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Hosted by the Mid-State RBERN Team

Mid-State RBERN ENL Resource Specialist

The co-hosts and guests on each episode of "RBERNing Questions" are invited based on their expertise in the field of education and it is our honor to host these conversations with them. Their opinions are their own and do not represent the views or opinions of OCM BOCES or NYSED's Office of Bilingual Education and World Languages.


Dear Listeners,

It is with both sadness and excitement that I share a goodbye message with you, as I leave the Mid-State RBERN team to head overseas. I want you to know that it has been my privilege and joy to provide our region with access to new learning through this podcast.

I am indescribably grateful to the incredible educators who have shared their insightful and valuable messages freely for all of you. I am equally grateful for all of you who have listened, engaged in self-reflection, and provided feedback about the episodes.

Additionally, I want to thank the Executive Director of Mid-State RBERN, Tanya Rosado-Barringer, and all of my team members for giving me the freedom and support I needed to begin this project. I can’t wait to see how it grows and changes under their creative leadership.

My hope is that the learning you gain from these episodes will be a catalyst for the reimagination of our education system into one that truly serves and centers multilingual students and their families in equitable and powerful ways.

Keep asking RBERNing Questions!

With love and appreciation,


Episode 12 | 1:16:26 | original air date June 17, 2020

Understanding Discourse & Literacy

There is a lot of information in the world of education about discourse, background knowledge, literacy, and how all of these ideas are intertwined as we get to know our students. Listen as our guests Mario Palma and David Burns from American Reading Company share how teachers can build more awareness around students’ types of discourse, how we all navigate multiple types of discourse, and how we can use that reflection and knowledge to support students’ literacy development in multiple languages!

Host: Liesl Coope
Mid-State RBERN Resource Specialist

Special Guest: Mario Palma
American Reading Company
Twitter: @mariopalma4

Special Guest: David Burns
Director of Language Acquisition at American Reading Company

Additional educational experts and resources mentioned in this episode:

Episode 11 | 56:43 | original air date June 10, 2020

Supporting Students with Interrupted/Inconsistent Formal Education (SIFE)

Supporting SIFE can be a daunting challenge, whether a school has 1 student with interrupted schooling or 100, and Dr. Lisa Auslander is on a mission to “demystify” all the ways in which we can meet the needs of this heterogeneous group of students! If you are hoping to learn more about the unique needs of SIFE and ways in which you can support them in your classes, please join co-host Collette Farone-Goodwin, Mid-State RBERN’s resident SIFE specialist, as we explore the wealth of knowledge, research, and resources that Dr. Auslander shares in this episode.

Host: Liesl Coope
Mid-State RBERN Resource Specialist

Co-Host: Collette Farone-Goodwin
Mid-State RBERN ENL Resource Specialist
Twitter: @Lingualady1

Special Guest: Dr. Lisa Auslander
Principal Investigator & Project Director: Bridges to Academic Success; Center for Advanced Study in Education (CASE), Research Institute for the Study of Language in Urban Society (RISLUS) at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York
Twitter: @lisaausl


Episode 10 | 1:16:04 | original air date June 3, 2020

How to Be an Advocate for ELLs with Jennifer Raponi

Oftentimes, we know our students and their families need support and access within their education experiences that they simply aren’t getting. In this episode, professional development specialist and advocate Jen Raponi shares the what, why, and how of advocacy for ELLs. Jen’s experiences and suggestions apply across a vast spectrum of advocacy topics, so if you are wondering how to center the voices of your students and their families in your advocacy, how to advocate in ways that are most impactful, what to advocate about, or any and all of the above, this episode is for you!

