Keith’s Blog

AAAS Project 2061

Do you teach science to middle school or high school English language learners?
If so, you probably have to create assessments from time to time.
We all know how hard making good quality assessments can be. And research suggests teachers are really bad at creating reliable tests.
Fortunately, Project 2061 is here to help.
Project 2061 is a long-term research and development initiative focused on improving science education so that all Americans can become literate in science, mathematics, and technology.
Project 2061 has a website where educators have free access to more than 600 assessment items that…

  • Are appropriate for middle and early high school students.
  • Test student understanding in the earth, life, physical sciences, and the nature of science.
  • Test for common misconceptions as well as correct ideas.

Check out their assessment website at

Keith's Birthday Book Giveaway

Hey Readers!
Exciting news- my birthday is coming soon!
And do you know what I want for my birthday?
To give you one of my favorite books!
Bringing Words to Life is one of the best (if not THE best) book on teaching vocabulary. A lot of my most successful vocabulary teaching techniques came straight from this book.
So how can you get a chance to win a copy?

Step 1: Go to this link:

Step 2: Confirm your entry in your email.

Step 3: Share the link in your email with your teacher friends and get double the entries!

It’s that simple! But don’t wait too long, the contest ends this week.
Happy birthday to me…
Good luck!

Revising and Editing with Young English Learners

Here are some quotes from teachers when asked about revising and editing in their elementary classroom:
“Students can’t do it.”
“We don’t even bother.”
“I call in a sub for those days.”
“It must be five o’clock somewhere…”
FACT: Getting students to revise and edit is hard, and teachers typically don’t like to do it.
But it’s important for students to learn how to revise and edit early because this practice helps them improve as writers.
So how can we teachers get students thinking about revising and editing?
All we need are ARMS and CUPS with MINTS.
Continue reading “Revising and Editing with Young English Learners”

NYT: Iran Bans English in Primary Schools to Block 'Cultural Invasion'

Ooo…spicy headline New York Times! (I totally clicked it!)
According to this article, a senior education official in Iran told state television that the teaching of English in primary schools as part of the official curriculum in both government and nongovernment schools is against the law.
I would love to get a focus group of Americans together to elicit their reactions to this. Iran is often played as the villain in U.S. politics and media, and I am sure many would have strong opinions on the issue.
I would equally be interested to hear from Iranians and their thoughts. I have some classmates from Iran, so I plan to ask them their perspectives (Hopefully, they will comment below).
Where do I stand? I agree to a certain extent with the Iranian government, but with some caveats.

Continue reading “NYT: Iran Bans English in Primary Schools to Block 'Cultural Invasion'”

The Mindset Needed to Balance Language and Content

I’ve discussed in previous posts (this one in particular) that balancing language and content is one of the biggest challenges faced by teachers in a content-based language classroom.
But why?
As I read and reflect more on Content-Based Language Teaching (CBLT), I believe a lot of it has to do with mindset.
Specifically, I will share three mindsets in this post that I believe need to be resolved by a teacher before a proper balance between content and language. Continue reading “The Mindset Needed to Balance Language and Content”

FREE BOOK: Becoming a Reflective Teacher

Hey Blog Readers,
You can call me Santa Clause because this Christmas I’m giving away a free book to one lucky reader.
The book is Becoming a Reflective Teacher by Robert J. Marzano & Tina Boogren.
This is one of my favorite books for teachers (Confession: I have a lot of favorites).
Why? Because it has practical tips that you could use today to significantly improve your teaching.
Want a chance to win?
Head over to my book giveaway page:
But hurry! There’s just under 3 days left!
P.S. You will get a confirmation email after you sign up. 1) Make sure you confirm your entry. 2) Share the link in the email with your friends to get more chances to win. =)

What kind of Content-Based Instruction Do You Do?

As I read more and more of the literature on content-based language teaching (CBLT), I am becoming increasingly frustrated.
Why you might ask?
Because the field has done an incredibly poor job of defining what CBLT actually is.
I get it! There are many variations of CBLT around the world, but the fact that after a few decades we continue to fail to be consistent with terminology is just disheartening.
Before my teacher-readers stop reading (maybe you already have), I promise this matters a lot to you. (Really?) Really!
By clearly understanding the variations of CBLT, you can identify whether your program fits you and your students.
In this post, I will discuss three types of CBLT and which are appropriate for students and teachers.
Continue reading “What kind of Content-Based Instruction Do You Do?”

How to Write Great Content and Language Objectives

Far too many teachers ask themselves 5 minutes before class, “What am I going to teach today?”
I believe the vast majority of teachers want to be great and know they should have learning objectives.
But the truth is…writing learning objectives are hard.
Although learning objectives are usually the starting point for course reform, Wieman (2017) discovered that faculty often struggled with writing learning objectives and that beginning with teaching strategies was often an easier place to start.
Given its difficulty, it is no wonder teachers often default to “winging it” rather than writing learning objectives.
This difficulty is compounded for teachers who teach in content-based language teaching (CBLT) settings, which requires both content and language objectives.
In this post, I will demystify the writing of learning objectives step by step, giving you an easy to follow list for creating content and language objectives for your classroom. Continue reading “How to Write Great Content and Language Objectives”

The Connection Between Math and Language

This morning I was reading an article titled “How to make math a key part of your ELL curriculum.” In the article the author writes,

It also helps that numbers are numbers, and working with them is natural to speakers of any language.

It is a common assumption that math will be easier for English language learners. It’s just numbers, right?
While it seems on the surface that math would be transferable between languages because of numbers, it is actually a lot more complicated than that.
In this post, I will discuss some of the research that addresses the issue of language and math.
Continue reading “The Connection Between Math and Language”

Examining Identity & Culture as a Teacher

Our identity and culture have great influence over our teaching.
But how often do we think about these influences?
It’s quite normal to sit in workshops about a new pedagogical technique or attend meetings about the latest curriculum, but rarely do we take the time to reflect on how our teaching practices have been formed.
In this video, I talk about the influences of identity and culture on us as professionals and present an exercise that you can do either individually or as a grade level team.
I encourage you to take 5 minutes out of your day to do this exercise. I think you’ll be surprised what you discover about yourself.
Don’t forget to share your insights in the comments!