• Utilizing Project 2061 and SIOP for ELLs learning science in the mainstream classroom.

      Kester, Corinna M. (12/11/2013)
      With the growing number of English language learners (ELLs) within the United States’ school systems, it is important to design content area curriculums that will benefit all students’ needs. Within content area classrooms, such as science, these needs are language based as well as academic based (Wright, 2010). By comparing the academic achievement of mainstream students and ELLs, it is evident that there is an achievement gap (Santau, Maerten-Rivera & Huggins, 2011). There is a possibility that the existing curriculum and materials used in science classrooms may not be suitable for ELLs learning content alongside their native English-speaking peers, which may exacerbate the achievement gap between these two groups. This curriculum project first illustrates what literature says about effective science instruction for ELLs and outlines the modification and development of a science unit about pond life to address the needs of ELLs. The purpose of this project was to create lessons that will work towards making mastery of sixth grade science concepts more attainable for ELLs learning science in mainstream classrooms. Designed for a school district with a high concentration of ELLs who are predominantly Spanish-speaking, five units with fifty lesson plans were created with the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) model to address the needs of ELLs. Further, Project 2061 was utilized to evaluate materials within these lessons.
    • Using effective strategies for the elementary English Language Learner with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

      Szymkowiak, Claire M. (12/11/2013)
      There exists a gap in literature between students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and English Language Learners (ELLs) (Petersen, Marinova-Todd, & Mirenda, 2012). While literature does examine the best effective strategies for students with ASD or those specific for ELLs, few studies have presented educators with instructional strategies designed for the ELL with ASD in their classrooms (Fernandez y Garcia, Breslau, Hansen, & Miller, 2012; Hambly & Fombonne, 2012). This curriculum project synthesizes current research on the two subjects separately, combining to find the best effective strategies that are aligned between the two. From that, the project outlines a leveled curriculum to be used with autistic ELLs at any stage of the English language proficiency, at the elementary level. The curriculum integrates typical elementary English as a Second Language (ESL) classroom content with the language skills necessary for students to interact and communicate with the world around them. Additionally, each lesson highlights a different strategy referred to in the literature to aid student learning the classroom. Some of the strategies include visual presentations, picture communication, and using textbooks specifically geared towards Autistic children. The curriculum is easily interpretable due its varied nature, therefore, available for general education, special education, or ESL classroom teachers. Teachers can use these lessons in order to provide more meaningful instruction for ELLs with ASD, allowing students to gain vocabulary and communication skills needed for success in the academic and social worlds of their lives.
    • The development of a middle school curriculum with inquiry science for a bilingual setting.

      Gunner, Caitlin M. (12/11/2013)
      Science can be complicated for students who are English language learners (ELLs). Due to the content specific vocabulary and the skills required to investigate science-related topics, ELLs may struggle in the classroom unless they are provided with the proper supports. These supports can include the incorporation of meaningful activities centered around inquiry-based science and the use of students' native language (L1) in the classroom. Bilingual lessons incorporating inquiry science was chosen as the focus for this project to reflect the resources supported by the research showing their effectiveness. This project outlines the design of three science units intended for ELLs in a bilingual setting. It was designed for a rural school in Western New York that does not currently offer bilingual education for its’ ELLs, whose L1 is Spanish. In this project, teacher-created lessons based on three eighth-grade science units were created with inquiry-based activities. Fifty lessons were designed to be implemented in a 50:50 dual-language classroom. These lessons can serve as a basis for teachers and school districts who may desire to incorporate inquiry-based science lessons in a bilingual setting.
    • What research says about readers' theater and the impact of first through eighth graders' oral reading fluency.

      Vogan, Kaleigh L. (12/11/2013)
      This Master’s thesis project intends to examine Readers’ Theater and its impact on the oral reading fluency growth of first through eighth graders, as well as how it can be used as a motivational literacy tool. In addition, with increasing demands and tight time constraints, this project also attempts to reveal ways in which teachers can implement Readers’ Theater activities into existing literacy curriculums. A literature review is conducted in order to answer the project’s guiding questions. The findings reveal Readers’ Theater as an authentic and motivating literacy tool that can provide oral reading fluency growth in students with all reading abilities. This project also provides information on how Readers’ Theater can be adapted and fit into existing curriculums and other content areas. A professional development workshop is developed based on the characteristics and formats of successful professional development workshops identified in literature.
    • The effects of the Tree Jars Intervention on the homework completion and accuracy of middle school mathematics students.

