2021 Teaching Excellence in Action in Minnesota (TEAM) K-12 Scholarship Winners

Congratulations to the following 2021 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 Council on the Teaching of Language and Culture, and the Minnesota Department of Education. The program receives generous support from Carole and Jim Hynes.

Click each name for each Scholar's statement and a description of their proposed project.

List of 2021 TEAM Scholars and Proposed Projects

Mariam Adam
Anne Sullivan School, Minneapolis
Grades K-8, Somali
CARLA Summer Institute: Teaching World Languages and Cultures in Elementary Settings
I will be working with a group of Somali Heritage Language teachers/curriculum designers to create and pilot a Somali Language and Culture course that will be taught to elementary and secondary students at Minneapolis Public Schools. Our group includes Mariam Adam, Abdirizak Diis, Deqa Muhidin, Mahamed Mahamed, and Mubarak Mohamed. The skills we learn will help us create content that is representative of student cultures and is aligned to existing world language standards.

Proposed Project: We will create Somali language teaching materials and develop units with learning targets that align with ACTFL standards. We will work with 20-30 teachers in our schools and within the district (Minneapolis Public Schools); the group will also include literacy specialists, differentiation specialists, classroom teachers, our ELL teams and principals. Using what we learn at the CARLA Summer Institutes, we will incorporate strategies that better meet the specific needs of heritage language learners and employ new ways to engage young learners.

Our new curriculum for a Somali Language and Culture course will be piloted with elementary and secondary students at South High School, Heritage Academy, Lyndale Elementary and Sullivan School in Minneapolis. The curriculum will also be shared across the Somali language and culture teaching community through our PLC model and through sessions at MCTLC. The scope of our work will influence not only our 4,000 Somali heritage speakers, including the 500-800 students directly enrolled in Somali language and culture courses, but also entire schools and district communities.
Liesl Bell-Fleming
Shakopee East Middle School
Grades 7–8, Spanish
CARLA Summer Institute: Using the Web for Communicative Language Learning
With the move to Hybrid and Distance Learning, there is a clear need to increase understanding of technology and web resources ~ especially in the area of communicative language.  It's difficult enough getting middle schools to communicate verbally, now we must compete with cameras on/off and in/out of class. Learning about how to use the web for communicative language will allow me to provide more effective and more frequent opportunities to practice communication in the target language.  Much of today's communication occurs via speaking and writing; having meaningful and relevant practice of this in the foreign language classroom leads to more confident speakers and writers.  I'm looking forward to learning about this topic and learning from the expertise of those who have experience with increasing communication in the classroom.

Proposed Project: I would like to take what I learn and present at least one opportunity to my colleagues during back-to-school workshop week.  As a group, I believe we can find some common ways we can apply what I learn and build on our discussions about the need for communicative activities in our classrooms.  In addition, I would like to submit a proposal to present at MCTLC and/or CSCTFL.
Amber Brown
North Junior High, St. Cloud
Grades 6-8, ESL
CARLA Summer Institute: Culture as the Core in the Second Language Classroom
I am currently teaching in St. Cloud, MN at a junior high school. I am an EL teacher that co-teaches 8th grade Language Arts and teaches two levels of English Language pull-out classes (Academic Writing - for Expanding level learners, and ELD Entering - for Entering Level Learners). The student population I serve have varied backgrounds, not only in education but also in regard to the cultures they come from. Though I have studied abroad (in order to learn Spanish) and traveled to experience other cultures and places around the world, I recognize that as a white woman there is a massive part of my students’ stories that I have no experience of personally. Learning more about how language, culture, and identity inform my own teaching will help me recognize the gaps that exist and how I can revise my curriculum and teaching approach to overcome these gaps. I also want to learn more about integrating authentic materials into daily use and provide the space for constructive conversations in the classroom. I know that students who see themselves in the curriculum will feel more of a sense of belonging and empowerment towards their own goals. This training will aid me in the process of creating an environment where students can feel supported and reflected within the content of the classroom.

Proposed Project: Writing is a skill that I focus on for all three of the courses I teach. When I develop my writing projects, I connect it to the topic of our unit but more importantly I locate authentic, mentor texts. I’m hoping that from this professional development I will be able to improve my ability to find texts that are culturally relevant and reflective of the students in my classes. Specifically, each class has a narrative writing project in which students share about a story or event from their life and its impact on their identity. Learning more about cultivating conversations about culture and how identity is built would better equip me for developing a more comprehensive writing project. In turn, this would increase the level of success of my students along with the representation they feel within the courses they are taking.
Eglantina Cenolli
North Junior High, St. Cloud
Grades 6-8, ESL (Co-teach Language Arts and Math)
CARLA Summer Institute: Content-Based Language Instruction and Curriculum Development
In our district and school we serve a lot of EL students, and as we dug deep into the data, we saw that most of our EL students were scoring lower in certain content areas than the others compared to English native speakers. I would like to provide support to content-area teachers to support EL students not only access the grade level content but also be successful in those classes.

Proposed Project: I will be presenting to a school staff professional development, as well as help one of the main content area teachers develop a lesson plan with supports for EL students included. The lesson plan will also be available for other main content area teachers to use in other classes as well.
Abdirizak Diis
Heritage Stem Academy, Minneapolis
Grades 9-12, Somali
CARLA Summer Institute: Critical Approaches to Heritage Language Education
I will be working with a group of Somali Heritage Language teachers/curriculum designers to create and pilot a Somali Language and Culture course that will be taught to elementary and secondary students at Minneapolis Public Schools. Our group includes Mariam Adam, Abdirizak Diis, Deqa Muhidin, Mahamed Mahamed, and Mubarak Mohamed. The skills we learn will help us create content that is representative of student cultures and is aligned to existing world language standards.

Proposed Project: We will create Somali language teaching materials and develop units with learning targets that align with ACTFL standards. We will work with 20-30 teachers in our schools and within the district (Minneapolis Public Schools); the group will also include literacy specialists, differentiation specialists, classroom teachers, our ELL teams and principals. Using what we learn at the CARLA Summer Institutes, we will incorporate strategies that better meet the specific needs of heritage language learners and employ new ways to engage young learners.

Our new curriculum for a Somali Language and Culture course will be piloted with elementary and secondary students at South High School, Heritage Academy, Lyndale Elementary and Sullivan School in Minneapolis. The curriculum will also be shared across the Somali language and culture teaching community through our PLC model and through sessions at MCTLC. The scope of our work will influence not only our 4,000 Somali heritage speakers, including the 500-800 students directly enrolled in Somali language and culture courses, but also entire schools and district communities.
Pam Harens
Eastview High School, Apple Valley
Grades 9-12, Spanish
CARLA Summer Institute: Foreign Language Literacies: Using Target Language Texts to Improve Communication
Attendance at this workshop will support my language teaching in that it will allow me to learn more about foreign language literacies and literacies pedagogy and, using that information, create authentic text-based instructional materials that I will be able to use with my Spanish students at my high school. Although I have created classroom materials using authentic resources, I am very interested to learn about the information that the instructors will present in this course and how, in particular, it will help students develop their critical thinking skills, intercultural competence and linguistic awareness using authentic texts. I also am excited to have the opportunity to find out about the different movies, podcasts, infographics, poetry, music videos, and magazine articles that the instructors (and possibly other classmates) will have to share with us and consider ways to incorporate them into my classes. I have taken CARLA workshops before and always have learned a lot from them and found them to be very beneficial to my teaching and my Spanish curriculum. I have no doubt that this workshop will be the same. I believe my high school’s Spanish curriculum will be much richer and more meaningful because of taking this course.

Proposed Project: I will create a lesson that includes text-based instructional materials for my Spanish 2 students. The content of it will tie in to one of the chapters we already teach as part of our Spanish 2 curriculum. It is difficult to say what will be the specific content of that lesson before taking the course, but within the lesson, I will use what I learn in the workshop to have students work on improving their communicative abilities, their critical thinking abilities, their intercultural competence and their language awareness. I also plan to share what I create with my Spanish 2 colleagues to use in their classes. In addition, I will share, as possible, what I learn in this workshop with my Spanish department and also with the other language teachers in my World Language department so they also can benefit from my experience
Amanda Hudinsky
Good Shepherd School, Golden Valley
Grades Pre-K–6, Spanish
CARLA Summer Institute: Creativity in the Language Classroom
The institute entitled “Fostering Student Learning Through Creative Language Experiences” comes at a crucial time in my development as a professional educator. I’m currently in my first year of teaching at a new school, taking over the Spanish language program for students in PreK-6th grade from the previous teacher, who was there for 14+ years, as the sole Spanish specialist/world language teacher in the building. I’m creating the whole curriculum on my own. Attending this institute will ground my eager-but-overwhelmed self with professional teaching techniques, research-backed lesson planning strategies, and other much-needed concrete support in aiding my learners’ Spanish language proficiency. I chose this specific institute because its focus on project-based, student-focused learning aligns well with an interdisciplinary teaching method called Storyline that I am enthusiastic to pursue further.

