Friday, September 26, 2014

Meet our guest blogger for the semester, Richele Dunavent!

My name is Richele Dunavent, and I began my teaching career in the regular elementary classroom in 2000. However, I have been teaching ESL for the past eight years.  I finally earned my National Board Certification in ESL in 2012 after repeating several entries.  It was a tremendous, rigorous personal and professional growth experience. Since I received my ESL licensure by taking the Praxis II without any prior coursework, I felt compelled to pursue a Master's degree in ESL. In the fall of 2013, I enrolled in the M. Ed.: Educational Studies Specialization ESL Focus Area and was the recipient of the ELMS Grant while taking the ESL courses. I have grown professionally and as an advocate for my ESL students since beginning this new chapter in my life last fall. I have shared my new learning with my fellow teachers and administrators, as well. I currently work with K-3 students which allows me to put into practice all of the strategies I have learned and researched. (Photo: My Italian grandmother and me.)
This past summer I had the opportunity to attend Element 1, the Theory and Research, or Tier I, of Guided Language Acquisition Design better known as Project GLAD. What is Project GLAD? It is an organizational structure for an integrated, balanced literacy approach to instruction. The four domains of listening, speaking, reading, and writing are integrated into all content areas as they are being interrelated with each other. The research behind Project GLAD finds that language is acquired most effectively when the emphasis is on meaning and the message being relayed. Strategies shared by Project GLAD are grounded in the research of Cummins, Krashen, Vygotsky and many in the field of brain research, among others. These strategies are valuable not only for English language learners but for all students, since they are considered 'best practices' that are research based. (Photo: anchor charts from training)

I did not attend this training alone, but with six other colleagues from my school. The training was provided for select schools of both Henderson and Buncombe Counties in Western North Carolina. The trainers came from the Project GLAD offices in California. The Tier I Research and Theory Workshop lasted two days. We had the opportunity to discuss and learn with other colleagues from the teaching profession; some were classroom teachers, some ESL teachers, some EC teachers, and some were Principals or Curriculum Coaches. The trainers were former classroom teachers from Las Angeles or the surrounding area with high Hispanic populations and high poverty rates. The strategies they demonstrated were energizing, engaging, and full of academic language.

Since Sugarloaf, my school, had the largest turn out at the Tier I workshop, we will host the Tier II workshop coming up in October. Each morning we will attend a demonstration session where one of the trainers will teach in a first grade classroom while the rest of us will be observing in the back of the room with the other trainer explaining the techniques being used with the class. Then each afternoon we will debrief and work together to create thematic units based on the Project GLAD strategies. I can proudly say that two first grade co-teachers have already been using some of the anchor charts they saw demonstrated during the Tier I workshop. We are all looking forward to the upcoming Tier II workshop.  (Photo: anchor chart by first grade teacher)