Highest Aspirations

Highest Aspirations

ellevationeducation.com/ell-community
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.


S3/E11: Co-planning, Co-teaching, and Collaboration for EL Instruction with Andrea Honigsfeld and Maria G. Dove
Nov 5 • 48 min
How do we go about creating successful co-teaching and co-planning partnerships to support English learners? What are some protocols that co-teaching and co-planning pairs should have in place to help mitigate any conflicts that may arise between…
S3/E10: A Conceptual Framework for EL Program Management and Instruction with Adam Howard
Oct 29 • 38 min
How might a conceptual framework help educators better communicate around EL program management, instructional practices, and more? How can using a framework encourage educators to assess their practice and identify where they can improve? What benefits…
S3/E9: Profiling the English Learner Experience with Take the Pledge Scholarship Winner Camila Garcia.
Oct 15 • 19 min
How does growing up in a diverse community impact the educational outcome of English learners? What kinds of learning experiences have the most impact on diverse learners? What advice would a recent high school graduate and former English learner give to…
S3/E8: Examining Teacher Assessments as Barriers for EL Educators with Dr. Emery Petchauer
Oct 8 • 30 min
What does the research say about the benefits of bringing teachers of color into our classrooms? Are teacher licensure exams creating barriers to enter the teaching profession - particularly for teachers of color? How might alternatives like community…
S3/E7: Preparing Teachers to Work With Multilingual Learners With Sera Hernandez, Part 2
Oct 1 • 23 min
What is translanguaging and how does it affect language learning and pedagogy? What are the implications of language loss in both school and home environments? What kind of support do teachers of multilingual learners need most as they progress through…
S3/E06: Preparing Teachers to Work With Multilingual Learners with Dr. Sera Hernandez
Sep 24 • 30 min
What has changed in bilingual teacher education over the last 5-10 years and how have those changes affected the field? How have policy changes and initiatives like the Seal of Biliteracy affected dual language programs and bilingual education? What are…
S3/E05: English Learners and Advanced STEM Courses with Dr. Stephen Fleenor
Sep 17 • 41 min
Why are advanced STEM classes a good fit for many English learners? What strategies can teachers leverage to maximize impact on diverse learners in STEM classes? How might we remove barriers that prevent many English learners from taking advanced classes…
S3/E04: Run Schools Like Disney: Equitable Educational Opportunities for All Students with Lynmara Colón
Sep 10 • 33 min
What if schools were run like Disney? How would this philosophy affect the educational experiences of all students, and particularly ELs? What can we learn from Disney about providing access to opportunities that keep students coming back? We discuss…
S3/E03: EL Shadowing as a Catalyst for Change with Dr. Ivannia Soto
Sep 3 • 50 min
How can shadowing EL students help educators, schools, and districts improve their instruction and outcomes? What are some ways we can link quantitative data from assessments with qualitative data gathered while shadowing students? What are the protocols…
S3/E02: From Cuba to Dartmouth (via Miami) with Ellevation Scholarship Winner Melany Quintero
Aug 27 • 31 min
How do students deal with the stigma sometimes associated with English learners and immigrants in our schools and communities? What are some of the main factors that help ensure success for English learners? What can educators do to best support English…
S3/E01: Using QSSSA to Enhance Classroom Conversations with John Seidlitz
Aug 20 • 52 min
How might we create and nurture a classroom and school culture that encourages respectful conversations where everyone has a chance to participate? What are some practical ways to increase quality conversations with English learners? What is QSSSA and how…
Season 3 Trailer
Aug 13 • 4 min
What are some strategies that help create a more inclusive classroom environment for multilingual students? How are dual language programs evolving and what supports do schools need to get them off the ground? What if we ran our schools like Disney runs…
S2/E20: Collaborating with Content Teachers: Co-Planning and Co-Teaching with Tan Huynh
Jun 4 • 63 min
How might EL Specialists establish and nurture relationships with content teachers who work with ELs? What are some simple strategies that can help make co-planning and co-teaching easier for all kinds of teachers? How can we encourage content teachers…
S2/E19: Grow Your Own Programs for Bilingual Teachers with Amaya Garcia and Alexandra Manuel
May 28 • 52 min