      Landy, Kaitlin (12/11/2013)
      Homework is a teaching strategy that is used to reinforce concepts and skills taught in class and to promote student mastery through practice. It has strong positive effects on academic achievement across grade levels, content areas, and student abilities. To maximize academic learning in mathematics, completion and accuracy of math homework should be addressed. The present study examines the efficacy of the three jars game, a combination of group contingencies with randomized components and mystery motivators, on the homework completion and accuracy of an inclusive 7th grade math class. The three jars game produced immediate and substantive improvements in both pupils’ completion and accuracy rates. Teachers and students rated the intervention very positively and suggested that it should be used more frequently in school. Limitations are delineated and future directions for research and practice in this area are provided.
    • The effects of Three Jars and Mystery motivators on homework completion and accuracy in a 2nd grade classroom.

      Kestner, Christina (12/11/2013)
      Homework is a strategy used by teachers to promote the understanding of content and student mastery through practice. Academic benefits of homework include retention of new knowledge and better understanding of class material. Homework completion and accuracy are essential for student success in school. However, research shows students may lack self discipline and the academic skills required to complete homework assignments (Rathvon, 1999). Therefore, classroom teachers need effective, efficient and socially acceptable interventions to improve homework performance among their students. The present study examined the effects of the three jars intervention on homework completion and accuracy in a 2nd grade general education classroom. The three jars game produced immediate and noticeable improvements in pupils' completion and accuracy over teacher-led instruction. Pupils rated intervention goals, procedures, and outcomes quite favorably and the teachers found it to be effective and efficient. Implications for future research and practice are discussed.
    • The effects of the Radical Raceway on homework completion and accuracy in a high-school social studies class.

      Houser, Derek (12/11/2013)
      Homework is an educational strategy used to improve student understanding of content taught in class. It provides a means for students to further their knowledge through additional, independent practice. Many studies have shown that completing homework correctly has a positive effect on student learning. The problem is that large numbers of students in many classes are not doing their homework and many of those who do complete it incorrectly. The present study showed how the Radical Raceway a intervention package containing group contingencies, small competing teams, public posting, and mystery motivators, was used to improve the homework completion and accuracy rates for a 9th grade Global Studies classroom. The Radical Raceway produced immediate and sustained positive results that improved students’ social studies homework grades by two to three letter grades. Intervention effects were replicated across subsequent experimental phases and the teachers and pupils rated intervention goals, procedures, and outcomes quite favorably. Implications for future research and practice are discussed.
    • Impacts of authentic children's literature and literacy strategies on teaching mathematical comprehension in elementary grades.

      Sliwa, Elizabeth M. (12/11/2013)
      In this Master’s thesis project, empirical studies regarding the use of children’s literature and literacy strategies to teach mathematics are researched. The impacts on mathematical comprehension are discussed and include: An increase in motivation, an increase in achievement, and increase in early numeracy, and an increase in interest of mathematics. The studies researched include findings on how using children’s literature to teach mathematics can increase their motivation for learning and increase their interest in mathematics. Studies about using literacy strategies to teach mathematics include information on how activating prior knowledge, direct vocabulary instruction, and inferencing can have a positive impact on students’ mathematical comprehension. A series of professional development workshops are prepared from the findings from the literature review. The workshop consists of small group and whole group discussions on ways to use children’s literature and literacy strategies to teach mathematics in elementary classrooms.
    • The effects of the Three Jars Game on 9th grade students' academic productivity and social interactions in Spanish II class.

      Palmer, Kelly (12/11/2013)
      Homework is an educational strategy used to improve student understanding of content taught in class. It provides a means for students to further their knowledge through additional, independent practice. Many studies have shown that completing homework correctly has a positive effect on student learning. The problem is that large numbers of students in many classes are not doing their homework and many of those who do complete it incorrectly. The present study showed how the Three Jars intervention package containing group contingencies, small competing teams, and mystery motivators, was used to improve the homework completion, homework accuracy, and decrease negative social behavior rates for a 9th grade Spanish classroom. The Three Jars produced immediate and sustained positive results that improved students’ Spanish homework grades. Intervention effects were replicated across subsequent experimental phases and the teachers and pupils rated intervention goals, procedures, and outcomes quite favorably. Implications for future research and practice are discussed.
    • Attitudes and opinions on the current Seneca language revitalization efforts.

      Gautieri, Gina G. (12/11/2013)
      Indigenous languages all over the world, including Native American languages, are being lost at a rapid rate (Baker, 2011). This is often the result of years of suppression and assimilation to the dominant White culture. Therefore, there is a need for heritage language revitalization and maintenance to ensure the languages remain. Today, efforts to revitalize these indigenous languages are ongoing, including those for the Seneca language. Very few studies, however, have focused specifically on these efforts with the Seneca language. The goal of this study was to determine the attitudes and opinions of those learning or involved in the current Seneca language revitalization effort and thus add to the literature on language revitalization. The participants of this study included teachers and students from schools in Western New York near the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation where Seneca language classes are offered. An online Likert-scale survey was used to collect data from teachers, while a paper version of the survey was given to student participants in their Seneca language classes. Results indicated that the current Seneca language revitalization efforts are effective, but may need some improvement to fully revitalize the language. In addition, the Seneca language, culture, and traditions are valued in the schools, but not as much as in the communities outside of the schools. This study may serve as a basis for further research in this area.
    • Using Non-Print Multi-Media Texts with Literature Circles.

