1850 Views
  1. Julie Brown
  2. https://education.ufl.edu/faculty/brown-julie/
  3. Associate Professor, Science Education
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. University of Florida
  1. Mark B. Pacheco
  2. Assistant Professor, Bilingual Education
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. University of Florida
  1. E. Christine Davis
  2. Senior Lecturer
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. University of Florida
  1. Karl G Jung
  2. Assistant Professor, K-8 Science Education
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. University of South Florida

Responsive Instruction for Emergent Bilingual Learners in Biology Classrooms

NSF Awards: 2010153

2021 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades 9-12

RIEL Biology:  Responsive Instruction for Emergent Bilingual Learners in Biology Classrooms supports both teachers and emergent bilingual students in secondary biology classrooms.  

In partnership with the University of Florida, the University of South Florida, Alachua County Public Schools, and Hillsborough County Public Schools, RIEL Biology works with high school biology teachers to increase learning opportunities for their emergent bilingual students in Florida.

Our project team collaborates with in-service biology teachers to develop and implement an instructional approach that supports biology participation and achievement for their emergent bilingual students. This approach builds on foundational ideas in culturally and linguistically responsive pedagogy to recognize and reinforce the many strengths that students bring to classrooms.  

In this video, we reflect on our experiences partnering with biology teachers in the first year of the RIEL Biology project, the 20-21 school year. All members of our team (researchers and practitioners) have demonstrated flexibility this year in attempts to meet the biology learning needs of emergent bilingual students.

Our goal moving into the 21-22 year is to continue strengthening our partnerships, refine our instructional framework, and expand the project reach beyond our partnering counties. 

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Discussion from the 2021 STEM For All Video Showcase (38 posts)
  • Icon for: Julie Brown

    Julie Brown

    Lead Presenter
    Associate Professor, Science Education
    May 10, 2021 | 08:05 p.m.

    Hello and welcome to our video! Thank you for stopping in to learn more about the RIEL Biology project! Our project is in its first year and is a partnership among the University of Florida, University of South Florida, and high school biology classrooms in Alachua County Public Schools and Hillsborough County Public Schools.

    RIEL Biology supports science learning for emergent bilingual students through an instructional framework containing six elements of culturally and linguistically responsive teaching. In no particular order, these elements are: affirming science identities, attention to language, collaboration, funds of knowledge, multiple modalities, and sociopolitical consciousness.

    We'd love your thoughts on any of the following as you watch our video. We are especially interested in teachers' perspectives:

    • What online professional learning experiences have been valuable for you and/or those you educate?
    • What instructional approaches have helped your multilingual students engage meaningfully in content and practices?
    • Of the six RIEL Biology elements (above), which might be the most difficult to bring about in the science classroom? Why might this be so?
    • Which, if any, of the following resources would be valuable to you: exemplar lesson plans, video-recorded modeled instructional strategies, video recordings of participating biology teachers sharing their own experiences implementing RIEL Biology instruction? Anything else that we might have missed?

    Thank you again for taking the time to interact with our video. We appreciate it!

  • Icon for: Kara Dawson

    Kara Dawson

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 11, 2021 | 11:41 a.m.

    This is great project addressing a pressing need. I am wondering how the six elements of culturally and linguistically responsive teaching align with what is already expected of teachers by their schools or districts. For example, a district using UDL as framework may be better positioned to integrate these elements than a district not using such a framework. How did you select your partner sites? 

  • Icon for: Julie Brown

    Julie Brown

    Lead Presenter
    Associate Professor, Science Education
    May 11, 2021 | 11:54 a.m.

    Thanks, Kara! This is a great question; we selected the partner sites based on documented need (i.e., large disparities in Biology EOC exam scores between English-primary and emergent bilingual, EB, students, as well as their interest in working with us. We are targeting schools with large EB populations.

  • Icon for: Troy Sadler

    Troy Sadler

    Researcher
    May 11, 2021 | 07:16 a.m.

    Great video. I'd be interested in hearing more about your team's approach to using multiple modalities and the coordination of those different modalities.

  • Icon for: Julie Brown

    Julie Brown

    Lead Presenter
    Associate Professor, Science Education
    May 11, 2021 | 08:39 a.m.

