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Enticing ESL Students to Acquire Communicative Competence through Art and Technology

The Professional Development for English Teachers of 21st Century Learners: Enticing ESL students to Acquire Communicative Competence though Art and Technology was sponsored by a grant from the Puerto Rico Council on Education, the No Child Left Behind Act, and Title II Funds (NCLB –14-05). The purpose of this Project is to offer a professional training program to teachers of English that will enable them to understand and serve the needs of modern society and the 21st Century children they serve. It responds to the urgent need of both public and private schools in the San Juan Region, allowing teachers to update their knowledge regarding the latest developments in language teaching and learning as identified by recent research.

Thus, the Project envisioned the following goals:

  • Achieve a high caliber, competent educator that can implement teaching strategies pertinent to the educational growth of 21st Century learners.
  • Facilitate the professional development of 25 teachers in the areas of defining 21st Century skills, integrating the arts (music, poetry, theater, creative writing, visual arts, and museum resources), technology (videos, web applications, cellular phones, and digital cameras) and teaching strategies (problem based learning, cooperative learning) that will enrich the English Curriculum, develop innovative learning communities, and enhance learners’ academic achievement.
  • Promote and disseminate participants’ lesson plans through the design of curricular matrices based on standards of excellence.

In order to achieve these goals, the Project recruited 25 teachers from the private and public school systems in the San Juan Region. In the selection of schools, fifteen teachers came from public schools in San Juan, Carolina, Bayamón, and Guaynabo and three teachers came from public schools in the towns of Orocovis, Salinas, and Villalba. These teachers learned about the project through a friend and made their argument to be accepted in the Project. The most pressing argument that convinced us was the limited access they had to professional development activities. The six participating teachers representing the private sector came from Academia María Reina, Commonwealth Parkville School, Robinson School, Saint Mary’s School, and Saint Monica Bilingual School. We are deeply grateful to all participating teachers and their schools for their interest, devoted attendance, and opening their school doors to facilitate the implementation of the teaching strategies learned during the Project.

The project was envisioned as a collaboration among different stakeholders: (a) Puerto Rico Department of Education English Program, (b) University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus, College of Education, (c) University of Puerto Rico, Humacao Campus, English Department Faculty, and (d) Puerto Rico Teachers of English To Speakers of Other Languages (PRTESOL). All training sessions were offered at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus, College of Education. We are highly grateful to Prof. Beatriz Philpott Pérez, director of the English Program at the Puerto Rico Department of Education, for her collaboration, encouragement, and support to continue with this initiative.