InterCom, a customizable weekly newsletter for language professionals, is provided by the Center for Applied Second Language Studies (CASLS) at the University of Oregon. InterCom is sponsored through a Title VI Language Resource Center grant.

Topic of the Week: Using Thinking Routines as Provocations to Inquiry in the Classroom

Emily Munn is the Advanced Academics Lead Coach for Metro Nashville Public Schools in Nashville, Tennessee. She is experienced in providing concrete and researched-based support to K-12 teachers in International Baccalaureate, Cambridge, AVID, and Advanced Placement programs.

One of the most valuable tools in the inquiry cycle is the student’s desire to ask/pose questions. By using a well-designed thinking structure to enhance a student’s natural curiosity, the learning of all students can be enriched and developed.  One example of a structured thinking routine is “I see, I think, I wonder.”

In this method, a carefully selected photograph or an art piece is presented to the learners.  The picture is used as a provocation to stimulate curiosity and inquiry for a topic, a concept, or an idea that the teacher wants to the students to explore. Through this routine the teacher can observe students’ prior knowledge, beliefs, and even misconceptions.  The use of this preassessment of the students’ observations can be a key factor in sparking student interest and finding relevance in a topic for the students.

Through three simple stages of exploration, the teacher facilitates a discussion drawing from the students’ statements and interpretations of the image.  In the first round of discussion the teacher asks students to use the sentence stem, “I see” in order to list only what can be seen or touched in the photo.  Students are asked not to make any assumptions or inferences but rather state only what is explicitly observed in the picture.  Teachers may gently guide students back to the “I see” stage by redirecting with a question, “What did you see that made you think that?”   It is very important for every student to have the opportunity to respond.  Often students ‘see’ contrasting elements.  It is not at this point that we add any value or level of correctness to what students are seeing.  Students are free to take academic risks because they trust the community that has been built.

After careful attention to detail, acknowledgement of all students’ statements, and ample wait time, the teacher transitions to the next level of exploration- the “I think” stage.  The teacher asks students to use “I think” as the beginnings of all statements.  A teacher can follow up asking for evidence for what led the students to their belief.   The juxtaposition of interpretations of the same image can help students appreciate different perspectives.  The evidence based claims that the students present can lead to richer, more detailed writing as students learn to develop their ideas and justify their beliefs.

The next stage of exploration is questioning.  Students have had time to observe and explore the image.  They have analyzed the explicit and implied details.  Now students get to ask, “I wonder,” based on what they saw, what they learned from other students’ statements and evidence, what might the student still want to know about this image.  As with the other stages, the teacher acts as the facilitator and need not provide all, or any of, the answers.  After engaging in this structure multiple times, students may be comfortable to help each other through the wonders that are presented.  As students become accustomed to this strategy their questions become more developed higher-level inquiry statements built on concepts and beliefs.

 A teacher may want to document all the stages or chose only the final stage of “I wonder” to record.  These questions can guide further inquiry throughout the unit of study and can be referred to either by the student or by the teacher.

A structured thinking routine serves a variety of purposes.  It benefits the needs of the individual learner, the needs of the community of learners, and the needs of the instructor.  It’s a simple but powerful method to provoke inquiry and build a foundation of trust and confidence for students.

For more information, please see

Activity of the Week

  • I See, I Think, I Wonder

    By Emily Munn, Advanced Academics Lead Coach for Metro Nashville Public Schools in Nashville, Tennessee

    This activity is designed to guide students through an inquiry process that encourages reflection on their presuppositions and beliefs. This activity is apt for Intermediate High and Advanced Low learners.

    Learning Objectives: Students will be able to:

    • Follow a structured routine as a provocation to inquiry in the classroom.
    • Make observations.
    • Support claims with evidence.
    • Create questions to further their study.

