English Language Learners

Investigating and Supporting the Development of Ambitious and Equitable Mathematics Instruction at Scale

This project is supporting and investigating the implementation of reformed mathematics instruction at the middle school level in two large school districts. The primary goal of the project is to develop an empirically grounded theory of action for implementing reform at school and district levels. The researchers are investigating reform within a coherent system that focuses on leadership and school-based professional development.

 

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1119122
Funding Period: 
Mon, 08/15/2011 to Tue, 07/31/2012
Full Description: 

The Development of Ambitious and Equitable Mathematics Instruction project is supporting and investigating the implementation of reformed mathematics instruction at the middle school level in two large school districts. Project researchers are asking: What does it take to support mathematics teachers' development of ambitious and equitable instructional practices on a large scale? The project has built on what was learned in a previous, successful project studying the implementation of a middle school mathematics curriculum. The primary goal of the new project is to develop an empirically grounded theory of action for implementing reform at school and district levels. The researchers are investigating reform within a coherent system that focuses on leadership and school-based professional development. In addition, they are facilitating a longitudinal study of the curriculum implementation by continuing the data collection from the original study.

In order to build a theory of action, the project team is synthesizing data from a variety of domains including instructional systems (e.g., curriculum, materials, professional development, support for struggling students, and learning communities), mathematics coaching, networks of teachers, school leadership, and district leadership. Investigators are using a variety of analytic techniques to successfully integrate both quantitative and qualitative data as they seek to understand how school district strategies are playing out in schools and classrooms and how those strategies can be revised in order to improve student learning of mathematics.

An empirically grounded theory of action for implementing reform will help the mathematics education community to implement and to understand the process of reforming mathematics instruction at the middle school level. Many advances in mathematics instruction have been documented within a limited context, but researchers and practitioners need to understand the full range of action necessary to achieve similar successes at a district-wide level. The model developed from this project, in conjunction with longitudinal data, has the potential to guide future reform efforts that seek to provide ambitious and equitable mathematics instruction.

Center for the Mathematics Education of Latinos (CEMELA)

The goal of the Center for the Mathematics Education of Latinos/as is to advance the field of mathematics education by:

(A) Developing an integrated model that connects mathematics teaching and learning to the cultural, social, and linguistic contexts of Latino/as students and (B) Increasing the number of mathematics educators and teachers with this integrated knowledge to ultimately improve the mathematics education of Latinos/as, particularly those of low-income backgrounds.

Award Number: 
1219798
Funding Period: 
Sun, 08/01/2004 to Tue, 07/31/2012
Full Description: 

The Center for the Mathematics Education of Latinos/as (CEMELA) addresses the mathematics education needs of the largest and most rapidly growing minority group in the country, a diverse group that has one of the most disturbing patterns of academic achievement. Given the unique language, social and cultural factors associated with working-class/low-income Latino/as students and communities, a multidisciplinary approach is necessary to address their education. Although there are well-established scholars who focus on the education of Latinos, their research is in the areas of policy, language and culture, not primarily in mathematics education. Few mathematics education scholars have multidisciplinary expertise in the particular areas relevant to the learning of mathematics by Latinos/as.

The goal of the Center for the Mathematics Education of Latinos/as is to advance the field of mathematics education by:

(A) Developing an integrated model that connects mathematics teaching and learning to the cultural, social, and linguistic contexts of Latino/as students and

(B) Increasing the number of mathematics educators and teachers with this integrated knowledge to ultimately improve the mathematics education of Latinos/as, particularly those of low-income backgrounds.

This goal will be achieved by the collaboration of experts in mathematics education, mathematics and language and culture in education. CEMELA brings together in Arizona, The University of Arizona, Sunnyside Unified School District and Tucson Unified School District; in Illinois, The University of Illinois at Chicago and Chicago Public Schools; in California, The University of California at Santa Cruz, North Monterey County School District and Pajaro Unified School District; and in New Mexico, The University of New Mexico, Albuquerque Public Schools, Socorro Consolidated Schools, and The Bernalillo Public Schools. Intentionally, the Center represents diverse geographical contexts -- borderlands (UA), urban (UIC), rural (agricultural/migrant) (UCSC) and rural/urban (UNM) -- to adequately capture the corresponding diversity of educational and cultural experiences among Latinos/as.