Host: Liesl Coope
Mid-State RBERN Resource Specialist

Special Guest: Jennifer Raponi
Mid-West RBERN ENL Resource Specialist

Resources discussed in this episode:

Episode 9 | 1:01:45 | original air date May 27, 2020

Academic Conversations with Elementary ELLs with Dr. Jeff Zwiers

If you’re looking for ways to build authentic, meaningful conversation time into your lessons, listen to Dr. Jeff Zwiers as he shares practical and powerful strategies in this episode! A room full of elementary students all speaking might sound overwhelming at first, and Dr. Zwiers’ approaches make the planning and implementation of these kinds of lessons so accessible and applicable for all teachers. Give your students agency and voice as you plan for some really great conversations in your virtual or physical classrooms!

Host: Liesl Coope
Mid-State RBERN Resource Specialist

Special Guest: Dr. Jeff Zwiers
Senior Researcher at the Stanford Graduate School of Education

Additional resources:
All of Dr. Zwiers’ extremely helpful publications, including The K-3 Guide to Academic Conversations mentioned in the episode, can be found here:

Episode 8 | 52:29 | original air date May 20, 2020

ELL Shadowing & Conversational Discourse with High School ELLs with Dr. Ivannia Soto

Let’s talk about talk! If you have listened to some of our previous episodes, you have probably heard many of our expert guests speaking about the importance of literally and metaphorically hearing ELL student voices in the classroom; this episode expands on that theme. Listen to what Dr. Soto’s fascinating research findings tell us about ELLs speaking in their classrooms, and hear some practical strategies for how and why to embed more speaking into your everyday lesson planning. Check out the article linked below entitled “Creating Classroom Buzz” as well as Dr. Soto’s practical and powerful books to discover many ways to uplift your students’ voices.

Host: Liesl Coope
Mid-State RBERN Resource Specialist

Special Guest: Dr. Ivannia Soto
Professor of Education, Director of the Institute for Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Teaching (ICLRT) at Whittier College, and the author of numerous books and articles, including these mentioned in the episode: ELL Shadowing as a Catalyst for Change, Conversational Discourse in Context, and Creating Classroom Buzz
Twitter: @drivannia
Additional resource:

Episode 7 | 1:18:23 | original air date May 13, 2020

Multilingual Family Connections & Multilingual Education

It can be challenging for monolingual teachers and schools to make connections with families who speak languages other than English. In this dynamic conversation, Dr. José Medina combines his deep knowledge of dual language programming research with his moving testimonios on being a multilingual learner, teacher, administrator, and coach. He generously shares with us some pivotal and thought-provoking strategies for building meaningful relationships with multilingual families and for cultivating a multilingual mindset as we plan lessons, even if we are monolingual educators. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll be inspired to action by Dr. Medina’s passionate commitment to equity for all students!

Host: Liesl Coope
Mid-State RBERN Resource Specialist

Special Guest: Dr. José Medina
Founder & Chief Educational Advocate at Dr. José Medina: Educational Solutions
Twitter: @JoseMedinaJr89
Instagram: @josemedina1000

Episode 6 | 59:33 | original air date May 6, 2020

Cultivating Co-Teaching Relationships & Skills with Dr. Maria Dove & Dr. Andrea Honigsfeld

*We are aware of a few “glitchy” moments in this recording, but they do not interfere with the overall content/comprehensibility of the episode.*

Co-teaching may be more challenging than ever during the coronavirus pandemic, and it also is more exciting and innovative than ever! Listen to a conversation with two of the leaders in research about co-teaching relationships: Dr. Maria Dove and Dr. Andrea Honigsfeld. Find out what they say is “non-negotiable” when it comes to co-teaching, and learn a lot of quick and easy-to-apply practices that can take your co-teaching relationships from cooperative to truly collaborative. Listen with your co-teacher and then check out the links below to amazing shared resources!

