Every summer, Alabaster City Schools, Alabama, offers ESL Camp - ten days of academically engaging activities for English language learners (ELLs) that enhance their English language development in literacy, science and math. Last week, a few of us at Ellevation were fortunate enough to visit and get a first-hand glimpse at some of the project-based learning and personalized instruction taking place in this district.
As we walked the halls from classroom to classroom, it became clear that this is a school district that gets it: All teachers should be teachers of language. By working to make rigorous content comprehensible, and providing rich reading, writing, and oral language opportunities that authentically engage and motivate students, this summer program is making the most of Instructional Strategies and countering the worst effects of “summer loss” - a particular challenge for ELLs. It was an inspiring sight.
Behind every great ELL program is a leader with a passion for learning, a mindset for innovation and the gumption to do whatever it takes to help students thrive. In Alabaster, that leader and champion for English learners is Karen Hill. As the ESL Specialist, Karen understands the importance of building capacity of classroom teachers to serve ELLs and executes a vision of instructional transformation.
“Our English learners are our future,” says Karen. “We have to work together to make sure all students, especially our ELs, are successful, and as educators that’s our responsibility.”
Visiting schools and working with dedicated educators is the greatest highlight of working at Ellevation. Getting out of the office and into classrooms provides a unique opportunity to talk with educators and hear about the challenges they’re facing, which ultimately is the driving force behind what we do.
Thank you, Alabaster City Schools, for inviting us into your program, and for leading by example with the great work you do each and every day.
Hosting a similar summer program? Grab Ellevation's Summer Scavenger Hunt and give your students, both ELL and native English speakers, a project that keeps their minds active all summer long.