Middlebury Interactive‘s online ELL curriculum is aimed at improving students’ academic outcomes and narrowing the achievement gap between ELL students and their non-ELL counterparts. The supplemental curriculum’s modular structure offers a flexible and blended learning approach to ELL instruction. Gamification strategies, such as puzzles and challenges, as well as project-based learning tasks, are integrated into the design as a way to engage students in their learning.
Seven Standards for Effective ELL Pedagogy
At the core of the ELL course pedagogical design are the Seven Standards for Effective Pedagogy, developed by the Center for Research on Education, Diversity and Excellence (CREDE) now located at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa.
The culturally inclusive curriculum and learning activities take into account students’ prior knowledge, experiences, sociocultural values and perspectives for improved learning outcomes.
2. Complex Thinking and Challenging Activities
A content-based approach exposes students to cognitively challenging content from academic disciplines such as English Language Arts, Social Studies, Mathematics and Science. Students use higher-order thinking to manipulate, transform, synthesize, explain and interpret meaningful information—activities which are more likely to result in greater student engagement, understanding and academic achievement.
3. Language and Literacy Development
Middlebury Interactive’s ELL courses focus on academic English and literacy development, including vocabulary building and improvement of listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. Students are regularly engaged in contextualized activities where they are prompted to recognize and identify patterns in oral and written structures, to model their writing on relevant academic texts, and to write and/or present on specific academic topics.
4. Observation and Modeling
The ELL course pedagogical design offers a progression of observation and modeling activities for oral and written discourse. Reflective questions guide students in their interpretation of readings and authentic media and, through carefully designed self-assessment rubrics at the end of each module, help students become self-aware, autonomous and efficient learners.
5. Instructional Conversation
Students have the opportunity to interact and collaborate with their peers either online or in class—in a blended learning implementation—as they create and develop their projects. Through sharing feedback, suggestions and questions with peers and meaningful dialogue with the teacher, students develop a deeper understanding of the language and subject matter.
6. Joint-Productive Activity
Project-based learning is at the core of Middlebury Interactive’s pedagogical approach for ELL courses. Students work collaboratively on a common project and goal, applying what they have learned from previous activities. This approach puts the project at the center of the learning process, driving students to learn through discovery, inquiry and collaborative creation. Project-based learning facilitates language development at a number of different levels as students use authentic language to communicate: informally through their interactions with peers, formally through interaction with the teacher and academically through creation and presentation of the project.
7. Student-Directed Activity
Project-based learning provides ample opportunities for students to self-regulate their learning. Through the creative process, students learn to expand on newly acquired knowledge by making decisions, conceiving and designing their projects, generating new content and ideas and applying newfound skills.
ELL Learning Assessment: A Multifaceted Approach
The primary purpose of assessment is to improve student learning. Assessment is based on information gathered from a variety of sources (including assignments, demonstrations, projects, performances, tests, etc.) that accurately reflect how well a student is achieving the curriculum expectations in a given subject. As part of assessment, the ELL digital supplemental courses provide students with descriptive feedback, based on established criteria, to guide their efforts towards improvement.
The courses use a multifaceted approach to learning assessment activities, including self-assessment, peer assessment, computerized immediate feedback, teacher graded assignments, project assessments and through summative assessments at the end of each module and theme.