Focus school: Concordia International School Shanghai

Submitted by: Jim Lantz
Date: March 2022
Photos courtesy of Concordia International School Shanghai

Concordia International School Shanghai serves more than 1,200 students in preschool through grade 12 on its campus in the modern, international community of Jinqiao. Our mission states, “At Concordia, we view every student as a gift from God, entrusted to us by parents and are committed in Christian stewardship to educate students holistically in a nurturing environment that includes comprehensive and challenging opportunities in academics, creative arts, spirituality, athletics, co-curricular activities and service.” Concordia Shanghai was founded, and continues to exist, to be a blessing to those within and beyond our school gates.

Due to a significant increase in the enrollment of multilingual students, Concordia Shanghai joined the WIDA International Consortium in 2015. Since then, our school’s English Language Learner (ELL) program has gone from having just one ELL teacher working with a few grades to currently having 11 ELL specialists who provide English language support in all four divisions of our school (early childhood, elementary school, middle school and high school). We have benefited from our partnership with WIDA in a multitude of ways.

Two young children reading together and smiling
WIDA’s framework helps both ELL specialists and content area teachers to identify the language that is embedded in our school’s rigorous academic content. It assists us to remember that, by providing scaffolds to help students process and produce essential academic language, all ELLs (regardless of their current level of English) are capable of success. The WIDA Can Do Descriptors give us specific asset-based language to talk about our multilingual learners in a way that honors the many funds of knowledge they bring to our classrooms. Raisa Romer (elementary school ELL specialist) notes, “Identifying what each child can do is helpful when creating learning activities that all children can access and experience success in.”

The WIDA MODEL and WIDA Screener assessments also have played an integral role at Concordia. These assessments have helped us to properly identify which students may require ELL support, as well as track the progress of their English language development. The various iterations of the WIDA speaking and writing rubrics have also assisted us to assess the linguistic strengths and growth areas of our students’ productive language abilities. We find the data we collect from WIDA assessments and rubrics extremely powerful when it is considered alongside the other sources of information we collect about our students’ linguistic and academic abilities.

Concordia’s ELL team has also greatly benefitted from various WIDA professional development opportunities. Many of our ELL specialists attended the WIDA International Institute as part of their introduction to WIDA. Some team members recently participated in “Stretching Your Co-Teaching” facilitated by Jon Nordmeyer and Andrea Honigsfeld.

“The workshop helped us to see the good work we are currently doing in our school and envision what next steps could look like. It gave us resources that we could share across the division to continue our conversations about what good collaboration looks like." – Raisa Romer, ES ELL Specialist

We also have a group of 12 faculty members who are currently enrolled in the WIDA Global Community of Practice.

“…talking to ELL professionals from all over the globe about their practices and what is happening at their schools…has been an invaluable and illuminating experience to be able to participate in such a diverse and instructive community,” – Darline Coupet, high school ELL specialist

Through joining these WIDA-provided professional development opportunities, as well as other conferences with WIDA keynote speakers such as Tim Boals and Lorena Mancilla, we keep up-to-date in our professional knowledge and collaborate with others from around the world to sharpen our professional practice.

It is our hope and expectation that our partnership with WIDA will continue to provide us with the tools we need to best serve the wonderful multilingual learners we have at Concordia Shanghai.

two students in classroom reading

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