It provides a--the--you know, theory provides a lens through which to look at a--a--a number of activities and also, um, a basis for making predictions and, um, a way of explaining some of the things that happen, so it gives some kind of regularity and consistency into what you’re thinking. Um, and I think the big role for me, of research and theory, is looking for patterns and trying to find consistent patterns. Um, in all the work that I do I really try to do what is useful, that can inform, practice and--and so very often I bring a theory that’s based on human development or what do we know about cognitive processes and I bring that as a lens to a classroom. And then we publish it with a teacher who is bringing a theory of practice, ah, we put that together. And it--I--I think that my theory has been informed as much by folks like Piagi (ph) and Bugaski (ph), um, as by teachers that I’ve worked with because a kind of theory we develop in universities, um, tends to be an ivory tower sort of theory and very often that doesn’t work in real classrooms. And it’s not just in education or the circle of some sciences that it doesn’t work and if you look at things like, um, engineering or, um, you know hydraulic engineering, in particular, why people have gone out and built dams and the Aslon (ph) and in southeast Australia and the dams have been a huge disaster because when the ecology played it it didn’t work quite out as it predicted it in the .... or in--in the universe in the theory so so to me the--the kind of theory that--that we develop that--that comes out of , um, long range studies and builds on people from Jewy (ph) to Piage to Balaski, Bruna all of those people gives us one lens and then the practitioner, or the world of the classroom gives us another lens. And if we put those things together then we can start developing something which--which is robust which--which works in the real world of schools.
Well, in the work that we do with teachers, um, the clarity of work we--we talk about it as looking inside classrooms and focusing in on what is happening with students. And taking that step back to look at a whole pattern of events, um, and figuring out what works and what doesn’t work. And it’s just kind of stepping back. So often teachers, um, appoint this position of thinking that if something doesn’t work, that the strategy doesn’t work in the classroom or with an individual student they failed. And that’s not the case. Classrooms are very, very complex places and so when looking back we want to look--think about a strategy that we used. Think about an approach, an experiment we--we did in science or a model we used or how we presented it or talked about it and see how the students respond to that. Where they take that, what do they do with it and then if works, that’s terrific. You know one can figure out well, why did this work? Why did this model or this example work? And--and move forward with it. But it’s equally important to figure out what isn’t working. What--what confused the students? What led them, um, up a--up--up--up the wrong path or, uh, uh, confused them even more? And so it’s those kinds of patterns of looking at the strategy and then how the students respond to that strategy in figuring out what is happening. In the work we do with science, one of the things we want teachers to understand is how you can use science to contextualize language. And when I say contextualize, I mean that the language is not being used in an abstract way. You’re actually talking about something you’re looking at, you’re touching, you’re watching the process as it happens, you’re drawing it, you’re describing it. And so to look in a classroom at learning and see--look at the videotapes of their own practice or to be able to look at videotapes of practice and say ‘Okay, what is happening? Is the language being related to something real that the student can see or understand? Or is the language being used in a very abstract way that the student is not understanding and what are the consequences of those?’
