Staff Development

Owning Words for Literacy Workshop I
full day

          This workshop was developed by Dr. Meggin McIntosh with support through Nevada Reading First which is responsible for making sure that teachers throughout the State receive high-quality professional development in the area of scientifically-based reading strategies.  Teachers who participate in the Owning Words for Literacy™ workshops will be learning ways to build students’ vocabulary—concurrently with their knowledge.  Research shows that vocabulary development is vital to school success as vocabulary and knowledge are interdependent.

Here are the statistics that Dr. McIntosh kept in mind while developing the Owning Words for Literacy™ series:

  • First-grade children from higher-SES groups know about twice as many words as lower SES children (Graves, Brunetti, & Slater, 1982; Graves & Slater, 1987).
  • High school seniors near the top of their class know about four times as many words as their lower-performing classmates (Smith, 1941).
  • High-knowledge third graders have vocabularies about equal to lowest-performing 12th graders (Smith, 1941).

Most chilling however, is the finding that once established, such differences appear difficult to ameliorate (Biemiller, 1999; Hart & Risley, 1995). From Beck, McKeown, & Kucan. (2002). Bringing Words to Life.


Owning Words for Literacy Workshop II
full day

      Workshops I and II are stand-alone classes, but most participants agree that taking them in order is useful.  We hope that educators will take both workshops, but this is not required.

Teachers will receive specific, new strategies to ensure deep learning of vocabulary, integrated with reading strategy instruction.  There will be ideas for assisting all learners, including students who are English Language Learners and ways to alter current practices so that more vocabulary learning occurs.  Sometimes little changes can make a big difference.


Building Background
half day

            A combination of activities and discussions will be used to examine three instructional interventions that need to be considered when linking concepts to background knowledge and when making links between past learning and new learning.  Lessons that connect to the student’s prior knowledge make the language meaningful, which is a significant component when sheltering instruction. 


Comprehensible Input
half day

Educators will make adjustments to speech so that the lesson is understandable to the English language learners in your classroom.  We will practice and explore modifications and ways to measure comprehensible input. 


Culture Tips
half day

      Using an interactive activity, educators have the opportunity to recognize and understand the differences between individualistic and collectivist cultures.  We’ll discuss the resources that students from collectivist backgrounds bring with them when they come to school and learn some ways to work effectively with students from collectivist backgrounds.


Overview of Second Language Acquisition
half day

      This workshop is designed to help your skilled teachers deliver instruction in a way that has significant impact on student achievement.  We will examine the role of BICS (basic interpersonal communicative skills) and CALP (cognitive-academic language proficiency) as a process of second language acquisition.  We will probe these additional factors:  motivation, age, access to the language, personality, first-language development, quality of instruction, and cognitive ability. 

Tips Booklets
            These small and easy to share booklets are available at discount rates for bulk orders.  Titles in this series include

  • But, I don’t speak Spanish...Building Background
  • But, I don’t speak Spanish...Comprehensible Input
  • But, I don’t speak Spanish...Scaffolding
  • But, I don’t speak Spanish...Culture 

Keynote Presentations

Overview of Second Language Acquisition
            Effective ELL techniques work best when educators have a basic understanding of the process of second language acquisition.  Conversational and academic language skills have been well researched and explained through Jim Cummins’ concepts of basic interpersonal communicative skills (BICS) and academic language, which he calls cognitive-academic language proficiency (CALP). 


“Who’s weird?  Tips for Bridging Cultures”
            Building an awareness of culture will forestall conflicts in the classroom.  An understanding of individualist and collectivist cultures expands the skilled teacher’s repertoire in ways that expand the depth of the lesson and bring harmony to the classroom.


“But I don’t speak Spanish...Building Background”

            Schema (knowledge of the world) in our schools means prior knowledge.  Lessons that connect to the student’s prior knowledge make the language meaningful, which is a significant component when sheltering instruction.  Three instructional interventions need to be considered when linking concepts to background knowledge, and when making links between past learning and new learning.

Professional Storyteller

Veteran teacher and ELL Specialist, Linda Evans, focuses on playful multicultural tales to fuel the love for learning and sharing culture.  Her energetic, animated style engages audiences of all ages. 
Linda tells stories that are part English and part Spanish, along with a mini-lesson of some Spanish words for the native English speakers.  Because of the interaction involved, She has  found that small groups work best, that is about 30, or one class at a time, although she has successfully entertained groups as large as 400.
The presentation takes about 45 minutes, and can repeated up to six times per school day.

For more information on these programs, or to request pricing, or to customize a program for your specific population, please contact: Linda


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