STEM and English Learners Continues to be Focus of Feds

by Jennifer Kobrin on August 11, 2011

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I’m back from the Dakotas, where I presented last week at a statewide conference for 21st Century Community Learning Center grantees. After a brief game of chicken with a buffalo standing in the road, I was reminded that rural afterschool programs face many of the same challenges as their urban counterparts (except I guess how to move 1,000 pounds of Bison). It’s really about being able to leverage that spark of curiosity all young people possess into authentic, academic learning opportunities.

Which brings me to this week’s topic—STEM and English learners! According to Mary Anne Zehr at Ed Week, the National Science Foundation has awarded several grants which will help various organizations look at the relationships between English learners and the STEM subjects of Science and Math.

When I heard Rosalinda Barrera, head of the Federal Office of English Language Acquisition speak at the TESOL conference in March, she expressed interest in using the inquiry-based approaches of STEM to provide more effective instruction for English learners. Since then, her office organized a convening which brought together leaders in STEM and English learners in July. Rosalinda Barrera recently wrote about the convening in a blog entry on the Department of Ed’s website.

One of the first round of federal I3 grants was awarded to examine how the inquiry-based approaches that make up the scientific method can be used to expand language proficiency for English learners. You can read about it in a previous entry of this blog.

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