Bridging academic content for ESL
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Through a $1.87 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, three University of Iowa College of Education faculty plan to improve the quality of education for K-12 English Language Learners (ELL) in Iowa’s schools.
Leslie Schrier, UI associate professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning, Lia Plakans, UI assistant professor in the Secondary Education Program, and Pamela Wesely, UI assistant professor in the Foreign Language and English as a Second Language (ESL) Education Program, will serve as co-project directors.
The grant, “EL Bridge: Bridging Academic Content and English-language Learning to prepare Iowa Teachers for English Learners,” will fund pre-service teacher preparation as well as professional development for practicing teachers to help them integrate ESL best practices across subject areas and especially in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields and special education.
“The rationale for this project is to create sustainable ‘bridges’ for practitioners between research and methodology in mathematics, science, and special education with research and methodology in ELL instruction,” Schrier says.
The project is a collaboration between the UI College of Education and the English Language Learners Office in the Iowa Department of Education and its affiliated agencies. In addition to Schrier, Plakans, and Wesely, College of Education experts in science, math, and special education will also collaborate.
“The combination of expertise, commitment, and resources will have a significant impact on English-language learners’ education,” Plakans says.
Through the grant, selected pre-service teachers will earn K-12 ESL licensure while in-service teachers will participate in intensive professional-development webinars and web-based modules.
By the end of the five-year project, 48 pre-service teacher candidates and 140 in-service teachers will be trained to work in diverse environments and provide leadership in their respective school districts.