2023 Teaching Excellence in Action in Minnesota (TEAM) K-12 Scholarship Winners

TEAM Scholar logoCongratulations to the following 2023 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.

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

List of 2023 TEAM Scholars and Proposed Projects

Alyssa Carlson
HOPE Community Academy, St. Paul
Grades 6–10, ESL
CARLA Summer Institute: Creativity in the Language Classroom
I am a veteran push-in EL teacher in a school with many new teachers. I have seen great success in student outcomes and engagement when I've taught with creative, multimodal activities. I would love for this institute to give me new techniques to use with my students, as well as to provide ideas for PD for my colleagues.

Proposed Project: I would like to present a professional development session at my school based on what I learn in this course. It would summarize the research-based benefits creativity has on learning, and then provide some ideas and techniques a teacher could use to foster more creativity and multimodal learning opportunities in their classroom. I would also provide time to brainstorm and plan a lesson using some of these techniques. I would like to do this mid-year, so that I would have time to practice using some of the techniques I learn, and troubleshoot in advance issues that might come up.
Laura Gehlhar
Kennedy High School, Bloomington
Grades 9–12, ESL
CARLA Summer Institute: Creativity in the Language Classroom
As an EL teacher working primarily with recently-arrived multilingual learners, I know the importance of engaging students with enriching learning activities. While I've attempted to use poetry, games, and other creative methods in the past, I haven't been able to consistently implement them to their fullest potential. It's thrilling to watch students light up in surprising ways when I've incorporated song lyrics or spoken poetry in a language lesson. 

I believe (and know the research supports the idea) that creativity is useful in learning language and necessary for addressing complex issues in life. I hope this course will better equip me to implement instructional strategies that will be engaging for students as well as guide them to explore their creative potential.

Proposed Project: After completing Creativity in the Language Classroom: Fostering Student Learning Through Creative Language Experiences, I hope to be inspired with several new ideas. My proposed project would be to create a poetry unit for the EL newcomer course that I teach. I imagine this series of lessons could address phonemic awareness, rhymes, figurative language, diverse authors, complex emotions, and original writing. In addition to this unit focused specifically on poetry, I would also create several routine learning activities that could fit into other units. For example, once I have a better understanding of tactile learning and information gap activities, I might create this type of activity for each of the units I teach. I would be able to use these lessons and learning activities for next school year. This classroom-based project would impact the students in my newcomer class. (This year the group grew from 15 to 50 over several months, and I expect similar numbers in future years.) My hope would be that incorporating poetry, music, games, humor, tactile learning, and film would engage a variety of students, especially those that might be especially hard to reach. Additionally, I hope that promoting creativity would guide students who haven't had opportunities to be creative (overly structured school experiences, trauma, etc) the avenues to grow their imaginations and provide avenues for expression. Several students could be impacted by this project. In addition to the students in my class, there are several teachers that could also be impacted. I work closely with other EL teachers in my department and often discuss teaching ideas. I would share my lesson plans with them to use in the future as well.

Janelle Johnson
Walker-Hackensack-Akeley School District, Walker
Grades 9–12, Ojibwe
CARLA Summer Institute: Assessing Language Learners' Communication Skills via Authentic Communicative Performance Tasks
Teaching an endangered language has been one of the most challenging and exciting endeavors I have taken on in a long time. Here at Walker-Hackensack-Akeley, our Native communities have been longing for Ojibwe language and culture classes. We are doing our best to listen to them. For the first time in years, possibly ever, WHA high school students can earn elective credit toward graduation by participating in the Ojibwe I language course. As an Anishinaabe person, and someone who has studied Ojibwe for several years, this endeavor is also near and dear to my heart. 

In getting ready to teach this course, I came across Integrated Performance Assessments (IPAs) through the Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA).I ended up studying the IPA through the virtual assessment center weeks before my class started.  The theme for my Unit 1 IPA was "Family and Community", and the essential question was "How are Anishinaabe people and others working to revitalize an endangered language?" My students and I have dug into some authentic materials and have realized that many authentic materials for Ojibwe are also bilingual and have an English translation presumably because the language is endangered and there are not many fluent speakers. I want to deepen my knowledge of the Integrated Performance Assessment and this class sounded perfect for where I am at in my career and where we are at with the language offerings here at WHA.

Proposed Project: I would like to create a unit for the seasonal activity of ricing. The timeline will be perfect as we welcome students back to school in September and families have either been out ricing in August or finishing up the season the first couple weeks in September. My students are particularly engaged when we talk about Anishinaabe culture with the language and there is not a way to separate the two, anyway. Like with any language, when you learn it, you learn about the culture and worldview of the people speaking it which coincides with the world-readiness standards for learning language. We also partner with elders whose first language is Ojibwe and we live in an area where learning some hands-on aspects of ricing could also be incorporated. I want to make sure that I am designing Integrated Performance Assessments correctly and that I am building a language program with a solid foundation. I want to make our communities proud and help create speakers of the language.

Emma Petry
Avail Academy, Minneapolis
Grades 8–12, Spanish
CARLA Summer Institute: Assessing Language Learners' Communication Skills via Authentic Communicative Performance Tasks
The Assessing Language Learners’ Communication Skills via Authentic Communicative Performance Tasks institute will support my language teaching by helping me better assess my students’ communication skills. My goal is to grow in my ability to provide my students with both formative and summative assessments that have a purpose (communication) and to transition away from paper tests. I want to encourage my students to practice and improve their communication in Spanish by providing them with clear standards, feedback, and rubrics. I am new to Integrated Performance Assessments, but the 2022 MCTLC conference encouraged me to start to add this type of assessment into my classes. I know that incorporating these types of assessments will benefit my students by helping them not just be able to understand Spanish, but be able to communicate in a variety of situations so that they feel confident enough to use their Spanish outside of class. I want to encourage them to be lifelong language learners and see the value in communication in whatever form it takes!

