Presentation on theme: "Preparing Noyce Scholars for Effective Instruction of English Language Learners in STEM Classrooms Orlando Alonso & Margo DelliCarpini Lehman College,"— Presentation transcript:
Preparing Noyce Scholars for Effective Instruction of English Language Learners in STEM Classrooms Orlando Alonso & Margo DelliCarpini Lehman College, The City University of New York 2012 NSF Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program Conference May 24, 2012 Washington, D.C., USA.
Rational for program changes/course development ELLs as a growing population. English as a second language teacher preparation to engage in Content Based Instruction (CBI). Content teacher preparation and English language learners (ELLs). Challenges ELLs face in secondary level mathematics/science and the language of the discipline.
Population growth Approximately 5,346,673 ELLs were enrolled in public schools at the preK-12 grade level during the school-year (OELA, 2011). ELLs represent 11% of total public school student enrollment (OELA, 2011). ELL population in U.S. schools is almost equal to the special needs population. It is estimated that 40% of students in U.S. schools will be ELLs by the year 2030 (U.S. Census Bureau).
ESL teacher preparation /CBI Content Based Instruction is pedagogical approach to using relevant subjects (content) as a vehicle for language learning and in the prevalent method in the U.S. and abroad for teaching language. The role of the ESL teacher has shifted from building social language skills to developing academic language that is connected to the content curriculum (Harper & de Jong, 2009) Requirements per program vary: many ESL teacher education programs require only a Liberal Arts and Science core since the CONTENT of TESOL is TESOL. ESL teachers may have little actual knowledge or skills with the CONTENT of CBI. Focus in the ESL class may be driven by other interests rather than actual content needs.
Content teacher preparation and ELLs Only one-sixth of institutions of higher education require explicit coursework with respect to the education of ELLs (Antunez & Menken, 2001). As of 2011, only five states (Arizona, California, Florida, New York, and Pennsylvania) have some requirement related to effective instruction of ELLs for teacher certification. 77% of content area teachers have had no course-work or professional development addressing ELLs (NCES, 2002). ELLs generally spend about 80% of their school day in mainstream classrooms (Dong, 2002). Content teachers may feel that the education of ELLs is not their responsibility (de Jong & Harper, 2005).
Academic Achievement for ELLs Achievement gap: 51% of 8th grade ELLs are behind [NS students] in reading and math, meaning that the scores for one out of every two will have to improve for the group to achieve parity.” (Fry, 2007, ¶ 1). The pass rates of ELLs on mathematics high school exit exams are 30–40% lower compared to those of mainstream students (Xiong & Zhou, 2006). NAEP (2011) data show that of the eight-graders who scored below the 25 th percentile on the math assessment,15 percent were identified as ELLs and of those students who scored above the 75 th percentile, only one percent were identified as ELLs. 20% of all high school level and 12% of all middle school level ELLs have missed two or more years of formal education since the age of six (Ruiz de Velasco & Fix, 2000). More than one third of new ELLs from Latino backgrounds are placed below grade level in school (Jamieson, Curry & Martinez, 2001).
Language challenges in the content classroom. Scientific inquiry, mathematical problem solving and the texts of these disciplines are linguistically dense, filled with words, symbolic notations, graphical information which embed concepts within structure and require talk: questioning, describing, explaining, hypothesizing, debating, clarifying, elaborating, and verifying and sharing results. Some mathematical symbols used in other countries differ from how they are used in the U.S. (Dale & Cuevas, 1992). Similarly, conceptualization approaches may differ from culture to culture as well as within the discipline’s different contexts. It is necessary to understand how students think and communicate mathematics and science, which involves not only communicative language skills, but also an understanding of the appropriate language of the discipline, according to students’ developmental level.
Addressing the Issues through Teacher Collaboration & Two-way CBI Teacher Collaboration: A continuum of activities from informal discussions about students (weak form) to co-teaching (strong form). Language-driven CBI/Content-driven CBI (Met, 1999). Interdisciplinary course to develop two- way CBI skills and collaborative practice between ESL and STEM subject teachers.