    Thank you! We're finding that multiple modalities is the area in which teachers' use is strongest coming into the program. This has been very encouraging. One of our Co-PIs is a bilingual educator who leads this element and has helped teachers think through how they use multiple modalities to: (1) display information, (2) allow students to negotiate content and practices, and (3) encourage students to use multiple modalities when constructing products (e.g., presentation on artificial reef designs for Florida's Big Bend region of the Gulf).

  • Icon for: Tami Lunsford

    Tami Lunsford

    K-12 Teacher
    May 11, 2021 | 09:03 a.m.

    This is wonderful!  I've often said that learning biology _IS_ like learning a new language because of the difficulty and amount of vocabulary.  Teaching it to emerging english learners is definitely a special challenge, and what you all are doing is impressive.  Well done!

  • Icon for: Mark B. Pacheco

    Mark B. Pacheco

    Co-Presenter
    Assistant Professor, Bilingual Education
    May 11, 2021 | 09:34 a.m.

    Thanks for the encouragement and observation, Tami! I think the amount of new language that students are exposed to in biology is equal to that of an introductory foreign language class for sure!  It's been so interesting to see how teachers are also finding ways to engage students without requiring oral or written language.  Using multiple modalities  (diagrams, charts, images, videos, etc.) has been so helpful for EBs to access new content and participate in different science and engineering practices.

  • Icon for: Rachel Alatalo

    Rachel Alatalo

    Informal Educator
    May 11, 2021 | 12:21 p.m.

    This is such a great project! Our team is working on creating culturally competent video resources for emergent bilingual students in STEM, and one of our big questions is how to measure the success of the project. As you've been working on your project, what metrics are you using to evaluate success? Do you look at qualitative measures like test scores, or have you been focusing more on attitudes and self efficacy? 

     
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    Kelsey Savage
  • Icon for: Julie Brown

    Julie Brown

    Lead Presenter
    Associate Professor, Science Education
    May 12, 2021 | 11:42 a.m.

    Hello, Rachel! Thank you for viewing our video and sharing about your project, too! 

    We are most interested in understanding how emergent bilingual students engage with science content and SEPs as they are taught in ways aligned with the instructional framework. For this we've been doing frequent classroom observations and also student interviews in their primary language. On the quantitative side, we are using the ROSE survey to examine potential changes in their science interest, their class grades, and their End of Course exam scores.

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Kelsey Savage
  • Icon for: Kirby Whittington

    Kirby Whittington

    Postdoctoral Researcher
    May 11, 2021 | 02:27 p.m.

    What a great video! As others have commented, it is so important to see projects specifically addressing how to help teachers work with their bilingual students. You all mentioned the need to switch to online PD during this Covid time, I was curious to know more about this transition. PD around culturally and linguistically responsive teaching is hard in a normal year, were there aspects of the PD that were easier to adapt to online? Were there aspects that were harder?

  • Icon for: Julie Brown

    Julie Brown

    Lead Presenter
    Associate Professor, Science Education
    May 12, 2021 | 11:47 a.m.

    Thanks, Kirby! You are right on, moving to online learning posed some challenges for us. It was essential for us to know - early on and regularly - how teachers are responding to this learning environment. We've been conducting ongoing content analyses of teachers' interaction patterns in the six Canvas course modules (one for each element) as well as changes in which element-related strategies they report using as the module progresses. We are learning that teachers are using the course as intended and are also seeing marked improvements in which element aligned strategies they select and implement. 

    The easiest aspect to adapt to online was content delivery. The more challenging was building community, which we've been trying to do through three avenues: monthly synchronous meetings where we help them lesson plan, weekly email reminders, and regular visits to their classrooms. 

  • Icon for: Pat Friedrichsen

    Pat Friedrichsen

    Researcher
    May 11, 2021 | 04:13 p.m.

    Julie:

    I enjoyed learning about the great work you and your team are doing.  I'm looking forward to seeing your findings.

  • Icon for: Julie Brown

    Julie Brown

    Lead Presenter
    Associate Professor, Science Education
    May 12, 2021 | 11:47 a.m.

    Thank you, Pat! We appreciate the feedback!

  • Icon for: Katherine Mortimer

    Katherine Mortimer

    Researcher
    May 11, 2021 | 10:17 p.m.

