July 7, 2022 — Will it sink or float?
That was one of the main questions pondered by English Language Learning students in Amanda Tygart’s classroom at Beauclerc Elementary School.
The students were engaged in a hands-on physics lesson involving testing different types of cubes in an aquarium.
It’s one of many hands-on lessons through the district’s new Hands2Mind curriculum used in the six-week summer ESOL Maintenance program. The lessons use engaging, interactive activities to help students master both STEM skills and reinforce their use of English.
“I’m happy, because I get to learn and when I came here to the United States, I didn’t know English,” said upcoming fourth-grader Kamila Cadet. “They teach us all the things about your language.”
Cadet, a native of Mexico, has been in the district’s ESOL Program for two years and credits it with her increased fluency in English.
The summer program, she says, has opened a new world into science and technology.
“We were also learning about engineers, and what they do, and different types of engineers,” said Cadet. “We’re also learning about magnets and if they attract or repel. We learned that every kind of metal is not magnetic.”
Tygart says this is a tremendous learning experience for these children who in most homes do not hear the English language fluently. She says the new curriculum helps make their vocabulary stronger and the experience makes it stick, especially when they get to use the materials and partner with their classmates.
“It really allows them to use the vocabulary with each other,” said Tygart. “For it to be hands on, it makes it concrete.”
Cadet says they all take their lessons very seriously and it’s a shared effort to make sure everyone learns.
“If someone doesn’t get something right, we don’t laugh at them because we know we can all make mistakes,” said Cadet. “We help each other and that’s how we learn.”
Principal Matt Walker says the Hand2Mind curriculum has been a rich resource for his school.
“We know, our (English Language Learners) are sometimes fragile learners just because of the newness of being in the States,” said Walker. “So, for us to be able to provide that opportunity to them is just really special for us.”
Tygart believes this experience will boost the children’s confidence in both their English skills and their experience as students.
“I want them to feel more comfortable with the English language,” said Tygart. “Maybe next year when they’re in their science classes, they’ll be like, ‘Hey, I know that word. I remember that word. We did that in summer school,’” said Tygart.
For Cadet, this experience will extend beyond the classroom for her and into a future career in a STEM field.
“If I learn about science, like a lot, if I’m a nurse, I may be able to invent things to help sick people.” Cadet said.
Visit the district’s ESOL webpage to learn more about programs to help English Language Learner.