Proposed Project: My proposed follow up activity is a classroom-based project around the topic of communication assessment. My goal is to create an Integrated Performance Assessment (IPA) for both the first and last unit of my Spanish level 2 class. This year, Spanish 2 has felt lacking in communication tasks and students have asked me when they will actually use what they are learning. This was especially true with the first unit, focused on classroom vocabulary and stem-changing verbs. The classroom vocabulary was easy to apply, but the stem-changing verbs were more difficult. Because of this, my follow up project will be to create an IPA for this unit that will include both formative and summative assessment tasks. This will give my students opportunities to apply what they are learning and get feedback on their communication. I want them to be able to identify why they are learning Spanish and to grow in their Spanish communication skills and feel confident communicating with others. Incorporating this IPA into the first unit of the year will give them buy-in to my class and help them experience the value (and fun!) of language learning. To go along with this first IPA, the second part of my project will be to create an IPA for the last unit of Spanish 2. This last unit is a reflection on all students have learned throughout the year. However, these reflections have been focused on written communication and I want to expand them to include all three modes of communication. My other reason for creating an IPA for this unit is that students will be able to compare their communication levels from the first unit of the year with their levels from the last unit. I want to celebrate their growth and encourage them to continue to practice communication.
Noelle Roubinek
Sejong Academy, St. Paul
Grades 7-12, ESL
CARLA Summer Institute: Culture as the Core in the Second Language Classroom
I work in an immersion school which focuses on the less commonly taught language of Korean. The majority of our students speak Karen, which is also a less commonly taught language. I am an English language teacher who supports English language acquisition. The students at my school are developing multilinguals. I am planning on attending the Culture as the Core in the Second Language Classroom institute. I want to be able to bring culture into language instruction which draws from all three cultural and linguistic backgrounds. I also want to be able to lead professional development sessions at my school to help other teachers integrate culture into their classroom and lessons as well. I want to help find ways to embed culture into the curriculum that goes beyond the surface topics of food, fashion, and festivals. I also want to be better equipped to be able to help other teachers do the same. I also want to be able to find ways to bring in my students’ cultures even if they are not the same as the target language of the second language classroom.

Proposed Project: I plan on doing an outreach activity where I present my experience to my colleagues during a professional development session. I work with students in 7th through 12th grade, I would plan to present to middle and high school teachers. When presenting to all of the middle school and high school teachers, I would want to focus on general ways to integrate culture and curriculum. My school is an immersion school which features the less commonly taught language of Korea. At my school, the vast majority of the students speak the lesson commonly taught language of Karen. After attending the institute, I would hope to work specifically with my school’s Korean language teachers as well as staff members who are a part of the Karen community. When working with the Korean language teachers and Karen staff members, I would want to focus on specific ways to weave Korean and Karen culture into the language curriculum.
Laurie Varley
Prairie Elementary School, Worthington
Kindergarten, ESL
CARLA Summer Institute: Culture as the Core in the Second Language Classroom
My school’s population is 60% English language learners. Many of our other students also have various cultural and linguistic backgrounds. However, most of our teachers are Caucasian and have lived in America their whole lives. I am hopeful that this institute will be able to guide me in helping my colleagues become culturally competent, cognizant of culture in textbooks and curriculum materials, and use our knowledge in everyday teaching.

Proposed Project: We have a discovery room in our school that changes topics every few months. One topic focuses on Native Americans and next school year it will be the Ojibwe culture. We have received some authentic materials and will be meeting with some people who identify with this culture. I am hopeful that I can make the discovery room an authentic learning experience for all who enter including staff and families. Another proposal that I am considering is meeting the kindergarten social studies standard of wants and needs identification. Typically we have focused on wants and needs here in America and I would expand that to the countries where our students are from and those that they identify with. We would be able to compare and contrast how needs and wants are different due to different cultures. This would be a way to bring in authentic learning materials as well while teaching the students about various cultures.
Xinyue Zong
Jie Ming Mandarin Immersion Academy, St. Paul
Grades 1, 3 & 4, Mandarin Chinese
CARLA Summer Institute: Teaching Linguistic Politeness and Intercultural Awareness
Learning in an immersion environment can be very difficult for young students. It can be difficult for them to understand their teacher’s reaction sometimes, which might lead to misunderstanding between teacher and students, as well as impact the teacher/family relationship. Being interculturally aware and learning about linguistic politeness is super important for students to develop social skills in the language immersion environment. It’s not only helpful for students to understand the general social rules, but also specific differences in different cultures.

Proposed Project: I intend to create a classroom-based project for the beginning of the school year. In this unit, I plan to explore different aspects among different cultures about the similarity or differences in appellation for relatives, greeting content, different ways to greet, and what kind of boundaries students should leave to others. Also, how to refuse others politely, how to provide alternate options and how to use different tones to show agreement or disagreement. Besides that, I want to include different activities to cultivate teamwork spirit by using encouraging vocabularies. There are many more research studies about intercultural differences and the benefit to access to the difference at students’ early age, and students can build flexibility when they are young through linguistic expression, understanding the differences making the community better.


CARLA Mailing List Signup Contact CARLA CARLA Events Donate to CARLA CARLA on Facebook CARLA on YouTube Twitter
Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA) • 140 University International Center • 331 - 17th Ave SE • Minneapolis, MN 55414