Proposed Project: In order for my creativity-based summer institute to be as relevant and effective as possible, I will create for my project, using the strategies I learn to guide and refine my efforts. I plan to design a working Storyline model/unit to use in my classes with either the 4th, 5th, and/or 6th grade students. I will research focal indigenous cultures (i.e. Mayan, Incan, Aztec) in Hispanic countries, gather resources such as authentic texts and realia, and compose a complete Storyline outline, from the hook to the guiding questions, episodes and incidents, activities & beyond. I want my students to work with essential questions related to language extinction and indigenous Central/South American people, cultures and languages as they connect to my students’ lives as the young Spanish-language learners of today ((i.e. (Why) is language important? How do we talk about people different than us? What does it mean to consider someone the “other”? What do we (humanity, the world) lose, when a language dies? What’s the role of language in society? Why do the concerns of different people matter to students in the U.S.?)). My Storyline will intentionally incorporate aspects of the multisensory features highlighted in the institute: music, poetry, film, games and more. Based on the improvements I will make to it after implementing the project for the first time in the fall, I have the chance to impact many other Spanish language teachers by reaching out to the Storyline method leaders to potentially find ways to make it accessible to other FL teachers. If time allows, I would love to try creating and implementing Storylines for my other grades and different topics as well.
Mahamed Mahamed
Whittier International Elementary School, Minneapolis
Grade 1, ESL
CARLA Summer Institute: Teaching World Languages and Cultures in Elementary Settings
I am passionate about teaching world language and cultures to our young learners. With the large Somali student population in Minneapolis Public Schools, I wish to provide a class of Somali language and culture instruction to these learners. Most of these learners were born here in the States or were brought here when they were very young. Teaching them their indigenous language and culture will give them a sense of identity and aide them in their academic learning.

Proposed Project: I would like to use the information gained to provide a presentation to colleagues at our school district. Particularly, I am interested to advocate for how we can develop a course or unit of Somali language and culture and incorporate into the school World Language curriculum that is being taught at schools in the district. I would like to pioneer this by developing this course and providing any necessary training to future teachers/candidates.
Mubarak Mohamed
Anne Sullivan School, Minneapolis
Grades 1-6, ESL
CARLA Summer Institute: Teaching World Languages and Cultures in Elementary Settings
I will be working with a group of Somali Heritage Language teachers/curriculum designers to create and pilot a Somali Language and Culture course that will be taught to elementary and secondary students at Minneapolis Public Schools. Our group includes Mariam Adam, Abdirizak Diis, Deqa Muhidin, Mahamed Mahamed, and Mubarak Mohamed. The skills we learn will help us create content that is representative of student cultures and is aligned to existing world language standards.

Proposed Project: We will create Somali language teaching materials and develop units with learning targets that align with ACTFL standards. We will work with 20-30 teachers in our schools and within the district (Minneapolis Public Schools); the group will also include literacy specialists, differentiation specialists, classroom teachers, our ELL teams and principals. Using what we learn at the CARLA Summer Institutes, we will incorporate strategies that better meet the specific needs of heritage language learners and employ new ways to engage young learners.

Our new curriculum for a Somali Language and Culture course will be piloted with elementary and secondary students at South High School, Heritage Academy, Lyndale Elementary and Sullivan School in Minneapolis. The curriculum will also be shared across the Somali language and culture teaching community through our PLC model and through sessions at MCTLC. The scope of our work will influence not only our 4,000 Somali heritage speakers, including the 500-800 students directly enrolled in Somali language and culture courses, but also entire schools and district communities.
Laura Moy
Eastview High School, Apple Valley
Grades 9-12, Japanese
CARLA Summer Institute: Teaching Linguistic Politeness and Intercultural Awareness
I teach Japanese and this course is taught by a Japanese instructor. When teaching Japanese, I am always having to negotiate what language of politeness I teach and how I teach it. There are several levels of politeness and the language changes dramatically depending on the level of politeness needed for each situation. As a non-native speaker of Japanese, I look forward to hearing the perspective of a native-Japanese teacher and the role of politeness and cultural awareness. I know this will help me become a better teacher of Japanese.

