2017 Fall Annual Conference

Maryland TESOL 37th Annual Fall Conference

November 11, 2017
Laurel High School, Laurel, Maryland
Theme: Tackling Illiteracy: Meeting the Needs of ELs with Limited and Interrupted Education

Keynote: Andrea DeCapua, Ed.D.

Summary: Students with Limited or Interrupted Formal Education (SLIFE) struggle greatly in our schools. They not only need to develop language and content knowledge, as do all ELs, but in addition, SLIFE must also develop literacy skills and master new school-based ways of thinking and learning. Because their prior experiences are significantly different from those of their peers with age-appropriate formal education, SLIFE are confounded by the ways in which language and content are presented, practiced, and assessed in our classrooms. The key to helping these students is culturally responsive instruction, which asks educators to develop a new level of awareness of both their own and the students’ culturally derived learning priorities. I examine these different priorities and present a culturally responsive instructional approach, the Mutually Adaptive Learning Paradigm (MALP®), designed to create an optimal learning climate. MALP® takes into account both the priorities of U.S. educators and those of SLIFE, enabling these students to transition to the demands and expectations of school.

Afternoon Breakout Title: Connecting Students with Limited/Interrupted Formal Education (SLIFE) to US Classrooms

School presents major challenges for SLIFE. While there are numerous reasons why they struggle, it is often not only the new language, literacy practices, and unfamiliar subject area content, but also the nature of formal education itself that is the barrier to their success. I outline the Mutually Adaptive Learning Paradigm (MALP®), a culturally responsive instructional approach that transitions SLIFE to formal education. MALP® promotes academic achievement by helping these students access the literacy practices and academic ways of thinking of our schools while honoring and respecting their own learning paradigm. The session concludes with samples of effective classroom projects created in MALP® classrooms.

Keynote Speaker Profile: Andrea DeCapua, Ed.D.

Andrea DeCapua, Ed.D. Teachers College Columbia University, is an educator, researcher, and educational consultant with over thirty years of experience, both here and overseas. She has held academic appointments at various institutions, most recently at New York University and the University of North Florida. Dr. DeCapua specializes in professional development for teachers of language learners and in developing intercultural awareness for classrooms in a global society. She has published numerous articles in a variety of journals including Principal Leadership, NASSP Bulletin, Urban Review, TESOL Journal, and Preventing School Failure. Dr. DeCapua is co-author of a three-book series on struggling language learners. Two of these focus on students with limited or interrupted formal education (SLIFE): Meeting the Needs of Students with Limited or Interrupted Schooling (2009) and Breaking New Ground: Teaching Students with Limited or Interrupted Formal Education (2011). The third book in the series, Making the Transition to Classroom Success: Culturally Responsive Teaching for Struggling Language Learners (2013), addresses all struggling language learners, both adolescent and adult.

Find out more about Dr. DeCapua and her work at andreadecapua.com or malpeducation.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @AndreaDeCapua.

Additional Invited Speakers

Diane Staehr Fenner, Ph.D.

Presentation: Honing Your Leadership Skills to Advocate for ELs in Challenging Times

Abstract: To successfully advocate for ELs, educators must draw from their leadership skills. However, many educators have not had leadership training. In this interactive session, participants will discuss leadership skills in service of ELs, reflect upon their leadership skills, and apply leadership strategies to advocate for ELs in their context.

Roger C. Rosenthal, Esq.

Presentation: The Rights of Immigrant Students and English Learners in the Maryland Public Schools

Abstract: Immigrant children and English Learners often face barriers in gaining entry to public schools and participating in school activities. This session will discuss what Maryland public schools can and cannot require of immigrant children and ELs. Topics to be discussed include Social Security numbers, immigration documents, birth certificates, and immunization records; and access to school lunch and breakfast programs. The session will also cover the rights of English Learners and their parents in the public schools. Practical examples will be provided. Additional topics to be covered very briefly include Special Education and English Learners and Access to Post-Secondary Education for immigrant students.