Host: Liesl Coope
Mid-State RBERN Resource Specialist

Special Guest Dr. Maria Dove
Professor, School of Education and Human Services at Molloy College, author, & researcher
Twitter: @MariaGDove

Special Guest Dr. Andrea Honigsfeld
Professor, School of Education & Human Services at Molloy College, author, & researcher
Twitter: @AndreaHonigsfel

Resources mentioned in this episode:


Episode 5 | 1:05:37 | original air date April 29, 2020

Supporting ELLs in Science

This episode is all about “doing science and using language” with the incomparable Dr. Okhee Lee. Christopher Leece of OCM BOCES co-hosts as we ask Okhee all of “RBERNing Questions” about how teachers can engage ELLs (and all students!) in inquiry and discovery through the use of “compelling phenomena” in alignment with our updated science standards. Listen to learn more about what science and language DO together in our classrooms!

Host: Liesl Coope
Mid-State RBERN Resource Specialist

Co-host Christopher Leece
STEM Coordinator at OCM BOCES
Twitter: @c_leece

Special Guest Dr. Okhee Lee
Professor, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, New York University
Twitter: @OkheeLee_ 
Website: ;

Episode 4 | 1:08:21 | original air date April 22, 2020

Collegiality & Collaboration for TESOL Professionals with Dr. Laura Baecher

Welcome to a conversation about connection. In this episode, Liesl asks Dr. Laura Baecher, President of NYSTESOL and Professor at Hunter College, “RBERNing Questions” about collegiality among teachers of ELLs - What does it look like? Why is it important? How can we be intentional about it? And more! Please enjoy, and then reach out to your fellow TESOL colleagues to keep growing your collegiality and collaboration!

Host: Liesl Coope
Mid-State RBERN Resource Specialist

Special Guest Dr. Laura Baecher
Associate Professor of TESOL at Hunter College, City University of New York & President of NYSTESOL
Twitter: @LauraBaecher

Episode 3 | 1:06:13 | original air date April 15, 2020

Creating Equity for ELLs & Cultivating Resilience with Elena Aguilar

You’re going to want to take notes while listening to this episode!
It is such a gift to be able to share this conversation about resilience and equity with one of the foremost researchers and writers on these topics in education: Elena Aguilar. In our conversation, Elena shares her experiences and advice on how we can “re-center the individual child” in education and how we can understand ourselves more deeply, with the ultimate goal of creating learning experiences and environments that are equitable and responsive to our students’ needs while growing our own emotional resilience. Please tune in and then check out all of the incredible knowledge Elena and her team have shared on their website!

Host: Liesl Coope
Mid-State RBERN Resource Specialist

Special Guest Elena Aguilar
Founder & President, Bright Morning Team Consulting, Author of The Art of Coaching, The Art of Coaching Teams, Onward: Cultivating Emotional Resilience in Educators & The Onward Workbook, and Coaching for Equity (coming late summer 2020!)
Twitter: @brightmorningtm

Episode 2 | 28:30 | original air date April 8, 2020

Standards Based-Practices for ELLs

“RBERNing Questions” for this episode center around how to use New York’s ENL Targets of Measurement (“ToMs”) in standards-based classroom activities and assessments. Guest Dr. Paulina White shares her insights into how she has used the ToMs to focus and refine her planning and lessons for both stand-alone and co-taught ENL classes at the middle school level. If you’ve been wondering how to apply the ToMs in a practical way in your classes, this episode is for you! Click here for free related resources!

Host: Liesl Coope
Mid-State RBERN Resource Specialist

Special Guest: Dr. Paulina White
Rome Free Academy ENL Teacher

Episode 1 | 28:30 | original air date April 8, 2020

Introduction to all of RBERNing Questions

Welcome to the very first episode of this brand new podcast for all teachers of ELLs! This episode features a conversation between podcast host/Mid-State RBERN Resource Specialist Liesl Coope and ENL teacher/Mid-State RBERN ENL Council member Diane Stevenson. Listen in to get all the details on what you can expect from this podcast and to find out how you can submit topics and guest suggestions for future episodes. Keep tuning in each week as we discuss all of “RBERNing Questions”!

Host: Liesl Coope
Mid-State RBERN Resource Specialist

Co-host: Diane Stevenson
Rome Free Academy ENL Department Coordinator




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