Igniting Student Learning at Life Academy
At a full day staff retreat at Mills College in June, teacher scholars from Life Academy’s Humanities Department shared the results of their year-long inquiry projects on supporting their Long-term English Learners. Teacher scholars from this Oakland Unified 8th-12th grade school gave fast-paced 5 minute “Ignite” presentations about how their inquiry supported new understandings and instructional shifts.
Teacher scholar leader Marguerite Sheffer presented on her inquiry about supporting Long-term English Learners with incorporating transitions in their writing:
“Scaffolds that support and don’t hinder critical thinking are much like the Holy Grail. We know we want them, but they are really hard to actually figure out. Is it sentence stems? Is it outlines? Or do these actually box students in and tell them what to think? That was my big fear…”
Marguerite spoke of how she moved from a more general focus on scaffolds to the more specific focus of supporting students to incorporate transitions in their writing—a practice that improved their academic writing and scaffolded critical thinking.
Teachers from other Life Academy departments voiced their appreciation for this teacher-directed inquiry work, particularly noting the strength of the professional buy-in and teacher agency their colleagues demonstrated through their presentations. In this video clip, Life teachers and Mills Teacher Scholars’ Executive Director, Carrie Wilson, discuss why the Mills Teacher Scholars inquiry partnership was powerful and professionalizing: