2012 Summer ESL Learning Academy

Housed at Scarlett Middle School, the Summer ESL Learning Academy (SESLA) supported 70 rising fourth through ninth graders in strengthening their language, science, and math skills.   This was the first time that elementary students from all of Scarlett’s feeder schools participated in the program, and the first time that Ann Arbor ESL teachers, UM faculty members, and UM graduate students collaboratively planned and taught the literacy and science curriculum.

Student sharing information about his raptor with Mitchell teacher, Aaron Padgen, at the Leslie Science Center.

Student sharing information about his raptor with Mitchell teacher, Aaron Padgen, at the Leslie Science Center.

The literacy components involved reading and writing informational texts as well as developing oral language skills related to advocating for oneself in school.  The science curriculum centered on concepts of animal habitats and biodiversity, with several field trips to the Leslie Science Center (www.lesliesnc.org) as well as a walking exploration of Scarlett Woods (www.a2gov.org).  In math, students benefited from small group instruction to support their attainment of grade level outcomes.

Four Ann Arbor ESL teachers and several UM faculty members and graduate students worked together to plan the literacy and science curriculum for SESLA.  Using biodiversity as a foundation, the integrative curriculum had a strong focus on the rescued raptors at the Leslie Science Center.  Through field trips to Leslie, class readings about raptors, and videos of Leslie docents discussing the raptors and their habitats, students identified a raptor that interested them, and they created an informational brochure as a culminating project.  Writing with purpose was a key idea in the project; students had two opportunities to share what they learned with a broader audience.

The first occurred at family night at Leslie Science Center,where  students discussed their findings with their families, teachers, and Leslie staff members.  Students had an additional opportunity to present their raptors at UM’s Brandon Center (brandoncenter.soe.umich.edu), where School of Education faculty and graduate students listened as students shared their new appreciation for the raptors.

UM intern, Coert Ambrosino, working with a student during the Summer ESL Learning Academy.

UM intern, Coert Ambrosino, working with a student during the Summer ESL Learning Academy.

The high degree of collaboration that occurred in creating the literacy and science curriculum also carried over into the classroom, as students benefited from the support and instruction of 3 Ann Arbor ESL teachers, 3 UM faculty members, 2 UM graduate students, and 7 UM interns, the latter of whom were working towards their ESL teaching endorsement.

Preliminary findings from pre- and post-assessments indicate that students who consistently attended the SESLA program improved their writing skills and scientific knowledge related to biodiversity.  Students, teachers, and faculty members look forward to learning and working together in next year’s SESLA program!

 

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