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Stanford University

Seven Essential Practices for Developing Academic Oral Language and Literacy in Every Subject

Stanford University and University of California, Davis via NovoEd

This course may be unavailable.


New standards (CCSS, ELD, NGSS, etc.) emphasize developing students’ abilities to use language in academic settings for complex purposes. The new standards specifically describe the importance of understanding complex texts, critiquing the reasoning of others, and using evidence to support ideas orally and in writing. This focus on constructing and communicating complex ideas is a major shift for many schools who have focused on teaching discrete facts and vocabulary items for multiple choice tests.

This course facilitates the practical exploration and expertise-building of seven essential ALD (academic language development) practices that we have identified as being powerful for developing school language and literacy across grade levels and content areas and for supporting the implementation of new standards. The course focuses on three “high-impact” practices (Using complex texts, Fortifying complex output (written and oral), Fostering academic interactions), which are supported by four essential practices (Clarifying, Modeling, Guiding, and Designing instruction). This course looks closely at the development of “language for content and content for language.” It organizes a massive collaboration of educators who wish to support students, particularly English Language Learners, in developing their abilities to use complex language.

In order to develop complex language, educators need to be careful observers and analyzers of student language throughout a lesson and when looking at language evidence.This course asks participants to gather, analyze, and share examples of student language from their classrooms. The overall goal is for participating educators to better understand and develop the academic uses of language in school-based learning and apply what they learn in the future.

Coaching/PD Provider Component. In addition, each of the five sessions has a coaching component to help instructional coaches and professional development providers improve their coaching around these practices, with suggestions for working with teachers who are also taking the course. Coaches/PD Providers also have different but related assignments.

Taught by

Robert Pritchard, Susan O'Hara and Jeff Zwiers


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