Resources

Meeting the Moment: Lessons on Instructional Materials for Multilingual Learners in California Middle Grades

Sean Arseo, Ph.D., Aliza N. Husain, Ph.D., and Johana Guardado February 23, 2023
Download Meeting the Moment

Meeting the Moment explores how educators taught multilingual learners during distance and in-person learning and recommends several ways publishers of instructional materials and policymakers can better support educators across the state to accelerate their students’ learning.

For years, California’s multilingual learners (MLLs)–students who learn English after learning another or multiple languages–have academically trailed behind their English-only peers. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, achievement gaps between these groups of students have widened. Research shows that the quality of instructional materials influences this disparity, but few investigations have so far examined educators’ uses of, challenges with, and benefits from instructional materials to teach MLLs during distance and the return to in-person learning.

Meeting the Moment: Lessons on Instructional Materials for Multilingual Learners in California Middle Grades is a new report from Pivot Learning that draws upon interview and focus group conversations with thirty-nine educators to answer these questions, and recommends several ways publishers of instructional materials and policymakers can better support educators across the state to accelerate learning for their students.

Key findings from the Meeting the Moment report about how educators use instructional materials to teach MLLs include:

  • Whether used during distance or in-person learning, comprehensive instructional materials can paradoxically worsen constraints on teachers’ time. 
  • During distance learning, teachers familiarized themselves and their students with new technology. Upon returning to the classroom, providers limited their access to some of it.
  • Without robust training on using instructional materials to engage MLLs in independent learning, teachers often personally translate – and long for accurate translations of – core and supplemental instructional materials that can serve students at all levels of English language proficiency.
  • Combined practices and techniques like sentence frames and other scaffolds can especially, but not exclusively, support MLLs’ literacy and English language development.
  • Educators want instructional materials that are culturally relevant and age- and grade-appropriate for their MLLs.

Educators can also use Pivot Learning’s assignment review rubrics for English language arts and mathematics lessons below to develop lessons that address their multilingual learners’ unique needs.

California’s educational crises require urgent action by publishers of instructional materials and state policymakers to meet this critical moment for the state’s Multilingual Learners.

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