Proposed Project: I will use what I learn from this class in each lesson as all language in Japanese has several ways to state it depending on what level of politeness is needed. I will build the specifics of what I learn from this class into each unit. As the president of the Minnesota Council of Teachers of Japanese (MCTJ), I can also teach to other teachers at our annual summer meeting in August. K-12 teachers and college professors will attend the meeting and I can help lead a discussion on linguistic politeness and intercultural awareness. I plan to include what I learn in each unit as well as share it at our end of the summer Japanese teacher meeting.
Deqa Muhidin
Multilingual Department, Minneapolis Public Schools
District Program Facilitator, Somali Heritage Language and Culture Program
CARLA Summer Institute: Teaching World Languages and Cultures in Elementary Settings
I will be working with a group of Somali Heritage Language teachers/curriculum designers to create and pilot a Somali Language and Culture course that will be taught to elementary and secondary students at Minneapolis Public Schools. Our group includes Mariam Adam, Abdirizak Diis, Deqa Muhidin, Mahamed Mahamed, and Mubarak Mohamed. The skills we learn will help us create content that is representative of student cultures and is aligned to existing world language standards.

Proposed Project: We will create Somali language teaching materials and develop units with learning targets that align with ACTFL standards. We will work with 20-30 teachers in our schools and within the district (Minneapolis Public Schools); the group will also include literacy specialists, differentiation specialists, classroom teachers, our ELL teams and principals. Using what we learn at the CARLA Summer Institutes, we will incorporate strategies that better meet the specific needs of heritage language learners and employ new ways to engage young learners.

Our new curriculum for a Somali Language and Culture course will be piloted with elementary and secondary students at South High School, Heritage Academy, Lyndale Elementary and Sullivan School in Minneapolis. The curriculum will also be shared across the Somali language and culture teaching community through our PLC model and through sessions at MCTLC. The scope of our work will influence not only our 4,000 Somali heritage speakers, including the 500-800 students directly enrolled in Somali language and culture courses, but also entire schools and district communities.
Susanna Stone
Rochester Central Lutheran School
Grades Pre-K–8, Spanish
CARLA Summer Institute: Teaching World Languages and Cultures in Elementary Settings
I work for a small private school as a world language department of one, teaching Spanish to students in Pre-k through 8th grade. I teach each classroom (17 total) once a week from between 15 and 45 minutes. Attending the Teaching World Languages and Cultures in Elementary Settings institute will provide some ideas that I can use right out of the box, but also provide frameworks for lesson planning, class assessments, and thematic units that I can carry forward to all the different Spanish classes I teach. I am an enthusiastic and eager student who will implement as much as I can from the training. I am excited to learn more about how to improve my Spanish teaching.

Proposed Project: My proposed activity is a thematic unit for my first grade classes. I want to create a thematic unit for first grade Spanish students that I can utilize at the beginning of the year, that will engage students from the start, that appropriately challenges the students, and is fun! My ideal first grade thematic unit would be geared toward the beginning of the school year, involve multiple topics (greetings, introductions, numbers, and colors, for example), utilize different communication modes, and incorporate many types of teaching materials. I would love for this unit to also incorporate stories, through creating stories as a class and/or reading them together. However, I am unsure how to put together an effective and engaging unit like this for first graders. The Teaching World Languages and Cultures in Elementary Settings institute would provide me with information on how to best teach Spanish to first graders generally, as well as provide thematic unit planning framework and introduce specific teaching material, such as songs and games, that I could use in my thematic unit. While this specific unit would impact approximately 60 first graders each year, I could utilize parts of this unit, and the general thematic unit planning framework, for younger and older students as well, with the potential of impacting more than 300 students each year.
Katrina Van Ruyven
Valley View Middle School, Bloomington
Grade 7, ESL
CARLA Summer Institute: Assessing Language Learners' Communication Skills via Authentic Communicative Performance Tasks
Attendance at this institute will help me merge several important areas of ESL teaching. Speaking is an important part of the WIDA language learning standards, but it is a skill that both many ESL teachers and content teachers feel uncomfortable explicitly assessing and incorporating into their instruction. Unfortunately, this sometimes leads to oral language activities and assessments being left out of the classroom. For students, being empowered with strong oral communication is essential to ensuring future educational and personal success. Authentic speaking tasks serve to create culturally sustaining discourse, which is essential. Through participating in this institute I will gain the ability to create quantitative and qualitative speaking assessments that can be used across content with authentic activities. This will help ensure that students are developing essential oral language skills in an authentic, culturally sustaining way. Attending this institute will also help me share the assessments I have created and their importance with other educators, to help them assess and implement oral language activities in their classroom.

Proposed Project: As a proposed follow-up activity from attending this institute, I would like to create a Professional Development and resource portfolio for other teachers at my school and in my district. The professional development would focus on the why behind authentic oral language tasks in all classrooms; specific activities, strategies, and oral language protocols that teachers could implement, and corresponding oral language assessment (formative and summative) tools that teachers could use with their students.

 

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