The Last of the Regionals Is an Enormous Success!

May 16th, 2014 | By | Category: Conferences, Lead Story, Regional
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The Last of the Regionals Is an Enormous Success!
CC-Focused Northern Regional Scores Great Ideas From First Two


—For two years running, the CATESOL Northern Regional has been last in the Regional Conference series by date. This year “Collaborating and Learning” was held on Saturday, April 26, at the Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) at Mather Field and was hosted by the CATESOL Capital Area Chapter and the Outreach and Technical Assistance Network (OTAN). The later date had its rewards, for it meant we could “score” or “poach” ideas from our predecessors, and that is exactly what we did. We were in luck because as CATESOL president, I had pledged to attend each regional. Soooooo … not only did I enjoy the LA and San Diego regionals but also picked up ideas we successfully incorporated up north: LA’s all-day beverage service and the San Diego Mini-Regional’s smaller-size program book and water bottles.

feature photo of northern regional 2014 welcome committee

Photo by Branka Marceta

The 2014 Northern Regional was “birthed” at Round Table Pizza in Sacramento, where the Capital Chapter met and planned the conference, forming a committee comprising ELL instructors and MA TESOL students, and representing all levels of ESL. Branka Marceta from OTAN became our site manager, and with her at the helm, we had everything we needed at our fingertips, from computers, tables, and chairs right down to blue painter’s tape and brooms.

As for the program, we wanted to have Common Core (CC) featured speakers because of CC’s implications for ELL teachers and their students, whether it be the ELL parents of school-age children, ELL elementary and secondary school teachers faced with a new curriculum and test, community college and university instructors who will have students exposed to different writing and reading skills, or ELL teachers whose own children are still in school. Keira Kirby, from Keema High School and who has been a part of Common Core Professional Development since 2011, addressed “Text-Based Reading Strategies”; Karen Cadiero-Kaplan, a past CATESOL president and now the director of the English Learner Support Division of the California Department of Education, spoke on “Transitioning to the 2012 CA English Language Development Standards: Implications for Policy and Practice”; and Judith O’Loughlin, 2012 Annual Conference chair and member of the Board of Directors and a teacher trainer, spoke on “Introducing Standards-Based Instruction for English Learners: Focus on the Common Core Anchor Reading Standards.” At the end of Kirby’s presentation on reading, Dennis Mahler, a former Tippy Schwabe Grantee and now an instructor at the IEPP at UC Davis, and I turned to one another and simultaneously said: “I learned a lot that will be useful in my classes.”

The program also featured pronunciation presentations, such as “Using Vocal Shadowing for Better Listening Comprehension and Pronunciation” by Rebecca Eagleson or “Pronunciation and Listening in a Computer Lab and Online” by Marsha Chan, as well as demonstrations on how to incorporate drama techniques into classroom teaching. Who could not learn from “All the Word’s a Stage: Using Drama and Performance to Teach English in the ESL Classroom” by Jennifer McSpadden from UC Davis, or “Using Drama to Access Complex Texts and Academic Vocabulary” by Richard Silberg, a middle school teacher from Berkeley Unified School District. To see for yourselves how varied the day was, go to, click on “Flyer and Program,” and learn from the abstracts. Better yet, attend presentations such as these at the 2014 Annual Conference in Santa Clara.

When not at presentations, all attendees enjoyed our “Albert’s Trunk Breakfast Special From Costco” right next to the publishers’ exhibits. We had so much food that breakfast lasted all day and gave Leslie Freeland, our program co-chair, the chance to calm her nerves by trimming the ends of bananas when they turned brown and sweeping up muffin crumbs from the floor to “leave the place cleaner than we found it.” At the front door, James Strode from the Capital Chapter served as greeter and crowd-flow director. (He might have unwittingly contributed to the mountain of food by accompanying Albert Lozano’s sedan to Costco in his camper. At the end of the day, we had the customary drawing but with a new twist: cards that had to be stamped by all the exhibitors instead of numbered tickets. Teachers who loathe those students who don’t put their names on their tests or homework learned the hard way when they just “knew” their card had been drawn—but had no name on it.

Life has gone full circle. Mather Air Force Base was my entry point to California when my husband was stationed there to go to navigator school. During the week, I lived in Davis and attended UC Davis while he bunked at the base to avoid driving in heavy fog and missing a 3 a.m. takeoff. Now the flight line belongs to FedEx, and there I was driving a van chock-full of conference-goers in the fog with “Neither snow nor sleet nor dead of night …” going ‘round and ‘round in my head.

Ellen Lange is president of CATESOL.


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