English Learners in STEM
The Smithsonian Science Education Center is pleased to present the following classroom videos highlighting effective instruction of English language learners (ELs). The videos are presented as brief, just-in-time professional development resources.
Colorado LASER Focused Overview
Research indicates that inquiry‐based instruction is particularly effective with certain student populations, including English Learners (ELs). The Smithsonian Science Education Center (SSEC) has partnered with the University of Memphis, Center for Research in Educational Policy (CREP) to develop, implement, and evaluate LASER Focused: An EL‐specific component to the SSEC’s Leadership and Assistance for Science Education Reform (LASER) model for inquiry‐based science.
Among the elements of LASER are the use of grade‐specific, self‐contained, research‐based, inquiry‐centered science units, the Science and Technology Concepts (STC) curriculum. The LASER model has already shown preliminary success in increasing EL student achievement and attitudes toward science; the involvement of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science (DMNS) will provide an opportunity to engage the families of ELs in their children’s education.
The goal of this program, which began with classroom implementation during the Fall of 2017 in the Aurora Public School and Denver Public School districts, is to decrease the science achievement gap between EL and non‐EL students and provide teachers with new resources for teaching hands‐on science lessons to some of their most vulnerable students.
The Colorado LASER (Leadership and Assistance for Science Education Reform) Focused is a four-year program. Throughout the four-year Colorado LASER Focused, schools will have opportunities to:
Participate in two 3-day summer professional development workshops to improve teachers’ skills in implementing inquiry-based science units, pedagogical knowledge, and science content knowledge during the summer of 2017 and the summer of 2018;
Receive one life science unit of inquiry-centered science materials for each grade participating in the Colorado LASER Focused initiative during the 2017-2018 school year;
Receive one refurbishment for the life science unit for each grade for the 2018-2019 school year;
Engage in professional development, leadership development, and networking opportunities in Colorado;
Invite their students and families to participate in free family events at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.
Smithsonian Science Education Center, coordinated with Smithsonian Affiliate Denver Museum of Nature & Science (DMNS), and the University of Memphis, Center for Research in Educational Policy, to host several family events at the Museum. DMNS opened specifically for families and their students attending schools participating in the Colorado LASER Focused Initiative. Hundreds of students and their families from the Denver Metro area enjoyed an evening at the Museum, free of charge, to explore various traveling exhibitions, planetarium shows, IMAX movies and museum exhibits. At the end of each evening, one family received a free family membership to the Museum. DMNS, dedicated to diversity and inclusion, has put forth an effort to provide information in both English and Spanish, created a welcoming format for our dual-language families. The theme of the exhibits support the students’ learning in the classroom with the SSEC's elementary and middle school curriculum units provided through the Colorado LASER Focused Initiative. The funding to support this work is provided through the US Department of Education’s Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA).