Friday, January 28, 2011

CREATE Understanding

Today I attended a small all-day conference at St. Mike's sponsored by the CREATE grant and presented by Dr. Mary Schleppegrell and Dr. Luciana de Oliveiri from the University of Michigan and Purdue University respectively. First, Project CREATE is a 5-year project jointly administered through the Applied Linguistic Department and Education Department at St. Michael's with the express purpose of preparing "all new teachers graduating from Saint Michael's College to work effectively with the increasing number of English Language Learners (ELLs) in U.S. classrooms". My current research into teaching math to English language learners is a direct result of my participation in this terrific project through a series of mini-grants that have allowed me to work with practicing teachers in local schools.

The topic of the conference was Functional Grammar Strategies to Support English Language Learners (ELLS). It focused on ways of helping ELLs get the most academically from their classroom experiences in their new American schools. Dr. Schleppegrell defines functional grammar as "a way of talking with students about the language in the texts they read. It helps them focus explicitly on an author's language and work with that language to develop comprehension and write more effectively".

I always learn so much at conferences like this because it is really outside my field of expertise. On the other hand, the activities we engaged in during the conference allowed me once again to see things differently; something I always find challenging but incredibly rewarding as I always learn something new or develop my understanding of something by looking at it from a different point of view.

For example, one of the things I learned today was to pick out all the verbs in a paragraph from a piece of science text. This was so illuminating because it made you see the whole process or idea in a sort of skeletal form: a sequence of actions. The work we do through the CREATE Project helps us include in our Education courses information about teaching students who are English Language Learners of which there are many in the Chittenden County area of Vermont.

No comments:

Post a Comment