Opening Doors: Ensuring Meaningful Participation in Teaching and Learning

Contact Me:

Mariana Castro, Ph.D.

The Keynote Speaker

Director of Standards for WIDA at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research, University of Wisconsin- Madison.


For many international students, the way language is used in academic contexts presents a challenge to participating fully in the classroom. Through this keynote, we explore what meaningful participation means in the context of today’s standards-based instruction and assessment and introduce tools that can help educators design classrooms where all students can engage in teaching and learning in meaningful ways.

Optional sessions during our workshop schedule:

Session 1:

Can Do Descriptors:

For many multilingual learners acquiring English as an additional language, writing can be one of the harder skills to master. This session centers on identifying students’ strengths in writing through the lens of language. While many focus on writing skills, language proficiency in writing is a different lens that illuminates key features that multilingual learners need to be successful writers in English.

Download session materials here.

Session 2:

Take Another Look: Revisiting Student Writing Through The Language Lens:

An assets-based approach to differentiation This session focuses on how to create welcoming learning environments for all students, regardless of their level of English language proficiency. Participants will discuss and engage in planning for language differentiation to ensure the activities they design as learning opportunities are appropriate for all students. Instructional design tools, such as the Can Do Descriptors: Key Uses Edition, will be used to support language differentiation.

Download session materials here.

Mariana Castro, Ph.D.


Mariana Castro, Ph.D. is Director of Standards for WIDA at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research, University of Wisconsin- Madison. Mariana is, foremost, an educator, having taught science, English as a Second Language, and bilingual classes in US K-12 systems for over 16 years. She has also taught pre-service and in-service teachers in the University of Wisconsin system and at Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin. Mariana co-authored the Framework for English Language Proficiency Development Standards corresponding to the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards and has lead the development of a variety of standards, including WIDA English Language Development Standards, Early Years; WIDA Spanish Language Development Standards, K-12 and Early Years; and related resources like Can Do Descriptors, Key Uses Edition, K-12 and Early Years; and Podemos, K-12 and Early Years. She has presented at conferences in the US, including TESOL, Learning Forward, NABE, La Cosecha, ASCD, AERA, AAAL and internationally, she has worked with educators in Mexico, Dubai, Thailand, and Argentina in designing spaces for meaningful participation and multilingual development for language learners.

Mariana’s publications include a co-edited volume Common core, bilingual and English language learners: A resource for educators (Guadalupe Valdés and Kate Menken), the book Formative language assessment for English learners: A Four-Step Process (MacDonald, Boals, Cook & White), a chapter in Intersectionality and urban education: Identities, policies, spaces, and power (Mancilla & Boals), and articles in Language Magazine, Soleado, and the WIDA Focus Bulletin series. Her service to the field include being an officer for the Second Language Research Special Interest Group at the American Educational Research Association, and a reviewer for the South African Journal of Education and the TESOL Journal. Mariana’s current research interests include language development, educational leadership, data literacy, family engagement, translanguaging and social justice in education.