Initiative Overview

A long-standing leader in the fields of linguistics, education, and instruction for language-minority students, the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL) supports the academic achievement of English learner (EL) students in K–12 schools. With this Teacher Practice Networks grant, CAL is maintaining its national network of teachers, as well as developing new teacher leaders in Massachusetts and New York. The teacher leaders are creating and disseminating professional learning projects that support content-area teachers’ implementation of Common Core State Standards (CCSS)-aligned sheltered instruction that meets the language- and content-learning needs of EL students.

Strategies for Advancing Common Core

Teacher Leaders

CAL is developing 40 teacher leaders, all currently teaching EL students, to lead networks of middle and high school teachers in improving content-area instruction for EL students. CAL teacher leaders facilitate learning events in which teachers collaborate on CCSS-aligned tools, frameworks, and instructional strategies, as well as EL-relevant, content-appropriate pedagogy. Through face-to-face, video, and online-learning events, teachers exchange projects adapted for EL students and learn practical strategies for improving instruction. Teacher leaders utilize a dynamic platform, ObaVerse, to conduct forums and online learning on topics relevant to improving instructional support for EL students.

To reach a broader audience with instructional strategies that support EL students, teacher leaders and CAL repurpose materials to present at conferences and disseminate on social media (i.e., Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Linkedin). This content provides another much needed source of ready-to-use, CCSS-based instructional materials that are adapted to support EL students.

Teacher Leadership Capacity

Teacher leaders participate in their own state-based professional learning communities to develop leadership skills and increase knowledge of sheltered instructional methods for supporting the learning needs of EL students. In addition, CAL has two community-based liaisons, who specialize in language learning and work with teacher leaders, modeling and facilitating rich, interactive learning activities to sustain teacher engagement. Guided by the liaisons, teacher leaders learn to facilitate virtual hangout sessions and face-to-face workshops focused on modifying mini-tasks from the Literacy Design Collaborative and the Mathematics Design Collaborative. They gain knowledge of EL-appropriate pedagogy and, in turn, share ideas, strategies, and adaptations with their teacher networks through videos, webinars, and online coaching. To increase teacher reach, CAL helps teacher leaders with video development and production.


CAL has partnered with two community-based liaisons—Confianza, LLC (Massachusetts) and Questar BOCES Regional Bilingual Education Resource Network (New York)—to directly support teacher leaders in each state. These liaison organizations have expertise and on-the-ground experience with education policy and instruction for EL students. Additionally, the liaison organizations conduct professional learning focused on effective instruction of EL students, and they help facilitate teachers’ outreach plans.

CAL is also supported by Fitchburg Public Schools in Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Department of Education, and the Capital District region of New York, as well as the Literacy Design Collaborative (which promotes teacher-developed, EL-appropriate mini-tasks), and the University of Oregon (which provides its educator online platform).

General Information

Center for Applied Linguistics
4646 40th Street NW
Washington, DC 20016

Sarah Catherine K. Moore, Program Director
(202) 355-1546

2013 – 2015 initiative of the Center for Applied Linguistics

Primary Grant Focus

To support Common Core State Standards (CCSS)-aligned instruction for secondary English learners (ELs), the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL) offers an open-access, online platform, Education Connections, which provides secondary teachers with resources that support CCSS-aligned instruction for ELs and a virtual community where teachers can leverage shared expertise to improve the language and content learning of ELs in mainstream classrooms.

Strategies for Supporting Common Core Success

To help secondary teachers of English learners deliver instruction that meets the increased rigor of the CCSS, CAL has created a new online network. The new CAL platform, Education Connections, is open-access and enables teachers working with EL students to go to one source for multiple needs, including EL-targeted resources and opportunities to network with other teachers of secondary EL students. Education Connections offers CCSS-aligned resources, as well as targeted lesson-planning support. The Education Connections network provides opportunities for teachers to interact with one another in professional learning communities around themes related to the CCSS and ELs with frequent Teacher Leader guest discussants. In addition, Education Connections hosts regular webinars led by expert scholars and practitioners in the fields of mathematics, English language arts, standards implementation, and EL instruction.