Project ExcEL schools are piloting a number of innovative solutions for these students. Flexibility, and an awareness that there is no single solution to meet the needs of all students, are firmly embedded in these model approaches.
Middle School Science
At Sleepy Hollow Middle School, entering and emergingELL students have the opportunity to participate in the 8th grade Regents Living Environment class. In New York State, successfully completing the Regents classes (and exams) put students on a college pathway, and passing this science Regents while in middle school creates opportunities for advanced coursework in high school.
This school year, science teacher Anthony Patierno and ENL teacher Robert Caceres are partnering to offer a sheltered Living Environment class for beginning level English speakers – some have only been in the United States for a few weeks. The co-teachers present content in English with translation available as needed, and make excellent use of strategies designed to ensure English learners can fully access the content. The hands-on nature of science learning facilitates learning, but it is clearly the passion and dedication of the teachers and the students that makes it successful.
Teachers do not expect every student will take and pass the Regents exam, but they believe exposure to this rigorous coursework will engender a love of science and keep students engaged in school and learning. As they gain confidence in academic English, they will have an opportunity to take the exam again in high school.
High School Emergent Literacy Program
At Ossining High School, recent arrivals with low literacy skills and interrupted education have the option of joining the Emergent Literacy Program. This intensive program is designed to provide access to grade level curriculum and resources, and prepare students to pursue a GED, career, trade school or college pathway.
Students work with dedicated ENL instructor Barbara Knowles four periods a day, following a newly developed curriculum focused on sheltered instruction and balanced literacy. It is anticipated students will spend 6 months to 2 years in this program, but will eventually transition into the mainstream educational process.
Ossining High School has also created an in-house Spanish language GED program, led by Terry Velez-DeLeon. This program is unique because it is housed within the high school, during the regular school day.
The Ossining community is optimistic about these programs, they are seeing positive engagement and results. A key to the success of both high schools endeavors is how they integrate the ELL students with the social, athletic and elective activities in the high school. Students in either program are encouraged to pursue their personal interests in the arts, in sports, in business, or in the many other elements that provide a comprehensive high school experience.