Submitted by: Rachel Brill
Date: June 2022
Photos courtesy of Avenues São Paulo
The São Paulo campus of Avenues: The World School was founded in 2018 to prepare future world-wise leaders to solve complex global-scaled problems. Avenues is one school with many campuses, serving students from 2-years-old through 12th grade in New York, São Paulo, Shenzhen, and via an online program. Additional campuses in Silicon Valley and Miami will be opening soon. Core to the foundation of all Avenues campuses is the valued behaviors that provide a balance of humility and confidence. Avenues students and staff embody our valued behaviors through learning and being collaborative, accountable, resourceful, adaptive and courageous across the globe. The campus in São Paulo is unique because a majority of the students are learning English as an additional language and already speak Portuguese, Korean or Spanish. One aspect of the school mission statement is to “graduate students who are accomplished in the academic skills one would expect; at ease beyond their borders; truly fluent in a second language” which creates a unique opportunity for WIDA to influence how academic English is acquired.
Avenues São Paulo creates authentic learning experiences for students through the use of interdisciplinary, project-based learning. The middle school program is composed of signature learning experiences that cultivate critical thinking, advocacy and socio-emotional skills necessary for development. Each grade level in middle school consists of 2-3 integrated projects lasting 6-8 weeks per semester. Students are in cohorts as they rotate through these projects. For example, in one 6th grade project, students analyze the different types of human impact on different biomes and how these affect living things. Using the topics previously mentioned, students explore elements of informative writing to produce a factual essay about the endangered animal they have chosen to research. This written piece is then used to create a public service announcement calling awareness to the issue. Through this process, students recognize that their actions affect the world, both globally and locally.
Avenues embodies innovation and is always learning and seeking new ways to grow. The opportunity to participate in the WIDA Global Community of Practice was one that aligned with the school’s philosophy and attracted the interest of a diverse team as well as the interest of colleagues at the Avenues Shenzhen campus. In São Paulo, a language specialist teacher, a 6th grade project teacher, and the associate division head for the Student Success Team formed the team representing Avenues for the WIDA Global Community of Practice. They have collaboratively learned and worked together to identify a problem of practice and are currently iterating possible solutions to continue to build the capacity of teachers to analyze multiple sources of data to make decisions about how to provide differentiated support in lessons.
Participating in the WIDA Global Community of Practice is only one of the ways in which WIDA has become integrated into the school. For the Secondary Division admissions process and our ALLI (Avenues Language Learning Intensive) students who just graduated from the program before joining our regular classes, students take the WIDA MODEL assessment, which allows the language specialists to have a clear understanding of a student’s level and supports or extensions they may need. Avenues São Paulo is additionally a member of the WIDA International School Consortium and its staff participate in various webinars and conferences to deepen their practice throughout the school year. Currently, 6th and 7th grade students are completing the WIDA MODEL assessment so that the Student Success Team, alongside teachers and leaders, can create meaningful professional learning opportunities for teachers to scaffold their instruction to meet language learners where they are.
Avenues São Paulo is extremely grateful to partner with WIDA to ensure all students have equitable access to content. The WIDA Can Do Philosophy has provided an additional framework for a strength-based approach to student support. As Avenues São Paulo continues to scale its use of WIDA, its staff look forward to empowering teachers, leaders, families and students to embrace asset-based strategies to support language development.
"When having conversations with my multilingual learners about their English language learning journeys, I tell them that we are in an English marathon that WIDA can help us find out where is their location to reach their finish line and that I'm running alongside as a team to support their needs each kilometer way. As a language specialist, WIDA has empowered me with the needed tools to follow/facilitate multilingual learners' growth paths and guide them until their finish lines successfully." – Mariana Carvalho
"By establishing a consistent and effective WIDA data analysis practice amongst our teaching teams, we look forward to all teachers, regardless of the subject area, being able to intentionally inform how they use language in the classroom." – Alyssa Arias