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The Connected Classroom

Information On and From EducationPlus' LearningLab

Category Archives: English Language Learners

STL RPDC 2015 Logo UpdateBlog post by Marlow Barton,
MELL Instructional Specialist

Does the state of Missouri strike you as “global” or “international”? If not, it may surprise you to learn that one of the fastest growing populations in Missouri public schools in grades K-12 is English Language Learners (ELLs). Kansas City houses the largest concentration of ELLs with nearly 12,000 ELLs in their school systems, St. Louis comes in second with nearly 10,000 and the Springfield and surrounding southwest region is third with nearly 6,000.

The top five languages spoken in these homes are Spanish-Castilian, Bosnian, Vietnamese, Arabic and Somali.

According to the Department of Education, during the 2012-2013 school year, the ELL population grew by 259% while the native English speaking population slightly declined. Last year alone, nearly 28,000 ELLs across the state of Missouri were tested for English Language Proficiency and the majority of these students are primarily in grades K-3.

How can Missouri schools best serve this growing population? The answer is constantly evolving. When a student enrolls in a Missouri public school they are given a “Home Language Survey”. If the family indicates that a language other than English is spoken in the home, the student is given a language proficiency screener. The scores from this screener determine if the student will receive direct English language instruction services. If so, the student begins ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) services with a certified ESOL teacher.

A common question about teaching ELLs is “Do the teachers know all the languages of their students?” The answer is no. Thankfully, there are many methods for teachers to use without speaking the exact language of their students. ESOL programs and instruction differ across the state. Some districts pull ELLs out of the regular classroom for individualized instruction while other districts employ a “push-in” program bringing the ESOL teacher into the regular classroom. Other districts combine these methods. Co-teaching with an ELL teacher and general education teacher working together to provide comprehensible input is common while some use the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP). Interactive learning strategies, such as Kagan for ELLs, are helping to boost academic achievement as well.

Missouri is also a part of the WIDA (World Class Instruction and Design) Consortium which provides many tools to help teachers who instruct ELLs. One tool is called the “Can Do” Descriptors. This chart provides a “snapshot” of what a student can do at their current proficiency level and then the teacher can get an idea of how to take them up to the next level.

The ELL students in Missouri have many linguistic/cognitive and social/economic advantages over monolingual students because they are “bi-cultural and bi-literate” (Gusman, 2015) and they add a “cultural richness” to the classroom learning environment (Cole, 2014).

To learn more about ELL programs in the St. Louis area,
contact Marlow Barton at EducationPlus.

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blog post by Laurie Milburn PhD,
Special Education Improvement Consultant

blog post bySummer vacation is a time for teachers to recharge and refocus as they prepare for another group of students. Summer can also be a time for teachers to re-tool their literacy pedagogy for working with the “not-so-common-learners” and students struggling to make reading progress commensurate with their peers. In July, St. Louis will host the International Literacy Association 2015 Annual Conference. This conference will bring together more than 6,000 literacy educators and experts from around the world to explore ideas, best practices and resources for literacy education and advocacy. In addition, the conference will feature more than 300 sessions on key topics affecting literacy educators today, including content literacy, children’s literature, classroom engagement, innovation, international literacy instruction and professional development. This is a great opportunity to gain practical, research-based professional development from literacy luminaries. The MELL and Special Education Consultants hope to see you at ILA 2015!

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Blog post by Marlow Barton, MELL Instructional Specialist

St. Louis provides many opportunities to explore the different cultures of our students this summer!

blog post byOn a recent visit to the Missouri Botanical Garden, I noticed large, colorful and interesting lanterns being placed all over the garden for the upcoming Chinese Lantern Festival. I began to reflect upon the Chinese speaking ELL children I had in my classes when I taught English to children in various districts around St. Louis and how much I enjoyed having them as students. I loved learning about their families and cultural backgrounds.

As I reflected, I started to wonder what the Chinese population is in St. Louis as I have noticed many activities this summer about Chinese culture. According to the Chinese Culture and Education Foundation, “various unofficial estimates show the figure from 15,000 to 20,000, among which a predominant majority reside in suburban communities and constitutes one percent of the total suburban population of St. Louis.”

In addition to the Chinese Lantern Festival, the Magic House is sponsoring Children’s China: Celebrating Culture, Character and Confucious. Can’t get enough of Chinese culture? Check out the Dragon Boat Races at Creve Coeur Lake!

International Institute | Wayne Crosslin

photo courtesy of the International Institute, Wayne Crosslin

If you are teaching summer school, or tutoring this summer, make sure to check out a cultural artifacts kit from the Office of International Studies at UMSL (cislibrary@umsl.edu). UMSL has kits from many countries, including one from China.

