Castellano and Robinson Share Expertise at GATESOL 2020.
Creative and passionate CCSD teachers are using digital resources to engage English Learners with middle school Science content and sharing their work statewide.
In April 2020, the CCSD Academic Division began a new initiative focused on engaging middle and high school English Learners with grade level Science and Social Studies content. Little did the participating teachers know how timely their learning would be! CCSD teachers at five middle and high schools began to create digital “Studio Boards” to engage their students in cognitively complex content using videos, pictures, and interactive digital resources provided by Discovery Education. The ESOL Office provided summer stipends funded through the Title III-English Learners grant to support teachers in developing Studio Board lessons and units designed to support English Learners in regular grade level classes during the upcoming school year.
Six months later, Faith Castellano, an ESOL-endorsed Science teacher at Lindley Sixth Grade Academy, and Yolanda Robinson, an English Language Arts teacher at Griffin Middle School presented their work at the 2020 GATESOL (Georgia Association of Teacher of ESOL) Virtual Conference. This annual event, designed for Georgia educators together to share best practices and strategies to support linguistically and culturally diverse populations, was held virtually for the first time this year. Over 700 educators from around Georgia, the U.S., and from other countries participated. CCSD ESOL Consultant Dr. Arleen Folorunsho moderated the session.
When asked why she was willing to invest time preparing a conference during this challenging school year, Ms. Castellano responded, “I always gain new perspectives and skills by sharing the work in my classroom. It allows me to see my work from a different view. Teachers learn best from each other. The use of Discovery Ed to reach linguistically diverse student population was important to share to benefit our English Learners around the state!” Ms. Robinson felt likewise: “Having the opportunity to share with colleagues in the profession motivates me! I am inspired by collaboration and conversations with other educators. My participation afforded me the chance to share my experiences with integrating instructional tools to scaffold instruction for the diverse learners in my classroom.”
Through their presentation, “Supporting English Learners with Multi-modal Resources and Strategies,” Ms. Castellano and Ms. Robinson demonstrated how they select visual, audio, and interactive resources and curate them in engaging “Studio Boards.” The resources enable English Learners to visualize and conceptualize core content while learning the academic English vocabulary they need to explain, analyze, and share their thinking.
Ms. Castellano shared her work helping students analyze data as they learned how the Earth’s tilt, rotation, and revolution around the sun influence temperature. The interactive web site she selected helped students engage with the cognitively challenging material and identify the misconceptions that they had. She was pleased that she was “able to showcase my students and their work.”
Ms. Robinson shared her unit on the adolescent brain and illustrated how she scaffolds with visuals and builds the students understanding and vocabulary up to the point where they are all reading and comprehending research that is well above grade level. “It’s important for every student to be engaged in productive struggle, not just the students who are English Learners. When everyone is working hard to learn challenging concepts and new vocabulary, then they work together and help each other get better!”
After presenting, both teachers were proud of the contribution CCSD had made. Ms. Robinson commented, “I appreciated scanning through the attendee lists for the various sessions and seeing team Cobb represented. I am proud to teach, lead, and learn in a district that prioritizes students and supports educators having the types of experiences needed to inspire the development of innovative learning pathways.” Ms. Castellano agreed: “Being part of the GATESOL Conference allowed me to highlight our work here in CCSD and to gain knowledge from other teachers to bring back with me.”
The ESOL/Title III Department looks forward to continuing to support exceptional work teachers have done with using Discovery Education to support ELs throughout the district. Truly, they are making Cobb the best place to teach, lead, and learn!
Citations: Georgia Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, 2020. GATESOL Virtual Conference, http://www.gatesol.org/page-1863651.
Dr. Elizabeth Webb
Supervisor, ESOL & Title III
Contributing Author: Dr. Arleen Folorunsho, ESOL Consultant