Discussions Builders Workshops

Discussion Builders posters

Who Should Participate

This one-day workshop is ideal for K–8 teachers who would like to help students with diverse academic, linguistic, and cultural backgrounds participate in and successfully learn from discussion-based lessons. Although originally created for mathematics, the discussion tools and theories can be applied within any subject area and are especially beneficial for English learners.

Goals for Workshop Participants

The Discussion Builders Workshop provides a quick but invaluable look inside effective classroom discussions, and prepares teachers to implement immediately several evidence-based, effective teaching strategies that foster oral and written academic language.

Return to your classroom comfortable in leading effective discussions that boost collaborative and respectful critical thinking among your students.

What You Learn

In this one-day workshop, K–8 participants will:

  • Learn ways to foster productive discussions in classrooms with diverse learners, with specific guidance for teachers of English learners.
  • Think about the role of academic language development in academic success.
  • Practice facilitating productive discussions in mathematics, literature, social studies, and other content areas.

What Resources Support Your Learning

Classroom discussions promote academic success by building powerful communication and reasoning skills. Discussion Builders posters help students of all achievement levels build these crucial skills. Sentence stems on the posters provide students with a scaffold for voicing their ideas and questions and valuing others’ contributions.

The posters are powerful tools for helping students — including English language learners — present and expand on their ideas. The three levels of posters and teaching guides scaffold progressively more sophisticated language and reasoning across the grades.

A quick-guide for teachers explains how to get students talking — and thinking — more conceptually. The guide includes tasks and blackline masters for introducing and sustaining the use of Discussion Builders in any subject area. Participants at Discussion Builders Workshops receive one poster and Teaching Guide appropriate to their grade level: either K–1, 2–3, or 4–8.

Who Facilitates Your Learning

Workshops will be led by Alma Ramirez and Jose Franco (Co-Directors of Math Pathways & Pitfalls at WestEd).

Ramirez has been an educator for 20 years, serving as a bilingual elementary and middle school teacher of English learners in urban settings. In addition, Ramirez has considerable expertise as a professional developer and mathematics curriculum writer. The majority of her time is spent producing rigorous and accessible materials for students, including English learners, who have traditionally been underrepresented in mathematics. Ramirez has been a pre-K, elementary, and middle school textbook author, and has consulted in a number of mathematics professional and curriculum development projects focused on equity and access.

Franco served for 13 years as the director of the EQUALS Program at the University of California, Berkeley, with emphasis on English language development in mathematics and effective pedagogy. Franco was also a K-6 bilingual teacher for over a decade. He has conducted numerous presentations on family involvement, equity, mathematics education, and second language acquisition at the local, state, national, and international levels.

When Is the Next Workshop

Visit this site again for future Discussion Builder Workshops at WestEd

Contact us to learn more about hosting a Discussion Builders Workshop at your site.

Contact Information

José Franco
[email protected]