Signing High School Science

This project integrates American Sign Language (ASL) into the life and physical sciences content of 9th-12th grade deaf or hard-of-hearing students. Project partners incorporate the use of the assistive technology in order to develop, research, and disseminate two interactive 3D dictionaries: Signing Life Science Dictionary (SLSD), and Signing Physical Science Dictionary (SPSD) with audio modes and approximately 750 standards-based terms in English and Spanish text that can be signed or listened to on demand.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1019542
Funding Period: 
Wed, 09/01/2010 to Sat, 08/31/2013
Full Description: 

With this project, TERC and Vcom3D are using the SigningAvatar® assistive technology to research, develop, and disseminate two illustrated interactive 3D dictionaries. Each dictionary will have an audio mode and will include at least 750 standards-based terms in English and Spanish text that can be signed or listened to on demand. One dictionary will be a Signing Life Science Dictionary (SLSD); one will be a Signing Physical Science Dictionary (SPSD). To begin to establish effectiveness, the partners will investigate two research questions: 1) What kinds of learning gains in life science are possible with use of the SLSD? 2) What kinds of learning gains in physical science are possible with use of the SPSD? Extrapolating from the findings from their Signing Science Dictionary (SSD), the partners’ hypotheses are that with the SLSD and SPSD, students will have assistive tools that help them 1) increase their ability to sign, understand, and use the languages of life and physical science; 2) improve their science content knowledge; 3) increase their ability to study each content area independently. An external evaluator will conduct a formative and summative project evaluation. Dissemination at the end of the 48-month project, together with a Signing Earth Science Dictionary (SESD) under development, will offer students who are deaf or hard of hearing increased access to the same learning opportunities in science that hearing students enjoy—opportunities that they can build on beyond high school and that may lead to careers in STEM. Additionally, new terms in English and Spanish will be added to Vcom3D’s sign lexicon and will be available for development of signed science materials.

Interactive Science and Technology Instruction for English Learners (RAPID)

This project examines the first-year implementation of a program that will provide low-cost netbook computers and specialized software to fifth and sixth grade students in four schools in Southern California. The PIs collect baseline and early implementation data to determine effects of the intervention on students' academic achievement in science, academic writing in science, and interest in further STEM study.

Project Email: 
Award Number: 
1053767
Funding Period: 
Fri, 10/01/2010 to Fri, 09/30/2011
Full Description: 

This is a RAPID award to investigators at the University of California, Irvine, to examine the first-year implementation of a program that will provide low-cost netbook computers and specialized software to fifth and sixth grade students in four schools in Southern California. The PIs collect baseline and early implementation data to determine effects if the intervention on students' academic achievement in science, academic writing in science, and interest in further STEM study. They also examine the extent to which participation in the program improves student access to, use of, and self-perceived proficiency with technology and how these attributes are mediated by socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and English learner status. Additionally, they examine the effect of the program on teachers' knowledge of and use of technology for instruction.

Four schools from the same school district with similar demographics serve as comparison schools in the study. Additionally, all fifth and sixth grade teachers participate in the study with four program teachers (two at fifth grade and two at sixth grade) participating more extensively as focus teachers. Both qualitative and quantitative methods are used to examine the effects of the program. 

The products include analysis of extensive data on implementation, learning and attitudes. A total of 531 students are involved in the study as well as their teachers. The findings are likely to guide subsequent implementation and research on full implementation within the targeted schools.

