Co-Authored By: Optimal Learning Center Director Paula Cline English Language Learning Specialist Kristi Leitch Social Studies Teacher Jason Deehan
Carol Morgan School, an international school in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, joined the WIDA Consortium of International Schools (WISC*) in 2016 and was fortunate to serve as the host site for the WIDA International Academy that took place from February 16-19, 2017. In addition to the twenty-five CMS faculty members, fifteen educators from four Central and South American countries (Brazil, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela) and five schools (Graded-The American School of Sao Pãolo, American School of Brasília, The International School of Panama, Colégio Roosevelt, and Escuela Campo Alegre) participated in the event.
WIDA academies, like this four-day event CMS hosted, are the first step in understanding the WIDA language development framework, which consists of the MODEL assessment, their Can-Do Philosophy, language standards, performance definitions, and guiding principles of language development. Led by WIDA’s Allyson Newton the academy helped participants gain valuable understanding of WIDA principles. Participants in this academy engaged with components of the WIDA Standards and Assessment system and explored how to implement these in their context. During the academy, participants used the WIDA standards framework to analyze the academic language demands of content standards at their school and created an instructional and assessment plan based on the needs of their students. Participants also had opportunities to develop context-specific implementation plans for communication and collaboration with staff members.
Beyond exploring the WIDA program specifics, academy participants benefited from simply having an opportunity to join together and share ideas and concerns about language development and instruction. One activity was called School Portraits, where positive language assets and programs at each of the participating schools were highlighted. This sparked animated discussions about similarities and differences among the schools, as well as specifics about implementation challenges and individual program structures. Email addresses were exchanged, creating the beginnings of a professional learning network that can share resources and bounce ideas off each other.
Carol Morgan School was proud to host this WIDA Academy and support this exchange of language learning resources, best practices, and ideas. The ELL professionals and the classroom teachers who attended learned much about the importance of academic language and the need to also look at their content areas through language lens. If you are curious about the WIDA program, or interested in attending an academy, check out the WIDA website .