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GEMS World Academy - Dubai

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GEMS World Academy Dubai

Written by: Lynne Morrin, Director of Student Support Services

GWA started using WIDA as an assessment tool to determine students' English language proficiency levels about 2 years ago. One advantage of adopting the WIDA standards at GWA is that it not only allows for the accessibility of a range of language development levels, but it also connects to the cultural diversity of students. In a school like ours, with 90-odd nationalities, this can make an important difference for so many of our students. WIDA implementation has assisted in the whole school English as an Additional Language (EAL) team being more efficient in identifying students that meet criteria for EAL services. Prior to WIDA, the identification process was not effective and students that would benefit from services were not identified.

GEMS World Academy Dubai

Since the implementation of WIDA, GWA has invested in professional learning for teachers. EAL teachers have attended WIDA Institutes and Symposiums as well as GWA hosting an in-house WIDA training for 35 teachers in September 2017. This training consisted of all of the school's EAL teachers along with a representative from each grade level in elementary and representatives from English, Math, Design, and Science and Individuals and Societies in secondary. Teachers worked collaboratively with their EAL specialists and focused on how to take students' WIDA scores using the language lens to differentiate their lessons and unit plans. After attending the in-house WIDA training, the staff who attended have implemented the strategies and come out more confident to make the necessary adjustments to help their students. The teachers who attended this training are also sharing strategies with their teams during collaborative planning.

Teachers have seen the benefits of WIDA as well.

"The WIDA assessment tool, Can-Do's and training ahs had a significant impact on the type of support we can offer to our students. Early, effective, identification of our students' English acquisition has allowed us to develop a program around their needs while the training offered to homeroom/subject teachers ensures that their EAL students continue to receive the correct support they need to progress out with EAL lessons."
- Melody Fisher, EAL Team Leader
GEMS World Academy Dubai
"The WIDA training gave teachers learning opportunities to become the students. By switching up our role and perspective of the classroom, we were able to experience invaluable practical activities first hand. How did that activity feel? What did it sound and look like? This is exactly how every professional development course should be run. Practical, meaningful but more importantly, relevant."
- Gemma Mahoney, Secondary Interventionist
"Since math is also a language, it is very useful for me to know about the WIDA scores of my students and their can do descriptors, so I can plan a lesson that will assist them."
- Michael Morales, Jr, Secondary Math Teacher
"The WIDA scores we receive help us identify the level of the student. Using the skills taught in the WIDA training session with that data also helps us identify the best interventions in the classroom so we can help every student achieve and grow."
- Allen McInnis, Elementary Teacher
"WIDA has empowered me to develop lessons that allow more of my students access to the content in my math classes. Not only am I now able to move my struggling students forward but with the teaching strategies that I was equipped with, can I even push my higher learners further."
- Paul Venter, Secondary Math Teacher

WIDA International School Consortium

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