    Fabulous work and really exciting! Disparities on the biology (and other) EOCs are a concern for us here in El Paso TX as well. I think exemplar lessons and video-recorded instruction modeling the strategies in your project would be tremendously helpful in pre-service teacher education. I teach a course specifically for secondary content-area teachers and focused on translanguaging strategies for content instruction for emergent bilinguals -- videos like you describe would be an excellent resource! Our project is incorporating translanguaging and culturally responsive strategies into middle school science and math. I'm interested to hear more about the attention to language element of RIEL Biology -- what are some points that have felt key in your work with attention to language? I'm guessing both teachers' attention to language as well as students' attention to language?

  • Icon for: Julie Brown

    Julie Brown

    Lead Presenter
    Associate Professor, Science Education
    May 12, 2021 | 11:51 a.m.

    Thanks for sharing about your work, Katherine. It sounds like a wonderfully important project! 

    With respect to attention to language, we've been focused in Year 1 on helping biology teachers find ways to support EB students in a) accessing new language, b) using new language, and c) using familiar language and/or home languages. 

    We have used resources such as http://stem4els.wceruw.org/resources.html to guide teachers' planned supports and also have been serving as mentors in the classrooms while they teach. 

  • Icon for: Cathy Lussier

    Cathy Lussier

    Researcher
    May 11, 2021 | 11:55 p.m.

    Thank you for sharing your video. You encapsulated the deep need for supporting language usage and development as part of an instructional approach in Biology really well. I also like how you described the transition to online during COVID. We're just migrating to that to Canvas now at my university. What a good idea to use that as a sandbox space. What a good strategy. You also mentioned getting ready to conduct the end of year focus groups now. We're about to do our second year focus group and so it's very much on my mind right now. Are there any particular questions that you're most eager to see what the response is to? 

  • Icon for: Julie Brown

    Julie Brown

    Lead Presenter
    Associate Professor, Science Education
    May 12, 2021 | 11:57 a.m.

    Hi, Cathy! Thanks for watching our video and posing such great questions! We are appreciative. 

    We view the student interviews as a space for us to understand how, if at all, the RIEL Biology instructional elements afforded emergent bilingual students' engagement with science content and practices. It is much easier to view teacher implementation with the classroom observations so the interviews allow the students to reflect on how the framework aligned lessons were received. We also place audio recorders at students' desks during the classroom observations and use this information as prompts for our interview questions (e.g., when you and xxx student collaborated during the Design-A-Fish project, I noticed that you asked xxx student for clarification on the tasks. How, if it all, did xxx student's responses help you?)

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Cathy Lussier
  • Icon for: Daniel Damelin

    Daniel Damelin

    Facilitator
    Senior Scientist
    May 12, 2021 | 08:16 p.m.

    This is a nice example of one of the six elements of culturally and linguistically responsive teaching you mentioned above. It would be great to hear about more specific examples of the other elements in action.

  • Icon for: Heidi Carlone

    Heidi Carlone

    Facilitator
    Distinguished Professor
    May 12, 2021 | 10:25 a.m.

    Hi Julie and Team,

    Wonderful work. This is a great example of an innovative adjustment post-COVID. I'd love to do a deep dive into each of your six design elements but, due to space, I'll ask about one: What are the ways the teachers have worked in sociopolitical consciousness into the lessons, if at all? What are the ways you're investigating the robustness of that principle? What are the outcomes of interest? Finally, how are teachers balancing the crazy push for "vocab-mania" in HS biology with the depth needed for a sociopolitical approach? This is so challenging, but I'd love to see your project become a model for what this kind of culturally and linguistically responsive biology instruction looks like. 

  • Icon for: Julie Brown

    Julie Brown

    Lead Presenter
    Associate Professor, Science Education
    May 12, 2021 | 12:03 p.m.

    Thank you, Heidi! We appreciate the kind words and great question. 

    Actually, we have not yet reached the point in the school year where we've seen teachers' sociopolitical consciousness lessons in action. COVID delayed our project start with teachers by over a month. But, this is such an important (and difficult!) area for science teachers to tackle that we are eager to learn how they design and implement their lessons. 

     

    The 'vocab-mania' has indeed been present due to End of Course exam content. However, we've seen an upside to this, as it is the space where teachers often use multiple modalities to help students access and negotiate the terms. They came into the program with strong repertoires in multiple modalities-based instruction, which we were quite encouraged by!