Well, I--I talk about the theory that we have used in terms of science and language. We’ve taken theory both from the teaching and learning of science and theory from research and teaching English as a second language and we brought those things together. And the theory that we are building on in science is a constructivist theory a constructivist approach that says that students learn and construct understandings through activity, through their own actions and that they put together knowledge from multiple sources. We all do that. This is not just children. At every level, teachers, researchers, we’re all trying to make sense of the world. We’re--we’re big sense making machines and we use every little bit of information or experience that we have to try and make sense of--of that. And so if you’re teaching science, what you want to do is help students construct understandings. That doesn’t mean reinvent the wheel or reinvent all theory, but to go through the process, to do an experiment, to do an observation, to see how things work for themselves. And to talk about it because a--an aspect of constructivism that I think is not well articulated is the role of medicognition. People often think of constructivist approach as--as hands-on, you have to do something, you have to touch something. And that’s important, but you’ve also got to think about it and talk about it and a big piece of constructive understanding is being able to represent that knowledge in some kind of verbal or written form. So, language is a very important part of constructing understandings. So when we then draw on the theory from second language learning, bilingual education, what we see is that second language learners, English language learners, they learn language best when it’s contextualized, when it relates to something real. And so in the case of inquiry science you have this perfect marriage between the two things because in order to really understand the science, the doing, students need to talk about it and by talking about it they’re relating language to real life activities so they’re also in a very, um, good place for developing language. So the two things develop simultaneously, both language and science understanding. And so that’s the theory, that’s the research that we’ve drawn upon. So when you take that to a classroom and you work with teachers, then the important thing, in terms of drawing from expertise, is once teachers understand that particular theoretical approach, what does that look like in a classroom? What--let’s look at the science lesson and let’s look at the talk that’s happening about it. Let’s look at the students talking to each other. Um, let’s look at the teachers and the students having a discourse. Um, let’s look at how the language is related to an activity, how they’re learning language. So, what the teacher does to the theory is to really elaborate it and ground it and that is, you know, one of the--the big problems that we have with university theory is that often it isn’t elaborated and grounded in that way that makes it useful. And if you look at the national standards, you know, they have been informed by theory, they have been informed very much by cognitive and constructivist and social constructivist theory. But it’s not articulated in explicit ways so, you know, how does this activity--what does it look like in a classroom? And it--it’s important to me what--I have this little mantra that I use in my classes where I say to--to, um, to students or teachers or policy makers, um, I don’t want to hear anybody talking about what they think teachers should do or setting standards for what they should do or benchmarks of what they should do, unless they can tell me what that looks like in a classroom and show me a teacher who is doing it or do it themselves.
Most of the language that’s used in school, um, particularly as you go higher up the grade levels into high school and into university is decontextualized, it’s abstract. And I think, um, at a certain level, um, people, um, do look ...... from text. I think of myself and my own learning and I can, because I have so much experience and expertise with working with text, I can dive into a whole new area of research and just by, you know, omnivorously reading in that area, I can start to put together patterns and begin to understand it. But I think that’s definitely a learned skill. I don’t think that that is something that you automatically acquire and I think of other areas, ah, where I’m not so expert so I think of, um, the use of technology or anything that involves a--a physical, technical skill, I cannot learn that through reading about it. A--an awful lot of people, you know, can’t read by reading those computer software manuals so I have to actually have a little simple list and I have to do it repetitively over and over again and through doing it I learn how to do it. So even someone like me who is very expert at using text and decontexualizing language in certain domains cannot learn through it. So I think that that’s an important issue, that the learning with text, um, isn’t necessarily universal and even people like myself who are very expert and have a lot of years, 20, 30 years of experience doing this, um, have a hard time in certain areas. So the issue of contextualized and decontexualized text is in our language in an area that’s relatively new to you, where you don’t have a lot of expertise, you need some assistance, you need some cues, you need some arrows pointing in the right direction and you need some cartoons and some little, you know, bullets that you need more elaboration, more explanation to understand what’s going on. And, um, you know, as you think of students, ah, moving up the grade levels, they’re being asked to, um, learn increasingly more complicated concepts and, um, a lot of them, I think one of the most interesting things about the Timms (ph) study is when they talk about the American curriculum being, you know, a mile light, and, oops, and an inch deep.
A student’s, um, goal, um, further through the grade levels, they’re learning increasingly complex concepts and a lot of them. Um, one of the things that struck me most about the Timms study was that they talked about the American curriculum being a mile wide and an inch deep and, um, that is true so we’re expecting students to acquire a lot of concepts very quickly and I know, um, many teachers feel the tyranny of the curriculum because they feel as if they don’t, um, teach students, only factoids. They’re disadvantaging them, they’re not building, um, at the next level. But with--the issue about that is that kids often acquire, or students often acquire a vocabulary, um, or a set of routines or a--a set of schedules, um, that they don’t know, they don’t really understand what those mean. And I think the Timms studies really laid that out in that in countries where achievement is higher in mathematics and science students spend a lot more time on a lot fewer context and a lot--a lot more time on a lot fewer concepts. And what they do when they’re working with those concepts is they look at them from multiple ways. They use multiple representations, models, hands-on activities, discourse. And so when I’m thinking through these issues of--of contexualiztion, contextualization takes time and very often the way our curriculum is set up is teachers don’t have the time to engage students in multiple activities and multiple representations and lots of talk about the activity. And yet we see from--from so many studies that that is what helps students understand. So it’s those activities, that talk, that elaborates the concept and allows students to engage with it on a deeper level.
I think teachers are in a very difficult spot, um, in that they have so many people deciding what it is they should be teaching and how they should be teaching it. And yet the people who are making those decisions, um, don’t give, um, a very good road map or a very good instruction guide of how that contact, I mean, uh, that contentin of activities need to be put into place. And--and so teachers, um, are serving multiple masters, um, in that sense. And trying to think about how a teacher can navigate through that, um, is difficult because a teacher can make choices in what they teach and how they teach it, um, but very often in their evaluation systems, if their principal comes in and doesn’t like what it is they’re teaching or how they’re teaching it or if at the end of the school year the test results, um, aren’t, uh, what the parents and--and the principal and the school district administrators hoped, then it’s the teacher who’s held accountable. I--I think that teachers have to make decisions where I would say is my advice to them and in what we do when we work on curriculum with teachers is to identify what are the most important or core fundamental concepts that need to be worked with that year and then focus on them in real depth and in multiple ways and by linking things together, so, for example, in the districts I work with in central California, a--a major imperative for those districts is the teaching of English as a second language because 60 percent of the students come from homes where English is not the first language and so the district must focus on that. As a consequence, um, the districts that we worked with, and we’re not teaching science at the elementary school level, science was seen as a--an add-on, a supplemental thing, not as a fundamental, important concept, so one of the ways that we, working with teachers who wanted to teach science, um, and principals who wanted to have science taught in their schools, was we integrated science and language and literacy in a thematic way so that there was some of those concepts built upon each other. So in terms of trying to cover what needed to be covered in English language development, you know, the guidelines, uh, what needed to be covered in the literacy guidelines and they’re also to include science into that mix which hadn’t been taught before we did this thematic integration and so, um...
(Ms. Stoddart asks for a short break)
Because it--it’s difficult where--you know, you think about this and you--and you think about the pressures that are on teachers and when you’re asking them to make courageous decisions and make choices and then be accountable for those decisions with very little support and I sort of feel very uncomfortable sitting in a university (laughs) um, recommending approaches to teachers. I--I--I suppose my--um, I feel most comfortable when we’re out in the classrooms and--and--and we have the support of the principal and we’re making these decisions together and we’re documenting them to prove that they work, um, and we’re not leaving teachers out there on a limb. So the best contacts that I have for trying to work out some of these problems of how you teach the things that really--that kids really need to learn and support teachers is our summer school mall where we, you know, we work in summer school and we have a summer school academy and we bring in about 500 cases, students, and they, um, learn language and science in the morning and then we work with the teachers in the afternoon to analyze the practice. And that’s saying we have the safe context to experiment with different approaches to implementing the curriculum and we document it and we do rigorous student assessment to demonstrate that, um, the students are learning. So in that sense, as university people who are sharing the risk with--with the teachers and we’re giving them the support.
Well, in the work that we do here, um, UC Santa Cruz, much of our focus is on making teaching and learning responsive to the needs of a very diverse student population. Um, the United States is becoming increasingly culturally and linguistically diverse and in many states, uh, Florida, uh, New York, California, being three of them, um, we’re in a situation where there really is no majority population. The majority of the population is now made up of what used to be called minority groups and, um, in California we have students in--in our K-12 classrooms representing over 130 different languages and cultures. And in many classrooms, um, you may have students that speak five, six, up to 12 different languages. So, um, developing a culturally and linguistically sponsive curriculum isn’t just a nice idea, it’s an imperative. We have to develop a curriculum that is responsive to the needs of those students. And unfortunately, um, several of those groups of students, ah, in particular African-American, Latino, um, Native American, ah, Pacific Islander, um, students from those backgrounds are not doing well, um, in our current education system. So, um, if you look at the national assessment of educational progress, what you’re going to see is that students from those groups, their performance can be 20 or 30 points below, um, the schools of, um, Anglo American students. And so we--we’re in a situation where we have students who are not doing well in our system and they are rapidly becoming the majority of the students in our schools. And so we need to figure out, um, how we can make, um, teaching and learning and the curriculum more responsive. And, um, where we come at this is we come at it from a sociocultural, um, approach, I would say, of a Goskian (ph) approach which emphasizes the role of language and cultural tools in developing thought, um, and in the most basic way, um, thought is very much influenced by the structure of language that’s used in the culture by the structure of the discourse and by the kinds of tools and norms that are emphasized in that culture. And when you look, um, in areas like, for example, math and science teaching, um, what you see happening is students are having to negotiate three different cultures. One is the culture of the discipline and each of these disciplines like mathematics and science, um, they have their own tools, they have their own technical language. They have their own worlds of discourse and activity. It is the culture of the discipline. And then you have the culture of the school and the culture of the school is very often based on many of the norms and the kind of, um, mainstream language that’s used in middle class white homes. And then you have the culture of the home and the community. And those three things are coming together in a classroom. So, one of the things that we have been trying to figure out is how to assist students and support them in learning the norms and the tools of both the culture of the school and the culture of the discipline because in many cases they would come into school knowing how to learn that way. And so when we think of our work it’s looking at one of the explicit strategies. So I think that one of the misconceptions about constructivism is that every child is a natural little scientist who, put into a context, will go out and discover all this knowledge for herself or for himself. Yes, they will construct understandings, but they’re not necessarily going to discover the content of physics. And in--in fact they’ll have lots of wonderful ideas about gravity and the laws of motion and the--they make intuitive sense, but they’re not necessarily, um, the same concepts and the same ideas that you have in a formal science curriculum or the way that scientists think about it. So, one of the things that needs to happen as students come into school is they need to be taught language. Um, they need to be taught the language of the classroom and the language of the--of--of the discipline. Um, one thing that’s very interesting is that, um, in many low class homes and in some cultural groups, students are very rarely asked why. They’re very rarely asked what do they think. And so when they come into a classroom, a constructivist classroom, um, and they’re asked why or they’re asked what they think, they have a hard time figuring out how to engage with that. And so it’s understanding and explicitly teaching students how to engage in that type of activity which I think is important and that’s what we’re trying to figure out. Um, and very often, actually when you come down to it, if you think about the importance of contextualizing language, you think of the importance of giving multiple representations. You think of the importance of relating what’s going on in school to the student’s home background. Um, it’s actually very good teaching.