Supports for Science and Mathematics Learning in Pre-Kindergarten Dual Language Learners: Designing a Professional Development System

SciMath-DLL is an innovative preschool professional development (PD) model that integrates supports for DLLs with high quality science and mathematics instructional offerings. It engages teachers with workshops, classroom-based coaching, and professional learning communities.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1726082
Funding Period: 
Sun, 08/15/2010 to Sat, 06/30/2018
Project Evaluator: 
Open Minds LLC
Full Description: 

The 4-year project, Supports for Science and Mathematics Learning in Pre-Kindergarten Dual Language Learners: Designing and Expanding a Professional Development System (SciMath-DLL), will address a number of educational challenges. Global society requires citizens and a workforce that are literate in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), but many U.S. students remain ill prepared in these areas. At the same time, the children who fill U.S. classrooms increasingly speak a non-English home language, with the highest concentration in the early grades. Many young children are also at risk for lack of school readiness in language, literacy, mathematics, and science due to family background factors. Educational efforts to offset early risk factors can be successful, with clear links between high quality early learning experiences and later academic outcomes. SciMath-DLL will help teachers provide effective mathematics and science learning experiences for their students. Early educational support is critical to assure that all students, regardless of socioeconomic or linguistic background, learn the STEM content required to become science and mathematics literate. Converging lines of research suggest that participation in sustained mathematics and science learning activities could enhance the school readiness of preschool dual language learners. Positive effects of combining science inquiry with supports for English-language learning have been identified for older students. For preschoolers, sustained science and math learning opportunities enhance language and pre-literacy skills for children learning one language. Mathematics skills and science knowledge also predict later mathematics, science, and reading achievement. What has not been studied is the extent to which rich science and mathematics experiences in preschool lead to better mathematics and science readiness and improved language skills for preschool DLLs. Because the preschool teaching force is not prepared to support STEM learning or to provide effective supports for DLLs, professional development to improve knowledge and practice in these areas is required before children's learning outcomes can be improved.

SciMath-DLL is an innovative preschool professional development (PD) model that integrates supports for DLLs with high quality science and mathematics instructional offerings. It engages teachers with workshops, classroom-based coaching, and professional learning communities. Development and research activities incorporate cycles of design-expert review-enactment- analysis-redesign; collaboration between researcher-educator teams at all project stages; use of multiple kinds of data and data sources to establish claims; and more traditional, experimental methodologies. Based on initial evidence of promise, the SciMath-DLL project will expand PD offerings to include web-based materials, making the PD more flexible for use in a range of educational settings and training circumstances. An efficacy study will be completed to examine the potential of the SciMath-DLL resources, model, and tools to generate positive effects on teacher attitudes, knowledge, and practice for early mathematics and science and on children's readiness in these domains in settings that serve children learning two languages. By creating a suite of tools that can be used under differing educational circumstances to improve professional knowledge, skill, and practice around STEM, the project increases the number of teachers who are prepared to support children as STEM learners and, thus, the number of children who can be supported as STEM learners.

This project was previously funded under award #1019576.

Project AIM: All Included in Mathematics

This project will adapt and study successful discourse strategies used during language arts instruction to help teachers promote mathematically-rich classroom discourse. Of special interest is the use of models to promote mathematics communication that includes English language learners (ELL) in mathematics discourse.The project will result in a full 40-hour professional development module to support mathematics discourse for Grade 2 teachers, with an emphasis on place value, multidigit addition and subtraction, and linear measurement.

Award Number: 
1020177
Funding Period: 
Sun, 08/01/2010 to Fri, 07/31/2015
Project Evaluator: 
Judy Storeygard, TERC
Full Description: 

Developers and researchers at North Carolina State University and Horizon Research, Inc. are adapting and studying successful discourse strategies used during language arts instruction to help teachers promote mathematically-rich classroom discourse. Of special interest to the project is the use of models to promote mathematics communication that includes English language learners (ELL) in mathematics discourse.

