In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month this year, we’re excited to share how Great Minds® curricula support the learning of students who are multilingual. Read below to learn from some of our teacher–writers and implementation support specialists about their own experiences and how our curricula are designed to help students who are multilingual thrive. Please note that the curriculum features and design shared below by our teacher–writers are not exhaustive of all the supports for multilingual learners in our curricula. To learn more about all of the supports and resources available, please contact your account representative or reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PD Implementation Support Specialist, Eureka Math
High-quality curriculum ensures access to rigorous mathematics and builds mathematical knowledge for all learners, and makes a point to also support the unique needs of students who are multilingual learners (MLLs). There are many ways a high-quality curriculum, such as Eureka Math, supports multilingual learners. One support is having instructional materials available in various languages to support multilingual learners in their primary language when appropriate. At its very core, Eureka Math helps MLLs build their math knowledge by introducing concepts using a concrete–pictorial–symbolic learning progression. This approach provides MLLs access to the math concepts and helps them develop the deep conceptual understanding they need to build on that knowledge for more complex concepts as they progress through the grade levels.
Teachers have various types of support to help engage their MLLs. One of these supports is the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) boxes that are found throughout the Teacher Edition. These provide a support for teachers to use in their lessons to engage their MLLs, as well as students with other learner variability.
In each Eureka Math Topic Overview, there are coherence links provided for teachers. The “coherence links from" helps teachers to provide that background and support for students who may be struggling with a concept in that topic and helps the teacher find fluency activities and Application Problems to use with these students to help them gain the essential foundational knowledge they need to be successful. The "coherence links to" helps teachers know when this concept will be built upon again and the place to find fluency activities to use for all students.
The various fluency activities and Application Problems also have notes to support teachers on how they can be modified for students based on needs during the lesson. The fluency activities are also a support in and of themselves because teachers are able to use these to engage MLLs to learn mathematical concepts, as well as to fill in any gaps in that learning. Teachers can use these activities multiple times throughout the day and choose which activity best meets the needs of their MLLs. These same activities can also be used in small groups with MLLs for these same purposes.
Eureka Math also has Parent Tip Sheets that contain important vocabulary, strategies, and key concepts that can be sent home for parents to use while helping their children. These provide the explanation parents need to help understand what is being learned in the classroom.
Wit & Wisdom®
Maya Márquez, PhD
Curriculum Designer, Multilingual Learners, Humanities
At Great Minds, we believe that Every Child is Capable of Greatness, including the millions of multilingual learners across the country, many of whom are Hispanic. We support multilingual learners through an array of products and careful pedagogical design. Several of our products, including Family Tip Sheets for all content areas and Eureka Math and PhD Science® teacher and student editions, are available in Spanish. Translated Family Tip Sheets include information about what students are learning as well as suggestions for Spanish-speaking families to take an active role in their student’s education.
Wit & Wisdom, our ELA curriculum, ensures that all students have access to a high-quality curriculum and engage with grade-level, complex texts while learning about the world. MLLs are supported as they develop speaking, listening, reading comprehension, and writing skills in English. Students interact with text sets composed of authentic, beautiful, knowledge-rich, award-winning books and art works. While MLLs’ English language development is very important, we also believe that a student’s home language and culture are valuable assets that should be nurtured, celebrated, and leveraged.
George Daniel Galindo
Implementation Leader, Humanities
Hello, everyone! My name is George Daniel Galindo, and I proudly serve as a Great Minds implementation leader for Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas. I am a proud fourth-generation Mexican American and a first-generation college graduate. I come to this role having served as a public and charter school English teacher, school leader, district curriculum specialist, and a College of Education lecturer to preservice teachers.
In my role with Great Minds, I strategically partner with districts and help ensure successful implementation of Wit & Wisdom, our premier English language arts curriculum, and Geodes, a collection of breakthrough books for emerging and developing readers designed to cultivate a deep reading experience.
Wit & Wisdom has transformed English language arts instruction in classrooms across the nation. Developed by our expert team of teacher–writers, the curriculum features knowledge-building lessons and carefully curated selections of art and books that inspire a passion for reading and writing in students. Our integrated, layered approach to instruction allows students to explore the wonders of our world while building background on a wide array of topics.
Differentiation supports are also outlined for all students, especially multilingual learners. The Wit & Wisdom learning design, especially its use of Content Framing Questions to structure lesson-level learning, supports a range of students in numerous ways, including reading scaffolds, explicit vocabulary and grammar instruction, text-dependent questions, ongoing sequential and explicit writing instruction, frequent feedback, and so much more.
At Great Minds, we believe every child is capable of greatness. Through our curricular programs, strategic partnerships, professional development, and implementation supports, we are helping make that dream a reality. We hope that you will join us!
Stella Rios Nowell
Professional Development Program Manager, Humanities
One of my favorite things about the knowledge all students gain from Wit & Wisdom is the repeatable sequence in which the students experience, interact with, and access grade-level texts and then integrate language skills. The sequence for gaining knowledge includes the Content Stages, and the sequence for acquiring skills includes the Craft Stages.