One of the things that we do in our work is we are attempting to relate the kinds of strategies and structures that teachers have put in place in their classrooms and relate them to the--to the kind of learning outcomes that student have. And, um, in our work we look at are students, um, learning the academic content. Are they developing good science concepts? Are they learning language? What kind of language are they learning? Are they learning social language? Are they learning academic language? Are they learning that in English? Are they learning that in Spanish? And so we’ve been, in the work that we’ve done, attempting to look at different classrooms and figure out what is important. What works in totally different areas? What works in terms of the development of conceptual understanding of content academic language? And what works in the development of other aspects like social language? And we’ve found, um, three or four factors that seem to be very important. In terms of the learning of academic content, one of the things that we have found, across many classrooms, that is critical, is the coherence of the teaching that takes place. And when I’m talking about coherence, what I’m talking about is, are the learning--are the concepts made explicit. Are the activities well designed so that this activity actually matches the content that you’re trying to teach? And, um, are connections made to prior learning, to previous lessons and to subsequent lessons so that you can see a clarity and a coherence in what is happening in the classroom that--that the message comes through. Students, um, who in classrooms that, whether it’s very coherent, explicit connections to the content being taught and they learn--they learn content. Um, in many of those cases they also learn academic language. But the key, we find, to developing, um, both academic language and conceptual understanding is the classroom where there is coherence and there is also a great deal of student-centered activity taking place. So, the students are working in groups, they’re doing a lot of hands-on activities with a lot of talking, a lot of discourse going on between the students and between the students and the teachers. And so that coherence and that student centeredness tends to develop a lot of the things we’re looking for, both the understanding of the content, um, the learning of language. Now we’ve also found classrooms where there’s a lot of language learning takes place, um, and they are classrooms where there’s a lot of student-centered activity and a lot of discourse, but not necessarily a lot of structure and coherence in the curriculum and in activities. And so what happens in those classrooms is that students learn a lot of language, they learn social language, but they’re not learning a lot of content, not learning a lot of subject matter and they’re not learning a lot of academic language. So, those three aspects, um, seem very important to us. You know, what is the structure, uh, and what is the degree of student-centeredness and student-centered activities. And I think when you can begin to think about it, it’s actually--I want to say that again. It’s the two things. Those two aspects of the classroom.
(Ms. Stoddart begins summary again)
So, when we look in--in classrooms, um, in the classic case studies we do with teachers, one of the things we try to figure out is what students are learning in different classrooms. And so we do extensive videotaping over a period of a year in a classroom and we do in-depth assessment of student learning in both science content and in language. And what we try to figure out is what kinds of strategies and structures in classrooms are linked to particular kinds of learning. And we have found two things to be very important. One is the degree of coherence that’s, um, in the curriculum and in the teaching and learning. And there are several aspects of coherence. One is, are the goals of the lesson and the content that’s being taught, are they made explicit? Um, and when I say explicit, it means that in the activities that the students do, do--are those activities clearly linked to the concepts that they’re trying to learn or the teacher is--is attempting to teach. Um, is the lesson, um, coherent throughout so that the set of activities build upon each other and that the assessment actually assess what the students are being taught? And are the activities linked to activities and concepts in previous lessons so they build on what the students already know? And are they, uh, linked to what the students will be subsequently learning? That degree of--of coherence is--is very, um, important in the learning of academic content and we find classrooms where there’s a range of, um, coherence and structured is what is happening from very, very coherent classrooms to classrooms which are disorganized and where there is little coherence across the teaching and the curriculum. We find that the degree of coherence is very, very strongly linked to the learning of academic content. Um, in terms of language, we find that language learning is linked to the degree of student centeredness so that students are working in small groups engaging in discussions, engaging in discourse, engaging in conversations with the teacher. That that kind of small group activity that promotes talk, it makes sense isn’t it to language learning. But a very interesting aspect of this is that one can find a classroom and we have seen many classrooms like this, where, um, there’s very low coherence, the classroom’s, um, fairly free flowing, um, the teacher--uh, other students move from topic to topic and there’s very little sequence going on, very little formal structure, but there’s a lot of talk. In classrooms like that students learn a lot of social language. The classrooms where we find the most learning of subject matter content was conceptual learning and the most, um, learning of academic language, our classrooms were--there was both coherence and student centeredness.