The project is conceived as a design experiment that includes successive instructional engineering cycles in which the R&D team designs professional learning tasks, implements the tasks with teachers, and revises the tasks and their sequencing to better support the desired learning outcomes. The members of the project team then examine the effects of the PD on teachers' instruction and the possibilities for scaling up the materials across PD facilitators, grade levels, and curriculum materials. The overarching research questions guiding the research and development effort proposed in this project are: How do generalist elementary teachers learn to promote high quality mathematics discourse that includes all students in their classrooms and engages those students in meaningful mathematics learning opportunities? How do we scale up an intervention designed to support elementary teacher learning of ways to promote high quality mathematics discourse in their classrooms?

The project will result in a full 40-hour professional development module to support mathematics discourse for Grade 2 teachers, with an emphasis on place value, multidigit addition and subtraction, and linear measurement. The main professional learning tasks of the program will have been piloted and studied in a series of sessions with mathematics coaches and teachers.

Language-Rich Inquiry Science with English Language Learners (LISELL)

This exploratory study develops and pilot-tests a model for improving science teaching and learning with middle school ELLs. Study goals include: (1) clarifying pedagogical constructs of language-rich science inquiry and the academic language of science and their relationships across the learning contexts of middle school science classrooms, teacher professional development and family science workshops, (2) developing and refining instruments to study these constructs in context, and (3) conducting pilot tests of the model and instruments.

Award Number: 
1019236
Funding Period: 
Sun, 08/15/2010 to Wed, 07/31/2013
Full Description: 

This exploratory study develops, pilot-tests, and refines a model for improving middle school English Language Learners' (ELLs) science learning. The model incorporates two pedagogical constructs (language-rich science inquiry and academic language development); and three learning settings (teacher professional development workshops, middle school science classrooms, and parent-student-teacher science workshops). The specific objectives of the study are: (1) to clarify the two pedagogical constructs and their relationships across the three learning contexts, (2) to develop and refine instruments that will be useful for the study of these constructs in these learning contexts, and (3) to conduct pilot tests of the model and instruments.

The study's development phase consists of the production, adaptation, and pilot testing of instructional strategies for teachers and learning materials for students. Instructional strategies for teachers are centered on three key inquiry practices: (a) coordinating theory and evidence, (b) controlling variables, and (c) cause and effect reasoning across 6th grade earth science, 7th grade life science, and 8th grade physical science. Learning materials for students consist of lessons in a workbook with units highlighting the study of academic language. Also, this phase of the study includes the development of resources to support parents' participation and measurement instruments to gather data during the research phase of the study.

The research phase of the study consists of pilot testing of the model. Two research questions guide the study: (1 What is the value for ELL students, their teachers and their parents of an instructional model that highlights language-rich science inquiry practices and academic language development strategies?; and (2)What is the value for ELL students, their teachers and their parents of an instructional model that is enacted in the contexts of middle school science classrooms, student-parent-teacher science workshops, and teacher professional development workshops? Assuming a quasi-experimental, pretest-posttest design, a power analysis defined a sample size of 1,000 middle school students (800 for the treatment group, and 200 for the control group) in 40 classrooms of three middle schools in the state of Georgia. A total of 12 teachers (8 science teachers and 2 English for Students of Other Languages teachers) were selected using a targeted strategy; and 40 randomly selected parents constitute the remaining population sample. The intervention consists of the use of teacher instructional strategies focused on exploring and elaborating cause-effect relationships, differentiating between evidence and theory, and identifying and controlling variables; students' use of instructional materials on academic language; and exploration of parents' science funds of knowledge. Data gathering strategies employ five instruments: (a) a teacher-focus-group interview protocol, (b) a teacher observation protocol, (c) a parent-student interview protocol, (d) a student academic language writing test, and (e) a student-constructed-response science inquiry test. Data interpretation strategies include qualitative analysis using narrative and semantic structure analysis and statistical analyses. An advisory board and an evaluator conduct the evaluation component of the study, inclusive of formative and summative aspects.

The outcome of this study is a research-informed and field-tested science instructional model focused on the improved learning of ELLs and a set of valid and reliable measuring instruments.

