Why Did you Start Using WIDA?
There are 1,000+ students at SSIS from over 35 nationalities with a majority of our students speaking a language other than English at home. About 25 percent of the students in the elementary school and 15 percent in the MS and HS are enrolled in the EAL program. SSIS began using WIDA MODEL in 2012 as part of our admissions process for tracking student progress, and as one factor in our exit criteria. We adopted MODEL because it focuses on assessing and expanding academic English. After our initial adoption of the program, WIDA consultant Maureen Keithley visited our school to train our EAL department and familiarize teachers with materials and resources. Since then, most of our new EAL staff have also been trained at WIDA workshops and others have attended more than one WIDA training.
Our EAL teachers utilize co-teaching models to support language learning within the classroom. The WIDA collaboration trainings have been instrumental in forging ahead with bringing more co-teaching practices to our school and gaining administrative support. In addition, our EAL teachers offer small group instruction to target specific language objectives. After attending an EARCOS training, in which Jon Nordmeyer shared a menu-style collaboration document, our ES EAL Team developed a tailored version for our Collaboration Menu to utilize during co-planning. Within the EAL department, teachers use the WIDA continuum to set individual learning goals for our students and to inform instruction both in co-taught classes and pull-out sessions. We've found that the Can Do philosophy gives us a positive means to communicate about our learners. We use the WIDA Model rubrics for ongoing formative assessment of speaking and writing throughout the school year as well. These rubrics have become go-to tools far beyond their use during our annual progress assessments.