ACT: Addressing the Complexity of Teaching

ACT will develop and study an innovative model for a coordinated program of undergraduate science and education courses that focus on prospective teachers as learners. The purpose will be to develop teachers who learn science in ways they are expected to teach science as articulated in reform documents such as Taking Science to School: Learning and Teaching Sciences in Grades K-8 and the Framework for K12 Science Education (National Research Council, 2007, 2011). Contact: Sue Ann Bottoms & Kathryn Ciechanowski 

Collaborative Inquiry Community: Teacher Collaboration to Support ELLs across the School Day

This research explores collaboration among elementary teachers, ELL specialist, and researcher in the study of integrated content and English Language Development (ELD) in a Spanish/English dual language program.  In the third grade bilingual class, nearly half were English language learners (ELLs) and many were academic language learners, requiring connected ELD, content, and culturally relevant instruction.  The third grade team decided to pursue integrated ELD as a new model to replace pullout instruction to help students apply language concepts to discipline areas, engage them in motivating learning contexts, and practice specific English forms across the school day.  Research questions include: (1) How did teachers, specialist, and researcher work together to develop, implement, and assess ELD/content instruction?  (2) What were the supports or benefits and tensions in working collaboratively in this inquiry community?  The collaborative work was dynamic and flexible in order to deal with the unpredictable schedule of the school and district.  Instead of using a static and predetermined integrated curriculum—that could have posed dilemmas when scheduling surprises or restrictions beyond our control arose—our teamwork supported the ongoing development of integrated curriculum that merged content and ELD based on the real needs of students, teachers, and outside forces.  Throughout the duration of this research there was an underlying tension between the perceived needs of the ELL specialist and those of the classroom teachers, but the collaborative inquiry seemed to give some relief to each of them in different ways.  The collaborative inquiry community served the purpose of providing linguistics knowledge to move language development instruction to more advanced and nuanced levels. Contact: Kathryn Ciechanowski 

Critical Approaches to ELD: The Importance of Weaving Social Justice and Content Together with ELD

This research explores how Spanish/English dual language elementary school teachers incorporated a social justice focus into content/ELD lessons (see for example, Hart & Lee, 2003; Stoddart, et al, 2002). Social justice was a focus in order to connect with students’ lives and to address social inequalities, including stereotypes at school directed at Latino students.  Questions include: How did teachers weave social justice and student realities into ELD?  How did teachers make content-based academic language meaningful for children? How did students take up academic language to frame a social dilemma?  

Playground and everyday experiences were natural contexts for thinking about children’s uses of language.  The Latino/a students were hearing hurtful stereotypes at recess from other children, primarily from traditional English-only students.  Teachers felt that social studies topics of immigration and culture naturally connected with students’ experiences and analysis of generalizations and stereotypes.  Drawing from ELP standards and pacing charts, teachers taught adjectives that modify number in order to analyze generalizations about culture (e.g., All Americans play baseball.).  Through lessons on few, some, many, most, and all, the class explored differences between stereotypes and generalizations and examined how English forms enable certain functions in social studies text.  Students explored their own stereotypes such as, “All white girls can’t play sports” and “Most Americans get like a mesera [maid] and sit on the ground and see the TV.”   Through exploration of culture, stereotypes, and modifying adjectives, the integrated unit wove together social justice, content, and ELD. Contact: Kathryn Ciechanowski 

FIESTAS (Families Involved in Education: Sociocultural Teaching and STEM)

FIESTAS is a collaborative effort between OSU’s College of Education, 4H Youth Development, and the Science and Math Investigative Learning Experiences (SMILE) program. The purpose is to enhance the knowledge of STEM related topics of Latino and underrepresented youth in the 3rd to 5th grades. The primary reason for this age range is to reach youth early in their schooling, especially those underrepresented in STEM fields. Because of the changing demographics of the K-12 population, which do not align with the demographic of the preservice teacher demographics, we think that engagement with culturally and linguistically diverse youth is needed. Contact: Sun Ann Bottoms and Kathryn Ciechanowski