  • Icon for: Jorge Solis

    Jorge Solis

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 12, 2021 | 12:59 p.m.

    What an interesting and critical project! I've done some work recently with science teachers of English learners and we found that incorporating and when needed adapting instruction to student background knowledge is one of the most challenging aspects of promoting more inclusive pedagogy. It does take a certain level of content and pedagogical dexterity to reframe/adapt. What have you noticed with your project around contextualizing biology with emergent bilinguals? Im excited to learn more about this work here. 

  • Icon for: Julie Brown

    Julie Brown

    Lead Presenter
    Associate Professor, Science Education
    May 13, 2021 | 08:16 a.m.

    Thank you for the kind words, Jorge! I agree that integrating science content with students' background knowledge is quite challenging. I've been impressed with our teachers' thoughtfulness when it comes to eliciting students' funds of knowledge and designing instruction with these funds in mind. For example, one teacher learned about students' wealth of knowledge around anime and manga. The teacher then created a lesson where students were asked to work in groups and identify the 'evolutionary path' of a topic of their choosing. Some chose Dragon Ball Z, others chose gardening techniques, etc. Students then presented on their work and tied to the evolution of specific organisms.

  • Icon for: Jorge Solis

    Jorge Solis

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 13, 2021 | 01:52 p.m.

    These are amazing biology links to popular culture and home literacies! Look forward to learning more about your work. 

  • Icon for: Maya Israel

    Maya Israel

    Researcher
    May 12, 2021 | 05:20 p.m.

    I love this project and really appreciate your discussion of the need to pivot during COVID. What are some of the lessons learned around teacher PD and reflection that you are now doing virtually that will carry over in a post-COVID implementation? For example, I love your approach to collective teacher reflection using the rubrics that you're using online. Will this remain once you move back to face-to-face? 

  • Icon for: Julie Brown

    Julie Brown

    Lead Presenter
    Associate Professor, Science Education
    May 13, 2021 | 08:21 a.m.

    Thanks for the comment, Maya! This is a great question, too. As we move toward Year 2 (Cohort 2), we will keep the modules going with a few changes: first, we learned that teachers would like more differentiation when learning about framework-based strategies. For example, some teachers have come into the project having taken extensive PD on science instruction for emergent bilinguals. These teachers will need different experiences to propel their professional growth when compared with teachers who have not had such prior training. Second, our synchronous monthly zoom meetings will now become face-to-face in each district but with an online component so that teachers can still collaborate across districts. Beyond that, our analysis of teachers' interactions with Canvas content is showing that they find value in the modules and are using the content to make demonstrable changes to their instruction. 

  • Icon for: Dr. Julia V. Clark

    Dr. Julia V. Clark

    Facilitator
    Retired Federal Employee
    May 12, 2021 | 05:22 p.m.

    You are to be commended for the program you provided in light of COVID.  You are addressing a needed area.  I would, however,  like to know more about the professional development (PD) provided, especially since the project had to switch to online professional development. Secondly, how will the project be evaluated? How will success be determined/measured? I am also concerned about the modules that were provided by another institution. Construction a module is time-consuming. How do they differ from the original classroom content and approaches? 

  • Icon for: Mark B. Pacheco

    Mark B. Pacheco

    Co-Presenter
    Assistant Professor, Bilingual Education
    May 12, 2021 | 06:35 p.m.

    Thanks for your comment and interest in our work, Julia!  I was so impressed by our teachers' determination to support their emergent bilingual students over the course of the year, despite the challenges presented by COVID. 

    We were lucky enough to still observe face-to-face instruction on a regular basis, and work with teachers before and after their instruction.  Along with that, we had monthly meetings with the participating teachers and the research team to discuss elements of the approach and collaboratively plan lessons.  Lastly, we created digital modules through an online learning platform (Canvas), which included video content, sample lessons, activities, and opportunities for the teachers to interact with us and with one another. 

    Our external evaluator has been fantastic in gathering multiple assessments of our project, including interviews with participating teachers, observations of our PDs and team meetings, and artifact analysis from the online modules.  Along with that, we'll still be able to look at EOC exam scores and interview students to get a sense of "what's working" in our approach.

