish and began her career as an elementary school teacher in a bilingual classroom. In the past two decades, she has developed a wide range of experience working at every level of public education, providing support to educators and directly to students. Her interest focus on promoting educational excellence through equity in order to overcome institutional barriers that confront underserved students of diverse backgrounds. Dr. Pérez is also an accomplished writer and has published in the areas of multicultural education and organizational management and leadership. She is a contributing author to Multicultural Education in Practice: Transforming One Community at a Time and Collaboration and Peak Performance: A Multidisciplinary Perspective for Emerging Leaders.

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