Want to experience other cultures? Try the Festival of Nations from the International Institute of Saint Louis or the Japanese Art Exhibit at the Saint Louis Art Museum called Creatures Great and Small.

All of this got me thinking it would be fun to try to experience something from each of the countries where my students and their families originated. So don’t sit around inside all summer- take a trip around the world right here in our own city!

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blog post byStarting this summer, we will be sharing blog posts from staff who working as part of the LearningLab as well as the St. Louis Regional Professional Development Center. (Want to know more? Visit the “About” section at the top of the blog!) Look for information on upcoming programs, resources they’d like to share and much more!

Up first, Marlow Barton and Julie Sperry write about an upcoming symposium – click on the links for further details:

Happy almost summer! We are looking forward to seeing you in June as we focus on diversity together. We are excited about the many learning opportunities that will be waiting for you during the St. Louis Summer Symposium: Focus on Diversity.  On the first day, is Jo Gusman presenting “State Standards and The Diverse Learner” and day two is Beyond Core Expectations: A School-Wide Framework for Serving the Not-So-Common-Learner with Dr. Maria Dove and Dr. Andrea Honigsfeld. On the third day, we have Theresa Roberts from California State University presenting on literacy for pre-K-2 diverse learners as well as many breakout sessions on topics such as SPED & ELL, DRDP, WIDA standards, family engagement, legal responsibilities and culturally and linguistically responsive instruction. Can’t wait to see you there!

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CLIMBS STL

CLIMBS participants consult their copies of “Teaching English Language Learners: A Differentiated Approach” during today’s session

The Content Language Integration as a Means of Bridging Success program–  also known as CLIMBS–  is designed to assist teams of K-12 educators in meeting the needs of their English Language Learner students, to build capacity and increase collaboration among educators at the local level. CLIMBS provides an introduction to the use of research-based approaches to scaffolding instruction in classrooms that include ELLs.

Over the course of a full semester–  in five full-day, face-to-face meetings–  teams of educators learn to implement the WIDA ELD Standards in ways that support ELLs’ development of academic language and help ensure their access to intellectually challenging grade-level content. They do this by:

• Exploring cultural practices and the processes of acculturation
• Developing foundational understanding of second language acquisition processes
• Practicing strategies to differentiate instruction according to students’ English language development levels
• Exploring formative assessment as a strategy to expand language learning for students
• Integrating WIDA ELD Standards, Features of Academic Language, and Performance Definitions for planning and instruction
• Collaborating with other one another to support ELL success

CLIMBS was originally developed by the Center for Applied Linguistics on behalf of the WIDA Consortium. Pairs of educators become CLIMBS Licensed Facilitators through the CLIMBS Facilitator Institute. Then, CLIMBS Licensed Facilitators offer the CLIMBS program in a district or local educational context, for teams of ESL/bilingual and general education teachers. EducationPlus’ Marlow Barton is co-facilitating today’s session in the Rockwood School District.

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ell faber

original blog post about Creating Success for ELL Students

Dr. Sharon Faber’s September 30th session on Creating Success for ELL Students is full- however- she’s agreed to facilitate another one on November 7th! At that event, she will also provide specific and practical techniques that can be used by teachers in all subject areas to assist ELL students with their comprehension and vocabulary skills. For more details on this full-day session in November at the Brentwood Conference Center, visit our registration page.

Here’s more about the training: as the student population becomes increasingly linguistically diverse, educators are faced with the challenge of providing academically rigorous instruction to ELLs. This requires teachers to adopt new strategies that challenge learners to think at higher levels. How do we modify our teaching strategies in the classroom to make sure that these appropriate opportunities happen for ELL students? While many teachers were never trained to teach reading, writing, or ELL students, they get ELL students who are struggling readers or even non-readers in their classes.

Dr. Faber received her bachelor of science degree from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas, her master’s in educational leadership from the University of Texas at San Antonio, and her doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Virginia.

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MELL The Missouri Migrant Education and English Language Learning (MELL) program is offering three informal networking and discussion sessions in a “café style” atmosphere; take this time to catch up with peers in other districts, and to learn from each other. Each of the three sessions taking place at Cooperating School Districts will be focused on a particular topic, yet there will also be time to discuss current issues in the field. Feel free to share your ideas, lessons, and discussion points. This is time for you to de-stress, relax, and exchange ideas with other ELL professionals in the St. Louis metro area.

Facilitators:
Marlow Barton, ELL Instructional Specialist, MELL
Debra Cole, ELL Instructional Specialist, MELL

Dates:
September 10, 2013
January 21, 2014
April 1, 2014

Time:  4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

ELL Professionals including ELL Teachers, ELL Instructional Aides, and Classroom Teachers with ELLs are welcome to attend these free sessions. Light snacks will be provided; please register by September 3rd.

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