Why ESL is Important for all Teachers

August 23, 2014 |  by

Even if you are not an ESL teacher, chances are you will have a student in your class whose first language was not English.  There are currently over 60 million students in the US education system who spoke a language other than English first.  Some of these students are labeled as ELL, LEP, or FLEP, but many have no markers that inform teachers of their English language skills.

Fortunately, thanks to the magic of the internet, all educators have the opportunity to incorporate ESL strategies into their classrooms effectively and respectfully. In fact, many ESL strategies will help your native English speakers as well. Here are a few options below to get you started, and share any others you may have used with our TeacherGraph community!

Watch Instructional Videos

This series of four video modules is aimed at middle and high school classrooms, and is a good introduction to general ESL teaching information and strategies.  The website, Colorín Colorado, is an excellent ESL resource in its own right.  The site is bilingual in English and Spanish, and a portion of the website is dedicated to parents of ESL students as well.  It’s a great way to foster communication and team building between parents and teachers.

Look for New Strategies

Compiled by a veteran teacher, Everything ESL contains lesson plans, teaching strategies, and links to additional resources.  Instead of focusing on any particular age range, items are sorted by a student’s proficiency level.

Take your Professional Development Poolside

Before summer break is officially over look for PD opportunities you can access on the go. Search for titles that offer a digital download option.  One option is The ESL / ELL Teacher’s Survival Guide: Ready-to-Use Strategies, Tools, and Activities for Teaching English Language Learners of All Levels.  This resource offers a good overview for teachers who are beginning to learn about best practices for interacting with ESL students and parents.

Top 10 EdTech Sessions at SXSWedu 2014

Top 10 EdTech Sessions at SXSWedu 2014

March 3, 2014 |  by

SXSWedu starts this week, and all the sheer number of panels, workshops, and sessions is seriously overwhelming.  TeacherGraph has put together our top 10 picks (in no particular order) for the edtech types at this year’s conference.

1.         Making the Most of SXSWEdu

For first timers, this session on Monday from 12:30 – 1:30 in the Austin Convention Center Ballroom D will give you ‘a casual overview of the conference.’  Greg Rosenbaum, producer, and Ron Reed, executive producer, will give attendees information they can use to make the most of their time at SXSWedu.

2.         Investing in Education Innovation 2.0

This workshop on Monday from 1:00 – 3:00 at the Hilton Austin Downtown Salon E will afford entrepreneurs a learning opportunity on ‘funding startups and growth organizations.’  Come with questions, and be ready to take away some real world information on funding in the edtech space.

3.         Win-Win! Strategies for EdTech/Educator Engagement

Edtech entrepreneurs and educators share a specific goal; to engage and educate students.  But in order to best serve education, teachers and entrepreneurs must collaborate.  This panel discussion from 9:00 – 10:00 on Tuesday in the Austin Convention Center Ballroom G brings together two entrepreneurs and two educators will share their communication experiences.

4.         Stop.  Collaborate and Listen:  Teachers and EdTech Team Up

Participation in this session will get you and your product some feedback from educators and other edtech providers.  This session runs from 9:00 – 10:00 on Wednesday in Salon F at the Hilton Austin Downtown.  Be sure to stop by and say hi to TeacherGraph!

5.         Startups Should Talk with Researchers and Educators

Come to the Austin Convention Center Room 12AB on Wednesday from 10:30 – 11:30 armed with questions and ready to take notes.  This panel aims to create a space for ‘meaningful conversation’ at SXSWedu on topics from education research to classroom practices.

6.         Data, Lies and Videotape: Busting #EdData Myths

Separate educational data fact from fiction on Tuesday from 12:00 – 1:00 at the Hilton Downtown Austin in Room 400/402.  Learn from those at the top level in student data management about federal, state, and local laws that govern use and protection of student information.

7.         Is School Enough? Meeting Students Where They Learn

Listen to leaders in education and social media in Room 17B of the Austin Convention Center on Tuesday from 9:00 – 10:00.  The panel will discuss possible ways to bridge the gap between the devices students use and their drive to continue learning outside of the classroom.

8.         EdTech: Game-Changing Public-Private Partnerships

This panel will discuss how funding bodies that ‘straddle the for-profit/non-profit line’ successfully collaborate with school districts to ensure strong working relationships.  You can hear all the info on Monday from 3:00 to 4:00 at the Hilton Downtown Austin in Salon B.

9.         Predictive Analytics for Powerful Teaching

Flip your ideas about success in the classroom from the student on to the teacher on Tuesday from 9:00 to 10:00 in Salon F at the Hilton.  The teachers in front of the classroom can have the single most significant impact on student learning.  How can the hiring process incorporate analytics and ensure the best teachers end up in front of students?

10.       Redesigning EdTech: A Human-Centered Panelstorm

Participate in this SXSWedu ‘panelstorm’ to gain insight into the real edtech needs of students and educators.  The storming runs from 10:30 – 11:30 on Thursday in Room 16AB of the Austin Convention Center.