Conceptual change pedagogy really is built, um, on the constructivist notion that students, um, have minds of their own and that they don’t come into classrooms as empty vessels or blank slates, but bring with them many, many ideas about how the world works and they build those ideas from multiple sources. They--they develop their ideas from their experiences with the environment, uh, what they see on TV, from stories they’ve read in books or had read to them, to talk in the playground, to their own hands-on experiences, uh, playing with mud, uh, swimming in the sea, walking on the seashore, looking at the clouds, all of these experiences come together and--and students--so students come ...... into the classroom with very powerfully developed ideas. And--and what we found over many years of research, 20, 30 years of research on preconceptions, is that these ideas are very powerful and resistant to change. And it really goes--uh, I think the--the easiest way to think about it, um, is to go back and think about, um, what Plato said in the ...... dilemma when he talked about the fact that individuals will not change unless they become dissatisfied with the current way of thinking about things. So this whole notion of conceptual change and preconceptual is not a new idea, very little that’s new ideas in--in the world. But it’s almost like you have to think of every child that comes in the classroom, or really actually every teacher that comes into your staff development teacher education class and they’re sort of doubting Thomas, it’s like you have to prove to them and so I think that the notion of conceptual change is the acknowledgment that individuals come into schools with their own ideas, that these ideas are very powerful. So in order to move forward, um, in the teaching/learning process, first of all you have to understand what those ideas are. And there’s another aspect of that, not only has the teacher to understand what those ideas are, but you have to sort of context where the child, a student, the teacher comes to understand what their ideas are and examine them. So the notion of conceptual change, teaching or conceptual change pedagogy is really focused on understanding the ideas and the preconceptions that students bring to the classroom and then, um, at times, challenging those. So, uh, our approach, um, the--um, we developed really focuses on first eliciting the preconceptions, getting the students to talk about what their ideas are about the things that, um, that their ideas are about how clouds form. And then conducting experiments that test those ideas out and say, ‘OK, now then. You know, here’s--what--what’s happening here?’ Or why you thi--you know, why do you think steam is forming? What is happening here? But the critical piece is to go back to the original, um, discussion, um, of the preconceptions and the early ideas and revisit them in terms of what--what do you think now, what do you know now? How does that match to what you came in with? So, it’s--in a very fundamental way, it’s--it’s really a process of getting individuals to think about their thinking and why they are thinking it.
This might be a tangent, but we’re, um--we just conducted a series of year-long case studies, um, in classrooms where the teachers spoke only English and where the teacher was bilingual. And we conducted these case studies in, uh, the year following the Onns (ph) Initiative...
(Ms. Stoddart is asked to start over)
We’ve--we’ve just, um, finished a--a series of case studies in classrooms, um, where the students, um, were all English language learners, but where the teacher was either monolingual English speaking or bilingual and, um, also a certified bilingual teacher. And we conducted these case studies in the year following the Onns (ph) initiative. Um, and the Onns initiative in California prohibited teachers, um, from, uh, using bilingual strategies in classrooms, um, the essence of the regulation, of--of the law was that teachers would teach in English. So, in all these classrooms the majority of instruction took place in English. Um, but we found differences in both teaching strategies and in student learning. So, what was absolutely fascinating to me was that the students with the bilingual teachers, um, made significantly more growth in both English academic language and Spanish academic language than the students in classrooms with teachers who spoke only English and we were trying to figure out why, you know--what happened. Was--what is going on in these classrooms? And what we found was that the bilingual teachers did a lot more checking for understanding so that they didn’t assume that students understood. So they used a variety of preassessment techniques, um, and they also, uh, talked to the students and asked them what they thought, individually and in small groups. Having the second language, having Spanish, allowed them to do a lot of that checking in the child’s native language, so a child who couldn’t explain himself in English was able to explain himself to the teacher in Spanish. And so that use of the native language, the checking on understanding, was a critical difference between the two sets of classrooms, the bilingual classrooms and the English only classrooms. Another thing that the bilingual teachers did which, uh, we also think helped the development of understanding in academic language was they did more elaboration. So when the student, uh, gave an answer, they may rephrase it or say it back to the student or add on to that explanation and they did that in both English and Spanish, so there were differences between these two sets of teachers and, you know, this led us to the conclusion that one of the most important, um--or two of the most important strategies that teachers can use with second language learners is this checking for le--understanding in multiple ways and not taking anything for granted, not taking, um, understanding for granted and elaboration. That those are two critically important things, uh, to use in biling--uh, well, um, with all ELL students.