The Course: Development Co-developed and co-taught by a Mathematics Teacher Education Professor and TESOL Professor during the summer of 2011with the goal of supporting: Novice secondary-level mathematics/science teachers in teaching ELLs in the mainstream content classroom. Novice ESL teachers in their ability to understand and effectively engage in CBI. Collaborative partnerships between secondary- level ESL and content teachers.
Course Structure Ongoing development of a framework identifying and assessing ELLs’ challenges Weekly readings related to the topic and guided reflections on the readings, course discussions, and experiences in the candidates’ field placement. Lecture, discussion, and a related group activity. Field observations reflections (Reflecting on reflections). Assignments (in detail, to follow).
Assignments Collaboratively developed content /ESL units of study explicitly addressing the needs identified, using the knowledge and skills gained during the course. Position paper: Participants, through individual and collaborative inquiry, reading/reflecting, analysis of classroom observations, and reflective discussions and writing problematize the identified needs, re-conceptualizing and re- framing their initial needs/solutions within a theoretical and socio-cultural context. Teaching experiment/Action research paper/Discursive approach to educational research. Field observations. Guided reflections.
Lecture & Discussion Topics Who are our ELLs? Second language acquisition/L2 teaching & learning BICS & CALP/ Language of the discipline/Cummins Quadrants Approaches to instruction for ELLs, challenges, & promising practices Teacher Collaboration Two-way CBI/language-driven & content-driven CBI Reflective practices (Dr. Thomas Farrell) Teaching Experiment/Action Research Common Core State Standards & ELLs Schema theory/Content reading & ELLs Lexical acquisition/Developing academic vocabulary for ELLs Cooperative learning/Oral language development Text structure/materials/text adaptation/differentiation/writing Technology/Enhancing CALP through CALL Assessment of ELLs/The language factor
Example reading/reflection prompt Reading: de Jong & Harper, 2005: Is being a good teacher good enough? Reflective prompt: How can ‘just good teaching practices’ apply to ELLs in mainstream classrooms? Are the challenges de Jong and Harper discuss present in your own settings? How are the needs of ELLs in the mainstream content classroom being met? How can teachers develop practice that addresses the issues identified? What can you do to enhance your own practice based on the issues raised by the authors?
Small Group Activity Example Topic: Two-way CBI/language-driven & content-driven CBI In small groups (ESL & Content) identify a content concept and collaboratively develop a complementary set of language and content objectives so that the content teachers are developing content-driven CBI learning experiences and the ESL teachers are developing language-driven CBI learning experiences. Then, develop two lesson outlines, one for the content classroom and one for the ESL classroom. Finally, be prepared to discuss HOW these lessons work collaboratively to enhance BOTH content AND academic language learning in BOTH settings.
Research Questions: Pilot Semester What are mainstream math and science (MMS) teachers’ attitudes and current practices related to the inclusion of ELLs in the secondary level content classroom? What are MMS teachers’ perceptions of ESL teachers and their current level of knowledge and skills in collaborative practice? What is the effect of explicit coursework on MMS teachers’ beliefs and practices about working with ELLs in the mainstream content classroom?
General findings 7 participants: In-service and pre-service. Mixed-method: Reflective writing, interviews, focus group; Pre-post course survey data. Mainstream TCs generally held a deficit view of ELLs at the start of the class. Mainstream TCs had low levels of understanding regarding the needs of ELLs and desired more knowledge of these students in general. Lack of knowledge regarding the role of language in the mainstream, content classroom. ESL teacher unsure of how much content to focus on and found the balance between the language and content focus challenging to meet. Integration of language and content was a challenge. A declarative knowledge of collaboration was present in all participants, but this did not translate to a procedural knowledge of ESL/mainstream teacher collaboration. Generally, all participants saw collaboration as a positive practice, but knowledge of HOW to accomplish this lacked.
Themes from reflective writing & discussions: Beginning Deficit view of ELLs: Representative example: “ I believe that many factors are responsible for the poor achievements by ELL students in the urban school settings in the United States. For example, many of the student’s parents are non English speaker and if they are; they are not academic literates which makes it a big problem for students at home because they speak their parent’s language rather than mainstream English. Some students have intrinsic behaviors and they learn because they want more for their lives, others like myself are extrinsic because we use motivation by others to achieve good results but some of the students are simply lazy.” (Initial position on ELLs in mainstream classrooms. Michael, HS Science).
