The UC Davis School of Education provides research and professional development in academic literacy to inform best practices, especially related to addressing the literacy needs of culturally and linguistically diverse students.
Many assume bilingual education can level the academic playing field for English learners, but one UC Davis professor calls foul on current programmatic practices.
In a new paper to be presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) on April 20, 2015, education professor Chris Faltis argues that “colorblind” approaches to multilingualism in education mask agendas that privilege the dominant, or “whitestream,” culture.
In a special issue of ASCD Express, Talking and Listening in Class, REEd executive director Susan O’Hara, with co-writers Jeff Zwiers and Robert Pritchard, provide strategies for improving talk in the classroom. In “Three Strategies for Enriching the Quantity and Quality of Classroom Talk,” they write:
Educators are in near universal agreement that finding ways to incorporate students’ everyday use of language in the classroom is a worthy goal. The argument often revolves around making the curriculum more relevant and, thus, more engaging for youth. Rarely, however, do educators ask students to analyze and reflect on their own uses of language, particularly not in classrooms with a majority of English learners.
The UC Davis School of Education is a partner in the Academic Language Network (ALD Network), a collaborative project focused on the academic success of all students who need to improve their abilities to use language in school.
The Network focuses on research-based teaching and assessment practices for developing the complex academic language, literacy, and thinking skills that support the learning of the Common Core State Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, ELD, and other new standards. One of the main purposes of this network is to share ongoing research and effective professional development resources for building system-wide capacity to meet the instructional needs of academic English learners.
We currently collaborate on professional development and research efforts in multiple school districts and counties. Part of the academic language work originated with REEd Executive Director Susan O’Hara (Principal Investigator) and Jeff Zwiers (Senior Researcher), when they worked in the Stanford’s Center to Support Excellence in Teaching. This work is supported by a National Professional Development Grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Partners include universities, state departments of education, research centers, county offices of education, school districts, schools, coaches, and teachers. If you would like to join the Network or receive our newsletter, feel free to contact us. Play the introduction video for more information and/or download the ALD Network Research Brief.
As part of the UC Davis School of Education’s Distinguished Educational Thinker Series, Professor Guadelupe Valdés gave a talk at UC Davis in January 2013 titled “Understanding Language in Schools.” Valdés argues that English learners must be given access to grade level content while they are learning English. “Writing is about ideas, but we pretend with English learners that language must emerge pristine before they can engage in the academic content. We must push for comprehension before focusing on production because it is most important for learning.”
Early Literacy; English Learners; Bilingualism and Bilingual Education; Educational Television and Multimedia; Language Acquisition; Literacy development; Quantitative methods; Sociolinguistics and psycholinguistics.
Anthropology of consciousness; Bilingual Education; Child Development; Classroom discourse; Classroom research; Community and rural development; Critical discourse analysis; Cultural studies; Education in Developing Countries; Ethnography and Ethnographic research; Feminist theory; Geographical areas of Hawai’i and Solomon Islands; Indigenous epistemology; Language Acquisition; Language development and socialization; Language socialization theory; Linguistic anthropology; Literacy and Language policy; Organizational structure/effectiveness; Pidgin/creole langu
Steven Athanases is a Professor in the School of Education at UC Davis. He researches issues of cultural and linguistic diversity and educational equity in teaching, adolescent learning, and teacher education, with a focus on literacy and English language arts. As a high school English teacher in the Chicago area, he received several awards for outstanding teaching of English, with a focus on writing, and drew on his disciplinary roots in Performance Studies and Communications to stage annual performance showcases of original student compositions.
I research the relationship between students’ everyday uses of language (English and Spanish) and their engagement in school-based uses of language and literacy. Some schools identify bilingual adolescents as “limited” in their English proficiency even though they use sophisticated literacy repertoires outside of school; other learners are deemed ”fluent” in English but still struggle with the language and literacy demands of their academic coursework.
