Re-Engineering Learning for ELLs with PLTW

Cesar Ortiz is a STEM specialist at Saddle Mountain Elementary in Mattawa, Washington. Cesar is a principal intern.

Students at Saddle Mountain Elementary have been discovering the exciting and engaging world of STEM. The STEM specialist role has been able to introduce all students in grades K-5 to the principles of structure and function, the design process, and the world of engineering. In my experience with ELLs and having an 83 percent ELL population, it has always been a challenge to bring something as specialized as STEM to students. 

At Saddle Mountain Elementary, Structure and Function: Exploring Design has served as the introductory and engaging STEM vehicle for all K-5 students. It has become the hook needed to immerse students into this new world. They now understand the importance of STEM skills and engineering processes, and students can now connect real-world problems to their lives and make connections about the interesting world that surrounds them. Not a day goes by where we don't make connections to their experiences and culture, as well.

PLTW Launch and the activity-, project-, and problem-based (ABP) approach have laid a new route of inquiry and wonder about STEM for all students, especially ELL students at Saddle Mountain Elementary. Students are excited to come to class and delighted to work in teams to solve real-world problems. These problems that we so desperately need to have solved may just be solved by some of my students. Who knows? The possibilities are now endless.

PLTW’s blog is intended to serve as a forum for ideas and perspectives from across our network. The opinions expressed are those of each guest author.