Monthly Happenings: April 2019

Updates from IDOE's English Learner Team

Learning Connection Phase-out

The Title III and NESP Learning Connection Community will officially be discontinued on July 1. With the phasing out of Learning Connection, we are updating how we share English Learner-related information with the field. General announcements once found posted in the Title III and NESP group will be found in Dr. McCormick’s Weekly Update. Follow this link to sign up for these updates.

Also, we will be compiling any EL information shared in Dr. McCormick’s newsletters, as well as many other resources, PD opportunities, articles, etc. here in our Monthly Happenings newsletter. Sign up for our mailing list by clicking the "Follow" button above, or by visiting our English Learning site.

Any still-relevant documents or files found within the Learning Connection community will be transferred to our website.

ACCESS Scores Available This Month!

ACCESS for ELLs and Alternate ACCESS for ELLs reports will be available online beginning Thursday, April 25, via WIDA AMS. The following reports will be available:

  • District Frequency Distribution Reports
  • School Frequency Distribution Reports
  • School Roster Reports
  • Individual Student Reports
  • Student Response Files - District

The following score report resources are now updated and available:

Please review this memo for additional information regarding reporting and instructions for accessing reports. Printed reports are due in corporations on May 6, 2019.

April EL Leadership Meeting Resources

Thanks again to all who were able to attend our EL Leadership meeting last week, and thanks again to IPS for hosting! The resources, including the slides, scenarios and responses, opportunities for feedback, etc. can be found on the Padlet via this link:

IDOE EL Summer PD Roadshow Info

IDOE's EL team will once again be hitting the road this summer to provide professional development around the state. Two sessions will be offered simultaneously at four locations. The dates and locations are below:

  • NOTE: We have met our capacity for both sessions on June 11 in Indianapolis. We encourage you to choose another date/location instead, or email Nicole Leach at to be added to a waitlist.
  • June 13 - Monroe Community School Corp. (Bloomington)
  • June 18 - East Allen County Schools (New Haven)
  • June 20 - Tippecanoe School Corp. (Lafayette)

The two all-day sessions being offered are:

  • Redefining the Role of the English Learner Teacher
  • Inclusive School Leadership: Promoting Cultural Proficiency and Awareness

Read session descriptions and register on our Professional Learning site. Spaces are limited, so sign up soon! Also, attached below is a save-the-date flyer. We hope to see you there!

2019-2020 EL Directors' Meetings

The dates and location have been set for the EL Directors' Meetings for the 2019-2020 school year. MSD Lawrence Township Schools (Indianapolis, IN) will again host both days of the meetings. The New EL Directors’ Meeting will be held on Tuesday, August 13, and the Annual EL Directors’ Meeting for both new and returning EL Directors will be held on Wednesday, August 14. Both meetings will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Register now and provide your input on the topics you hope to see on this year’s agenda!

More Upcoming EL Professional Development...

Be sure to check out our Upcoming Professional Development calendar for descriptions and registration information for some exciting newly-added opportunities. Here are a few highlights...

  • WIDA Academic Language of Math webinar
  • WIDA Writing Academy
  • WVEC's Unlocking English Learners' Potential with author Dr. Diane Staehr Fenner
  • WVEC's EL Summer Institute with author Tonya Ward Signer

Also, if you are planning professional development for the summer and upcoming school year, we encourage you to see the "External PD Options" tab on our site as well.

Indiana Refugee Series

Did You Know? Indiana is home to more than 3,000 refugee students?!

What is a refugee?

A refugee is a person, owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion is outside the country of their nationality, and is unable to return or protect themselves owing to such fear.

Where are our Indiana refugee families from?

Our families are from all over the world; EL Salvador, Honduras, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, Eritrea, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Myanmar/Burma, Bhutan, China, Cuba, and many other countries. We may not see all these students represented in our classrooms, but are excited to know that families have chosen Indiana as their new home.

Want to know more?

Stay tuned to learn more about Indiana Refugee students and the wonderful ways they are being supported at some of our LEAs that support larger refugee populations!

Check out the UN Refugee Agency to learn more about refugees worldwide by clicking here.

Check out Indiana's local resettlement agencies:

Exodus Refugee

Catholic Charities Indianapolis

TransACT - Public Charge Informational Letter Webinar on April 15th

The recent proposed changes to how “Public Charge” will be determined for immigrants applying for visas or green cards has caused some confusion and fear in the immigrant community. This has resulted in some of these families withdrawing or refusing services that are not part of the “Public Charge” determination. These services and programs include enrolling in school, free and reduced price breakfast and lunch, Title I, Part C, Migrant Education Programs, English Learner and Bilingual programs, Title I Programs, and other educational programs. To help inform the public and clear up some misunderstandings, TransACT Communications is hosting a webinar on April 15th on this topic led by Roger Rosenthal, attorney and executive director of the Migrant Legal Action Program and expert on the “Public Charge” Policy. Here is the link to that webinar,

Public Charge Webinar Link:

In addition, TransACT Communications also has made available a “Public Charge Informational Letter”, translated into five languages, that can be used with immigrant families and the community to help them understand the Public Charge Policy and the implications of the proposed changes to that policy. That letter is available at the following link:

Public Charge Information Letter Link:

Bilingual Education in the News

In this California classroom, students teach each other their home languages- and learn acceptance

Click here to read an article about how one teacher from a school in Oakland, California has taught all of her students to see their individual languages as an asset that should be shared with one another.

Bilingual Teachers Are in Short Supply. How Can Schools Cultivate Their Own?

Click here to read about a guide that has been released by a Washington-based think tank in order to help districts and states that want to develop and hire bilingual educators in their own communities.

A Closer Look: Academic Conversations

Chapter 6 of Academic Conversations: Classroom Talk That Fosters Critical Thinking and Content Understandings by Jeff Zwiers and Marie Crawford focuses on how to use conversation to build grammar and vocabulary, as well as how to use grammar and vocabulary in order to build conversation. A portion of this chapter is dedicated to grammar-building conversation activities, while the other portion is dedicated to developing academic vocabulary through and for conversation.

An example of a grammar-building conversation activity that is given is talking in paragraphs with topic sentences. For this activity, students speak in paragraphs and must ask one another questions that require paragraph-sized answers. A topic sentence should be formed with follow up sentences that support it. For students who need extra assistance, a graphic organizer is also available.

An example of a strategy to build vocabulary would be using connect-the-word-cards. For this activity, rectangular cards are the bricks, or main content words. Diamond-shaped cards are the mortar or connection descriptions. Students can discuss and then write connecting ideas on the diamond cards between two rectangle cards. Students can move the cards around, share their connections with other pairs, and if time, even write a written summary.

IDOE's English Learner Team

Valerie Beard
Assistant Director of English Learners and Migrant Education Programs
(317) 232-0558

Nicole Leach
Dual Language Immersion and English Learner Specialist
(317) 232-0572

Adam Pitt
English Learner Specialist
(317) 234-7168

Georgina Schneider
English Learner Specialist
(317) 234-7785