Faculty ProfileEMPHASIS AREA: LLC. Adolescent Language and Literacy; English Education; Linguistic Anthropology of Education; Sociocultural Approaches to Learning; Discourse Analysis; Black and Latina/o Youth Interactions; Ethnography
Susan O’Hara joined the School of Education as REEd’s Executive Director in 2013 with a wealth of experience and background in public education, and working closely with teachers, researchers and community leaders. An educator for 20 years, Susan began teaching mathematics and science to middle and high school students in Ireland. In 2000, Susan was appointed assistant professor in teacher education at Sacramento State University and received early promotion to associate professor in 2004. While at Sacramento State University she served as associate chair of teacher education and core faculty for the Independent Doctorate in Educational Leadership. Most recently, she was associate professor and founding executive director of the Center to Support Excellence in Teaching (CSET) at Stanford University.
Susan’s research has focused on professional learning for teachers and instructional leaders, with a specific focus on meeting the needs of English learners. She has been engaged in a five-year project to develop, implement, and test a professional learning model to build teacher and instructional leader capacity. Currently she is principal investigator on two federal grants funded by the Institute of Education Sciences and the Office of English Language Acquisition. Susan holds a Ph.D. in Mathematics and Science Education from UC Davis, an M.A. in Applied Mathematics from the University of Southern California, and a B.A. in Mathematics and Physics from the University College Dublin.
U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences (2017-2022). Investigating the Efficacy of the Academic Language and Literacy Professional Developmental Model.
U.S. Department of Education, Office of English Language Acquisition (2016- 2021). Building District Capacity to Support Mentors and Teachers in the Academic Language and Literacy Development of Young English Learners. ($2.5 M)
Improving Teacher Quality Grant (2016-2018). Resourcing Integrated Professional Learning Systems. ($3.2 M)
California Department of Corrections. Evaluation of California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Career Technical Education Program. ($500,000).
Improving Teacher Quality Grant. Resourcing Integrated Professional Learning Systems ($5.8M).
U.S. Department of Education, Office of English Language Acquisition. Academic Literacy Support for Teachers: A Capacity Building Approach ($2M).
O’Hara, S., Pritchard, R. (2016). Framing teaching for Common Core literacy standards: SOAR teaching frames for literacy. Psychology Research, February 2016, Vol. 6, No. 2, 92-101.
O’Hara, S., Pritchard, R., & Zwiers, J. (2016). Academic Language and Literacy in Every Subject (ALLIES): A capacity building approach to supporting teachers in Grades 3-8. In F. Hiebert & P. Proctor (Eds), Teaching emergent bilingual students: Flexible approaches in an era of new standards
Pritchard, R., O’Hara, S., & Zwiers, J. (2016). Framing the teaching of academic language to English learners: A Delphi study of expert consensus. TESOL Quarterly.
O’Hara, S., Pritchard, R., Pitta, D., and Webb, J. (2015). Implementing new technologies to support social justice pedagogy. In Papa, R., Eadens, D. M., & Eadens, D. M. (Eds). Social justice instruction: Empowerment on the chalkboard. Springer Publishing
O’Hara, S. & Pritchard, R. (2015). Using new technologies to engage and support English learners in mathematics classrooms. In D. Polly (Ed.) Cases on technology and Common Core mathematics standards. IGI Global. Hersey, PA.
O’Hara, S., Zwiers, J., & Pritchard, R. (2014). Cutting to the Common Core: Changing the playing field. The Journal of Communication & Education, 13(7), 28-31.
O’Hara, S., & Pritchard, R. (2013). Learning to integrate new technologies into teaching and learning through a design-based model of professional development. The Journal of Technology and Teacher Education (JTATE), 21(2), Pages 203-223.
O’Hara, S. & Pritchard, R. (2012). Professional degree programs for the development of accomplished teachers: A case for the National Board Certification process. Journal of Educational Research and Practice (JERAP), 2(1), Pages 54–73.
O’Hara, S., Pritchard, R., & Huang-DeVoss, Cammy. (2012). The Teaching Using Technology Studio (TUTS): Innovative professional development to meet the needs of English language learners. TESOL Journal.
O’Hara, S. & Pritchard, R. (2012). “I’m teaching what?!”: Preparing university faculty for online Instruction. Journal of Educational Research and Practice (JERAP). Volume 2, Issue 1, Pages 42-53.