The LASERS project and the acronym stands for Language Acquisition, um, through Science Education in Rural Schools. And it’s a national science foundation from the local systemic change project and we have seven school districts, 53 schools, um, about 1600 teachers and 30,000 students involved in the project. And it’s been a five-year, um, journey that we’ve made together. Um, when we started the project, um, only two of our districts had adopted a science curriculum. Science was really not being taught in elementary schools in this region. And, uh, the primary reason for that is that 60 percent of the students in this region are English language learners. And the schools, um, and the district administration really, um, thought that the highest priority was developing language, developing English language proficiency and science was just something that was not really viewed as important. And we came into the project, and when I say we, myself and Robbie Jaffey from the Life Lab Science program, and, uh, several of the local teachers and administrators, um, and we had an idea. And the idea was that science--inquiry science was an excellent context for developing language. And, um, that was where we started. Um, when we started we had a theory, uh, a theory based on notions of constructivist approaches to science education and, um, ELD strategies, strategies from the bilingual education literature, um, and we brought those to the teachers and the administrators. I remember the very first, um, year we had a--we had a--a teacher institute and, uh, we had 50 teachers come in to UCSC for the summer and--and they said, um, after the second day, ‘Where’s the binder?’ And--and we said, um, well, we don’t have a binder’ And they said, ‘No, no, no, no, no, you know, we got to have a binder. You give us the binder it tells us how to teach science to second language learners and we take this back to our schools and then we, um, prepare all the other teachers to teach science to second language learners.’ And, uh, we said, ‘Well, we have an idea. And the purpose of the project is for us to come together and develop that idea.’ Well, I think the--the teachers thought we were a bit, um, balmy, as we say in Yorkshire, um, but in actual fact that is what--what has happened is that we came with an idea that was based on theory and working with teachers we have elaborated that into a curriculum and into a set of teaching and learning strategies. Um, and it’s been a wonderful marriage between the university and the school districts. Um, one of the things, um, that we needed in order to make this model, this theory practice model work, is we needed a vehicle for that. We needed to bring together, uh, the work of preparing the teachers, the work of staff development, um, with the work of developing the strategies in the classrooms with the work of documenting that. And so we developed, uh, what we call the LASERS Summer School Academy. And in the summer school academy, uh, we have about 500 ELL students who come in in the mornings from 8:00 ‘til 12:00 and they’re in a--they focus on, um, inquiry science and language development in literacy. And the teachers are receiving, um, a lot of culture and support, um, in the mornings. So for each two classrooms, there’s a mentor teacher and that mentor teacher, um, has been trained in peer coaching and regularly observes, um, the teacher making field notes and then they debrief. And each of the classrooms also has a bilingual aide who is a migrant mini-course student, uh, that is a child--a student who comes from a migrant worker family who is either in teacher training or is interested in becoming a teacher. And those, uh, students work as workers aides, um, and so that group works together in the morning. The university researchers and research assistants are documenting what’s going in the classroom so there’s a great deal of assessment of students and videotaping classrooms. Those materials, um, the videotapes, uh, the assessments, samples of student work are taken and used in the afternoons for actual research groups. So the teachers work in grade level teams and--and in the afternoon they look at videotapes, they look at samples of student work and we analyze them. We look at what the science is going on in the classroom, what the strategies are, how language is being linked. And--and one thing marvelous about that is, um, the--there’s, um, a process that’s--that’s being developed where teachers take over and make the presentations. So they will take an incident from a videotape of their classroom and they will bring it to the group to discuss. Um, and so the whole thing turned out to be this wonderful learning community in which we have preservice teachers, we have experienced teachers, we have mentor teachers, uh, we bring in principals and superintendents, uh, for days to begin to understand the model and we have researchers and we’re all working together to figure out, um, what is going on in the classrooms and what are the most effective strategies to promote student learning in both science and language. And--and the marvelous thing that we found is that the summer school lasts for four weeks and we have an average growth of language, um, English language development of two months over a four-week period and that is assessed by one of the most rigorous, uh, tests of academic language that there is ..... And so, um, students are learning dramatically in these classrooms and so are the teachers.
