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RPDC: How can Missouri schools best serve the growing ELL population?

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.

May 2015 Top Reads

googlemaniaThe Connected Classroom is the EducationPlus LearningLab blog. Here are the top five most visited posts for the past month– did you contribute to the clicks?

(1)  Google Mania Takes Over in July  read it here
(2)  To Thine Own Self Be True: Character Education with Shakespeare  read it here
(3)  St. Louis Summer 2015 Reading Clubs  read it here
(4)  Project Based Learning & 21st Century Skills with LEGO  read it here
(5)  Using Sensory Integration Strategies to Help Students Focus  read it here

RPDC: Take a Cultural Plunge this Summer!

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!

2014 in review

In 2014, The Connected Classroom had about 11,000 views. We’re excited that over half of the top five posts for the year highlight the awesome work that three educators in the region are doing in our schools. The single busiest day of the year was January 21st and the most popular post that day was Midwest Spotlight Educator: Heidi Morgan.

top 2014 posts
Heidi Morgan | Will Blaylock | Sarah Spaunhorst

Here are the top five most-read posts for 2014:

1)  Spotlight on Sarah Spaunhorst @ METC 2015

2)  Hangout with Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

3)  2011 Show-Me a Movie Winners…

4)  Making IT Happen: Will Blaylock

5)  Midwest Spotlight Educator: Heidi Morgan

Thank you for reading The Connected Classroom and we look forward to many more great posts in 2015!

Curate, Create, Connect at METC Precon Workshops

The Midwest Education Technology Community Conference is still taking registration for 2015. Remember that there is no enrollment necessary for general conference sessions beyond general conference registration, however, for the Monday preconference workshops, preregistration is required. Here is a small sampling of what METC is offering in less than two months:

A
curate digital products, createugmented Reality: Create New Dimensions for Learning presented by Caroline Haebig, 2015 Midwest Spotlight Educator, Adlai E Stevenson High School, Illinois; Sue Gorman, University of Wisconsin

Want to do more with student creations and bring class content to life? Augmented Reality (AR) is your solution. AR provides educators with the opportunity to create a whole new level of semi-virtual and semi-real learning environments. This workshop will engage participants in the technical use of AR apps like Aurasma, Layar, Chromville and provide support for designing learning experiences. AR affords opportunities to curate digital products, create dynamic supports for learners and bring a new dimension to existing teaching strategies. BYOD: Mobile device (Apple or Android), either tablet or smartphone.

Building your Best Board: Integrate Discovery Education Resources into Your Classroom presented by Melissa Robison, Kratz Elementary, Missouri; Shelby Bailey, Rebecca Boone Elementary, Missouri, DEN Star Educators

Learn how to integrate multimedia into your classroom with Discovery Education (DE) streaming including Board Builder, a unique tool that allows your students to digitize book reports, science projects and more. The DEN Star presenters will spend the morning on how to best utilize the resources of DE streaming in your classroom. During the afternoon attendees will learn how students can curate, create and synthesize content using Board Builder. The group will then go head to head on who has created the most DENmazing Board!

Connect Students with Kidblog presented by William Chamberlain, 2013 Midwest Spotlight Educator, McDonald County Schools, Missouri; Andrea Blanco, Francis Howell School District, Missouri

bloggingThe transformational power of student work being shared globally changes students’ views of themselves and the world. We will explore why blogging is transformational and will walk you through setting up your own free class blog using kidblog.org. Special attention will be paid to privacy and safety online.