PD and Planning Support for Teachers


During school closure during the pandemic, we needed to shift our professional development needed to shift format. In order for teachers to make the most of their time, we developed a series of e-workshops that could be undertaken asynchronously when time was available.  We also used strong and weak examples that teachers analyzed and modeled our resources via Google

Classroom. We got great feedback from the teachers on the format and content.



ACADEMIC LANGUAGE Curriculum Planning Support

Adams 14 has the largest percentage of language learners in the state of Colorado.  In order to best support our multilingual learners, it is important to plan for their unique needs at the unit level. With this in mind our I co-developed language look-fors and support for the district-level curriculum maps.  Further, our team worked with English Language Development (ELD) coaches to facilitate the development of language scope and sequence curriculum maps for our dedicated ELD teachers.  Both teachers and admin alike appreciated the supports and the intentional backwards design planning for language.


As the K-12 Linguistically and Culturally Diverse Education Coordinator for Adams 14, I led the district-wide ELD-focused professional development, which led to an almost 40% increase in structured talk and decrease in teacher talk, and an increase in writing scores.  We performed a needs analysis to determine our focus, assembled and cross-section of materials, trained teacher leaders on the material so they could lead the work with small groups.  The sessions included relevant professional reading, modeling and sharing of strategies, use of student data, teacher planning time and always ended with a useable product (lesson plan, specific strategy or scaffold).  Teacher feedback for the series was overwhelmingly positive in that teachers stated they were better prepared to support multilingual learners (MLs).


As the needs analysis from the district identified unit-level planning for language to a be a high need for teachers, our team developed district-wide ELD guidance and supports embedded into curriculum mapping and PLC processes based on WIDA Can Do Key Uses and the Forms and Function work of Susannah Dutro.

Beginning with the end in mind, our ELD teams use the WIDA Standards Framework to analyze academic unit and lesson content in terms of accessibility (comprehensible input) and expectations of students’ oral and written production.  We then create language objectives and select appropriate material and implement supports and that align with learning targets WIDA level.

I have worked with teams in various district settings to create model student responses on formative assessments.  Using guiding questions from WIDA and Constructing Meaning, we analyze our models for language patterns at the word/phrase, sentence, and discourse level.  We then prioritize these language forms and chunk their instruction through the unit supported by word banks and differentiated sentence frames.

This resulted in increased teacher confidence and increased in writing scores.

Examples of Model Student Responses with Sentence Frames


WechatIMG398As a firm believer in WIDA and its Can Do Philosophy, I am excited to be an authorized WIDA CLIMBS Trainer (Content and Language Integration as a Means of Bridging Success).

WIDA CLIMBS helped our staff unify our approach to helping ELLs develop academic language and ensure their access to challenging grade-level content.  Through this collaboration, we were able to support our students in raising WIDA scores an average of one full level per student in 2018-19!

I delivered WIDA CLIMBS to Daystar Academy’s three schools throughout the 2018-19 school year and facilitated the certification of over 30 staff members.



During this time, as a professional community we developed a common vocabulary which with to promote success with our 400+ multilingual learners and we engaged in the following endeavors:

  • Examining the connections between culture and language
  • Considering the culture of collaboration in our local contexts
  • Describing principles of acquisition and learning
  • Examining the features of academic language
  • Exploring the connections between language acquisition principles and WIDA ELD practices
  • Exploring how academic language varies across subject areas and domains
  • Developing differentiation for language
  • Investigating the language demands of texts and tasks
  • Recognizing effective feedback practices
  • Providing effectivefeedback to language learners
  • Discussing learning strategies
  • Developing instruction andlearning strategies for ELLs
  • Examining scaffolding strategies
  • Identifying scaffolding strategies in practice
  • Reflecting on peer observations
  • Planning differentiated lessons using WIDA frameworkWechatIMG402

As Daystar Academy is a WIDA consortium member, I have sent several teachers to the WIDA Institute.  Further, our team has been working with WIDA Can Do Descriptors and Performance Definitions for two years.  We were excited to take this next step in developing our school-wide

approach to serving ELLs through collaboration and best practices.

