Fonville ESL Teacher: “This is the most rewarding job”


When Mrs. Dana Patterson decided to teach, she didn’t think it would include helping her students during a major life transition. “It wasn’t only about learning a new language. I wasn’t aware of the power we, as teachers, have to provide our students with the tools they need to be successful in a new country, culture, and environment,” she explains.

Patterson, dana

Dana D. Patterson

Of her almost 20 years in education, Patterson has spent 14 teaching Newcomers, and according to her: “This is the most rewarding and satisfying job I have found in the field of teaching.”

As an ESL teacher at Fonville Middle School, she has seen the positive impact campus support, parent engagement and differentiated curriculum implementation have had on her students. “I remember one scholar who was unable to read in Spanish or English upon arrival. After meeting with her parents, I found she had missed a lot of school in El Salvador. I quickly began to work with her on literacy and soon she was reading. She fell in love with the Treehouse Mystery series and that was extremely helpful in her reading progress. She went on to a magnet high school and college. Today, she still comes to visit me and makes me cry every time I see her. Currently, I am teaching her nephew in my newcomer program.”

For this native Texan, the biggest impact on students that have been here just a short time is training them to consistently use cognates and daily speaking activities through the use of sentence stems.

“I direct and guide them (train them) to highlight the cognates on every piece of text they are given to lessen the intimidation factor of English. Next, I train them to use translation services on their phones or dictionary for text. In speaking and writing, I train them to use part of the question to begin their answers so they always have a place to begin and in addition, speak and write in complete sentences!”

To develop language proficiency in her students, Patterson uses the Achieve 3000 Level Set and the TELPAS Released online to find their current level.  “I combine these two pieces of information to place them in a group that rotates to stations of differentiation in my classroom.” This also places them at certain levels of use for System 44, provided by Multilingual, via the audio library and Phonics/Reading online usage. (Access the TELPAS Reading Released Test on SharePoint)

Once students are assigned levels, she creates a station chart that shows where her scholars will be seated. “According to this, they know in what station they will work on. For example, the teacher station begins with a do now, the Reading station begins with an audiobook, and the computer station begins with individualized work for each student’s level. They spend about 40 minutes in each station and it takes them 2 days to complete 1 rotation at all stations.”

From Day 1 to the end of the year, students become “completely different people,” Patterson points out. “As their English grows, so does their confidence and their beautiful smiles.”


  • Learn how to scaffold for ELs with Sheltered Instruction Social Studies 1-5, register through OneSource, (COURSE 565015)
  • Apply the TELPAS writing PLDs to advance the English proficiency of ELs in all content areas. Advancing Writing with TELPAS PLDS (COURSE 889001)
  • QTEL Training, contact you Multilingual Program Specialist.




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