    Mode: Interpersonal Communication

    Materials Needed: Provoking photo or piece of artwork, chart paper


    1.  The teacher will find a photograph or piece of art that will provoke inquiry into a concept, an idea, or a topic relevant to the unit of study.  The image should be detailed enough to allow students an opportunity to explore multiple facets.
    2. Teachers provide structure as the facilitator.  The teacher should establish common norms that the group will adhere to in order to facilitate a productive discussion. Students may help the teacher list acceptable and unacceptable practices.  Students and the teacher may refer to the norms during the routine.
    3. Teachers may ask students to create a chart on a piece of paper to help the thinking process.  The three columns would be labeled:
    1. I see
    2. I think
    3. I wonder
    1. The teacher projects the image large enough for the class to see together.  If it is not possible, then all students are given access to the photo either in print or on an individual device.
    2. The teacher facilitates each round.  The first round is “I see.” Students are asked to list or record their observations of what is explicitly seen in the image.  The teacher may redirect if students transition into interpretative or implied observations using the phrase, “What did you see that made you think that?” During this stage the teacher may note the background knowledge of the students. 
    3. The teacher transitions into the “I think” stage.  In this stage students are encouraged to state claims and use evidence to support their claims.  This allows multiple perspectives of the image to be interpreted.
    4. The final phase is the “I wonder”.  This allows students to directly state what they would like to explore more about this image. 
    5. The teacher may choose to document and post the examples that the students provide, this places value on the thinking and on the learning process.  


    Teachers may use this provocation throughout the unit of study.  The wonder questions that students provided may become formative assessments or checks for understanding.  A teacher may select a claim and ask students to support that claim with evidence.  Teachers may ask students to state a claim they had at the beginning of the unit and then discuss how they have changed their beliefs since acquiring more knowledge. 

CASLS Spotlight: Celebrating 20 Years of Jeff Magoto’s Leadership in Language Learning

On April 1, the University of Oregon community came together to celebrate Jeff Magoto, director of the Yamada Language Center (YLC). Jeff has been a main stay of the language teaching and learning community for twenty years.

“CASLS would not be the center that it is today without Jeff,” explains Associate Director Mandy Gettler. “He has advocated for the value of language education both on campus, when cuts were deep and looming, and across the country. As a member of our advisory board, Jeff has brought in guidance, visions for new projects, and a keen eye for strategic partnerships.”

As director of YLC, Jeff has championed the study of all languages, especially less commonly taught languages. YLC has taught many languages such as Arabic and Korean as self-study courses and, once high enrollments were established, transitioned those courses to regular academic departments.

Jeff also serves as a course developer and co-instructor for the American English Institute’s eLearning program. Through AEI’s MOOC, he has trained thousands of English language teachers all over the world.

Jeff has had a large impact on CASLS and its projects as well. Jeff was the lead project coordinator for A National Virtual Language Lab (ANVILL), originally called Speech in Burns, that continues to bring technology-based language learning tools to all programs, regardless of their size or budget.

Thank you, Jeff, for being a tireless advocate for language and culture learning both at the UO and across the country. Here’s to twenty more years working together!

Language Corner

2016 NYS TESOL Call for Student Projects

Source: NYS TESOL Back to Quick Links


Each year, in order to showcase the tremendous talents of English language Learners, NYS TESOL proudly sponsors a student project contest. As usual, the contest theme is framed within the shifting landscapes of the needs of our culturally and linguistically diverse society.

Contest Theme: Collaboration
Working with others is often required of students, employees, athletes, government officials, and many others in society. What are the benefits of working with others, and why do you think it is important that people work together?

Submission Guidelines:
Contestants can choose to enter in one of the following two categories: essay or digital storytelling. Notice that each category is defined by separate guidelines and rubrics. No double entries are allowed.

The contest is open to English language learners in 4th grade through adult.

Please submit your proposals online by May 31, 2016.

For full details go to

Website/Project: Mapping Indigenous LA

Source: UCLA Back to Quick Links


Your InterCom editor will never look at Los Angeles in the same way! The Mapping Indigenous LA project is a storymapping project whose primary dissemination product is a website that makes visible the Indigenous history of LA, from pre-contact times through the many diasporas and re-locations that have resulted in a rich collection of overlapping indigenous communities that are often invisible not only to non-indigenous people but also to each other.

Here is an example of a storymap - different locations on the map link to multimedia components explaining the significance of that place to the Latin American indigenous diaspora:

Explore the website at

Here is a recent new article about the project and website:

Project Idea: Chinese Memes in the Hallway

Source: Ignite Language Back to Quick Links


Here is a project idea that may inspire more students to study Chinese in your school: creating “meme” posters in Chinese and displaying them in the hallway:

Sound of Germany Podcast

Source: Step into German Back to Quick Links

“The Sound of Germany” is a monthly podcast on Germany’s music scene. Find out some cool facts about German contributions to the world of rock, hip hop and techno. Meet some of Germany’s best-known artists.