      Sievert, Denise (12/11/2013)
      Common core standards require students to be taught with evidence based practices. This thesis and design of a professional development workshop will include the evidence based research that describes how the instructional practice of Literature Circles combined with non-print texts can be used to help students improve their comprehension skills. The thesis will also describe how Literature Circles can prepare learners for literacy tasks of the 21st century.
    • Effective ways to embed the L1 into a Math curriculum to increase the performance of English Language Learners in Math standardized exams.

      Nuñez, Lucy C. (12/11/2013)
      Since No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the goal was to have 100% of all students, including English language learners (ELLs), to meet state standards by 2013-2014. ELLs are expected to progress at the same rate as native English speakers, not taking into account that these students are in the process of learning a new language. ELLs are not given enough time to gain the academic vocabulary needed to pass the NYS standardized tests (Solórzano, 2008). Some teachers would say that ELLs need as much exposure as possible to L2 input during limited class time, which is why some opt out from using the L1 in the classroom (Schweers, 1999). Other teachers are pressured to have students meet the standards and pass the NYS standardized test in order to meet AYP, that they are not incorporating effective strategies into their instruction. Research has shown that students perform better when they are allowed to use their native language in the classroom (Lightbown & Spada, 2006; Pica, 1994). It is beneficial to embed the use of the L1 during class instruction because Ells struggle with the English language and rely on their L1 to communicate and grasp concepts being taught. The purpose of this curriculum project, therefore, was to develop a curriculum where the L1 has been incorporated into math lessons. Doing so may assist in teaching concepts to ELLs more successfully which in turn may help increase the performance of ELLs on the NYS Math exam. This curriculum project was designed for teachers to use with 3rd grade ELLs.
    • The effects of using various grouping techniques for reading instruction with a class of diverse students.

      Cronin, Jennifer L. (13/11/2012)
      This Master’s Thesis Project focused on using various grouping techniques for reading instruction with a class of diverse students. The topic led to a professional development experience which aimed to provide elementary teachers with best practices for grouping students during reading. It was concluded after research that students benefited most from flexible, dynamic grouping formats. The professional development consisted of a two-hour workshop that provided teachers with knowledge of the Daily 5 and Literacy Café programs for grouping students during reading workshop. There was also an ongoing experience that involved constant observations and teacher reflection, along with collaborative mentor group meetings that continue throughout the entire school year.
    • The effects of Brainscape's Confidence-Based Repetition on two adults' performance on knowledge-based quizzes.

      Waterman, Sarabeth (13/11/2013)
      This project was designed to examine the effects of a new instructional approach that combines elements of both inquiry-based and technology-assisted instruction. The iPad App Brainscape, a synchronous web and mobile flashcard program, was used to study individuals’ acquisition and retention of important declarative knowledge. While substantial evidence exists to support the empirical foundations of this approach, very little, if any, systematic research has been conducted on its impact on human learning. This project, therefore, examined the effects of the Brainscape program on the acquisition and retention of new knowledge by two male adult volunteers. Both individuals expressed a desire to expand their knowledge in two distinct domains, SAT-related vocabulary and United States trivia. The effects of Brainscape were then compared to a more traditional didactic teaching approach. Results suggested that Brainscape was more effective and that it may be a promising intervention for educators. Implications for future research and practice were provided.
    • Identity and heritage learning for mixed-heritage learners.

      Leising, Mary A. . (13/11/2013)
      The following study focuses on one group of heritage language learners, adult mixed-heritage language learners of Japanese decent and explores the relationship between their ethnic identity, self-assessed Japanese language proficiency, and their heritage language learning experiences. Seventeen mixed-heritage JHL learners completed surveys of language proficiency, language learning experiences, and ethnic identity orientation. Among the seventeen respondents, five were interviewed to examine their mixed-heritage background and experiences learning JHL. Results suggest that the highest proficiency learners demonstrated the strongest Japanese ethnic identity orientation, however, the converse was not true, that is, the lower proficiency learners also reported strong Japanese ethnic identity orientation scores, while the intermediate proficiency groups demonstrated varying degrees of Japanese ethnic identity orientation. Based on the interview data, many factors besides ethnic identity impacted learners' language proficiency including amount of time spent using Japanese, parental support, and individual factors such as motivation. Implications are for JHL instruction targeting JHLLs needs with meaningful instruction that supplements learners’ literacy skills as well as increasing opportunities for practice with native speakers.
    • Strategic plan for switching from a transitional bilingual education program to a two-way immersion program.

