2020 Teaching Excellence in Action in Minnesota (TEAM) K-12 Scholarship Winners

Congratulations to the following 2020 TEAM Scholars who were selected to attend a CARLA Summer Institute this year! Each of the Scholars will carry out an outreach activity or a classroom-based project this fall based on the institute topic.

The TEAM Scholarship program is a joint initiative of the Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition, the Minnesota Department of Education, and the Minnesota Council on the Teaching of Language and Culture. The program receives generous support from Carole and Jim Hynes.

Click each name for a description of the proposed project.

List of 2020 TEAM Scholars and Proposed Projects

Ellen Chirhart
Irondale High School, New Brighton
Grades 9-12, Spanish
CARLA Summer Institute: Teaching Language Through the Lens of Social Justice
I want to redesign my Spanish for Heritage Speakers curriculum using a social justice lens. This institute will be beneficial for me to improve my curriculum for this particular group of students who need a stronger link to their identities, histories, and communities in order to experience more success and equitable educational experiences.

Proposed Project: My proposed follow-up activity is to create the first unit of Spanish for Heritage Speakers that I could implement starting next fall. This first unit will introduce students to the idea of a social justice lens and prepare them for the rest of our work and learning together. I foresee this taking us through the first month or so of school. Not only will I need to ensure that the unit is engaging and relevant to students, but I will also need to ensure that this first unit gives us a starting point for evaluating their skills in Spanish and identifying specific areas in which they may want or need additional support. I will need to develop content objectives and language objectives. Although I am the only high school Heritage Spanish teacher in my district, we also have a growing Heritage program in one of our middle schools. I plan to share my work with the middle school Heritage Spanish teacher so that we are able to move forward together with vertical alignment. I also have a very collaborative World Language department and I am confident they would gain helpful ideas through me sharing my new unit at one of our department meetings.
Margaret (Jae) Cody
Apple Valley High School
Grades 9-12, German
CARLA Summer Institute: Teaching Language Through the Lens of Social Justice
My school is becoming the high school for the STEM pathway in our district, and it is my goal to keep our language department strong by showing how important language and culture knowledge are to development and innovation. Social justice is a key component of both of these areas, as it is important to me and many of my students that development occurs in a way that is sustainable and advantageous to all people. I think this workshop will help me collaborate with other teachers and find ways to engage with my school's STEM program and my students in new ways.

Proposed Project: I would like to both introduce several new lessons and present on something I've been working on. My school is currently providing training on Invention Education through STEM Innovator. According to the presenters, I am one of the first world language teachers to go through the training. I see an opportunity to collaborate with peers in both other languages and other departments through this program. In STEM Innovator, students propose and refine proposals to solve problems (for example, Global Warming). I see this as a way to address the ACTFL Standard of Cultural Products, Practices and Perspectives, which my students have traditionally been weak on. Basically, my students would consider proposals from science classes and give feedback, based on what they know about German culture. I think doing this workshop would help me find ways to also inject more language into this activity and to integrate more social justice throughout the curriculum.
Melissa Davey
Robbinsdale Middle School
Grades 6-8, ESL and French
CARLA Summer Institute: Meaningful Portfolio Implementation
Developing portfolios as a means to help students understand their progress over time has always been an interest of mine. I would like to revitalize use of portfolios throughout instruction in both a beginning EL setting and in co-taught ELA courses so that students' have more opportunity to self-assess and celebrate their progress over time. I would like to develop a plan for use in my school for the 2020-2021 school year.

