Larry Ferlazzo: Community Organizer to ELL Teacher

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Larry Ferlazzo, a prolific blogger on ELLs and technology and a teacher of ELLs at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento, Calif., says he applies two lessons he learned from community organizing to helping immigrant students adjust to his school. The lessons are, he says, "the importance of building relationships and, through those conversations, learning people's stories."

Ferlazzo continues to promote two kinds of discussions in the field of teaching English-language learners. One is how to use technology to engage ELLs and how to involve parents in supporting their children's education.

He elaborates on both of these topics in a "From the Heart" column over at Colorin colorado, a bilingual Web site for families and educators of ELLs.

Let me note one other nugget from the Q&A column. Ferlazzo reports that a wave of Hmong refugees, who had been living in Thailand, arrived in Sacramento four years ago and most of those who were high school age attended his school. Many had never attended school before that. Ferlazzo says that half of his original class of pre-literate Hmong who arrived four years ago have graduated from high school. That means they passed both the math and English portions of the California high school exit exam.

This is the second example I'm citing this week of a school that has managed to help a lot of "students with interrupted formal education" get on track, even after starting school much later than their U.S. peers.


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