Bilingual and ESL paraprofessionals (also known as teacher aides or assistants) can provide valuable support to English language learners (ELLs) and their teachers and should be important members of the instructional teams serving ELLs. But most paraprofessionals have not been trained to effectively support students’ language development and academic learning, and most teachers are uncertain how to collaborate effectively with paraprofessionals. The Aspire Trainer’s Manual provides a professional development curriculum that is designed to teach paraprofessionals how to help ELLs succeed in school, meet high standards, and perform well on rigorous state assessments. Thoroughly field-tested in several Florida school districts over a 5-year period, this complete, ready-to-use curriculum prepares paraprofessionals to collaborate with teachers and to support instruction for ELLs by using simple, flexible strategies that help students develop effective learning strategies and acquire literacy skills and academic content.
The curriculum is designed to be used in four 3-hour workshops during which paraprofessionals learn about and practice using instructional strategies such as webbing, graphic organizers, reading comprehension techniques, and cooperative learning. Between workshops, each paraprofessional collaborates with a teacher to plan how to use a specific strategy with ELLs in ways that will support the teacher’s instruction. For example, the paraprofessional can introduce the topic of an upcoming lesson to a group of ELLs and work with them to make a web, drawing on students’ existing language skills (in L1 and L2) and prior experience to prepare them to understand and participate in the teacher’s lesson. Throughout the professional development experience with the Aspire Curriculum, each paraprofessional develops a portfolio that records his or her learning, reflections, examples of student work, and teacher comments. 2002. (138 pp).