Themes from reflective writing & discussions: Beginning Knowledge of the needs of ELLs is lacking: “Mainstream teachers need to know more about their students then [sic] their name; though their names can tell you a lot- it doesn’t help you understand the cultural difference, language difference, and perhaps even the environmental language compared to content language.” (Emma, Secondary level math; reflective journal entry).
Themes from reflective writing & discussions: Beginning Role of language in the content classroom: “Mainstream teachers tend to remain unaware of the role of language plays in the classroom, in fact, when I consider this myself I begin to realize how perhaps some of the words I use may have double meaning. Perhaps a class or working with ELL teachers, can better give the teachers-us [content teachers], the skills we need to not leave them behind.” (Emma, secondary level math, reflective journal).
Themes from reflective writing & discussions: Beginning Balance between language and content in CBI: “It is difficult to incorporate vocabulary, expressions, and other aspects of the language to the Mathematics classes, but I believe if this is done correctly it can greatly help students. Every class I teach, I have to introduce at least two new words and I have to review many of them as I explain a concept or procedure. I have a hard time deciding when to focus on content and when to focus on language. I know that we are aiming for a totally integrated approach, but this is not easy for me to accomplish. I feel like I have to switch between language and content lessons in the same class and I know that the students don’t get enough of both when this happens. This is an area that needs improvement in my own teaching.” (Paloma, bilingual /ESL Math; reflective journal).
Themes from reflective writing & discussions: Beginning Collaborative practice between ESL/Content teachers: “The ESL teachers are a vital resource, because they bridge the language gap between the teacher and the student. They can properly assess the student’s education and language and help you adjust your lesson plans to meet the needs of that student” (Kayleen, secondary level Biology, reflective journal). “ I’m not exactly sure how I could work with the ESL teacher in my school since she doesn’t know science.” (Michael, high school Biology, Needs of ELLs paper).
Pre-course Survey Data: Representative findings Having ELLs in content class = positive. However, ELLs SHOULD have a minimum level of English Proficiency prior to being placed there. Most felt that simplifying coursework for ELLs was good practice and most assigned less work to ELLs. Many found that modifications made for ELLs would be difficult to justify to others. Most did not incorporate Ss NL or NL materials into the class. Most felt that they did NOT have adequate training to work with ELLs.
Change in beliefs: Evidence from qualitative data at the end of the course. Deficit view of ELLs changes to an understanding of the shared responsibility and role of educators in their success: “All teachers are responsible for assisting ELLs with the acquisition of oral language and academic language” (Sofia, secondary Biology, final position paper). “Teaching Mathematics to ELL’s is about a commitment to set and maintain high standards based on sound pedagogical principles using data based research, state of the art technology, and effective collaboration techniques. When all of these techniques are combined it becomes a formula for student success.” (Oliver, secondary level Math, final position paper ).
Change in beliefs: Evidence from qualitative data at the end of the course. Knowledge of the needs of ELLs is lacking: Rather than discuss that knowledge is necessary, participants described HOW they could gain that knowledge (became agentive): “Introduce yourself to the ELL teacher, the math coach, the IEP counselor, and the counselor and get all of their insight and thought on the student and their progress. If the language is what eludes you, introduce yourself to Administrator of the Foreign Language Department if it’s a high school, if in a middle school I suggest finding a translator tool that you and the student will always have quick access to. If the Language is Spanish, as in my single experience as a teacher, find someone willing to translate. The IEP teacher actually provided me with Spanish Text for the ELL student.” (Emma, secondary level math, final reflection).
Change in beliefs: Evidence from qualitative data at the end of the course. Balance between language and content in CBI: In mathematics, you cannot teach content if the students do not have the appropriate vocabulary. As one of the articles stated: “Mathematics has more concepts per word, per sentence, and per paragraph.” There is a solid interconnection between the content and the vocabulary, and this is where I need to help my students. If the students already have the knowledge in Spanish it is only a matter of transferring the content into the L2, but if the students do not have the previous knowledge, there is where the challenge lies. I have to start teaching to them the basic vocabulary in Spanish and then transfer the knowledge to English after they have understood the concept. By teaching this way I can balance language and content when I do CBI. (Paloma, bilingual /ESL Math; reflective journal, November).
