Increasing numbers of students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds are enrolling in U.S. public schools, yet fewer than 6 percent of classroom teachers are trained to work with students who have limited English proficiency. UThink, a program developed by Drs. Eileen Carr and Judythe Patberg of The University of Toledo, provides the continuing education that U.S. classroom teachers need to address this growing situation.
Carr believes that every classroom teacher should have both a reading endorsement and a Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) endorsement so they can be better prepared for the future. UThink offers sustainable and comprehensive educational experiences for educators, whether they take professional development or graduate courses that lead to endorsements, certificates or master’s degrees in curriculum and instruction.
“UThink provides online learning opportunities that are high-quality, in-depth, convenient and affordable,” Carr said.
Reading and TESOL K-12 endorsements each require four courses, after which graduates must pass the appropriate Praxis exam. Courses are accredited and administered by The University of Toledo.
UThink highlights include:
• Flexible scheduling;
• Cost-effective and content-rich learning experiences;
• Collaboration with fellow professional educators;
• The ability to design an individual career path and build an e-portfolio;
• Research-based classes that meet state and professional standards;
• Technical support and guidance; and
• Instructors who are teacher leaders with experience living and teaching in foreign countries.
Students will be able to incorporate lessons into their classrooms immediately.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the Foundations of Literacy course,” said Heather Neal, a UT literacy student from Oak Harbor, Ohio. “The class was informative, and I was able to integrate valuable teaching ideas right into my classroom.”
“Students in professional fields such as education are looking for development opportunities throughout their careers,” said Dr. Leigh Chiarelott, UT professor and chair of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. “Sometimes those opportunities are in the context of a graduate degree, but increasingly, these professionals are looking for highly flexible ‘just in time’ learning experiences to meet the needs of their classrooms and their students. We are seeking to provide those opportunities by creating accessible electronic learning environments that are convenient and affordable while still being on the leading edge of research and new developments in the field.”
“The future of higher education will look different,” said Dr. Beverly Schmoll, dean of UT’s Judith Herb College of Education, Health Science and Human Service. “We will enable students to individualize their learning experiences and to design learning agendas that will meet their specific career goals through stackable certificates, modularized course curricula, and through the implementation of a new paradigm that will allow students to proceed at a pace that is right for them.”
The UThink developers have more than 60 years of experience between them. For more than three decades, Carr has been an elementary school teacher and teacher educator, with specialties in reading comprehension, writing, reading intervention and TESOL education, and possesses a TESOL endorsement. Patberg has taught literacy courses at UT for 30 years and has trained tutors and literacy specialists across northwest Ohio. Carr and Patberg co-authored a book, Teaching Comprehension: A Systematic and Practical Framework With Lessons and Strategies.
For details on UThink and courses, go to uthinkedu.com.