Each Content Stage teaches our multilingual learners that there is a process of interacting with a text that promotes a transferrable habit of mind. In Wit & Wisdom, the Content Stages are Wonder, Organize, Reveal, Distill, and Know. Students apply these stages to texts, which include books and works of art. As students engage with each stage, they deepen their knowledge about a topic and expand on their previous knowledge. As students are introduced to a new text, they repeat the Content Stages and consider how each text adds to their knowledge.
While these steps are important for all learners, they are critical for multilingual learners. In Zaretta Hammond's book, Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain: Promoting Authentic Engagement and Rigor Among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students, Hammond shares the importance of cognitive routines. "Giving students the chance to actively process is at the heart of culturally responsive teaching because all new content that makes it to our working memory must be mixed with our background knowledge." (Hammond 2015, p. 131)
Wit & Wisdom embeds the skills application with the content they are learning. The skills are also taught in a repeatable process known as the Craft Stages. The Craft Stages are Examine, Experiment, Execute, and Excel. We know from research conducted by Rebecca Oxford that content-based instruction that embeds skills benefits multilingual learners at all stages of their language development. “In content-based instruction, students practice all the language skills in a highly integrated, communicative fashion while learning content... .” (Oxford 2001, p. 9)
The Craft Stages allow students to practice the skills of language acquisition through writing, speaking, listening, vocabulary, style, and conventions while sharing about the knowledge they have acquired. Stephen Krashen says about language acquisition, “It requires meaningful interaction in the target language—natural communication—in which speakers are concerned not with the form of their utterances but with the messages they are conveying and understanding.” (Krashen 1981, p. 1)
For years, I had taught all skills in isolation. I had one curriculum for reading and a different one for writing; I created my speaking and listening lessons; vocabulary changed from year to year; and my style and conventions came from an online source or a purchased teacher workbook. Then I struggled to understand why (despite my hard work) my students were not applying their skills to new learning situations. I now know that the difference is the integration of knowledge and skills. I was able to see this firsthand in my district in Albany County, Wyoming. As I worked exclusively with multilingual learners, students were able to make connections to previous learning, participate in Socratic Seminars sharing their knowledge with appropriate use of vocabulary, and focus on the skills of writing to demonstrate their knowledge.
Knowledge and skills integration. What a powerful combination for our multilingual learners!
Implementation Support Specialist, PhD Science
Success in science requires a combination of scientific knowledge, experience with scientific practices, and the ability to look at data from various perspectives. Fortunately, for multilingual learners these building blocks of science success call upon so many skills that don’t require fluency in any particular language other than the universal language of wonder, curiosity, and persistence. In PhD Science, we provide students will multiple entry ways to the science content that they will uncover over the course of a module. For example, Kindergarten students study a visual data chart about weather to uncover that weather occurs in patterns, while Level 3 students analyze bar charts and maps to predict when and where severe weather can occur. These activities call on visual literacy, a skill that students can develop and leverage regardless of what language they are most comfortable speaking.
PhD Science is a student-driven curriculum where students’ questions and curiosities guide the learning in the classroom. When students create a Driving Question Board at the beginning of a module, all questions are welcome and included on the board regardless of who asks the question or what language they use to ask it. When Level 4 students learning about light and sight wonder why Amelia Earhart didn’t complete her final flight to Howland Island in the South Pacific Ocean, any student, regardless of language background, can join in the shared experience of wondering what happened to this famed aviator. All voices are valuable and part of the success of the class.
As a phenomenon-based curriculum, PhD Science provides students and teachers with explicit connections between the content taught in class and the real world around them. Students are encouraged to share their personal experiences, which are at times intimately connected to their cultural background and at other times simply the stuff of childhood. Perhaps a Level 5 students who is learning about Balinese rice farming as part of a study on ecosystems has family members who work in agriculture. Or maybe that Level 1 student learning about sound through a study of the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura has roots in Paraguay or another Latin American country. Those personal connections to the content can help spark that wonder that leads to increased engagement for our multilingual learners and may even help them find their place as a leader in the classroom.
For multilingual learners, school can be a challenging place full of unfamiliar words, strange cultural norms, and that feeling of being a little out of step. Our goal at PhD Science is to provide students, regardless of language status, access to the Crosscutting Concepts, Science and Engineering Practices, and Disciplinary Core Ideas that can lead to joyful and rigorous science learning.
Hammond, Zaretta. Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain: Promoting Authentic Engagement and Rigor Among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students. Sage Publications, 2014.
Krashen, Stephen D. Second Language Acquisition and Second Language Learning. Pergamon Press Inc., 1981. http://www.sdkrashen.com/content/books/sl_acquisition_and_learning.pdf
Oxford, Rebecca. 2001. “Integrated Skills in the ESL/EFL Classroom.” The Journal of TESOL France, pp. 5–12. https://www.tesol-france.org/uploaded_files/files/TESOL%20Vol%208%202001%20C1.pdf
Great Minds PBC is a public benefit corporation and a subsidiary of Great Minds, a nonprofit organization. In addition to Wit & Wisdom, the company offers Eureka Math®, PhD Science®, and Geodes® books for emerging readers, developed in collaboration with Wilson Language Training. Great Minds in Sync™ adapts the materials for remote or hybrid learning. Learn more at greatminds.org.