What are “Grow Your Own” (GYO) teacher programs and how are they being deployed to address the bilingual teacher shortage? What can we learn about these programs from those who have experience implementing them? What supports do GYO teacher candidates and…
S2/E18: The Impact of Principals on EL Programs With Professors Madeline Mavrogordato and Rachel White
May 21 • 48 min
How do school principals impact EL reclassification rates? Why is it important to consider the underlying spirit of policies that are passed down from above rather than simply looking at compliance? How might leaders create opportunities for school staff…
S2/E17: The Seal of Biliteracy in Washington State - Equity, Access, and Implementation with Angela Davila and Patty Finnegan
May 14 • 42 min
How can state level agencies help promote the successful implementation of the Seal of Biliteracy in school districts? Why is it important to track data on who is earning the seal, and how might organizations go about doing it? What are some ways to…
S2/E16: Collaboration Between EL and Foreign Language (LOTE) Teachers With Anna Matis (Part 2)
May 7 • 25 min
How might ELL and LOTE teachers provide low stress opportunities for output? How is the concept of productive struggle different in the ELL and LOTE classroom and what can these groups learn from each other? What is the role of motivation in language…
S2/E15: Collaboration Between EL and Foreign Language (LOTE) Teachers With Anna Matis (Part 1)
Apr 30 • 33 min
Do teachers of languages other than English (or LOTE teachers) collaborate enough? What are some ways these educators could learn from one another to help build better language programs for all students? What are some common misconceptions about what it…
S2/E14: Eddie Williams and The Newcomers: Profile of an EL Teacher (Part 2)
Apr 23 • 26 min
In the second of a 2 part series, we continue our conversation with Eddie Williams, the teacher featured in Helen Thorpe’s book The Newcomers. How might teachers handle the draw of smartphones, texting, social media in their classes, particularly when…
S2/E13: Eddie Williams and The Newcomers: Profile of an EL Teacher (Part 1 of 2)
Apr 16 • 30 min
How might an EL teacher and his dynamic newcomers class react to having a journalist embed herself in their classroom for an entire school year? What partnerships might they form to learn more about students and what does this tell us about the resources…
S2/E12: Reading and Writing, Motivation, Family Engagement and More with Larry Ferlazzo
Apr 9 • 46 min
What are some effective and practical ways to differentiate reading comprehension strategies for English learners? How does motivation, relationship building, and autonomy impact student growth? How might family engagement strategies like home visits help…
S2/E11: Deeper Learning for All: A Leadership Perspective with Dr. Carmen Coleman
Apr 2 • 48 min
What are some essential strategies that district leaders should put into place to make sure all students have the ability to engage in deeper learning? How can school leaders and teachers collaborate more effectively to maximize impact on diverse groups…
S2/E10: The Workshop Model for Reading and Writing with Valentina Gonzalez
Mar 27 • 49 min
What is the Workshop approach and how might it help English learners improve their reading and writing skills? What is the appropriate balance between direct instruction and independent student work? How might we implement workshop style activities in…
S2/E9: The Latest on Dual Language Programs with Conor Williams
Mar 19 • 41 min
What does the research show about how dual language programs are impacting social and academic gains for students - particularly English learners? How might we promote buy-in to these programs from those who may still be uncertain about them? What role…
S2/E8: District Teams For Effective Family Engagement With Cabarrus County, NC
Mar 12 • 43 min
How might school districts form teams of educators with different skill sets to design and implement effective family engagement strategies? Why is it so important to create a solid action plan for family engagement and how might districts approach this…
S2/E7: Back to Basics Isn’t Boring With Jana Echevarria
Mar 5 • 46 min
How might a back to basics approach help EL educators ground themselves in practices that can provide the most impact for the students they serve? What are some of the pitfalls of constantly searching for “the next new thing” and how can we avoid them?…
S2/E6: Seal of Biliteracy: Past, Present, and Future With Martha Hernandez (Part 2)
Feb 26 • 25 min
How are districts assessing criteria to achieve the Seal of Biliteracy? What supports are available for teachers with diverse groups of language learners? How can the Seal of Biliteracy help mitigate larger issues, like home language loss and equity in…
S2/E5: The Seal of Biliteracy: Past, Present, and Future
Feb 19 • 27 min
How has the Seal of Biliteracy evolved from a California-based grassroots movement to a highly regarded program offered in 35 states and the District of Columbia? How might offering the seal of biliteracy help school districts strengthen their language…
