In July 2015, the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL), a non-profit whose work includes a focus on meeting the needs of English learner students, was awarded a two-year grant by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The grant, Enhanced Education Connections: Supporting Teacher Leaders in Local and Virtual Networks, is part of the foundation’s Teacher Practice Networks, an initiative shared with WestEd’s Center for Teaching and Learning. Project goals include improving the educational achievement of English learner (EL) students through the implementation of standards-aligned, sheltered instructional methods in mainstream content area classrooms, as well as nurturing Teacher Leaders who create and grow their own networks of other educators through High-Tough and Light-Touch supports.
CAL’s Enhanced Education Connections project is located in two states: New York and Massachusetts.
In Massachusetts, CAL has subcontracted with Confianza: Educating for ELL Equity for the 2015/2016 school year to work with secondary STEM teachers in Fitchburg Public Schools. The group of seven Teacher Leaders have identified professional goals to support their ELs, created a Work Plan for the year, and completed Implementation Projects, which they will share with local and national networks. MATSOL is partnering with Confianza to provide the teachers’ professional development points (PDPs) for this project and also to consult on deep implementation of Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) strategies.
An example of the Teacher Leaders’ Implementation Projects is Middle School Engineering Teacher Jean Beckner’s creation of an online resource hub for teaching engineering to ELs through meaningful literacy activities and interactive use of Google Classroom. Chris Landry, also a Middle School Teacher, created a website with guidance for teachers on how to flip a classroom, demonstrating for other teachers how he brought blended learning to his science classroom with a focus on multilingual vocabulary instruction for ELs.
The Enhanced Education Connections Annual Virtual Summit was held on June 7, 2016, during which Teacher Leaders from both sites shared their final Implementation Projects with each other, other stakeholders from their districts, experts in EL education, and representatives from the funding organization.
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