Access this podcast at

French Authentic Listening: Histoires à écouter

Source: Histoires à écouter Back to Quick Links

Here is a collection of youth-oriented French mini-books in podcast form for you and your students to listen to:

Read a review of this resource at

Activity Idea: Weekend Chat Speed Dating

Source: Lugar para pensar Back to Quick Links

Here is a nicely scaffolded interpersonal activity for getting students talking to each other about what they did over the weekend, with handout provided:

The Memory Card Game as a Post-Reading Activity

Source: Todally Comprehensible Latin Back to Quick Links


Most people are familiar with Memory, the game in which players try to turn over two cards that match. Here is a description of how you can use cards with complete sentences as a post-reading (or post-listening) activity:

#langchat Summaries: Unit Design

Source: Calico Spanish Back to Quick Links

#langchat participants have been talking about curriculum design at the unit level. Start with the summary of the April 4 discussion: “How To Create A Well Built Foundation For New Units: Get Your Tools Lined Up!” available at Then read the summary of the April 11 discussion: “Structuring & Designing New Units in the World Language Classroom,” available at

Older #langchat summaries are available here:

Join #langchat on Twitter:

Blog Post: Your Heritage Speaking Students Think You Are Weird

Source: My generation of polyglots Back to Quick Links


Teacher Mike Peto writes, “Imagine being an American high school student placed in a basic literacy class. You need this class. Perhaps you are aware that your writing is full of errors. You may even recognize that this could be good for you. However, there is one major problem: your teacher is British. Nobody in your world speaks like her, not even educated adults. Sometimes you do not even understand her! A kind and progressive educator, she never corrects your dialect, but there it is every time she opens her mouth. Would you imitate her? Would you try to figure out which part of her speech to imitate and which part to discard? Or would it just be way too weird?”

Read on to apply this perspective to heritage Spanish learners, and for resources to expose your heritage learners to a variety of authentic resources representing different dialects:

How to Cultivate Student Agency in English Language Learners

Source: KQED Back to Quick Links


This article in KQED News is excerpted from Larry Ferlazzo and Katie Hull-Sypnieski’s book Navigating the Common Core with English Language Learners: Developing Higher-Order Thinking Skills.

“Agency is the ability to be proactive in determining one’s life path and not just react to the surrounding circumstances. Agency also recognizes that outside factors provide some limitations, and that people have some ability to influence and determine one’s response to them. Many of our English language learners face particularly large challenges in these outside factors—socioeconomically and linguistically. In addition, since many came to this country with little voice in the decision to do so, it may be an uphill battle to help them feel as though they do have control over what happens to them in life. Those issues make it even more important for teachers to encourage students to see these challenges not as limits to what they can do but, instead, obstacles that can be overcome.”

Read on for strategies to help English learners to develop a sense of agency:

Literacy Strategies for Librarians in Diverse Communities

Source: ¡Colorín Colorado! Back to Quick Links


In this article written for Colorin Colorado, early childhood expert Karen Nemeth offers librarians and teachers strategies for engaging diverse families and using bilingual books effectively during story time.

Available at

6 Steps to Making New Words Go from Unknown to Acquired

Source: TESOL Back to Quick Links


In this short article, Nathan Hall describes a structured way to introduce and reinforce new vocabulary:

Professional Development

Call for Papers: East Coast Organization of Language Testers Annual Conference

Source: ECOLT Back to Quick Links


The East Coast Organization of Language Testers (ECOLT) is pleased to announce its fifteenth annual conference, to take place October 28, 2016, in Washington, DC. The organizers invite proposals from colleagues in academia and education, government, and for-profit and not-for-profit organizations to present papers or posters related to language testing.

The submission deadline is June 3, 2016.