4 Ways Parent Involvement can Help Test Prep

February 4, 2014 |  by

Whether your student is in elementary, middle, or high school, they will be in a high stakes testing environment at some point in their educational career. Teachers and schools prepare students for these tests by aligning lessons to test content, replicating the testing environment, and offering practice exams. But teachers can’t provide the support at home that parents can. Here are some things parents can do at home to help students succeed on a high stakes test:

Reinforce Work From the Classroom at Home
Repeating something can increase a child’s chance of retaining that information. Learning the same thing in different ways can also help a child grasp concepts. You know how your child best learns, and can tailor lessons from school to your student’s specific learning style. For example, if your student is a hands-on learner, take math concepts and model them using household objects.

Make Drilling Testing Strategies Into a Game
Testing strategies are integral in ensuring success, but they are not particularly fascinating points to review. Based on the test you are trying to prepare your child for, a simple google search can often yield a heap of strategies. Make flashcards or a Jeopardy game out of the information to help your student engage with this admittedly dry material.

Ensure Good Sleep and Nutrition Habits
Rested and nourished brains are brains that are ready to perform. Healthy meals leading up to testing day coupled with good sleep habits can aid students’ concentration and focusing abilities when they sit down to their exams.

Test Results Do Not Equal Self Worth
Finally, remember to remind your child that while it is important to try their best, one single test is not a total determination of a person’s value. Feel confident that you have helped prepare your student and given them the confidence to succeed!

Teachergraph’s New Community Director

January 29, 2014 |  by

chelsea-twohig-photoTeachergraph is excited to introduce our new Community Director, Chelsea Twohig. Chelsea has recently come to Austin by way of Boston, and brings an authentic educator’s voice to Teachergraph. Running a high school English classroom for many years, Chelsea understands (and experiences!) the myriad demands placed upon educators outside of of their teaching. There are phone calls home to make, parent emails to write, and communications with school administrators to maintain, all on top of the planning, teaching, and grading to be done. Chelsea looks forward to working with educators and showing them how Teachergraph can simultaneously and seamlessly improve student performance through positive parent engagement, without adding anything extra to a teacher’s already overfull schedule. You can engage with Chelsea right here on our blog, through Teachergraph’s Pinterest, Facebook, or twitter, and email at chelsea@teachergraph.com.  Let her know how TeacherGraph can help your classroom!

Keep Students Engaged During Winter Break

December 16, 2013 |  by

It’s happening! The holiday break is approaching quickly. For teachers, that means getting those grades in, wrapping up final projects, and end of semester assessments. For students, that means a nice hiatus from school and a refreshing stretch of freedom. With the pressure off from projects and exams, there’s finally time to take a breather. This is incredibly important; students need to recharge mentally before diving deep into another semester. Read More

Best Practices for Successful School Newsletters

December 2, 2013 |  by

Previously, we shared specific tips on how to make the body of your school newsletters better.

This week, we’re sharing several best practices you can follow to make the most out of your classroom newsletters. Similar to email marketing, following these tips can help you increase open rates, engagement, and overall awareness of school updates. Additionally, you’ll be in better shape to continue building relationships with parents. Read More

Four Ways to Improve Parent-Teacher Communication

September 23, 2013 |  by

As educators settle into their classes after the back-to-school frenzy and dive deep into their lesson plans, parents will be ready to tune into how their children are performing. With an open, easy-to-use platform to communicate, teachers can inform their parents on important updates or reminders. When they’re up-to-date, parents are in the best position to inform schools about their children’s needs.

By providing a platform for two-way conversations, teachers and parents can start providing real-time feedback anywhere and from any device making it easier to connect.

These are a few ways teachers are using TeacherGraph to improve parent-teacher communication. Read More

Top 10 Moments from the TeacherGraph Launch Party

Top 10 Moments from the TeacherGraph Launch Party

August 22, 2013 |  by

Wow, what a weekend. Thanks to all our friends, family, & huge supporters for coming out and celebrating our launch with us. The day flew by too quickly, so we threw together our Top 10 Moments from the TeacherGraph Launch Party.

No. 10 – Seeing old friends.


Read More

TeacherGraph Chats with Austin i-Lab

August 1, 2013 |  by

In case you missed it, check out TeacherGraph Founder Joseph Van’s radio interview with Austin i-Lab!

Show Notes:

[1:20] Journey to Entrepreneuralism

[2:40] What Sparked the Idea?

[10:23] The Mission

[14:30] Collaborative Teacher Notes

[16:28] Beyond Communication: Data & Insights

[20:20] The Business Model

[24: 35] TeacherGraph Launch Party

[25: 50] Two-Way Conversations


[9:10] Segment 2:
Stefan: We are with our guest today, Joseph Van, who is the Founder and CEO of a startup called TeacherGraph. And we have learned up to this point what brought you to Austin, what brought you back to Austin and your experience working at the Capital Factory which is a really really interesting space. Talk to us now about TeacherGraph. Read More

9 Tips to Increase Community Engagement with Facebook

July 29, 2013 |  by

Statistics show that more and more parents are joining Facebook, which can ultimately extend schools’ reach in relaying important information. Using Facebook as a means of connecting with parents isn’t anything new, but may seem daunting for a school administrator who’s never tried it before. Here is some advice to help you use Facebook to connect with your parents and encourage community engagement.

Check out these tips for maintaining a Facebook Page for your school!:

 1. Post frequently and update often (~ 2-3 times a day)
Keeping content fresh keeps parents engaged and ensures the page isn’t forgotten or buried under the constant posts of other users. Read More