The Language Series: 2014

Save the Dates for the Language Series 2015!

The 16th Annual Language Series will take place on November 6th and 7th, 2015, featuring keynote speaker Ofelia Garcia, co-author of Translanguaging: Language, Bilingualism and Education.

Check back next year for updates!

Exploring Academic Language and Literacy Development: Connections to the Common Core

Language Series Workshop

The Language Series supports educators in understanding the critical role that language plays in the social and academic success of all students. Come and re-energize your practice by learning from experts in the field. They will share multiple ways to promote and support social and academic language growth in today's diverse educational settings that may include multilingual learners as well as students who have difficulties acquiring or developing language.

Connections to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) will be made throughout the conference, keeping in mind that CCSS places all four language skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking, squarely at the center, as the motor that drives curriculum and instruction for social and academic development.

A panel of leaders and researchers, a keynote presentation, as well as workshops with experienced practitioners will inspire and engage you through hands-on activities and specific examples. As a participant, you will take away concrete ideas for immediate implementation in your settings.

Keynote Speaker: Celia Genishi

Dr. Celia GenishiCelia Genishi, Professor Emerita of Education and former Co-Coordinator of the Program in Early Childhood Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, is an authority on early childhood education, language in the classroom, qualitative research and childhood bilingualism. She is the author of Ways of Assessing Children and Curriculum: Stories of Early Childhood Practice (Teachers College Press), The Need for Story: Cultural Diversity in Classroom and Community (National Council of Teachers of English), Children, Language and Literacy: Diverse Learners in Diverse Times (with Anne Haas Dyson; Teachers College Press); and On The Case: Approaches to Language and Literacy Research (with Anne Haas Dyson; Teachers College Press). Read more...

Keynote Address: Saturday, November 8 at 8:45am

Oral Language as the Foundation: Exploring Connections to Academic Language and the Common Core

Classrooms for children in the 21st century have become extra-serious places. Learning to read and write within the context of the Common Core State Standards has become a major goal, starting in the early childhood years.  In this keynote, Celia Genishi will remind the audience of the “big picture” of development. She will illustrate the need for talk, for many opportunities to use oral language at all ages because it is the key ingredient of foundations for literacy and academic language development. A curriculum full of social and academic language, across multiple content areas, can guide the school learning of all students, including bilingual or multilingual learners as well as language strugglers. A rich curriculum can take into account the Common Core, but not be driven by it.

Friday Evening

The panelists will describe their professional experiences in addressing the overall theme of the Language Series 2014: Exploring Academic Language and Literacy Development. Members from the audience will have the opportunity to ask questions, and, after a short break, each panelist will go to a different room to continue the conversation on her/his particular expertise with those participants interested in further delving into the topic in a smaller setting.

  • Luisa L Costa, Facilitator

    Luisa CostaFaculty member at Bank Street College and Coordinator of the Language Series, Luisa is a passionate believer in the cultural and linguistic heritage that children bring to school as the foundation for the further development of literacy. In 2012, she presented Tapping the oral traditions to support language development at the Dual Language Learners Conference for ACS, New York. Read more...

  • Celia Exelbert

    Celia ExelbertCelia Exelbert has worked in the education field for 30 years. She is currently the Director of Sesame Sprout School, an inclusive, dual-language preschool in Corona, Queens, New York, where 95% of the students and their families are native Spanish speakers. She is a recent graduate of School Building Leadership for Educational Change and School District Leadership programs at Bank Street College of Education. As an educator and special educator, she has worked with students diverse in age, ethnicity, need and ability. She has consulted with local preschools to construct supports to enable children with diverse learning needs to succeed educationally and socially in the classroom. She has provided family training to support families in meeting the needs of their children in the home environment. Her areas of interest are child and adult development, equity in schools, and parallel learning cultures that enrich both children and adults. She has presented professional development workshops on many topics, including ‘Universal Design for Learning and Differentiation’, ‘Case Study: Protocols for Effective Teaching’, ‘Emergent Play During Center Time: How to Infuse the Curriculum into What a Child Loves’, and ‘Using Qualitative and Quantitative Assessment Tools to Determine, Target and Improve Deficits in Different Learners’. She is a proud product of New York City schools.

  • Victoria Hunt

    Victoria HuntVictoria Hunt is founding leader and current principal of Dos Puentes Elementary, a new school in Washington Heights that serves children through a full Dual Language Spanish/English program. Victoria has worked with emergent bilinguals for more than twenty years beginning in Peru where she did service work following college and then in Texas and Washington, DC. She has her doctorate from Teachers College, Columbia University. Her dissertation considered leadership in established Dual Language programs in Northern Manhattan. She has been a bilingual teacher, a university instructor, and an administrator, most recently as Assistant Principal and head of the Dual Language program in P.S. 75, one of the oldest Dual Language programs in Manhattan.

