UELIPs Go to the Senate

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This Tuesday a group of my fellow UELIPs and I headed out of the central office and over to the US Capitol to hear the Senate debate on the Every Child Achieves Act. The Every Child Achieves Act is a long overdue attempt to overhaul No Child Left Behind of 2002.

A summary of the bill can be found here.

Congress does not release a schedule of events until the day of, which does not allow much time to plan ahead. Luckily, at DCPS supervisors encourage you to take part in all the incredible events the city has to offer and so we were able to take the afternoon to check it out!

We headed over to the capitol and were discouraged to realize we needed a pass from our senator in order to get into the viewing gallery. It turned out we just needed to find our senator’s offices (right across the street from the capitol!) and they gave us the passes right away! With our passes in hand we headed back to the capitol, went through security, waited in line, went through security, waited in another line, through another security point and then finally we were in the gallery.

As you can imagine security is very tight at the capitol here’s the list of items that you can bring into the capitol itself, but not into the viewing galleries:

  • Cans and bottles
  • Battery-operated electronic devices (Medical devices are permitted)
  • Cameras
  • Creams, lotions, or perfumes
  • Strollers
  • Video recorders or any type of recording device
  • Packages, briefcases, backpacks or suitcases

They provided you with bins to store these items while you visit.  I had to place my extra pair of shoes in the bin (maybe there is concern that visitors might throw shoes down at the Senators below?), phone, and previously emptied water bottle in a bin.

When you actually make it into the gallery you are directed to open seats where you may not talk, lean on any banisters, take notes, or sleep (a hard one for the younger tourists missing their nap time).

If you are seriously interested in watching what is happening on the floor, CSPAN is probably the best option. When in the gallery you can’t take notes and you aren’t able to pick your own seat so you might end up sitting in a spot where you can’t see the person speaking.

I would recommend visiting the House or the Senate while they’re in session at least once, it’s definitely a bucket list worthy experience!

More info on visiting the Senate here.


Meet Noora Mahmassani

Junior Associate Noora Mahmassani
Junior Associate Noora Mahmassani

Hometown: Frederick, Maryland
School: Georgetown University
Major: Linguistics
UELIP Committee Project: Noora helps find news articles for the UELIP Newsletter
DCPS Office: Office of Teaching and Learning, Elementary Literacy Team, Academic Language
Project: Noora’s main project is assisting Cara Hoppe in creating a Vocabulary Plan for Kindergarten through 8th Grade. The Vocabulary Plan is essentially a map of how teachers can incorporate 10-15 chosen academic terms per grade level into their existing teaching of the DCPS curriculum. Continue reading “Meet Noora Mahmassani”

My Experience with Academic Language

By Junior Associate: Noora Mahmassani

Talking to kids is one of the most important things parents and teachers can do set students up for academic success. As a Linguistics major, I have known this fact for years, but as a UELIP I’ve come to understand how it can be applied with kids and teachers in mind.

During my time as a UELIP, I’ve worked in the Academic Language specialty of the Elementary Literacy Team in the Office of Teaching and Learning. The goal of this specialty is to provide teachers with the tools that they need to increase the Academic English skills of students.

All kids, not just English language learners (ELLs), need support developing their Academic English. This type of language differs from Social English in that it is more complex and includes a specific vocabulary. Essentially, while Social English is the kind of  language you’d use to talk to a friend or cashier at the grocery store, Academic English is kind of language you’d find in a scholarly journal or use to give a presentation to your boss. Students need academic language to be successful in school.

My project this summer has been to help my supervisor create a Vocabulary Plan for students in grades K-8. Continue reading “My Experience with Academic Language”

Reforms are Working

By UELIP Associate: Michael Blume

DCPS received very good news last week.

At a standing room only meeting, Chancellor Henderson released DC CAS scores from the 2012-2013 academic school year. The DC CAS are a series of standardized tests aligned to the Common Core State Standards, and measure a student’s mastery of reading, mathematics, science, and writing composition. This year’s scores revealed that DCPS improved its proficiency in all subjects more rapidly than in any year since 2009. In just the second year of Chancellor Henderson’s ambitious five-year strategic plan, student outcomes across the district are improving as dramatically as planned. Although much work lies ahead, the data is compelling evidence that DCPS’s reforms are working. Continue reading “Reforms are Working”