Expanding PhET Interactive Science Simulations to Grades 4-8: A Research-Based Approach

Colorado’s PhET project and Stanford’s AAALab will develop and study learning from interactive simulations designed for middle school science classrooms. Products will include 35 interactive sims with related support materials freely available from the PhET website; new technologies to collect real-time data on student use of sims; and guidelines for the development and use of sims for this age population. The team will also publish research on how students learn from sims.

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1020362
Funding Period: 
Wed, 09/01/2010 to Sat, 08/31/2013
Project Evaluator: 
Stephanie Chasteen
Full Description: 

In this DRK12 project, the PhET Interactive Simulations group at the University of Colorado and the AAALab at Stanford University are working together to produce and study learning from interactive simulations designed for middle school science classrooms. We are developing a suite of 35 high-quality, interactive simulations covering physical science topics. These simulations include innovative technologies that provide teachers with real-time, formative feedback on how their students are using the simulations.  The research investigates how various characteristics of the simulation design influence student engagement and learning, and how this response varies across grade-level and diverse populations. The research also includes an investigation of different ways of using simulations in class, and how these approaches affect student preparation for future learning when they are no longer using a given simulation.

      The original PhET simulations were designed for college use, but overtime, they have migrated to lower grades.  The current suite of free research-based, interactive PhET science simulations are used over 10 million times per year.  To optimize their utility for middle school science, we are conducting interviews with diverse 4-8th graders using 25 existing PhET simulations to help identify successful design alternatives where needed, and to formulate generalized design guidelines. In parallel, pull-out and classroom-based studies are investigating a variety of lesson plans to identify the most promising approach. These studies include controlled comparisons that collect both qualitative and quantitative data.

      On the basis of our emerging design principles, we are developing 10 new simulations in consultation with teachers, who are helping to identify high need areas for simulations. These new simulations also include a back-end data collection capability that can collect, aggregate, and display student patterns of simulation use for teachers and researchers. The design of the data collection and presentation formats depends on an iterative process done in collaboration with teachers to identify the most useful information and display formats. A final evaluation compares student learning with and without this back-end formative assessment technology.   

This project is working to transform the way science is taught and learned in Grades 4-8 so that it is more effective at promoting scientific thinking and content learning, while also being engaging to diverse populations. The project is expected to impact many, many thousands of teachers and students through its production of a suite of 35 free, interactive science simulations optimized for Grades 4-8 along with “activity templates”, guidance, and real time feedback to teachers to support pedagogically effective integration into classrooms. Finally, the intellectual merit of the project is its significant contributions to understanding when, how, and why interactive simulations can be effective learning and research tools.

CAREER: Supporting Middle School Students' Construction of Evidence-Based Arguments

Doing science requires that students learn to create evidence-based arguments (EBAs), defined as claims connected to supporting evidence via premises. In this CAREER project, I investigate how argumentation ability can be enhanced among middle school students. The project entails theoretical work, instructional design, and empirical work, and involves 3 middle schools in northern Utah and southern Idaho.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0953046
Funding Period: 
Sun, 08/15/2010 to Fri, 07/31/2015
Project Evaluator: 
David Williams
Full Description: 

Doing science requires that students learn to create evidence-based arguments (EBAs), defined as claims connected to supporting evidence via premises. The question chosen for study by a new researcher at Utah State University is: How can argumentation ability be enhanced among middle school students? This study involves 325 middle school students in 12 class sections from 3 school districts in Utah and Idaho. First, students in middle school science classrooms will be introduced to problem-based learning (PBL) units that allow them to investigate ill-structured science problems. These activities provide students with something about which to argue: something that they have explored personally and with which they have grappled. Next, they will construct arguments using a powerful computer technology, the Connection Log, developed by the PI. The Connection Log provides a scaffold for building arguments, allowing each student to write about his/her reasoning and compare it to arguments built by peers. The study investigates how the Connection Log improves the quality of students' arguments. It also explores whether students are able to transfer what they have learned to new situations that call for argumentation.

