Debbie Zacarian

Dr. Debbie Zacarian is an expert in the fields of advancing student achievement with diverse populations as well as in ELL education and special education.  She is also the author of our ELL Policy Guide.  In this interview, she discusses what sound identification and instruction programs look for ELLs who may have special education needs, as well as what effective collaobration on behalf of ELLs with disabilities looks like.

Books by This Author

Identity Safe Spaces at Home and School: Partnering to Overcome Inequity

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Today’s schools serve students and families with a diversity of identities. While diversity enriches the school community, educators are becoming increasingly aware of the vast number of students subjected to identity-related adverse childhood experiences and inequitable practices. To mitigate the negative impacts of oppression on marginalized identities, this book shows educators how they can work together with parents and guardians to support all students’ well-being and success.

Mastering Academic Language: A Framework for Supporting Student Achievement

In this groundbreaking guide, Debbie Zacarian, EdD, provides a new perspective on the role of academic language in the engagement and success of all students, including English language learners. Using numerous classroom examples, she outlines strategies for connecting academic language to students' lives, building upon students' previous literacy experiences, and engaging parents around activities that foster academic language development. Zacarian also includes reflection questions and guiding graphic organizers and rubrics.

Teaching English Language Learners Across the Content Areas

Judie Haynes (creator of and Dr. Debbie Zacarian offers hands-on, practical strategies that educators can implement immediately to provide effective content instruction for ELLs. Chapters focus on topics such as creating engaging lesson plans, successful small group work activities, content vocabulary instruction, and strategies focused on writing, homework, and assessment. Appendices include guided terms for composing language objectives and a lesson modification worksheet that can be used to adapt lesson plans for ELL instruction.

Teaching to Strengths: Supporting Students Living with Trauma, Violence, and Chronic Stress

Half the students in U.S. schools are experiencing or have experienced trauma, violence, or chronic stress. Much has been written about these students from a therapeutic perspective, especially regarding how to provide them with adequate counseling supports and services. Conversely, little has been written about teaching this population and doing so from a strengths-based perspective.

Using real-world examples as well as research-based principles, this book shows how to

The Essential Guide for Educating Beginning English Learners

English language learners who are new to U.S. schools face all kinds of challenges, as do the educators and schools serving them. Debbie Zacarian and Judie Haynes draw on their extensive experience to share an approach that can be used in identifying and meeting newcomer ELLs' needs, from evaluating prior academic experience to addressing social/emotional trouble that may result from trauma. The authors have included numerous tools for educators' professional development, including discussion and reflection charts, rubrics, sample forms, and vocabulary lists.