Sunnyside School

Christine Butler

SunnySide School
It was a productive year for Sunnyside School and its ExcEL team! As an introduction to the ExcEL team, members completed a survey at the beginning of the school year identifying some wonderings and questions about ELs and other related TESOL topics. From those responses came ideas for meetings in which members participated in activities and conversation to "walk in the shoes" of their EL students and families. Topics included native language use at home, cultural differences with regard to school and teacher/parent role, disability vs. language acquisition and cultural sensitivity awareness.

Because of the team interest in improving writing for English learners, members spent the better part of the year diving into language progressions and familiarizing themselves with the stages of second language acquisition in order to get a better sense of learning characteristics at each stage. Through discussion and interaction with authentic student work, members identified errors common at each language stage, similarities and differences among the language stages as well as effective teaching and learning strategies for students across language levels.

Although Sunnyside has been on the road to promoting and fostering parent and parent/child activities before ExcEL, our team meetings have offered members another venue to bounce ideas off each other, share opinions and provide feedback and evaluate past experiences. Through tiering students, analyzing data and reflecting on student observations, the team planned with specific parent and student needs in mind. This year's cultural and literacy events at the school were well attended by EL families!
This year's cultural and literacy events at the school were well attended by EL families!