English Language Learners

Closing the Math Achievement Gap for English Language Learners: Technology Resources for Pre-algebra

The project addresses the relatively poor mathematics achievement of students who are not proficient in English. It includes research on how English language learners in beginning algebra classes solve math word problems with different text characteristics. The results of this research inform the development of technology-based resources to support ELLs’ ability to learn mathematics through instruction in English, including tutorials in math vocabulary, integrated glossaries, and interactive assistance with forming equations from word problem text.

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0903441
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/21/2008 to Sun, 07/31/2011
Project Evaluator: 
RAND Education, Santa Monica CA

Investigating Equitable Discourse Practices in Mathematics Classrooms

This Discovery Research K-12 Conference project brought together 30 key scholars and practitioners in the areas of discourse and equity to synthesize and disseminate research findings concerning the implementation of culturally relevant teaching approaches that promote equitable discourse practices in mathematics classroom. The conference convened in Rochester, NY, in June 2008. Conference outcomes include publications that synthesize and disseminate best practices in relation to equitable discourses and a research agenda that further supports teachers' efforts.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0711138
Funding Period: 
Sun, 07/15/2007 to Sat, 10/31/2009

Collaborative Online Projects for ELL Students (COPELLS)

This project is studying effects of linguistically sensitive science instructional materials by translating, enhancing, and evaluating culturally relevant and linguistically appropriate Collaborative Online Projects (originally written in Spanish) for middle school Spanish-speaking English Language Learners.

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0918832
Funding Period: 
Tue, 09/01/2009 to Sat, 08/31/2013
Project Evaluator: 
Kari Nelsestuen
Full Description: 

Project COPELLS is a research and development project implemented by University of Oregon's Center for Advanced Technology in Education (CATE) and the Instituto Latinamericano de la Communicacion Educativa (ILCE). ILCE is a division of the Department of Education in Mexico that designs relevant collaborative online projects (COPs) for students K through 12.

 

Project COPELLS has selected, translated, and enhanced culturally relevant and linguistically appropriate COPs designed by ILCE to teach science to middle school, Spanish-speaking, English Language Learners. These COPs were aligned to both National Science Education Standards and Oregon secondary science standards by Oregon State Department of Education Science Curriculum educators. In addition, they were enhanced with supportive resources (etext supports) that promote bilingual use of the materials and increase science literacy in both English and Spanish.

 

The Center for Advanced Technology in Education has research-based experience enriching online reading materials with content-specific multimedia supports designed to scaffold text comprehension and content learning for struggling students. Specific etext supports identified as potentially useful for this population include: alternative text, audio, and video definitions of terms, translations, and enhanced illustrations that become available only when clicked to open by the reader.

 

The project's two major goals are to (a) facilitate and improve science content-area learning for Spanish-speaking ELL students and (b) facilitate their acquisition of Academic English while learning science content. Feasibility and usability of the Collaborative Online Projects is being classroom tested. The project is gathering information on the impact of the bilingual online science materials for improving science content-area learning, student attitude toward scientific learning, student and teacher satisfaction, and science academic language proficiency (ALP) of ELL students.

 

Key people:
Dr. Carolyn Knox, Principal Investigator
Dr. Kenneth Doxsee, Co-Principal Investigator
Dr. Fatima Terrazas-Arellanes, Co-Principal Investigador
Dr. Patricia Cabrera Muñoz, ILCE Partner

Ecology Disrupted: Using Museum-based Science and Educational Technology to Link Real World Environmental Issues to Basic Ecological Principles

This project uses media such as Science Bulletin Snapshots to engage students with current research and to foster scientific understanding and civic engagement. Through environmental case studies, students learn to develop hypotheses, analyze scientific data, and make conclusions. To address the objectives, the project will create inquiry-based case studies to situate several central ecological principles, as determined by national and state standards, into the context of environmental issues.

Award Number: 
0733269
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2007 to Mon, 08/31/2009
Full Description: 

Our project asks whether media-rich curriculum materials that immerse middle school students in real, current scientific research can improve students' understanding of science content, and their understanding and appreciation of science as a way to learn about the natural world.  We are using Science Bulletins, digital media stories about current science produced by the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York City to develop middle and high school case study units on contemporary issues in ecology for students underserved in their connection to nature. We developed two problem-based modules that use current scientific data to link ecological principles to real-world environmental issues. Each unit is constructed around a question linking the ecological topic with human daily life. One unit asks the question, 'How do snowy and icy roads put the Baltimore area's water supply at risk?' The other asks the question, 'How does being able to drive between Los Angeles and Las Vegas in under five hours put the bighorn sheep at risk?' The students must use source material to develop hypotheses to address these questions. They then analyze real data to test their hypotheses. Finally, they watch and analyze Museum media to connect the questions that they investigated to broader ecological principles and issues. Additionally, students are asked at the beginning and the end of these units to self-assess their understanding of the science content, the nature of scientific inquiry, and their place in the natural world.

Supporting Grade 5-8 Students in Writing Scientific Explanations

This project is writing and researching a book supporting grade 5-8 students in scientific explanations and arguments. The book provides written and video examples from a variety of contexts in terms of content and diversity of students. The book and accompanying facilitator materials also provide different teacher instructional strategies for supporting students. The research focuses on how the book and accompanying professional development impact teachers' beliefs, pedagogical content knowledge and classroom practice.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0836099
Funding Period: 
Fri, 08/15/2008 to Sun, 07/31/2011
Full Description: 

 This SGER grant proposes the development of a book and a research study to investigate the impact of that book and accompanying professional development on teachers’ beliefs and classroom practices to support grade 5-8 students in writing scientific explanations.  The project will expand the current body of research around teachers’ beliefs and professional development for scientific explanation and argumentation as well as provide a valuable resource that includes examples of student writing and video cases from diverse learners that can be used by science educators and teachers across the country.

 

Intellectual Merit

The recent National Research Council publication Taking Science to School: Learning and Teaching Science in Grades k-8 (Duschl, Schweingruber & Shouse, 2006) offers a new vision for proficiency in science, which includes a focus that students be able to “Generate and evaluate scientific evidence and explanation” (p.2).  Although this focus on evidence based scientific explanations is prevalent in the current research literature, there are few concrete examples of what this scientific inquiry practice looks like when it is successfully supported in classrooms. We propose to develop a teacher book and accompanying professional development facilitator materials that will help transform how science is being taught in this country.  The book will provide concrete examples in both student written work and video of the current theoretical ideas being advocated in the science education field. By providing this image, the knowledge in the field will be advanced by transforming a theoretical idea and illustrating what it looks like in actual classroom practice that can be used by teachers as well as in teacher preparation and professional development.  The examples will include a variety of different contexts in terms of different content areas, grades 5-8, and students with a variety of backgrounds including diverse students from urban schools.  Furthermore, we propose to research the impact of the book and accompanying professional development on teachers’ beliefs and classroom practice around scientific explanation.  The majority of recent work in the field of scientific explanation and argumentation has focused on curriculum materials, technology tools, and classroom practice. There is currently little research around teacher education and professional development to support teachers in incorporating scientific explanation and argumentation in their classrooms (Zohar, 2008). Consequently, the results from this study will be essential to inform the field about teachers’ beliefs around scientific explanation, how professional development can change those beliefs, and the subsequent impact on teachers’ classroom practices.

 

Broader Impacts

The use of the book by teachers, professional development leaders and teacher educators will have a significant impact on middle school students’ learning throughout the country.  Through the distribution and use of the book, teachers will have access to resources that will help them incorporate scientific explanations in their own classroom practice.  As our previous research has shown (McNeill & Krajcik, 2007; McNeill & Krajcik, 2008a; McNeill, Lizotte, Krajcik & Marx, 2006), using our framework and instructional strategies for scientific explanation can improve diverse students’ ability to write scientific explanations as well as learn key science concepts.  A large percentage of our research has been conducted with urban students including minority students and students from low income families who have not traditionally succeeded in science. Focusing on science as a discourse with distinct language forms and ways of knowing, such as analyzing data and communicating scientific explanations can help language-minority students learn to think and talk scientifically (Rosebery, et al., 1992).  This book will allow the strategies we have found to be successful with diverse students to reach a much larger audience allowing more middle school students to succeed in science. Providing teachers with strategies and examples of how those strategies have been successfully used in real classrooms will help them implement similar practices in their own classrooms and will help more students successfully write evidence based scientific explanations.  The research study around the impact of the book and accompanying professional development will reach twenty-five teachers and their students in the Boston Public School schools which serve primarily low-income (71% eligible to receive free or reduced lunch) inner city students from minority backgrounds.  The publication of the book with Pearson Allyn & Bacon will have the potential of reaching numerous more teachers and their students across the country.

National Forum for Action on the Report of the National Math Panel

The Conference Board for the Mathematical Sciences (CBMS) is collaborating with the U.S. Department of Education to host a forum in Washington, DC designed to launch action for change in mathematics education based on the recommendations of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel. This forum will focus specifically on the following four areas: teachers and teacher education, learning processes, instructional material, and standards of evidence—research policies and mechanisms.

