Newtown High School is a new lab site partner for the 2017-2018 school year. Newtown High School is located in Elmhurst, Queens and is a Title 1 school that is 21% English Language Learners, with a smaller population of SIFE with Developing Literacy.
Within this school, we have worked with two teachers, Katya Haggerty, an Integrated ENL/ ELA teacher, and Eileen Nguyen, a Standalone ENL teacher, in collaboration with Charlene Nieves, the Assistant Principal of Art/ESL. As part of implementing the Bridges curriculum, both teachers receive individual coaching and observation, as well as targeted professional development in different aspects of the curriculum.
As part of our ongoing impact research, all students and teachers were interviewed about their experiences at the beginning of the school year to more deeply understand the pedagogical culture of Newtown, as well as to delve into the immigration and educational experiences of the students. The students and teachers will also be interviewed again at the end of the year to see what progress these students have made, what progress teachers make in their practice and to help us learn how to improve our coaching and curriculum to best serve student needs in the future.
Katya is in her second year of teaching Bridges and is currently the school’s Bridges Integrated ENL/ ELA teacher and a dean and has been teaching at Newtown for seven years. She has taught a wide variety of English Language Learners, including SIFE with Developing Literacy (SDL). Katya was also a teacher for ten years in Ukraine. Eileen teaches Bridges Standalone ENL and has been teaching a wide variety of English Language Learners at Newtown for six years. She also teaches in Vietnam during the summers. Eileen teaches a two-period class of Standalone ENL and Katya teaches a one-period section of Integrated ENL/ ELA . This is Katya’s third year teaching with the Bridges curriculum and Eileen’s first year.
Both teachers believe they have already benefited from the coaching and professional development they are receiving, along with access to all of the materials offered within the Bridges curriculum. Katya believes that access to the SDL -targeted curricular materials have really supported her work with SDL:
Well, initially, before I started working with Bridges, the challenge was to find resources that are interesting enough for young adults, not childish, and they relate to other subject areas. But at the same time, they’re not too difficult, so they can access it, so that was a challenge.
Eileen also believes that the curriculum has improved her work with SDL, with a focus on the Power Words vocabulary aspect of the curriculum:
The foundational words have been really helpful. Because they’re picking up the words, when I sit down and work with them and get them to slow down, they’ll realize “oh, I know this word!
In addition to features of the actual curricular materials, the additional supports of professional development and targeted, individual coaching have also been reported to be beneficial by both teachers. Katya believes that she was most supported by the writing and vocabulary professional development opportunities that were offered this year:
The writing PD was really really good. Planning a lesson, looking at the overview and then going to the lesson was really helpful. Also, the PD where we talked about different vocabulary, like the concept words, the key vocabulary was really good. I liked the annotation part, because that was something I had trouble with last year.
The Bridges Professional development opportunities are available to any schools or teachers who are implementing the Bridges curriculum, who are considering implementation, or who need help in supporting their SDL with improving foundational literacy skills, regardless of labsite status. Eileen believes that the combination of professional development and targeted coaching has also improved her teaching:
The leveling PD was really helpful. I still struggle with levelling, but doing it several weeks now, I feel like it’s getting a lot better. Having Virginia [the instructional coach] to support me has been really beneficial.
Students have completed their first project of the year, ” All about me” books.
They were very proud to show off their hard work
As we move into the second part of the school year, students are showing much language and literacy growth and Eileen and Katya are reporting greater confidence and skill with implementing the curriculum. We look forward to hosting an intervisitation at Newtown later this year and developing an instructional video there in April.