>>>Read more about CLIMBS

Launching of the Daystar Bridge Program

Daystar Academy is a strong bilingual immersion program that develops world citizens by embracing Chinese and Western culture through its integrated education model. Daystar students strive for distinction in comprehensive Chinese and English studies, creative thinking and character development for the purpose of serving the community at large.  In short, Daystar students are highly bicultural and biliterate to a degree few people ever achieve.

While the success rate is high, one of the challenges in such a time-intensive model is finding opportunities to implement lengthier interventions for students who need additional interactions with academic English concepts and content.  In traditional English-only schools, this burden is distributed throughout the school day or is lessened by students being surrounded by English in the world around them.  In contrast, our ELLs (who make up 70% of the student body) only receive 12 hours of instruction a week and have very little exposure to English in their lives outside of school.

In order to create additional opportunities for these students, a small team of us were able to do a needs assessment of the students and parents and reach out into the larger Beijing community to find partners who could provide extra support aligned with our mission and curriculum.  After interviewing several candidates, we settled on the Learning Tree. Working together with our two curriculum teams, we have been able to facilitate the creation of the Daystar Bridge Program.  As it is aligned with our learner outcomes, program of inquiry and standards, and given that there are pathways established for teachers to share feedback and data, students have been able to receive extra targeted support.  We’ve even been able launch parent education sessions to help parents support students at home.  Results have been fantastic.  Reading and writing scores are improving quickly and students and parents alike are reporting higher levels of understanding and enjoyment in learning.


基本信息 General Information


Adams 14 Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education (CLDE) Department Procedures and Protocols

As the Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Eduction Coordinator for Adams 14, I co-designed the multilingual learner (ML) service model for our K-12 district, established ELD planning protocols, and developed and refined procedures for identifying, placing, monitoring and redesignating MLs.  Below is a sample of the procedures and protocols that I developed:

Learning English for Academic Proficiency (LEAP) Department Policies and Procedures


As the Language Support Services Coordinator for Daystar Academy, I designed the ML service model for our entire K-12 private district, established and continually managed the baseline data for MLs.  Below is a sample of the policies and procedures that I developed:

Student Work Samples

At the end of the day, our work as educators is to advance student success.  I invite you to view a sampling of student work supported by tools and strategies implemented by myself or my ELL team.




Middle School

WIDA Level 1
Over the years, I have worked with many Students with Limited or Interrupted Formal Education (SLIFE).  When I met this particular student, he had only received a year of formal instruction as a twelve year-old.  This is a sample of his writing in the beginning of the year.
Through creating class-constucted models, the use of sentence frames and feedback, this student’s work started to blossom even though his lexicon was still quite low.  This a sample of his writing mid-year.


WIDA level 2




WIDA level 3

Elementary School


WIDA level 1
WIDA level 2


WIDA level 3


Using Data to Inform

My experience has taught me that while teacher instinct is invaluable, it is only bolstered when pairing it with data from the individual students as it relates to program-level goals. As such, my guiding question with data is always, “How does this inform instruction?”  Below are samples of using data to inform decisions at various levels:


Looking at Data


Gathering Data in One Place

Research is clear that using a combination of formative and summative assessment data to inform instruction yields the best student results. As such, it is important to have access both kinds of data. As a small district, my current program did not have access to centralized student data.  The director of Teaching Learning and Innovation and I co-created student data sheets that housed formative and summative assessment along with WIDA-inspired ELL learner profile data.

Click to see a sample of the Data Sheets

Protocol for Looking at Data

The Teaching Learning and Innovation department led a series of PDs for teachers using SRI’s ATLAS-Looking at Data or Data-Driven Dialogue Protocol. With all the data in one place and a protocol with prioritized standards to follow, teachers have been able to participate in PLCs and respond effectively to the following questions:

  • What do we expect our students to learn?
  • How will we know they are learning?
  • How will we respond when they don’t learn?
  • How will we respond if they already know it?