Well, the study on alternate certification that I conducted with--with the Los Angeles Unified School District intern program. And we spent four years, um, looking at teacher learning development in that program and comparing it to teacher learning and development in more traditional programs of teacher education. And we found some very interesting similarities and differences. Uh, when we looked at the actual content of the curriculum of the intern program, um, it was very similar to the content in the curriculum of traditional programs and there actually was about the same amount of content. This--this program took place over a two-year period, uh, and included two summer schools. And so, uh, the content, um, that the, um, teachers--the--the perspective teachers were being given was--was virtually the same as they would have been given in a additional program. What was very, very different was the culture of the program because the--the intern program, um, the instructors were all experienced teachers themselves and administrators. And they had a very different orientation from what I had found in university programs. University programs, in my experience, tend to say to students, here is the model. You know, here is the best practice. Here’s what we know and if you learn how to do this you’re going to be able to go out and teach in any school in any district in any part of the country. You will be prepared to be a teacher. It’s not what the, um, instructors in the intern program were saying. The instructors in the intern program were saying teaching is very difficult and part of the message they gave was you will fail. There will be days when you will fail. There will be days when, you know, things go--will not go the way you thought because teaching is very hard. And then they would--they would give a lot of anecdotes about, you know, when I was a young teacher, you know, the classroom one day, uh, this was a story, and all the students ran out and I couldn’t get them back in the classroom. Or, you know, I went, uh, in--in the classroom and--and my principal was coming to observe me and I’d left all my, uh, lesson materials at home and I wasn’t prepared for the lesson. And they would give a lot of examples of--of how things can go wrong and difficulties that will arise and--and tell the--tell the perspective teachers this is going to happen to you. And then they would say, um, but, you will surviv and eventually, you will thrive and become a good teacher and we will support you in doing that. It was--it was a very, very different message from what I’d heard in preservice university programs. Um, the other thing that the instructors in the district program said was, ‘We’re preparing you to work in this district. We’re preparing you with the curriculum, with the rules and the regulations for this district. We--we’re preparing you the Los Angeles way.’ That’s not what, you know, uh, students in--in, um, preservice, uh, university programs hear. They tend to hear, you know, we’re preparing you to teach anywhere, any--any part of the country. So those were the--there was very different--very difference in the cultures of the two programs. Um, there was also a great difference in the students that were in the programs. So the students in the intern program tended to be older, they tended to have worked in other occupations, uh, they tended to have either lived, uh, several years in Los Angeles or grown up and gone to school in Los Angeles in an urban multi-culture environment. In our study, the--the teachers that were in the preservice program, um, tended to be young, white women who had just graduated from university, um, in California that--it’s a one-year, uh, post-doct--post, um, post-baccalaureate program. Um, and so in terms of their life experiences, there were huge differences. So one of the things that we did in our study and, um, the study came out of the National Center for Research of Teachers at Michigan State University was we looked at teaching expertise and we looked at response to diverse learners. And what was very, very dif--interesting was that we found that in many of the university programs, students developed a--a lot of, um, expertise and of--a range of teaching strategies. Um, the teachers in the intern program did not have as wide a range of teaching strategies. They did not have as much pedagogical expertise. But, what was also equally interesting was that the teachers that came--the--the younger, um, Anglo teachers that came from, uh, preservice, uh, university programs often had a lot of difficulty working with diverse students. And even though they had a lot of expertise and a wide range of strategies, uh, when it came to teaching, um, minority students, they often reverted to traditional drill and practice approaches. The older, more mature individuals, whether they were minority or whether they were Anglo, um, in the intern program were much more comfortable with diverse students and often related back to their own experiences living, going to school and working in an urban multi-cultural environment. So, my conclusions, uh, looking at teacher learning development in an intern and alternate route program in a university program is that, like teaching, teacher education is complex and that students learn a whole range of things, um, and not all the things they learn come from the program. And that probably one of the most powerful influences on instruction, um, in the intern program was people’s prior life experiences and in actual fact, the influence of people’s prior life experiences were probably the most dominant influence in both programs.