      Uhlman, Sarah G. (13/11/2013)
      Bilingual education can be presented to learners in a variety of ways. This project focuses on Transitional Bilingual Education (TBE) and Two-Way Immersion (TWI). This is because an urban school in the Buffalo district is in process of converting the current TBE program into a TWI program. When considering this switch of educational philosophies, a deeper look at the philosophical and educational implications is necessary to ensure that the conversion is smooth and research-based. In the process of considering each of these bilingual education programs and philosophies, the history of the Bilingual Center, #33, was taken into consideration. Then, discrepancy analyzes were performed to consider general and specific changes that will affect the educational environment.
    • A beginning teacher's guide to learning with and from games.

      Baetzhold, Matthew (13/11/2013)
      This guide serves as an introduction to the use of games in education. This paper describes and synthesizes valuable learning and motivation concepts and discusses their educational relevance. A case is made that many parallels exist between game design and effective instructional practice. This guide highlights many of the important facets of game design and discusses how such concepts might be applied to educational settings. The guide also provides a few case studies that describe how games have been used in school settings to create positive learning environments that allow students to explore content at much greater depth. Implications for future uses of games in research and practice are outlined.
    • Examining the use of inter-cultural experiences to increase motivation in the L2 classroom through journals.

      Knoll, Monica L. (13/11/2013)
      Motivation is one of the key factors for learning and can have serious implications for students when studying any subject matter (Gardner & Lambert, 1972; Dörnyei, 1994). The issue being addressed is that many students in the U.S. see little need to learn a foreign language given the current status of English as a global language (Kachru, & Nelson, 1996). This research study seeks to determine whether an increase of target language practice in authentic and culturally relevant situations will have an effect on high school students’ motivation to learn a foreign language. The mixed method study required students to actively seek situations outside of the classroom to use Spanish and then to write a journal about the activity for which guiding questions were provided. Seventeen students from a rural high school in grades nine and ten completed an initial and midpoint questionnaire, cultural experiences over a ten week period and a final interview at the end of the study (Gardner, 1985). Results indicate many increases in positive answers throughout the questionnaires and journals. Students also reported higher levels of confidence, ability to decipher through contextual clues and improvements in pronunciation of Spanish. Implications for the research include the ways in which experience journals could be used in other subject areas and how this could impact various content areas. Future research may include the results from conducting the culture journals over longer periods of time or in different areas of study. Building more culturally and personally relevant projects into foreign language classes may encourage language learning among students as well as fostering active and independent learners which may contribute to more language learners overall.
    • Students' performance and preference on computer-based tests vs paper-based tests.

      Cole, Melinda S. (13/11/2013)
      The purpose of this action research project was to determine if students performed better on computer-based tests or paper-based tests, as well as to determine the students’ preference for each testing method. The participants included seven fourth grade students. Data sources included: Results from two computer-based comprehension tests and two paper-based comprehension tests, two student surveys which included five questions regarding the testing experience and opinions of the assessments, open-ended interviews with the students in small groups, and the researcher’s observational notes. Data were analyzed for patterns and themes. The findings demonstrated that the majority of students performed better on the paper-based test, and that the majority of students preferred the paper-based test. Factors which made the students’ performances on computer versus paper tests more complicated included: Gender, number of tests administered, socioeconomic status, and the sample size of the participants.
    • A newcomer program designed for students with interrupted formal education.

      Troutman, Meghan K. (13/11/2013)
      Students with interrupted formal education (SIFE) can be defined as English language learners (ELLs) who have had at least two years less schooling than their peers, function at least two years below grade level, and may be preliterate in their native language (NYSED, 2011). These students have significant gaps in their educational backgrounds, often need additional time to become accustomed to school routines and expectations, and some may also be designated as refugees (Short & Boyson, 2012). SIFE have needs that the traditional English as a second language (ESL) or bilingual programs often provided to ELLs are not designed to address. A lack of clear guidelines and standards for SIFE programming can result in ineffective program development and may not address the social or emotional needs of SIFE. Considerations of second language acquisition (SLA) and classroom management as specific to SIFE, if not sufficiently integrated into the schools’ programming, may prove to be inappropriate for SIFE. The purpose of this study, therefore, was to design the beginnings of a newcomer program that may help to address the needs of SIFE. Topics within this four unit curriculum include: school orientation; survival skills; school procedures and routines; and community resources. With the use of the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) model and concepts from effective classroom management and SLA, the development of this program was supported. The completed project has accomplished the goal of creating a flexible curriculum that can be used within any district with a population of SIFE students.