Program-level Data Analysis

It goes without saying that in order to communicate effectively with stakeholders and make decisions about things like staffing and service model adjustments, it’s important be able to look at program-level data and analyze below for patterns.  Below is a two-year analysis of Daystar Academy’s ELLs in terms of baseline proficiency, growth and exits.  This analysis enabled me to shift our service model from a largely stand-alone streaming model to co-teaching and targeted pull-outs.  It also allowed me to staff effectively and shift programming to more reading and writing instruction.

Daystar Academy Language Learner Summary 2016-18


Informing Instruction

To modify my own instruction, I use formative and summative data from student data sheets, ELL learner profile data and prioritized standards and learning targets.  Specially, analyze prioritized standards and content using WIDA Performance Definitions to determine linguistic complexity. I then analyze student data and WIDA level, along with WIDA Can Do Descriptors and to design WIDA MPIs and equitable and effective instruction that is a best-fit for student language proficiency.

Lexical Load Example

In one example that comes to mind, using WIDA Performance Definitions I was able to determine that my WIDA level 2s were struggling with a lexical load that was too high for them.  To remedy this, I was able to find reading material that used the same Tier 2 vocabulary as the language arts anchor text, but with a much lower lexical load.  Thus, these students were exposed to grade level concepts and vocabulary that was within their Zone of Proximal Development. Students developed the same comprehension sub-skills as their peers (determining main idea and detail) using supports from the MPIs (leveled text, sentence frames, and word banks with the support of a peer). In this manner, I kept the rigor high as well as the accessibility.

View a sample of MPI strand used.

View a sample of leveled reading.


Early Literacy Example

Another example that comes to mind is an early literacy example in grades 1-3.  Our students’ MAP  reading scores for grades 1-3 weren’t progressing as much as we had expected after adopting a new curriculum. Digging into the MAP learning continuum data showed us a trend of a large group of students struggling at the phonics level.  Responding to this, we gave this group of students individualized phonics assessments and were able to determine gaps in decoding skills.  From there, we were able to dynamically group students and further target their phonics instruction to fit the needs of those gaps during our guided reading times and literacy centers.  For students who still needed more help, we were able to set up short-term literacy interventions managed by ELL teachers and para-educators.  This increased targeting of specific decoding skills to specific students led to much more efficient progression of decoding proficiency for our ELLs.

Example of early phonics data 


Action Plan

Using the PLC question format (above), educators are often are faced with determining what to do when students aren’t hitting the learning targets we are setting. When making revisions to our instruction isn’t enough, we sometimes need to do interventions or make action plans for individual students.  In this example, this student was scoring far below his peers in reading, he wasn’t producing much writing and the literacy instruction in the classroom just wasn’t working.  To approach this, the teacher and I assembled reading data and five writing samples.  After analyzing the writing samples using the WIDA Writing Rubric, we were able determine that this student was struggling at the vocabulary level.  We were also able to identify specific gaps in decoding skills.  Reaching out his parents and using a combination of resources, we were able to put together an action plan that addressed vocabulary-building, specific decoding gaps, and moving from sentence-level to phrase-level writing.  The plan helped this student find purchase and he made significant leaps in all three areas.  We were then able to revisit the plan, make adjustments to the goals based on his work and roll out a second round. After two cycles, I’m happy to report that he is no long on an action plan!

Action plan example


Action Research Example

Untitled-1A district I worked for in the U.S. encountered a huge influx of low-level English Language Learners (ELLs), the majority of which were  WIDA level 1s and 2s (newcomers). The district was at a loss as to how to proceed.  Continue the current model (co-teaching and push-in)?  Shift to pull-outs? How much?

As there is not a lot of research regarding newcomers or SLIFE and service models, I performed an 8-week action research study comparing two service models: co-teaching and push-in; targeted pull-out with push-in support.  I was able to determine that targeted pull-out with a sheltered instruction model was a better fit for these students as they made larger strides in decoding, comprehension and writing development.  As a result, we were able to shift to this model until the students were able to pass beginning of the year benchmarks.  At that point, we were able to shift back to co-teaching and a push-in more effectively.




