Highest Aspirations

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By Ellevation Education
On the Highest Aspirations Podcast, we engage in important conversations about the most rapidly growing student demographic in the United States - English Language Learners. We speak with educators and students, researchers and policy makers, and parents and community members about how we can help all students reach their highest aspirations.

Join us on this important journey as we bring the vibrant ELL Community together around the topics that matter most to the students we serve.
ELL Teacher Leadership with Dr. Russell and Dr. Von Esch
How do schools go about identifying and developing EL teacher leaders to help other educators work with culturally and linguistically diverse students? What strategies have been most successful in developing these EL teacher leaders? How do schools create a culture in which EL teachers can lead the way and serve as experts in their field? We discuss these questions as they relate to pre-service programs, professional development, co-teaching models and more in our conversation with Dr. Felice Russell from Ithaca University and Dr. Kerry Soo Von Esch from Seattle University.
40:31
July 18, 2018
Project Based Learning and Newcomers with Donna Neary
How can project based learning strategies help accelerate the learning of ELLs? What kind of community partnerships work best when implementing project based learning in schools? How might teachers facilitate learning outside of the schools in ways that are mutually beneficial to students and community members? We discuss these questions and much more in our conversation with Donna M. Neary. Donna teaches high school Social Studies to English learners in Louisville, Kentucky. She is part of a team that piloted the Accelerate to Graduate program at her school. Donna’s role on the team is to teach US History, World History, Exploring Civics, Global Issues, and Humanities. Her concentration on the importance of field trips to student learning is firmly rooted in her experiences guiding tours for students and observing the impact that being in proximity to art, history and authentic artifacts has on development of students critical thinking skills and cognition.
41:23
July 3, 2018
School Leadership Profile: Building Exelencia Academy - Ruben Alonzo
What does it take to build a new school from the ground up in a high ELL demographic area? How do school leadership and mission driven initiatives impact the culture of the school? How does a new school recruit, train, and retain highly qualified teachers to work with underserved populations? We discuss these questions and much more with Ruben Alonzo, Founder of Excelencia Charter Academy in East Los Angeles, California. Ruben talks with us about how his profound personal and professional experiences influenced him to leave Texas and start his own school in Los Angeles. During the conversation, we learn about leadership, planning, professional development, and innovative school models. Just as importantly, Ruben’s contagious passion and dedication to this work serves as an inspiration for anyone who works with underserved communities.
32:40
June 20, 2018
Cultural Responsiveness with Sarah Said
What is cultural responsiveness and how can schools and teachers integrate it into their practice? How do we weave cultural responsiveness into lesson planning, grouping, and assessment? What role does professional development have in ensuring educators are equipped with culturally sensitive strategies? We discuss these questions and more with Sarah Said. Sarah has fifteen years of experience working with English Learners from all parts of the world in the Chicago land area as a teacher, building administrator, and District Level Director of English Learner/Bilingual programs. She sits on the Illinois Advisory Council on Bilingual Education, where she is about to complete the first year of her three year term. Sarah is a regular blogger for ELL Confianza. Her work has also appeared in Ed Week blogs and Mawi Learning. ​
38:05
June 8, 2018
Professional Learning and Much More with Emily Francis
How can ELL stakeholders tap into the power of Professional Learning Networks (PLNs) on Twitter and beyond? What should ELL teachers do to be viewed as experts and advocates in their schools? What resources are most powerful for those just getting started? We discuss these questions and much more with Emily Francis. Emily is an English as a Second Language teacher at W.M. Irvin Elementary School in Concord, North Carolina. She serves students in Kindergarten through fifth grade with various English proficiency levels. Emily’s experience as an English Language Learner inspired her to become an ESL teacher and affords her a deep understanding of the challenges her students must overcome to find success. She serves as a professional development facilitator, motivational speaker, Keynote, ESL PLC lead, cooperating teacher, and mentor to beginning ESL teachers. As a leader, Emily’s focus is to inspire students to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more.