Proposed Project: My proposed follow up activities would include two key components. First, I would develop and align portfolio concepts with current curriculum by using Google Sites or the Schoology portfolio feature, two technological tools that aid in the implementation of portfolios. Use of Google Sites would involve building a template for grade-level ELs based on content ELA standards whereas for beginning EL, using the WIDA framework or ACTFL proficiency standards (so French & Spanish can use it). A map or timeline would also need to be developed so that the self-assessment and reflections occur in sync with instructional goals. Secondly, I would provide direct professional development to teachers on how to implement and sustain progress tracking through portfolio use in their classrooms. Professional learning would combine use of a blended platform, mastery-based learning, and use of Schoology's portfolio feature to develop and manage student portfolios for student success. Two PDs would be offered- one in the fall to initiate the work with another in the spring to provide support.
Maureen Fink
Spero Academy, Minneapolis
Grades K-6, ESL
CARLA Summer Institute: Meaningful Portfolio Implementation
My goal in attending this institute is to become prepared to create language portfolios that are useful in my unique school setting. I am the sole ESL instructor at Spero Academy, a K-6 charter school designed to support students with various disabilities. All of my students deal with some combination of cognitive, speech, and language challenges. The results of traditional language assessments are often obfuscated by my students’ disabilities, and I therefore rely heavily on portfolios to guide my instruction, as well as to communicate with teachers, therapists, and parents. I have, however, never received formal training around creating language portfolios, and think that attending this institute would help me to make this critical form of communication and assessment even more helpful to my students and their stakeholders. Attending this institute would support me in creating language portfolios that best meet the unique needs of my students and our school.

Proposed Project I will offer my colleagues a PD session on working with English Learners (EL) to set both academic and language goals. The ESL program is relatively new to our school, and many of our teachers have received little PD on serving students who are dual-identified as English-learners with special needs. Through this session, I hope to provide guidance on how to create academic portfolios which take students’ language assets into account, and to give practical advice on using students’ ESL-specific portfolios. Teachers and therapists at my school have so many IEPs and accommodations to implement that taking the time to further accommodate for English-learners’ specific needs can feel overwhelming. Having some explicit guidance would go a long way in making this task more manageable. This institute will help me develop some best practices around goal-setting for our dual-identified students, which I can share with teachers and therapists through this PD session. Finally, the session will include an opportunity for us to discuss ways in which we can better involve English-learners and their parents in creating language, academic, and social goals. As the number of ELs at our school grows, this PD session will help our staff to grow in our understanding of setting goals and evaluating students’ progress in light of their language needs.
Arazue Foroozan
Central Senior High School, St. Paul
Grades 9-12, ESL
CARLA Summer Institute: Teaching Language Through the Lens of Social Justice
Since my class has a range of grades and levels, and isn't attached to a content course, I've been looking for some guidance on creating a meaningful curriculum for all grades and English levels. I really want to create something that feels meaningful and special to my students, who are mostly immigrants and refugees. Many of them have the attitude of "Well what can I do?" I want them to know that there is a lot that they can do, and their voices have power. My goal is for my students to realize that they have the power to change, while building empathy within.

Proposed Project: I want to create a classroom-based project in my English Language Development course. It is a course that is for only English Language Learners to help improve their academic language. Ideally, I want them to discover a social justice issue that they are passionate about through the curriculum. As a project they will create some sort of resolution to the issue in their community and act upon it. If possible, I'd like to make this an interdisciplinary project with a content course: social studies or English, or both.
Elizabeth Jaen
Beacon Academy, Crystal
Grades K-1, Spanish
CARLA Summer Institute: Teaching Language Through the Lens of Social Justice
I want to learn how to integrate social justice throughout the curriculum. The demographics of our school changed a few years ago, and the staff no longer represents the same communities and backgrounds as most of our students. Because of this, it’s vitally important for our students to be surrounded by adults who are willing to learn and grow in social justice issues. I also specifically hope to improve our curriculum to incorporate social justice perspectives rather than occasionally “spotlighting” them, so our students are better equipped to move through the world in whichever languages they choose. 