View the full call for proposals at

Workshop on American Indigenous Languages

Source: UCSB Back to Quick Links

Workshop on American Indigenous Languages
University of California Santa Barbara Department of Linguistics
May 7th-8th, 2016

Visit the conference website to learn more and register:

The 14th New York International Conference on Teaching Chinese

Source: CLTA-GNY Back to Quick Links


Chinese Language Teachers Association of Greater New York 2016 Annual Conference
14th New York International Conference on Teaching Chinese
New School University, New York, NY
May 7, 2016

Global Perspectives in Teaching Chinese Language and Culture

Visit the conference website to learn more and to register:

Online Course: Advancing TELL Online with Comprehensible Input

Source: CLASSRoad Back to Quick Links


STARTALK Summer 2016 – Advancing TELL Online with Comprehensible Input
June 13-July 17, 2016

Expanding upon last year’s successful program, CLASSRoad’s 2016 fully online STARTALK Teacher Program will provide an opportunity for intermediate and master Arabic, Chinese and Persian language teachers to focus on the TELL Learning Tools LT1 (a-c) criteria, building their ability to identify, design and deliver online lessons that use comprehensible input strategies to stay in the target language for 90% of instructional time and to utilize suitable digital tools and media to implement planning steps and activities.

The program will include asynchronous and synchronous interaction among instructors and participants, featuring video presentations by experts, formative assessments, discussions, observations of recorded online language teaching examples, peer learning and feedback, peer microteaching practice, online microteaching of remote language students, and self-assessment and personal growth plan development. The four-week program (80 contact hours) will feature three weeks of module-based daily instruction and group work, including several days of peer microteaching and preparation, followed by a fourth week that involves microteaching of remote target language students, along with peer observation, personal reflection and professional planning.

Enrollment is highly competitive; apply as soon as possible.

For full details go to

2nd Annual Dual Language Symposium

Source: NABE Back to Quick Links


The 2nd Annual Dual Language Symposium will take place June 30-July 1 in Puerto Rico.

Hot questions ​
•    Why Dual Language Enrichment(DLE)?
•    How is it different from other Bilingual Education or ESL programs?
•    How can DLE serve ALL students campus-wide or district-wide?
•    What exactly does Dual Language Enrichment look like?
•    Why is DLE "enrichment" and how does it use Gifted Talented(GT) type of instruction?
•    What would a PK or K-6 DLE model look like (program components)?
•    What are the specific instructional strategies used in the DLE program?

•    Implementing and Effective Pre-K- 12 Dual Language Program
•    Developing a strong Bilingual Teachers Recruitment segment
•    Technology in a Dual Language Classroom Early Childhood
•    Focusing on strong Administrative Leadership Component to Engage Title I & III Directors in implementing the new ESSA education Law with a Focus on Equity and Access
•    Helping parents become advocates for quality bilingual education programs

Learn more and register at

Workshop: Brave Little Tailor CI Strategies

Source: Musicuentos Back to Quick Links


Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell and Liberty Christian School in Argyle, Texas, are putting on a 2-day workshop for world language teachers. Create a comprehensible input “wardrobe” that is tailor-made for you, your students, and your classroom.

The workshop will take place July 14-15.

For more details go to
Register at

STARTALK Program: Transitioning to Teaching Language Online

Source: CARLA Back to Quick Links


This STARTALK program is for K-16 teachers of critical languages who want to teach their language online. Offered completely online, this 3-week, intensive course will give teacher participants the experience of being an online learner. Course content will focus on many different facets of a successful online language course, such as creating community, time management strategies for teachers and students, choosing appropriate technology tools for communicative-based activities, and developing a variety of online activity types. In addition to exploring these aspects of teaching online, participants will see these concepts in action in a model online language activities. By the end of the course, participants will have a portfolio of activities ready to be incorporated in an online course.

This program is open to teachers who:
•    teach K-16 critical language teachers (only Arabic, Chinese, Dari, Hindi, Korean, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Swahili, Turkish, and Urdu)
•    teach those languages in the United States.
•    are experienced classroom language teachers
•    teach using a student-centered, proficiency-based, communication-oriented methodology.

Teachers who have taught in, or attended, a previous STARTALK course on methodology or technology are especially encouraged to apply.

Course dates: June 13-July 3, 2016
Applications due: May 13, 2016

For full details go to

11th Workshop on Innovative Use of NLP for Building Educational Applications

Source: University of Rochester Back to Quick Links


11th Workshop on Innovative Use of NLP for Building Educational Applications
San Diego, CA
June 16, 2016

The BEA Workshop is a leading venue for NLP innovation for educational applications. The workshop will have oral presentation sessions and a large poster session in order to maximize the amount of original work presented.

