Teaching K-8 English Learners Literacy & Academic Content

The Teaching K-8 English Learners Online Professional Learning Course will help you more effectively prepare your students with limited English proficiency in elementary and middle grades with the skills they need to be successful in school. This is a critical challenge for elementary and middle school teachers as the number of English Learners continues to increase in the United States.

The percentage of public school students designated as English Learners in the United States rose from 8.1 percent (3.8 million) in 2000 to 9.6 percent (4.9 million) in 2016 (Institute of Education Sciences, 2019). Moreover, a higher percentage of English Learners are concentrated in the lower grades of US public schools. For example in 2016, 16.2 percent of kindergartners were identified as English Learners while only 8.5 percent of 6th-graders; 6.9 percent of 8th-graders and 4.1 percent of 12th-graders were designated as English Learners (Institute of Education Sciences, 2019).

This course draws on the recommendations of the Teaching Academic Content and Literacy to English Learners in Elementary and Middle School Practice Guide, published in July 2014 by the U.S. Department of Education's What Works Clearinghouse. The Practice Guide, developed by a panel of expert researchers and practitioners, provides educators with specific, research-based recommendations for effective teaching practices. It focuses on the foundational skills that enable English Learners to understand academic vocabulary, integrate oral and written English language into content areas, develop written language skills, and participate in small-group interventions for literacy and EL development.

The overarching goal is for participants to understand and be able to apply the panel’s recommendations to their teaching with K-8 Learners.

Course Objectives

  • To involve educators in an online professional learning community with a focus on supporting English Learners.
  • To engage educators in perspective-taking opportunities to better relate to and understand the struggles of English Learners.
  • To build an understanding of strategies and methods to better support English Learners.
  • To guide educators in building a repository of resources, activities, and skills to bring back to their classroom, school and learning community.
  • To provide a space to reflect on, assess and share knowledge gained through the online professional learning community.

Learn More

After the orientation unit, there are four main units in this course, each addressing one of the recommendations from the practice guide:

  • Teach a set of academic vocabulary words intensively across several days using a variety of instructional activities
  • Integrate oral and written English language instruction into content-area teaching
  • Provide regular structured opportunities to develop written language skills
  • Small-group instructional intervention to students struggling in areas of literacy and English language development

In each unit, you will participate in a number of activities to help you dig into the content.

  • Introduce Each Practice Guide Recommendation
  • Community Chat about a Realistic Scenario (Units 1 & 3)
  • Connect Your Own Prior Knowledge
  • Read and Engage with English Learner (EL) Instructional Strategies
  • Notice and Discuss EL Strategies in Action
  • Apply and Reflect on Your Learning
  • Dive Deeper into Expert Panel Discussions and Additional Resources

Hiller Spires

Dr. Hiller Spires

Executive Director, Friday Institute
Marie Himes

Marie Himes

Research Associate, Friday Institute
Brittany Miller

Brittany Miller

Research Associate, Friday Institute
Sarah Bausell

Sarah Bausell

Research Associate, Friday Institute
Esmeralda Rodriguez, PhD

Esmeralda Rodriguez, PhD

Senior Program Manager, Youth and Opportunity United
Catherine Stelpflug, MEd

Catherine Stelpflug, MEd

2nd Grade Teacher, Asheville City Schools
Amy Wycoff, MEd

Amy Wycoff, MEd

Former Sheltered Instruction Specialist and Current Independent Education Consultant
Kristi Day

Dr. Kristi Day

Section Chief - ELA and Languages, NC DPI, K-12 Standards, Curriculum, and Instruction Division
Javier H. Arizmendi Penaloza

Dr. Javier H. Arizmendi Penaloza

ESL Teacher, Glenn High School, Winston-Salem Forsyth County Public Schools
Jackie Reylea

Dr. Jackie Reylea

Assistant Professor, NC State University
Aida Walqui

Dr. Aida Walqui

Director, Teacher Professional Development Program, West Ed

Participants will have the opportunity to earn a certificate of completion for 15 hours of professional development during the Teaching K-8 English Learners course.

In order to earn a certificate, participants must:

  • As part of the registration process, complete an initial survey about your background, organization, and goals for engaging in this online learning experience.
  • Identify and engage with resources that provide methods and strategies to support English Learners.
  • Contribute to the forums by asking questions, responding to others' questions, and sharing ideas; agreeing with or identifying comments as insightful; suggesting resources that will be useful to others; and sharing your expertise in other ways. A certificate of completion requires participation in at least one discussion per unit.
  • Complete a final survey at the end of the course and provide suggestions for improving it in the future.

You can submit the certificate to your local agency with a request for CEUs. Granting of CEUs will be subject to the policies and procedures of your state and local agency.

Future Start Date(s) TBD
Duration 6 units
Cost Free
Primary Audience English Learners Teachers
Elementary School Teachers
Middle School Teachers
Parents of English Learners
Certificate Available Yes
Certificate Hours 15
Developers Hiller Spires
Marie Himes
Brittany Miller
Sarah Bausell
Facilitators Esmeralda Rodriguez
Catherine Stelpflug
Amy Wycoff
Additional Hours .5 per micro-credential

Previous Courses

Fall 2021
Spring 2021
Fall 2020