Proposed Project: I plan to lead five other teachers and myself through a process of workshopping our curriculum to better reflect a social justice perspective. I anticipate looking at this issue from the following perspectives: 1) Whether our teaching practices are adequate to meet the needs of our students in general; 2) Whether parts of our curriculum are plainly inadequate (and how to fix them); 3) Topics already covered in our curriculum that need the added perspective of social justice;  4) Topics we need to add to our curriculum; 5) Social justice themes that may run through many topics, and how we will all be sure to address them; 6) How to incorporate social justice as a constant concern without neglecting our language and cultural teachings; 7) How to prepare our classroom environments and ourselves to succeed at fostering concern for social justice in our students; and 8) What other resources, perspectives, and trainings may be necessary to continue learning, teaching, and healing. I have the full support of my department in this project.
Tim Leone-Getten
Open World Learning Community, St. Paul
Grades 6-12, Spanish
CARLA Summer Institute: Critical Approaches to Heritage Language Education
I have two classes of Heritage Spanish students grades 6-12 and an AP Spanish class grades 9-12 with many heritage speakers. There is a wide variety of Spanish abilities, from students that Speak Spanish at home and went to a Spanish immersion elementary school to students whose family speaks some Spanish at home, but they are largely English dominant. Given the breadth of the ages and abilities of my students, it is always a challenge to develop projects and activities that can tap into student strengths and motivate them to engage with their community in positive ways. I often feel isolated in teaching these classes, as I would guess most teachers of heritage speakers do. I am the only one at my school and do not have contact with any other teachers of heritage speakers with whom to plan. I would hope that this institute would help me develop my ideas and give me a fresh perspective on engaging my students in new and exciting curriculum as well as connecting me with some like-minded teachers.

Proposed Project: My follow-up activity is to better develop an immigration unit for my Heritage Spanish class. Currently, my students are exposed to some excellent readings, conduct interviews and write profiles of immigrants, and keep up to date and discuss current immigration news. Two topics from this institute that highly interest me are the youth-led participatory action research and PhotoVoice Arts Integration.  I would love to incorporate an action research project into my class, getting my students to engage more with the community from a social justice perspective. I also plan to integrate more arts into our studies and I think photography would be a great way to delve deeper into the many issues surrounding immigration that touch my students lives and futures.
Laura Moy
Eastview High School, Apple Valley
Grades 9-12, Japanese
CARLA Summer Institute: Using the Web for Communicative Language Learning
We have been focusing on IPAs and the ACTFL unit plans recently. I believe this summer institute will support the creation of technology-enhanced IPAs as well as formative assessments to support students in their language learning journey.
Proposed Project: This summer I will be finalizing my AP curriculum with several colleagues. I will share what I learn in this institute with my colleagues and use it for learning tasks as well as formative and summative assessments in our units.  I have also submitted a proposal to present at ACTFL in November 2020.  If my proposal is accepted, I would also like to share some uses for technology that I learn from this CARLA summer institute at that session.
Leticia Stabrino
Roosevelt High School, Minneapolis
Grades 9-12, Spanish
CARLA Summer Institute: Culture as the Core in the Second Language Classroom
I am interesting in learning more about how to integrate culture and language instruction in my Spanish teaching that goes beyond the view that comes from the north. There's a plethora of  authentic materials created by people of Hispanic/Latino heritage that immigrated in the US. I would like to infuse my teaching with Spanish-speaking culture as it is experimented by the peoples of the countries where the language is native. I would like to find the best way to add that narrative to the usual story of the immigrant who came to the United States to build a better life, which is so prevalent in teaching materials.

Proposed Project: I plan to create a unit to teach my IB students that will conform with one of the IB required themes (Experiences, Identities, Sharing the planet, Social organization, Human Ingenuity). IB units are usually taught during a quarter and each of the topics can be taught at any time. After the completion of the seminar, I will plan a unit that will bring the culture of Spanish language to one of the themes. Culture will be integrated with the language objectives and thus will be part of the assessment.  At present, I am one of the two teachers that instruct IB Spanish and the only one that teaches Second Language IB Spanish. At Roosevelt High School the World Language Department works together. I will share what I learn in this seminar with my World Languages colleagues who also teach IB.


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