S2/E4: Understanding Interpreting in Schools and Community Institutions With Michelle Gallagher
Feb 12 • 42 min
How is interpretation different from translation? When is interpreting necessary and how is it mandated in schools and other community institutions? What are some of the challenges and pitfalls of “home grown” interpreting services? We discuss these…
S2/E3: Leadership to Support Equity and Advocacy for All Students - Dr. Terri Bresnahan
Feb 5 • 43 min
How might schools districts design programs that help teachers work with growing numbers of English Language Learners? What role does technology play in helping all students get the services they need? How is equity and advocacy work connected to school…
S2/E2: Building Relationships With Immigrant Communities Through Local Cultural Immersion
Jan 30 • 38 min
How might we ensure that teachers are equipped with the empathy necessary to work with diverse groups of students? What kinds of professional development experiences are both practical and effective in supporting teachers who may not share the experiences…
S2/E1: Meaningful Academic Conversations With Jeff Zwiers
Jan 23 • 44 min
How might we help our English Language Learners engage in quality academic conversations? What supports do teachers of ELLs need to promote these kinds of conversations? How do academic conversations tie into college and career readiness? We kick off…
Season 1 Finale: Reflecting and Looking Ahead
Dec 12, 2018 • 3 min
In this short episode, we recap Season 1 and preview what we have planned for Season 2 - coming in January, 2019. Thanks to all our listeners and guests for your contributions to our first season. On behalf of everyone at Ellevation, we wish you a happy…
S1/E28: School Spotlight: How Nebraska’s Lincoln HS Supports Linguistic and Cultural Diversity
Nov 29, 2018 • 40 min
How has Lincoln High School designed and implemented systems to foster a welcoming environment for students that collectively speak over 30 different languages? What might schools do to ensure that all students, including ELLs and newcomers, have access…
S1/E27: Family Engagement Strategies That Work: Home Visits, Site Visits, and More with Jamie Combs
Nov 21, 2018 • 30 min
What are some best practices to overcome challenges and ensure successful home visits for families of EL students? How might we set up activities outside of school (in neutral locations) so that families can come together? How can districts use creative…
S1/E26: EL Student Spotlight: A Conversation With Take the Pledge Scholarship Winner Maria Perez
Nov 19, 2018 • 17 min
Where are our Take the Pledge Scholarship winners now? How did their high school experiences prepare them for college life? What have they learned that they can now share with others? In this bonus episode, we speak with Maria Perez, a recent high school…
S1/E25: Sharing Cultural Information With Content Teachers of ELs With Katie Frances
Nov 14, 2018 • 35 min
How can EL teachers best learn about the sometimes complicated cultural backgrounds of their students? How might they confront the challenge of ensuring that other teachers and staff also have efficient access to this information? What cultural…
S1/E24: Innovative Professional Learning Model for EL Educators with Kristina Soprano
Nov 7, 2018 • 40 min
How might we design professional learning opportunities that provide both a quality, personalized learning pathway and a path to licensure to work with English Language Learners? What are some of the advantages of utilizing blended and personalized…
S1/BONUS: Dispatches from the WIDA Conference: Recorded in Detroit
Oct 31, 2018 • 23 min
In this bonus episode, we bring you conversations from the annual WIDA Conference that took place in Detroit. We brought some guests over to our booth talk about ELL instruction, the ELL Community, and the conference itself. Thanks to the following people…
S1/E23: Blended Strategies for Sharing Best Practices in EL Instruction with Bret Gosselin
Oct 31, 2018 • 35 min
How might we leverage technology to facilitate collaboration and professional development across educational teams working with ELLs? What are some simple tech tools that can be used to bring people together easily and efficiently? How might we overcome…
S1/E17: Homes: A Refugee Story - with Abu Bark al Rabeeah
Oct 17, 2018 • 28 min
In this episode, we speak with Abu Bakr a-Rabia about how how his journey to Canada as a Syrian refugee became a book written by his teacher Winnie Yeung. Abu Bakr talks with us about learning English, adapting to a very different life in Canada, and why…
Homes: A Refugee Story - Author and ESL Teacher Winnie Yeung
Oct 10, 2018 • 36 min
What happens when an ESL teacher helps a refugee student tell his story? How can relating simple, day to day activities in a war-torn country help us understand that people around the world have more similarities than differences? Why is it so important…