  • Tim Becker

    Tim BeckerTim Becker is a fourth grade teacher at the Amistad Dual Language School, where he also serves on the professional development committee to continue to strengthen the work of dual language teachers around questioning and aligning curriculum with the Common Core. Tim received his Master’s degree in Childhood Bilingual/Dual Language Education from Bank Street College of Education in 2013. For his Integrative Masters Project, he created a Common Core aligned unit of curriculum exploring authentic Spanish language children's literature that he has implemented in his classroom in order to support the academic language development of his emergent bilingual students. Tim earned his BA in Linguistics and Hispanic Studies from Macalester College in 2008. Tim lived in Spain, where he taught English at Asunción de Nuestra Señora, a bilingual school outside Madrid.

  • Sabrina Silverstein

    Sabrina SilversteinSabrina Silverstein is the Coach Program Director for the Making Pre-K Count Project, a research project studying the effects of a math curriculum combined with coaching and professional development on Pre-K students. She taught Head Start, pre-kindergarten and kindergarten in the Chicago Public Schools for 16 years. During this time, she implemented and taught in a Dual Language program. She studied language programs across Chicago as an action research project, focusing on how to change policy to best help English Language Learners. Sabrina then moved to Washington, DC, to assist in the development and implementation of an early childhood teacher evaluation system. As a Master Educator with the DC Public Schools, Sabrina worked with early childhood teachers and teachers who worked with English Language Learners. Upon leaving DC, Sabrina was the Director of Early Childhood for the Hunts Point Alliance for Children, working with children and families in the Bronx, building programs that focus on learning through play. A National Board Certified teacher, Sabrina worked with the Erikson Institute and the Chicago Teachers’ Union to mentor National Board candidates. She earned a bachelor's degree in child study and psychology and a master's degree in teaching from Tufts University.

  • Gabrielle Smith

    Gabrielle SmithGabrielle Smith has taught in the New York City Department of Education for over 10 years in a number of different grades and subjects, and has held a variety of leadership roles. While in Teach for America she taught in bilingual transitional classrooms in the 4th and 5th grade at P.S. 48 in Washington Heights. She then taught in the 4th grade at P.S. 89, a dual language school in Brooklyn. Gabrielle currently works at MS 348 Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School (WHEELS) in Manhattan where she has taught Spanish and Math at the high school level. She was one of two first lead teachers to host Blue Engine, an experimental nonprofit that partners with public high schools serving low-income communities to prepare students for postsecondary success.  She was the school’s first Dean of School Culture. Currently, Gabrielle is a founding Kindergarten teacher in WHEELS’ brand new Dual Language elementary school, a school she helped to design. She has taught the Language Acquisition course at Bank Street College as an Adjunct Instructor for five years. Gabrielle earned her B.A. in Spanish from Cornell University and her M.S.Ed in Dual Language/Bilingual Childhood General Education from Bank Street College.

Saturday Workshops

Participants will select two workshops to attend on Saturday, after the Keynote speech by Celia Genishi.

  • Integrating Content/Expanding Language: Young Children Wonder, Learn, and Talk About Their World

    Susan StiresYoung children are immensely interested in the world around them—particularly the natural world and the social worlds in which they are immersed. Capturing those interests by providing opportunities for content learning in the early childhood classroom will further result in increased language learning. First, Susan and Celia will share language stories—along with theories and research—in classrooms that illustrate integrated content learning, including ones with emergent bilingual learners. Next, working together, we will try out some curricular planning and implementation that is “open” for talk. Finally, participants will imagine and share ways that they might be able to develop and enact such curriculum in their own contexts. 

    Focus on Ages: 0 - 8 Years Old
    Facilitators: Celia Genishi and Susan Stires

    Susan Stires was an instructor/advisor in the Reading and Literacy Program at Bank Street College of Education Graduate School, where she taught courses in language acquisition, literacy development, and children’s literature. She also taught at Teachers College, Columbia University, and was a literacy staff developer in New York City public schools. She taught for 30 years in public and private elementary schools in Boston and midcoast Maine.

  • Speaking from the Heart: Attachment, Language and Emotional Integration in Young Learners

    Lesley KoplowThis session will focus on the adult-child relationship as the foundation for the symbolic processes of language and play. We will explore the teacher's important role in talking with young children in ways that foster emotional integration and receptive learning.

