Want to start an extended learning program for ELL students?
Here are tips from Eric Antuna, coordinator of English learner programs for Palm Springs USD, and Mandy Gonzales, a district ELL teacher:
1. Find people. Palm Springs USD’s program is possible because a core group of about a dozen teachers and faculty are committed to helping students before or after school, on Saturdays and during vacations. Teachers are paid a standard hourly rate, and the extra hours are voluntary, Antuna says.
2. Pick the right school site. Palm Springs USD centralizes its winter, spring and summer extended learning programs at Cathedral City High School.
Districts should choose a site with a principal willing to support the program by keeping classrooms open and recruiting teachers, Antuna says. The cost to keep rooms open is minimal. Air conditioning or heat is used only in session rooms, and many custodians are already working on school grounds cleaning during those times.
3. Plan for flowers. Classes during winter, spring and summer programs are built around a theme, such as California’s super bloom, an explosion of spring wildflowers due to above-average rainfall after an extended drought.
Students studied subjects such as parts of a flower and the how the eye registers what it sees. Students also watched videos and read articles about the super bloom. To prepare for the weeklong sessions, teachers and faculty are trained in lesson plans a week or two before the program begins.
Jessica Ablamsky is a freelance writer in California.