39:34
June 7, 2018
SIFE Students and Rigor with Carol Salva
What does rigor mean for students with interrupted formal education (SIFE)? How do we recognize and leverage the experiences newcomers bring to improve the education of all students? Why is it important that educators embrace a mindset that constantly challenges beliefs about students and what they are capable of? We discuss these topics and much more in our conversation with Carol Salva. Carol is a former elementary educator and has most recently taught newcomer English Language Development in both high school and middle school. She is also a consultant with Seidlitz Education, where she specializes in using researched-based sheltered strategies to teach grade-level content to unschooled/under-schooled language learners. With proven success including these students in content area classes, Carol is able to support teachers to make these efforts practical and to the betterment of the general population.
46:44
June 6, 2018
Community Engagement with Anna Leversee of Enroot Education
How do we engage English Language Learners in community programs? What supports are effective in helping immigrant students thrive beyond the school walls? How might we partner with outside organizations to create mutually beneficial programs for communities and newcomers? We dive into these questions and much more as we continue our series on family and community engagement with Anna Leversee. Anna manages the Enroot program in Somerville, MA. Enroot’s mission is to empower immigrant youth to achieve academic, career, and personal success through inspiring out-of-school experiences. A firm believer in quality education for all, Anna is energized by working with people who volunteer their time and talents to make this goal a reality. We chat with Anna about the power of partnering with community organizations to help immigrant youth reach their highest aspirations.
24:56
May 23, 2018
Stephany Cuevas - Harvard Graduate School of Education
What does the research say about family and community engagement and its correlation with academic achievement? How can school leaders help teachers implement family engagement strategies that work for diverse groups of students? What can schools to to get started with this important work? On this episode, we are pleased to welcome Stephany Cuevas as we continue with our series on family and community engagement. Stephany is a doctoral candidate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her research focuses on the relationships mixed-status families and undocumented parents have with systems and structures of higher education; she studies how immigration status and notions of legalization influence and shape families’ perceptions, understandings, and relationships with higher education.
40:52
May 9, 2018
Cooking up Family & Community Engagement for ELLs
How can schools and communities come together to support immigrant students and families? How do we go beyond the open house at school and bring people together in new ways? Renata Germino started the Bridges Through Bread program in Charlottesville, VA to bring a diverse group of people together around a universal topic - food. We chat with her not only about how we can help immigrant families, but also about how they can help us.
29:51
April 25, 2018
Exemplary Dual Language Programs - DC Bilingual
What does it take to run a successful dual language program? How can schools find teachers and resources while also striking the appropriate balance of students who most benefit from these programs? We tackle these questions and more with Daniela Anello, Head of School at DC Bilingual Charter Public Charter School. DC Bilingual has one of the largest percentages of ELLs in the district, but it is also among the 3 highest performing K-5 schools. Join us as we will explore some of the keys to their success.
34:09
April 11, 2018
Talking Dual Language with Dr. Conor Williams
How do we navigate all the buzzwords, acronyms, and definitions of Dual Language learners and programs? What are the benefits to these programs for English Language Learners, Dual Language Learners, and native English speakers? What are the challenges schools and communities are facing in implementing them and how can we begin solving them? We tackle these questions and more as we kick off our series on Dual Language Programs with Dr. Conor P. Williams. Conor is a senior researcher in New America's Education Policy Program where he founded the organization's Dual Language Learners National Work Group in 2014. His work addresses policies and practices related to educational equity, dual language learners, immigration, and school choice. His writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Atlantic, U.S. News and World Report, among many others. Before joining New America, Conor taught first grade in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
36:24
March 28, 2018
Highest Aspirations: Season 1 Trailer
What are the benefits and challenges associated with Dual Language Immersion programs? How can family and community engagement initiatives impact student achievement and bring diverse schools and communities together around shared interests? Why is it important to bridge the gap between research and practice as we work to better serve our students? These are just some of the questions we’ll tackle on the Season 1 of Highest Aspirations, where we engage in important conversations about our country’s most rapidly growing student demographic - English Language Learners. We’ll speak with educators and students, researchers and policy makers, and parents and community members about how we can help all students reach their highest aspirations. Find our podcast episodes and other valuable valuable resources at ellevationeducation.com/ell-community .
01:31
March 26, 2018
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