    Focus on Ages: 0 - 8 Years Old
    Facilitator: Lesley Koplow

    Lesley Koplow, MS, LCSW, is currently the Director of the Center for Emotionally Responsive Practice at Bank Street College of Education. She is the former Director of the Karen Horney Clinic Therapeutic Nursery in Manhattan. She is the author of several books including, Bears, Bears Everywhere: Supporting Children's Emotional Health in the Classroom (Teacher’s College Press, 2008), Unsmiling Faces: How Preschools Can Heal (Teacher’s College Press, 2007), and Creating Schools That Heal (Teacher’s College Press, 2002), Politics Aside: Our Children and Their Teachers in Score-Driven Times (2014), Outskirts Press.

    Ms. Koplow has a Master of Science Education in Early Childhood Special Education from Bank Street College and a LCSW from Hunter School of Social Work. She also holds a BA in Child Development from New College.

  • Bilingual development or learning disability?

    Cristian SolorzaMany teachers find it difficult to discern whether an emergent bilingual child also has a learning disability. Participants will explore this issue and learn some important questions to keep in mind. Informal assessments will be analyzed and used as tools that can guide teachers in a better understanding of the processes that are taking place and help them differentiate between them.

    Focus on Ages: All Ages
    Facilitator: Cristian Solorza

  • Etymology + Animation = Etymation…Word study via animated cartoons

    Gladys AponteWhat is the value of studying etymology—an understanding that has been traditionally overlooked in the classroom? As we continue to raise language expectations for students nationwide, the importance of a linguistics understanding for both teachers and students becomes more evident. Learning about words improves vocabulary, spelling, and the overall skills needed to excel through Common Core’s text complexities. A look at etymology allows children to understand why our spelling system, with its many inconsistencies and variations, often seems so irrational.

    Etymation is a series of animated cartoons and accompanying activities that explain the reasons behind spelling’s irregularities in an innovative and exciting fashion.  The videos stimulate the curiosity and enthusiasm needed to approach the intricate American English spelling system in a meaningful and enjoyable way. Etymation will expand your students’ vocabulary repertoire, as they become skilled at analyzing and investigating new words across all content areas. After engaging in the activities yourself, you will recognize the simplicity of weaving word study and analysis into your curricula, as well as the numerous lifelong effects that this will have on students, especially those learning English as a new language and/or those with diverse learning needs.  

    Focus on Ages: 9 - 17 Years Old
    Facilitator: Gladys Aponte

    Gladys Aponte, M.S.Ed., is a public school 4th grade Dual Language teacher in Jackson Heights, Queens. She received her M.S.Ed. in Childhood Special Education and Dual language/Bilingual Education from Bank Street College, and her BA in Elementary Education and English Language Arts from Hunter College. Gladys is currently an Adjunct Instructor at Bank Street, teaching courses in Linguistics and Bilingual Education. Her project, Etymation, exemplifies her passion in creating language-rich learning environments, making rigorous standards meaningful and culturally relevant for students, and instilling a life-long love of learning in diverse learners.


  • Whole Novels & Whole Stories: An Experiential Approach to Reading, Response & Analysis

    Ariel SacksMany children emerge from their schooling experiences disliking reading—even stories. Yet as human beings we have an innate drive to tell, experience and respond to stories. The whole novel (and whole story) approach prioritizes the child's authentic experience of story in a constructivist literature program, harnessing natural enjoyment and curiosity to build a love of reading, critical thinking and Common Core literacy skills. This interactive workshop will model essential practices of the whole novel method, which teachers can apply right away in classrooms at any grade level. 

    Focus on Ages: 9 - 17 Years Old
    Facilitator: Ariel Sacks

    Ariel Sacks teaches middle school English Language Arts in Brooklyn, NY.  Throughout her career, she has worked with a wide range of diverse learners both in DOE schools and currently in a public charter school. She studied progressive pedagogy at Bank Street College of Education, where her mentor and longtime collaborator, Madeleine Ray, first introduced her to the whole novel concept. Ariel is the author of Whole Novels for the Whole Class: A Student Centered Approach and she writes about teaching and other education issues on her blog, On the Shoulders of Giants. She has published articles in Education Week and Education Leadership. An advocate for teacher leadership, Ariel was a member of the team that co-authored Teaching 2030: What We Must Do For Our Public Schools—Now and in the Future and is featured in the recently published Teacherpreneurs: Innovative Teachers Who Lead Without Leaving.