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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Educators on Global Learning: Shuhan C. Wang

  1. Tell us about international education in Delaware.
  2. Tell us about some successful programs in Delaware.
  3. Tell us about the technology project.
  4. Why is heritage language instruction important?

1. Tell us about international education in Delaware.

In Delaware, we have professional-development clusters for teachers. Each is designed for 90 hours, 180 hours, or 270 hours, and if teachers can successfully complete that cluster, they get a 2 percent salary increase for the next five years. That's a very powerful incentive for teachers to engage in meaningful and purposeful professional development.

For international education, we have designed two clusters, "Re-thinking and Researching Asia" and "Bringing the World to Delaware." We also collaborate with iEARN. Through iEARN, our teachers take nine-week online courses. In the meantime, their students will have engaged in curricular projects that have taken them to have contacts with students all over the world, and they're really very excited about that.

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2. Tell us about some successful programs in Delaware.

Last year, we had twenty-five teachers go through. We offer programs such as the Asia Project, plus a year of professional development, monthly study sessions, guest speakers, and several museum trips -- the Winterthur Museum, the Asia Society Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum. We had performances in all different things, and that really got teachers excited because they have to read, write journals, and develop a unit of study.

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3. Tell us about the technology project.

One teacher's working on recycling, and in Wilmington, this is a big issue. The county is debating what kind of recycling program they want to have because in the past, it wasn't very successful. So, she had her students doing some research on recycling, and she plans to bring her students to present their findings to the council meeting. That's just so powerful!

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They are also researching, and comparing and collecting data from other countries and saying, "What kind of recycling program do you have?" It's just incredible. We also have deaf students participate in the technology cluster, and now they are having contact with students outside the United States. They're really very excited.

4. Why is heritage language instruction important?

According to 2002 U.S. Census data, 12 percent of the American population is foreign born -- that translates into 32 million people. The same census data also shows that 18 percent of the population speaks a language other than English at home. I think in terms of, 'What is the world language capacity in our nation?' Where can you find any country in the world that has so many languages existing within the same borders? And that's our resource, that's the wealth we have -- the linguistic and cultural resources we have in our nation.

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