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Achieve Transformative Results by Teaching Academic Language

Tuesday, June 11, 2019 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm EDT

Achieve Transformative Results by Teaching Academic Language

Presented by Ben Grimley, CEO and Co-founder, Speak Agent; Victoria Arrowsmith, Physical Science Teacher, South High Magnet School, Omaha, NB; and Wendy Xiao, Senior Program Manager, Learner Variability Project, Digital Promise
Hosted by Barbara Pape, Communications Director, Learner Variability Project

Sponsored by Digital Promise

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Research has shown that academic language is the most significant barrier to success for English language learners (ELLs), low-income students, minority students, and other diverse learners. Many educators have seen firsthand how this barrier widens the achievement gap. Yet current classroom practices and resources tend to treat “academic language” as merely a series of glossary entries, definitions, and grammar rules to be memorized. Academic language, however, goes far broader and deeper than that. It’s the language of content! This edWebinar examines practices, strategies, and tools for teaching that specialized language, unlocking the full potential of your students.

Academic language is no one’s home language. That makes us all academic language learners. So, how can learners be encouraged to discover meaning and to master academic concepts using a language-based approach? How does one actually implement content and language integration in a real-world classroom? This edWebinar explores a new cross-disciplinary approach developed by Speak Agent, with support from the Learner Variability Project. Viewers will:

  • Build an understanding of the research basis behind the new teaching approach and evidence of its efficacy in transforming learning
  • Learn how education technology can help you scale and replicate success schoolwide and districtwide—without having to change your existing curriculum
  • Identify instructional strategies, curated by the Learner Variability Project, that you can apply immediately in the classroom—whether or not you choose to augment them with technology
  • Gain insights into how to address common implementation challenges
  • Gain knowledge of key trends and practices in English language development and the language of STEM

This recorded presentation will be of particular interest to elementary and middle-grade educators in dual-language, ESL, math, reading, and science programs, as well as to school and district leaders.

About the Presenters

Ben Grimley is the CEO and Co-founder of Speak Agent, Inc. based in Rockville, Maryland. Speak Agent is the first evidence-based platform for academic language learning to deliver significant positive learning outcomes. Ben has spent the past 20 years in language teaching and education technology. He has a decade-long track record of creating products with significant impact on literacy and vocabulary development for PBS Kids, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Speak Agent, Inc. His products have won many awards and contests, including the Association of Educational Publishers Distinguished Achievement Award, Teachers’ Choice Award, Parents’ Choice Gold Award, Children’s Technology Review Editor’s Choice Award, Tech & Learning Awards of Excellence, iParenting Award, Best of the Geek Decade Website, and the NewSchools Ignite ELL Challenge.


Victoria Arrowsmith is a physical science instructor at Omaha South High Magnet School in Omaha, Nebraska. She also teaches an ESL science course to newcomer ELLs and in the school’s dual-language program, and is part of the science curriculum writing team. Victoria is from New Mexico, where she taught physical science at Espanola Valley High School before being recruited to Omaha Public Schools. She holds undergraduate degrees from New Mexico State University in biology and Spanish. Her master’s degree in bilingual education will be awarded this summer and she is also completing her second master’s degree in special education through the University of Nebraska in Omaha.


Wendy Xiao is a senior program manager for the Learner Variability Project at Digital Promise Global (DPG). She works with educators and product developers, infusing learning sciences research into their practice and products to more deeply support each individual student. She also oversees the strategies research process, focusing on identifying best practices for students across varied contexts. Prior to joining DPG, Wendy taught elementary reading and performing arts at a school for children with learning differences. She earned her M.A. in learning, design and technology from Stanford Graduate School of Education and her B.S. in neuroscience from Duke University.


About the Host

Barbara Pape is the communications director for the Learner Variability Project at Digital Promise Global (DPG). She has 20 years’ experience in strategic communications, writing, and policy analysis, primarily in education. Previously, she served as Executive Producer of the award-winning Teaching & Learning conference, sponsored by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, where she developed content and oversaw outreach and communications. As a writer, she has written for numerous publications, including Harvard University, the National Education Goals Panel (U.S. Department of Education) and Parents magazine. Barbara also served as editor and publisher of the first electronically delivered education newsletter, the Daily Report Card. She earned an EdM at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education and launched her career as a middle school language arts teacher.


Join the Personalized Learning for All community to network with educators, participate in online discussions, receive invitations to upcoming edWebinars, and view recordings of previous programs to earn CE certificates.

Digital Promise was created with the mission to accelerate innovation in education to improve opportunities to learn.

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Tuesday, June 11, 2019
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm EDT
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