Award Number: 
0848681
Funding Period: 
Mon, 09/15/2008 to Tue, 08/31/2010

Fossil Finders: Using Fossils to Teach About Evolution, Inquiry and Nature of Science

This project engages children in classrooms across the country in an authentic investigation of Devonian fossils. Goals include supporting children in the use of evidence in constructing explanations of natural phenomena, and motivating culturally and linguistically diverse groups of children to engage in learning science. Deliverables include development and testing of an interactive website where children learn how to identify the fossils they find and add their own data to an emerging database.

Award Number: 
1249157
Funding Period: 
Tue, 01/01/2008 to Mon, 12/31/2012
Project Evaluator: 
Ohio Research and Evaluation Center

Transition to Algebra: A Habits of Mind Approach

This research and development project provides resources for ninth-grade mathematics students and teachers by developing, piloting, and field-testing intervention modules designed as supplementary materials for Algebra 1 classes (e.g., double-period algebra). Rather than developing isolated skills and reviewing particular topics, these materials aim to foster the development of mathematical habits of mind—in particular, the algebraic habit of abstracting from calculations, a key unifying idea in the transition from arithmetic to algebra.

Project Email: 
Award Number: 
0917958
Funding Period: 
Tue, 09/01/2009 to Sat, 08/31/2013
Project Evaluator: 
Jim Hammerman, TERC
Full Description: 

Transition to Algebra, A Habits of Mind Approach, is aimed at very quickly giving students the mathematical knowledge, skill, and confidence to succeed in algebra, and showing them that they can be good at things they believed they couldn't do. The students were all smart and intrepid when they were six. Even now, they are better and more persevering than we are about figuring out their smartphones and video games. Transition to Algebra aims to tap that smart, intrepid, persevering spirit of puzzling things out and making sense of them by presenting mathematics based in common sense, not arbitrary rules.

This project is developing a collection of modules introducing key ideas of algebra in ways that complement the core curriculum when a school is offering double period algebra. The key habit of mind being developed is abstracting from calculation. Modules deal with the transition from arithmetic to algebra, rational numbers, expressions/equations/word problems, graphs and equations, geometry of algebra, and proportional reasoning. The target population is students in urban high poverty schools with a significant ELL sector.

Our hypothesis is that instructional materials focused on developing conceptual understanding and mathematical habits of mind can complement traditional skill-focused algebra instruction in ways that are engaging to students. Furthermore, they argue that using materials with such meta-cognitive aims will actually strengthen the learning of core algebraic concepts and skills.

The supplementary algebra modules are being developed by a form of design research. Concurrent with development and field test of the student and teacher materials, the investigators are addressing four research questions. The first two questions are focused on the effects of the intervention in developing student habits of mind and in improving their competence and confidence in algebra. The other two address the feasibility of implementing the new approach to double-period algebra in a variety of school settings. A small-scale quasi-experimental field test is being used to give preliminary estimates of the effectiveness of the instructional materials and the implementation guidelines. The core purpose of these research activities is to inform development and refinement of the student and teacher instructional materials.

Products of this development effort will be a valuable resource to schools as they devise strategies for helping all students master the essentials of elementary algebra.

Fostering Mathematics Success in English Language Learners

This project is an efficacy study of the Fostering Geometrical Thinking Toolkit (FGTT) previously developed with NSF support. FGTT is a 40-hour professional development intervention focusing on properties of geometric figures, geometric transformations, and measurement of length, area, and volume. The study addresses four research questions, three examining participating teachers and one examining the impact of teachers' professional development on ELL students.

Award Number: 
0821950
Funding Period: 
Fri, 08/15/2008 to Sun, 07/31/2011
Full Description: 

Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC), and Horizon Research, Inc., are conducting the DR-K12 research project, Fostering Mathematics Success of English Language Learners (ELLs): An Efficacy Study of Teacher Professional Development (FMSELL), a study of the effects of the Fostering Geometric Thinking

Toolkit professional development materials (FGTT) for teachers of ELLs. It will address four research questions:

1.     Does participation in FGTT increase teachers’ geometric content knowledge?

2.     How does teachers’ participation affect attention to students’ thinking and mathematical communication?

3.     How does participation affect instructional practices?

4.     What impact on ELLs’ problem-solving strategies is evident when teachers participate in FGTT?

FGTT is a 40-hour professional development intervention focusing on properties of geometric figures, geometric transformations, and measurement of length, area, and volume. The project tests the hypothesis that geometric problem solving invites diagramming, drawing, use of colloquial language, and gesturing to complement mathematical communication and affords teachers opportunities to support ELL learning. The research design uses a randomized block design with 25 pairs of professional development facilitators matched according to their districts’ demographic information.

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