A Word with Margarita Calderón, the NYC Symposium

Last week, hundreds of people from the NYC Department of Education came together to learn the latest in dual language education. Kathleen Leos, José Medina, David Rogers, Shawn Slakk, and many others participated and gave keynote speeches to the attendees of the symposium. Here is some information regarding Margarita Calderón that was shared with the attendees of the symposium!

We were thrilled to have Margarita Calderón, founder and President of ExC-ELL, in New York as one of the keynote speakers. She is one of the most educated in the country about dual language education, and the ability to hear her words of wisdom is an invaluable resource. Calderón was raised in Juárez, México and crossed the border into El Paso to go to high school and later to the University of Texas, El Paso. She really lived the Dual Language experience. Since then, she has made her life mission to help as many students as possible to have bilingual/multilingual opportunities through quality dual language instruction.

I was able to develop Expediting Comprehension for English Learners (ExC-ELL) and empirically test it in New York and Kauai schools through a 5-year grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The Spanish version is called ACE-LERA (Acelerando la Comprensión en Español: Lectura, Escritura y Razonamiento Académico.

Both versions are a whole school approach to addressing English Learners’/Dual Language Learners’ academic and social emotional needs in K-12 schools and universities. These two models were built upon a previous 5-year empirical study funded by the U.S.D.O.E./I.E.S. called the Bilingual Cooperative Integrated Reading and Composition (BCIRC) developed for elementary Dual Language programs.

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Her keynote address at the Dual Language Symposium highlighted the key features of the successful Whole-School Dual Language approach to instruction and professional development, particularly for upper elementary, middle and high school math, science, social studies, and language arts teachers who need to teach disciplinary literacy along with their subjects. She also shared how principals, instructional coaches and district administrators can support the whole-school efforts.

Her 3 ACE-LERA breakout sessions will demonstrate proven instructional strategies for teaching academic vocabulary/discourse, reading comprehension, writing strategies, and cooperative learning strategies that undergird effective student interaction and development of socioemotional skills. Whereas these sessions will be completely in Spanish, her colleagues, Shawn Slakk and Guadeloupe Espino, will be doing the same presentations in English through ExC-ELL.

We asked Dr. Calderón what she hoped the symposium attendees would take away from her presentation:

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

Here, you can find the questions that were asked of attendees before attending the symposium. You can enter your responses in duallanguageschools.org/forum

  • What is the best way to teach vocabulary/academic language? Reading comprehension? Writing?
  • How do we integrate academic language, literacy and content into our daily lessons?
  • What type of professional development ensures these adaptations?
  • Where can we get more resources and more support?

It was so exciting that we got to offer so many sessions in Spanish! This is how all professional offerings should be. NYC DOE is setting a trend for the rest of the country. They are validating DL teachers requests for more PD in Spanish and focusing while focusing on equity and quality implementation. I hope the rest of the country continues the trend.

For more information on their work, read one of ExC-ELL’s articles or books in their PLCs and formulate questions, see below for suggestions. Questions? Please go to duallanguageschools.org/forum with any concerns.

  1. Calderón, M. E. & S. Slakk (2018). Teaching Reading to ELs in 6th -12th, Second Edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: CORWIN press.
  2. Calderón, M. E. & S. Slakk (2017). Taking the Holistic Approach! Language Magazine. http://languagemagazine.com/2017/03/taking-holistic-approach/
  3. Calderón, M. E. & Soto, I. (2016). Academic Language Mastery: Vocabulary in Context. Thousand Oaks, CA: CORWIN press.
  4. Calderón, M.E. (Feb 2016). A whole-school approach to English Learners. In Educational Leadership Online Journal. Vol. 73, #5. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
  5. Carlo, M., Barr, C., D. August, Calderón, M. & Artzi, L. (2014). Language of Instruction as a Moderator for Transfer of Reading Comprehension Skills among Spanish-speaking English Language Learners. In Bilingual Research Journal.
  6. Calderón, M.E., Slavin, R.E. & M. Sánchez. (2011). Effective instruction for English Language Learners. In M. Tienda & R. Haskins (Eds.). The future of immigrant Children (pp. 103-128). Washington, DC: Brookings Institute/Princeton University. http://www.futureofchildren.org/futureofchildren/publications/docs/21_01_05.pdf
  7. August, D., Calderón, M. & M. Carlo. (2001). Transfer of Reading Skills from Spanish to English: A Study of Young Learners. National Association for Bilingual Education Journal, 24 (4) 11-42.

Angela Palmieri
Author: Angela Palmieri

Angela Palmieri is the founding teacher of a Spanish dual language immersion program in Glendale, California. She currently teaches sixth grade language immersion and has been an educator for eighteen years. She traveled to New Zealand on the Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching in 2016 to research and document the cultural practices taught in Maōri-medium schools. Angela holds a Master’s degree in Educational Administration from the Principal Leadership Institute at UCLA, a Master’s degree in Reading and Language Education, as well as a Bachelor’s degree in Urban Learning Education from CSULA. Ms. Palmieri is currently a doctoral student in the Educational Leadership Program at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Ms. Palmieri was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, to Italian immigrant parents, and speaks Spanish and Italian fluently. She is a social justice-driven advocate for bilingual and indigenous language education and is an avid traveler. Angela travelled to China and Mongolia on a Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad grant in June and July of 2018.

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