S1/E22: Music, Technology, and ELLs with Sarah Minette
Oct 3, 2018 • 45 min
How can making and sharing music bring together diverse groups of students? What skills does an educator need to incorporate tech tools to help students create culturally relevant and academically appropriate products? How can teachers of any subject…
S1/E21: Empowering Refugees and Newcomers - Refuge Coffee
Sep 26, 2018 • 45 min
What gaps exist between resettled refugees and their communities and how might we go about bridging them? How can the simple act of spending time with one another in a common space help break down barriers? Why is it so important to move toward an asset…
S1/E20: ELLs with Disabilities - Dr. Sara Kangas
Sep 19, 2018 • 33 min
How are schools accommodating English Language Learners with disabilities? What are some of the common challenges when working with these students and how might we overcome them? What impacts do EL and disability status have on reclassification or…
S1/E19: Author Helen Thorpe Discusses Her New Book - The Newcomers
Sep 12, 2018 • 48 min
In this episode, award winning journalist Helen Thorpe joins us to discuss her most recent book, The Newcomers: Finding Refuge, Friendship, and Hope in an American Classroom. The book follows the lives of twenty-two teenagers from around the world over…
S1/E18: Preparing ELL Teachers to be Teacher Leaders
Sep 5, 2018 • 41 min
What opportunities exist for ELL Specialists to work as coaches to help content teachers better serve their English Language Learners? What strategies have proven successful and sustainable for supporting students in the long term? What are some of the…
S1/E14: EL Students Create Their Own Podcast with James Housworth
Aug 29, 2018 • 38 min
How might a teacher use podcasts as a way to increase language skills of EL students? How can creating podcast episodes help newcomers become engaged contributors to their school communities? How can telling stories about family experiences in this format…
S1/E13: ESSA’s Impact on ELL Programs - David Holbrook of TransACT
Aug 22, 2018 • 42 min
What are the implications of ESSA on ELL programs and instruction?What specifically are Title 1 and Title 3 administrators going to observe in the coming months? And how about principals and teachers? How is the K-12 world we know going to change in…
S1/E15: Using Technology to Engage EL Families with Heejae Lim
Aug 15, 2018 • 33 min
What are some of the barriers to family engagement in underserved communities? How can using basic technology help educators better engage with families of English Language Learners? How do we go about changing mindsets and perceptions of families who may…
S1/BONUS: What the Heck is a “Hackathon” with Eric Wong
Aug 2, 2018 • 17 min
Many team members here at Ellevation Education recently participated in the company’s 5th annual Hackathon. In this bonus episode, Steve sits down with Ellevation’s VP of Engineering Eric Wong to learn more about what it is and why we do it.
S1/E12: Canadian Perspective on ELLs with Paula Markus
Aug 1, 2018 • 47 min
How do ELL programs and instruction differ in Canada? What supports are in place to help newcomers and their families succeed in their new country? How do educational systems in Canada support diverse populations of students? We discuss these topics and…
S1/E11: ELL Teacher Leadership with Dr. Russell and Dr. Von Esch
Jul 18, 2018 • 40 min
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…
S1/E10: Project Based Learning and Newcomers with Donna Neary
Jul 3, 2018 • 41 min
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…
S1/E7: School Leadership Profile: Building Exelencia Academy - Ruben Alonzo
Jun 20, 2018 • 32 min
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…
S1/E6: Cultural Responsiveness with Sarah Said
Jun 8, 2018 • 38 min
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…
S1/E9: Professional Learning and Much More with Emily Francis
Jun 7, 2018 • 39 min
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…
S1/E8: SIFE Students and Rigor with Carol Salva
Jun 6, 2018 • 46 min
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…
S1/E5: Community Engagement with Anna Leversee of Enroot Education
May 23, 2018 • 24 min
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…
S1/E3: Family Engagement With Stephany Cuevas of Harvard Graduate School of Education
May 9, 2018 • 40 min
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…
S1/E2: Cooking up Family & Community Engagement for ELLs
Apr 25, 2018 • 29 min
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…
S1/E4: Exemplary Dual Language Programs - DC Bilingual
Apr 11, 2018 • 34 min
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,…
S1/E1: Talking Dual Language with Dr. Conor Williams
Mar 28, 2018 • 36 min
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…