    On the one hand, the digital platform has limited some of the work we were hoping to do with the teachers.  On the other hand, the digital approach has allowed us  to gather some really rich data, such as amount of time individual teachers have spent interfacing with the online modules. 

    We're hopeful for Year 2, and are thrilled to be able to expand our project and meet in person once again!

  • Icon for: Daniel Damelin

    Daniel Damelin

    Facilitator
    Senior Scientist
    May 12, 2021 | 08:18 p.m.

    Given this year was so technology focused for many schools that were at least partially remote, did you find any tools that helped to facilitate learning for emergent language learners?

  • Icon for: Julie Brown

    Julie Brown

    Lead Presenter
    Associate Professor, Science Education
    May 13, 2021 | 09:18 a.m.

    Thank you for your question, Daniel! Because our project is situated in Florida, all of the emergent bilingual students we work with are on-campus in face-to-face instruction. As a result, we have not explored online learning tools in this way. It's an area of great need, though, and I am glad you asked about it!

  • Icon for: Pasha Antonenko

    Pasha Antonenko

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 13, 2021 | 05:06 p.m.

    As a bilingual learner, I really appreciate the focus of your work. I will look forward to learning more about the outcomes of your work! 

  • Icon for: Karl G Jung

    Karl G Jung

    Co-Presenter
    Assistant Professor, K-8 Science Education
    May 14, 2021 | 11:42 a.m.

    Thanks, Pasha! We look forward to sharing them as we continue our work!

  • May 14, 2021 | 02:38 p.m.

    Such important work!  In addition to the observation protocol, are you assessing students' identities and connections to STEM?

  • Icon for: Karl G Jung

    Karl G Jung

    Co-Presenter
    Assistant Professor, K-8 Science Education
    May 14, 2021 | 03:31 p.m.

    Hi Bridget, I will also add that we have another graduate student who is interested in exploring students Funds of Knowledge and Identity and how those help the students developing their science identities as well as participate in science and engineering practices.

  • Icon for: Mark B. Pacheco

    Mark B. Pacheco

    Co-Presenter
    Assistant Professor, Bilingual Education
    May 14, 2021 | 03:22 p.m.

    Hi Bridget--thanks for the positive feedback on our work!  It's been so great to work with teachers and other researchers across Florida. I'm thrilled to be part of this work.

    And, yes, we are trying to find innovative ways to connect science content to students' identities, and in the process, help students' see connections between their identities and disciplinary practices. 

    One of our graduate students is looking into multimodality and biology engagement, which I'm sure you'd find interesting :)

    I hope you're doing great in Boulder!

    Mark

  • May 15, 2021 | 11:13 a.m.

    Thanks, Mark and Karl.  I will look forward to updates on your project.   Mark, hope to see you at LRA!

  • Icon for: Preethi Titu

    Preethi Titu

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 18, 2021 | 08:23 a.m.

    Hi Julie and team, It feels great to see you and learn about your work! It's an amazing project and I look forward to getting to know more about the revised observation protocol. While the online format of providing professional development to teachers might have been quite challenging initially, I am wondering about the strategies you adopted to encourage networking and collaboration among your teachers. Did they meet in small groups which were consistent throughout the past year to brainstorm lesson ideas? Were there any teacher leaders within the group? 

     

  • Icon for: Karl G Jung

    Karl G Jung

    Co-Presenter
    Assistant Professor, K-8 Science Education
    May 18, 2021 | 08:37 a.m.

    Hi Preethi! For this first year of the project we started with a very small group of teachers, both to start building up the project, and also because of covid. During our monthly synchronous meetings the teachers were able to interact with each other and share in the learning together. We also started early in the year before actually starting the work on our framework with some synchronous meetings to share resources that the teachers could use for hybrid/online teaching.

    During this first year, we did not have any teacher leaders, but moving forward we have selected and invited two of our current teachers to continue on the project as teacher leaders. They will support the work we do with the teachers each month, leading PD sessions, as well as continuing to explore implementing the various framework elements in their own instruction.

     

    Hope you are well!

  • Icon for: Preethi Titu

    Preethi Titu

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 18, 2021 | 10:01 a.m.

    Thanks Karl! This sounds promising! Best wishes to you and the team as you step into year 2 of the project! 

    I am well and hope you are as well! I hope to see you at conferences in-person soon:)

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