Co-teaching is often considered the apex of instructional collaboration.  In my experience, while co-teaching is tremendously effective, it takes intentional planning and norming of practices in order to reach the potential of the models.  Below is an example of co-teaching resources I put together for our district to help teachers better understand the models and (more importantly) norm their collaborative practices as a unit.  I’m proud to say that our co-teaching practice is evolving measurably each year!




Teaching Videos

Welcome to my video section of the site. Here, you can view teaching samples as well as educational support videos I have made or facilitated with our ELL/EAL teams to support parents and students.

Teaching Sample 1: Elementary ELLs – Supporting Language Arts

Standards assessed:
Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade 5 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.
Compare and contrast two or more characters, settings, or events in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., how characters interact).
Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.

Teaching Sample 2: High School ELLs – Supporting Language Arts

Standards assessed:

Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grades 11-12 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies

Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11-12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

Present information, findings, and supporting evidence, conveying a clear and distinct perspective, such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning, alternative or opposing perspectives are addressed, and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and a range of formal and informal tasks.


Bilingual Parent Support Videos


Supporting Literacy at Home | School Expectations


Using Technology to Support Your Child’s Literacy at Home

This initiative was a collaboration between the ELL teachers and Chinese teachers to help English and Chinese speaking parents support literacy at home in a concrete way by helping parents understand and use two of our favorite online literacy resources: Reading A-Z and Phonics Genius.  The teachers collaborated with Chinese colleagues to shoot and translate the videos. The result was a marked uptick in use of these tools with parents and students!

Using Reading A-Z at Home to Support Your Child’s Literacy

Using Technology to Support Phonics at Home

Reading With Your Child at Home Using Reading A-Z


Bilingual School Expectations Videos for Students and Parents

This initiative was a collaboration between students and ELL teachers in order to help all students and parents understand school expectations given that there were many new-to-country families to our school who had limited or interrupted formal schooling in the past.  The students brainstormed school norms and agreed to them through voting.  They then co-wrote the scripts and created the videos with graphics and sound.


Banaadir Academy Expectations: School Arrival

Banaadir Academy Expectations: Hallways

Banaadir Academy Expectations: Cafeteria

Banaadir Academy Expectations: Recess

Banaadir Academy Expectations: Bathrooms

Banaadir Academy Expectations: Dismissal and Busing

Letters of Recommendation

See what principals, directors and peers have said about my teaching and professionalism.

Also, feel free to peruse my latest performance evaluations.

Diversity Statement

Download my Diversity Statement

As an ELL/EAL/ESL educator and coordinator, I am not merely a supporter of diversity in the classroom, but believe it should be openly discussed, celebrated, and promoted—for it is diversity that gives us the opportunity to have rich and inspiring interactions with each other and the world.

While my cultural competency is certainly evolving, it is built on a lifetime of experiences.  One of those core experiences for me was living and working in Hanoi, Vietnam for four years.  During that time, I learned how difficult it can be to learn another culture’s norms, values and practices as an outsider.  I also learned how it can feel to stick out physically and not be able to blend in, and how frustrating it can be to be surrounded by a language one doesn’t understand while trying to negotiate the nuanced demands of daily life.  By leaving my own set of customs and way of life and attempting to adapt to another, I learned how culturally-based many of my assumptions were about a myriad of things like educational practices, humor and even just shopping.   In short, this period transformed my life and worldview, and continues to be a touchstone for me in my teaching and personal life.

Another central experience that informed my cultural competency has been working in a school that services a student body of East African immigrants and refugees.  By immersing myself in another culture and working with Somali students, families and staff on projects such as forming a Parent Teacher Organization (PTO), I have experienced first-hand the value of having many perspectives in any collaborative endeavor.  In short, through open and persistent dialogue, our projects were always made stronger by including differing perspectives and opinions. Our end of the year celebration that was attended by almost 500 hundred people is but one example that comes to mind. By incorporating henna, Somali poetry and Somali food into our program, it was much more vibrant and meaningful to those in attendance.

I have also learned how important it is to be active in the pursuit of diversity.  Over time, I have witnessed how easy it is for staff to culturally self-select and self-isolate in various scenarios.  In one specific context, I noticed that Western teachers were resistant to learning any Somali and the Somali staff was resistant to certain pedagogical practices. To address this as an ELL teacher, I started by setting up food sharing events with my Somali coworker.  Through these informal gatherings, many of the barriers between the two cultures came down as people got to know each other better as individuals through their enjoyment of food.  Next, I implemented the Somali Word of the Week program, which focused on vocabulary and cultural customs and was co-taught by both Somali and Western teachers. Through this program, the staff acquired a working vocabulary of over 100 useable Somali words that center on classroom management and day to day functioning.  Further, by learning elements of Somali, which is linguistically and culturally very different from English, teachers were able to relate more readily to their students’ challenges in learning English.  Both staff and students reported increased enjoyment and understanding of each other through Somali Word of the Week.

Over time, with committed advocates of diversity working together, as a staff we began to build deeper relationships, address misunderstandings and find common ground with each other.  One specific example of the fruits of this labor comes to mind.   Through conversations over staff breakfast, kindergarten teachers were able to reach out Somali staff to request clarity regarding the use of musical mnemonic devices in class, which had previously been forbidden by the administration. Through trust-based discussion, the teachers were able to understand the notion of certain music contexts being considered haram (forbidden by Muslim teachings).  After this understanding was reached, the teachers were able to reach out respectfully to parents and Somali staff members and effectively explain the educational purpose and nature of the songs in a manner that addressed concerns of parents and staff.  Once the educational context was fully clarified and understood through dialogue, both Somali staff and parents were able embrace the practice of learning through song, which led to increased retention and use of phonemic awareness.  I believe this process would not have happened had we not started reaching out to each other through food and language exchange.

Lastly and most importantly, throughout the last seven years, I have had the opportunity to teach students and work with colleagues from five continents representing every socioeconomic status imaginable, as well as the full spectrum of sexual orientation and identification.  I have loved working with each new student and have enjoyed learning as much from my students as they have learned from me. The same can be said of my co-workers. While I value the fact that I have worked with so many kinds of people, the question remains, how has my teaching changed as a result of these experiences?

First, I strive to create an open, safe space in which students feel free to express different ideas, opinions, and worldviews.  Through careful planning, I am able to weave in opportunities for students to write about and discuss their own backgrounds, influences and goals with each other.  In addition, my classes co-create their own norms and expectations of each other so that everyone has a stake and voice in the tone the class. An example of this on a larger scale is a project where I facilitated the production of a series of bilingual training videos detailing school procedures and expectations.  These videos were written for and by new to country refugees to help new students learn the routines and behavioral norms of the school. Students generated their own examples, co-wrote the script and acted in and directed the films.  A sample video can be found at here.

In addition, I model respectful, inclusive communication that celebrates all cultures and ways of living.  As I believe that respect is an active rather than a passive act, I also personally strive to practice and model empathy.  My experiences have taught me that it is always valuable to appreciate how someone else might be thinking and feeling.  I make this expectation explicit for my students by openly discussing empathy practices with them and having them use specific writing journal prompts to adopt perspectives that are different than their own as a way of practicing both empathy and higher-level reasoning. Together, this provides the basis for safe and dynamic communication and the negotiating of complicated ideas while honoring diversity.  I believe this benefits my students in several ways.  For one, my classes are receptive, supportive environments where students can try out both language features and ideas that are new and challenging to them.  Further, by attempting to try on others’ perspectives, I have witnessed my students becoming more flexible and more thorough in their reasoning—thus becoming more engaged and committed class citizens.

My awareness and appreciation of cross-cultural understanding continues to grow. I work to increase my fledging fluency in Somali and Mandarin because practicing a second language helps me appreciate the challenge faced by students who are simultaneously learning English and academic content.  As a teacher, I listen to my students carefully and always strive to remember what it is like to be immersed in a new culture.  I set aside my own perceptions of what academic or linguistic concepts are “easy” or “hard” to understand because these assumptions are based on my cultural and educational background, not that of my students. Finally, I am inspired when my students learn English in ways that are meaningful to them. As such, I strive to introduce them to a variety of materials from assorted of backgrounds, and to support them as they shape their own identities as scholars.

Download my Diversity Statement

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