Change in beliefs: Evidence from qualitative data at the end of the course Role of language in the content classroom: “Content teachers play a key role in helping ELLs develop essential strategies for deciphering words in English. I will provide ample opportunities for discussions, presentations, reading and writing tasks. Various exposure and methods for practicing vocabulary, will strengthen ELLs reading and language skills as well as science skills.” (Sofia, secondary level science, reflection, November).
Change in beliefs: Evidence from qualitative data at the end of the course. Collaborative practice between ESL/Content teachers “ These partnerships that are formed with the different content area specialists will play an important role in both content area knowledge and literacy acquisition. The communication between Mathematics, ELA, TESOL, and other subject teachers can provide success stories that will guide your students to both L2 and mathematics content success.” (Oliver, secondary level math, final position paper).
Changes in beliefs: Collaboration “ Collaboration with ESL teachers can improve a student’s success. With my lessons prepared in advance, I will give a vocabulary list of science content words to the ESL teachers. As a team, both teachers can help ELLs feel comfortable with vocabulary. Having the same vocabulary list instructed by two distinct teachers, will further enhance students’ comprehension. If ELLs are previously exposed to new vocabulary, they may feel more comfortable in reading and interpreting a text.” (Sofia, secondary level science, final reflection).
And finally…… “I have learned in this course to better understand issues of English Learners which up to now I had held as an exclusively foreign phenomenon. I was mistaken. I can conclude unequivocally that I am a better teacher now than I was 3 months ago. I consider myself able to use different approaches regarding ELL to teach them my content area.” (Peter, HS Math, final position paper).
Representative findings from post- survey MMS teachers had even more positive beliefs about ELLs in the mainstream content classroom. TCs changed their view on the necessity of certain minimal level of English language required prior to being placed in the content classroom. MMS teachers positively change their views on practical issues related to the simplification (watering down) of coursework for ELLs (to lessen and simplify). While they generally felt that coursework modification for ELLs slows the progress of the entire class, it is now less difficult for the TCs to justify to other students. Additionally, they are more flexible about the usage of ELLs’ L1 language in the classroom. While there was still a feeling of less than adequate training to work with ELLs, the content teachers sought help from ESL staff when working with ELLs and enhanced their views on the importance of the role of the ESL teacher.
Comparison of Pre & Post Survey 1 Responses, t-test (significant changes) Options\ Likert response 1-4 scale Pre- survey mean SD Post survey mean SD Mean diff. p value 1. Including ELLs = positive educational atmosphere p < ELL inclusion in mainstream benefits all p < Should not be in general education until they attain a minimum level of English p < It is a good practice to simplify coursework for ESL students p < It is a good practice to allow ELLs more time to complete coursework p < Coursework modification for ELLs is difficult to justify to other students p < 0.1
Comparison of Pre & Post Survey 2 Responses, t-test (significant changes) Opinions\ Likert response 1-4 scale Pre- survey mean SD Post survey mean SD Mean diff. p value 2. I give ELLs less coursework than other students p < I allow an ELL student to use her/his native language in my class p < The inclusion of ELLs in my class slows the progress of the entire class p < I receive adequate support from the ESL staff when working with ELLs p < 0.1
Conclusions While small, the research conducted identified areas of need for our teacher education programs. Content teachers showed positive change in beliefs and knowledge related to working with ELLs in the mainstream classroom. The ESL teacher who participated was better able to understand her role vis a vis integrating language and content effectively. A deeper understanding of how collaborative partnerships between ESL and content teachers was developed.
Next steps Semester two: expanded the numbers of TCs enrolled in this course (currently 25 TCs, math/science/TESOL). Submitted NSF proposal to **institutionalize** the course and the model of teacher preparation for which we are advocating. Developing a pilot interdisciplinary practicum (we are currently visiting three TCs 2 math teaching all ELLs and one ESL teaching sheltered science.. Pending grant funding for visiting TCs (enrolled in the course) in their school setting to add a “practicum” component into the system so we can fully analyze the effects of the course.
Feedback, comments, questions
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