The Teaching English Learners through the Arts Project (TELA), is able to provide an innovative program to improve effective instruction for ELs by inservice and preservice teachers, through strong partnerships and engagement of parents/families. TELA unites the expertise of the Multilingual Academic Support Unit (MAS) and the Center for Distance and Online Learning (CDOL) to create an arts-integrated PD designed specifically to improve instruction of ELs in grades Kindergarten (K) through 6th grade.
TELA online and in person resources deliver the Visual and Performing Arts disciplines, and include resources to increase the engagement and production of language development and content area knowledge for English Learners (EL’s), as well as supporting Social Emotional Learning (SEL).
Using an interactive program that focuses on those areas through the integration of arts and technology is a solution that immediately resonated with our partners when we asked for their input and participation. Needs of ELs are greatest at the elementary level, both because the earlier grades are optimal for language learning, and to prevent ELs from becoming long-term ELs (LTELs), students enrolled in U.S. schools for more than six years who are not progressing toward English proficiency and are struggling academically due to their limited English skills). TELA will focus on students in grades K-6. The identification of best practices with which to instruct early ELs is of paramount importance to LA County educators and provides the impetus for the TELA Project, connecting MAS with the well-established Technology Enhanced Arts Learning (TEAL) project created by CDOL.
TELA comes at a favorable time as it aligns with other efforts to better address the language and social emotional needs of students for ELs. The project will also add much needed, rigorous research-based practices for EL instruction in the early grades, the optimal time to lay the foundation for success for ELs and dual-language learners. Through this collaboration, we have determined that the combination of existing MAS and CDOL resources and creation of new resources, a powerful program to improve EL instruction and learning will be realized. TELA will enable us to build, implement, evaluate, conduct research, and sustain the program. It will also enable us to disseminate information about the program, its resources, outcomes and impact to a broad audience and to support replication. Using blended learning (in-person and on-line instruction) that extends the usual limits of PD, along with the combined assets and experience of its two units, MAS and CDOL, LACOE will be able to sustain this program after funding, expanding TELA through LA County districts and beyond.