Using best practices, we will empower students to acquire the language skills, knowledge and confidence necessary to be productive members of their community. NAS-Phoenix shares best-practices in secondary school reforms, with a common focus on: key, research-based goals and an academic mission; small personalized learning environments; respect and responsibility among students, among faculty, and between students, and faculty; time for staff collaboration and for including the wider community in the education partnership; technology as a tool for designing and delivering engaging, imaginative curricula; and, rigorous academic standards.
English Language Acquisition
NAS-Phoenix teachers support student learning through a variety of research based instructional strategies including Sheltered Instruction, Scaffolded Learning and Active Learning. Literacy is emphasized across the curriculum.
Sheltered English instruction is an instructional approach that engages English Language Learners (ELLs) above the beginner level in developing grade-level content-area knowledge, academic skills, and increased English proficiency. Sheltered Instruction offers ELLs the grade-level content instruction of their English-speaking peers, while adapting lesson delivery to suit their English proficiency level. In Sheltered English classes, learning activities connect new content to students’ prior knowledge. Teachers use clear, direct, simple English and a wide range of scaffolding strategies to communicate course content to students.
Scaffolding enables teachers to support student learning by building on prior knowledge. Examples of scaffolding:
- Some resources such as textbooks and other written materials contain the same information as those in conventional classrooms, but they are written in simpler and more direct language or supported by teacher-produced annotations.
- There is considerable reliance on a variety of methods to deliver information. A teacher may explain an idea in English and then use several methods to convey the same information: For example, the teacher may act out the information or use illustrations.
- Continual student-teacher interaction is essential to ensure learning. It may involve discussions, student oral summaries of the information, and continuing student self-diagnosis of gaps in understanding.
- In every lesson, teachers communicate and reinforce English through listening, speaking, reading and writing.
The New America Schools instruction is built on the idea of active, not passive, learning.
Some of the techniques teachers may use, which have been proven effective in English Language Acquisition classes across the country, include:
- Previewing and building on prior knowledge.
- Interactive work, not lengthy lecturing.
- Graphic organizers and other visually-oriented aids that provide a non-linguistic structure for understanding key information.
- Continual modeling by teachers of what kind of work is expected and how to create it.
- An emphasis on relating students’ culture to content, which engages students, maintains their interest, and keeps students’ heritage part of their lives.
- Extensive group work that offers the opportunity to engage students in talking, interacting, problem solving, and improving social skills.