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Supporting Academic Discussions for ELLs in Common-Core Classrooms

A second wave of free, online courses is coming down the pike this spring for teachers looking for strategies and resources to support English-language learners with the rigor and more sophisticated language demands of the Common Core State Standards.

With a focus on how educators can foster student-to-student academic discussions, a team of language experts from the Understanding Language initiative will teach the massive online open courses, or MOOCs. The free series—called Constructive Classroom Conversations—was first offered last fall, with more than 2,000 teachers participating.

This spring, the course will be offered separately to elementary teachers and secondary teachers. Teachers are Kenji Hakuta, a Stanford University education professor and co-director of Understanding Language; Jeff Zwiers, a senior researcher at Stanford who is an expert on academic language; and Sara Rutherford-Quach, a postdoctoral scholar at Stanford and former bilingual elementary teacher.  

The Seattle school district will use the MOOCs with all of its teachers, and other large districts are considering doing the same, Mr. Hakuta said.

Both courses will run March 6-May 29.

A third course that will focus on the use of language in elementary mathematics starts on March 26.

Other MOOCs from Understanding Language will also be offered later this year, Hakuta said. The online courses are among numerous resources that the Stanford-based team of ELL experts has been developing on the common core, Next Generation Science Standards, and English-learners.



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