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Improved Literacy, Deeper Learning for ELL and All Readers: Austin ISD’s Story

Monday, December 11, 2017 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm EST

Improved Literacy, Deeper Learning

Presented by Ilza Garcia, Language Arts Administrative Supervisor, Austin ISD; Claudia Santamaria, Assistant Director for Elementary ELLs, Austin ISD; and Dr. Harishini Ernest, Secondary ELL Coordinator, Austin ISD

Sponsored by myON

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Austin Independent School District in Texas has achieved national recognition for attaining the one of the highest graduation rates in Texas and across the country for Latino and ELL students. A key driver of the district’s success is its literacy plan that emphasizes reading throughout, inside and beyond the school day.

In this edWebinar, Ilza Garcia, Language Arts Administrative Supervisor; Claudia Santamaria, Assistant Director for Elementary ELLs; and Dr. Harishini Ernest, Secondary ELL Coordinator, share how their district’s plan engages teachers, students, families and community partners in a balanced literacy model that incorporates:

  • Research-based practices for biliteracy and multilingual support
  • ELL support
  • Social and emotional learning embedded strategies
  • Active reading and connected writing practices

The presenters also discuss how Austin ISD’s teachers confer with students to move beyond application and comprehension to synthesis, analysis and deeper learning in literacy. They will share details about the implementation of their district’s literacy plan: Year 1 (2016-17) which included structured independent reading (StIR) with conferring, a focus on student engagement through “choice” books, the importance of wide reading, and the role of the classroom library in conjunction with digital access to text; and Year 2 (2017-18) which built upon StIR and incorporates teacher/classroom support, active reading with connected writing, content area reading, and measuring Lexile growth.

All K-12 teachers, administrators, instructional specialists, and library media specialists are invited to watch this recorded edWebinar. Learn strategies to improve literacy levels and develop deeper learning in your classroom, school, or district!


Ilza Garcia

About the Presenters

Ilza Garcia is the Austin ISD language arts administrative supervisor. Homegrown in AISD, Ilza has a deep understanding of student needs in addition to an awareness of their potential. She attended Sanchez, Kealing Magnet, Austin High and UT for both undergrad, and graduate school (Proyecto Maestría cohort- focus on curriculum & instruction and bilingual & dual language education). She was an AISD bilingual teacher and instructional coach prior to her current position as an elementary language arts specialist.

Ilza has trained teachers in grades K-12 in writing workshops through the UT Heart of Texas Writing Project in addition to facilitating sessions on multilingual learners and culturally relevant instruction. Ilza serves on the national Jane Addams Social Justice Book Award committee, which recognizes books that engage children in thinking about peace, social justice, global community, and equity for all people. Katherine Bomer showcased Ilza’s classroom in her 2016 book, The Journey is Everything: Teaching Essays That Students Want to Write for People Who Want to Read Them.

Claudia Santamaria Claudia Kramer Santamaria was born in Uruguay, South America and immigrated to the United States with her family at the age of five to Queens, NY. Her family moved to Texas in her high school years and she graduated from St. Edward’s University with a teaching degree in bilingual education and a minor in English. She taught at Zavala Elementary School for six years and became a school administrator at Pecan Springs, TA Brown and JJ Pickle Elementary schools in Austin ISD. She has extensive work with immigrant families, as she guided the parent engagement efforts of 64 Parent Support Specialists in AISD for nine years and is currently in her third year as Elementary Assistant Director for the Multilingual Team in Austin.


Harishini Ernest Harishini Ernest has a PhD in applied linguistics from The University of Texas at Austin. She has taught K-12, community college, and university levels, and has been involved in educational consulting, program evaluation, administration, and teaching since 1984. Professionally, she is a secondary ELL coordinator with Austin ISD where her responsibilities include compliance and curriculum support. She has been on the board and actively involved in TexTESOL III (Texas Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) for many years.

As a district coordinator for Austin ISD, Dr. Ernest is an outspoken advocate for English language learners and passionate about implementing programs that will increase their English proficiency and academic content knowledge. She can often be found in her office well after all have gone home answering emails and calls from assistant principals and teachers on issues relating to ELLs.

Join the Building a Community of Readers community to network with educators, participate in online discussions, receive invitations to upcoming edWebinars, view past edWebinars, take a quiz to receive a CE certificate for a past edWebinar, and access free resources.
Watch the Recording

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Monday, December 11, 2017
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm EST
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