This study is set in 6th and 7th grade science classrooms with students of diverse SES, ethnicity, and achievement levels. The Connection Log software supports middle school students with written prompts on a computer screen that take students through the construction of an argument. The system allows students to share their arguments with other members of their PBL group. The first generation version of the Connection Log asks students to:

1. define the problem, or state the problem in their own words

2. determine needed information, or decide on evidence they need to find to solve the problem

3. find and organize needed information

4. develop a claim, or make an assertion stating a possible problem solution

5. link evidence to claim, linking specific, relevant data to assertions

The model will be optimized through a process of design-based research. The study uses a mixed methods research design employing argument evaluation tests, video, interviews, database information, debate ratings, and a mental models measure, to evaluate student progress.

This study is important because research has shown that students do not automatically come to school prepared to create evidence-based arguments. Middle school students face three major challenges in argumentation: adequately representing the central problem of the unit; determining and obtaining the most relevant evidence; and synthesizing gathered information to construct a sound argument. Argumentation ability is crucial to STEM performance and to access to STEM careers. Without the ability to formulate arguments based upon evidence, middle school students are likely to be left out of the STEM pipeline, avoid STEM careers, and have less ability to critically evaluate and understand scientific findings as citizens. By testing and refining the Connection Log, the project has the potential for scaling up for use in science classrooms (and beyond) throughout the United States.

CAREER: A Study of Strategies and Social Processes That Facilitate the Participation of Latino English Language Learners in Elementary Mathematics Classroom Communities

The project aims to: (1) study resources and strategies for teachers that will facilitate participation of 3rd grade Latino English Language Learners (ELLs) in the mathematics classrooms; (2) develop related teacher professional development (PD) materials; and (3) integrate research and teaching activities. The basic research question is: How can 3rd grade teachers facilitate better mathematics instruction for ELLs?

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0844556
Funding Period: 
Wed, 07/15/2009 to Mon, 06/30/2014
Full Description: 

The project aims to: (1) study resources and strategies for teachers that will facilitate participation of 3rd grade Latino English Language Learners (ELLs) in the mathematics classrooms; (2) develop related teacher professional development (PD) materials; and (3) integrate research and teaching activities. The basic research question is: How can 3rd grade teachers facilitate better mathematics instruction for ELLs? The PI will conduct a longitudinal study with teachers over three years in nine third-grade classrooms involving 20 Latino ELLs in each classroom. Data (district-administered assessments, one-on-one formal interviews, classroom artifacts, brief conversations with children following the videotaped lessons) will be collected from multiple sources including the use of head-mounted cameras to videotape classroom social processes. Also, existing research base and data from the nine classrooms will be used to develop, test, and publish PD materials for pre-service and practicing elementary teachers. The integrated education activities will have a direct impact on the design of University of Missouri Teacher Development Program, Masters Programs, TESOL Certification Program, and Mathematics Education Doctoral Program as well as local schools. The proposed project is qualitative. Teachers will also participate in a three-year professional development on ELL strategies and use classroom activities in the fall semester that are designed to assist 3rd grade Latinos acquire mathematical competence on various aspects of the number sense strand of the mathematics curriculum. All the relevant instruments will be collected and analyzed. Findings from the proposed research and integrated research/education activities will expand the knowledge base in the fields of elementary mathematics education and multilingual education.

The project research and education activities will inform our understanding of effective strategies in mathematics classrooms that will influence learning processes and ultimately student outcomes relevant to Latino ELLs and potentially other groups of underrepresented students. Findings from the project will promote effective teaching and learning of mathematics at the elementary level and will be broadly disseminated to students, teachers, teacher educators, and education researchers throughout the U.S. The PI will create a vehicle (i.e., PD materials) for U.S. elementary teachers to discuss critical issues related to engaging a group of students that have typically been non-participants in mathematics classrooms and potentially facilitate more effective participation for this growing population.

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