See the workshop program and more details at


April 2016 Issue of Reading in a Foreign Language

Source: NFLRC Back to Quick Links

The April 2016 issue (Volume 28, Number 1) of the electronic journal Reading in a Foreign Language (RFL) is now online and can be read at

This special issue contains seven regular articles. Scott A. Crossley and Danielle S. McNamara utilize simplified and authentic texts to examine text-based recall and extra-textual generations with 48 native speakers of Spanish studying English. With 91 Turkish and Australian participants studying French, Meral Özkan Gürses and Eric Bouvet contend that cultural, linguistic, and contextual differences between the two groups may contribute to larger variability in reading comprehension than in strategy use or in learning styles. Shusaku Kida examines whether automatic word recognition is acquired over time and whether the development of orthographic representation is actually “achieved” over time. The study offers strong rationale for future research on sustained silent reading. Jeff McQuillan analyzed a set of popular fiction series books and concluded that such books can provide a sufficient amount of input, with 98%vocabulary coverage, and consequently could serve as a possible “bridge” to more challenging texts. With 27 reading textbooks for English as a Second Language, Lia Plakans and Zeynep Bilk use a computational tool called Coh-Metrix in order to investigate whether and how cohesion differs across textbooks written for beginning, intermediate, and advanced second language readers. Etsuo Taguchi, Greta Gorsuch, Kristin Lems, and Rory Rosszell examine how repetitions in reading a text and having learners read along with an audio model of the text may provide scaffolding for L2 learners’ reading comprehension. In the final article, Masayuki Tanabe operationalize temporal measures and show that vocabulary tests do classify lexical knowledge in greater detail.

In addition, this issue has a series of response articles that examine factors from prior publications. Stuart McLean talks about the importance of supporting inferences with evidence, and Jeffrey Huffman responds to a critique of the Huffman (2014) publication. Meredith Stephens discusses the influence of translation as a response to Sakurai, and Víctor R. Quiñones Guerra redefines translations in EFL classrooms through comments on Sakarai (2015). The discussion section ends with Sakurai providing a detailed and informed response to the critiques.

RFL is a scholarly, refereed journal published on the World Wide Web by the University of Hawai`i, with Richard R. Day and Cindy Brantmeier as the co-editors, Thom Hudson as associate editor, and Anne Burns, Macquarie University, as the reviews editor.

Access the current issue at

Book: CLIL experiences in Secondary and Tertiary Education

Source: Peter Lang International Academic Publishers Back to Quick Links


CLIL experiences in Secondary and Tertiary Education
Edited by David Lasagabaster and Aintzane Doiz
Published by Peter Lang International Academic Publishers

This volume clearly documenting research into CLIL and EMI settings is welcome and timely. A range of researchers rise to the challenge of providing deeper understanding and interpretations of key issues in ways which enable readers to adapt the approaches and ideas to inform their own practices. The nature of integration underpins each chapter and each study in creative, relevant ways at different levels. Bringing together educationalists, linguists and subject specialists provides a shared context for surfacing deeply held beliefs and providing clearer pathways for closer understanding and adaptations to define, refine and support integrated learning. Moreover, integrating theoretical perspectives and research methods is also a feature of the volume which not only informs classroom practices but also goes further into the motivations which operationalize and underpin current drives towards internationalization in universities. The studies in each of the eight chapters in the volume are usefully built on an in-depth critical review of research in the field which enables the reader to carefully position the research and the challenging questions posed.

Visit the publisher’s website at

Book: Identity, Gender and Teaching English in Japan

Source: LINGUIST List Back to Quick Links


Identity, Gender and Teaching English in Japan
By Diane Hawley Nagatomo
Published by Multilingual Matters

How do teachers who have chosen to settle down in one country manage the difficulties of living and teaching English in that country? How do they develop and sustain their careers, and what factors shape their identity? This book answers these questions by investigating the personal and professional identity development of ten Western women who teach English in various educational contexts in Japan, all of whom have Japanese spouses. The book covers issues of interracial relationships, expatriation, equality and employment practices as well as the broader topics of gender and identity. The book also provides a useful overview of English language teaching and learning in Japan.

Visit the publisher’s website at

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