Members of the ERWC assessment team with LAHS Director Carter Payne at a welcome reception hosted by the LAPS Foundation, left to right, Mariam Ogle, Dr. Jennifer Fletcher, Dr. Lisa Benham-Lewis and Payne. Courtesy/LAHS
A team from California State University and the California State University Expository Reading and Writing Curriculum (ERWC) traveled to Los Alamos High School (LAHS) in September to coach the English department at Los Alamos High School on implementing implementation of the ERWC curriculum and teaching pedagogy.
Dr. Jennifer Fletcher, Dr. Lisa Benham-Lewis and Mariam Ogle spent three days with English teachers observing classes, attending dinner socials and a reception with the Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation, and meeting with Superintendent Jose Delfin and Assistant Superintendent Jennifer Guy.
In addition, the entire LAHS English department, including all special education English teachers, participated in an extended training session on ERWC materials and teaching pedagogy.
“The purpose of the visit was to support the LAHS English Department in the implementation of the ERWC and to explore other opportunities to deepen our partnership with the ERWC,” explained the co-chair of the English department, Margo Batha. “We were thrilled to meet our ERWC coaches in person and work with them to teach the ERWC effectively. I know that all of our students will benefit from our interactions with our coaches.
“We spent hours training and meeting our ERWC coaches online, so it was important and especially rewarding to show them our beautiful surroundings here at Los Alamos,” added Lori Thompson, Co-Chair of the English Department. “The context of our unique city has not escaped them, and they now know how to better support us here at LAHS. The time we have spent with them has been invaluable and will allow us to deepen the implementation of our program and our teaching pedagogy.
The ERWC was recently adopted by the district as the high school English curriculum. The program was adopted in August 2021 when English department staff began training and implementing the program for high school English classes.
Los Alamos High School is the first high school in New Mexico to adopt the ERWC as an adopted curriculum for grades 9-12. Most high schools in California have adopted the ERWC for grades 11-12, and 15,000 teachers in California are trained in the ERWC. The program is also used in Washington State, Hawaii and West Virginia.
“Although the ERWC was originally developed as a college preparatory course for California high school students, the ERWC’s mission has grown to include students in grades 6 through 12 and undergraduates who are preparing for vocational and technical education,” said Batha. “The ERWC program was a perfect fit for Los Alamos High School because the course meets the needs of many different types of learners. “
“The English and Special Education Departments at LAHS value a curriculum that places the pedagogy of teaching and student-centered learning as a primary focus,” she added.
The ERWC curriculum includes high-interest topics such as immigration, mental illness, and the use of social media, explored through a wide range of texts. The inquiry-based approach helps students become flexible, adaptive, and reflective thinkers and communicators, and the Integrated Universal Design for Learning (UDL) creates equity for students with disabilities, students of general education and English learners.
Dr. Jennifer Fletcher fills out an observation form in an English class taught by Lori Thompson. Courtesy/LAHS
All ERWC coach observations of LAHS English Department classes included observations of co-taught and special education classes. This is the first LAHS curriculum and teaching pedagogy in English that has been implemented in the Special Education and General Education classrooms.
“Our ERWC team is excited about our continued partnership with LAHS,” Ogle said. “Through our technology-enabled remote coaching, we knew the ERWC was a perfect fit with LAHS’ goals and we were honored to be able to support them in person. The passion for pedagogy and valuing students’ contributions to the learning environment was clearly evident.
Dr. Fletcher added, “During our visit to Los Alamos High School, we encountered an extraordinary culture of care expressed by extensive support systems for students and teachers and built on deep trust and genuine relationships. It was clear to us that LAHS students are used to having their thinking and well-being taken seriously.
“We look forward to continuing to learn from the outstanding team of Los Alamos Public Schools education leaders,” she said.
“Thank you to the staff at LAHS for making us feel so welcome and welcoming us to the professional learning opportunity at Los Alamos,” said Dr. Benham-Lewis. “The community should be proud that teachers work hard to provide lessons to engage students, that students take pride in attending LAHS, and that the administrative team has built a culture of learning. We look forward to continuing our coaching and professional learning time with this outstanding group of educators. »
The LAHS English Department would like to thank the administration of Los Alamos High School, Sharon Fogle, LAPS Director of Professional Development, Assessment and Curriculum Assistant Superintendent Guy and LAPS Superintendent Dr. Jose Delfin for their support in bringing the ERWC team to Los Alamos. They would also like to thank the LAPS Foundation and Foundation Director Jenny McCumber for the grant that allowed them to prepare meals for the California team and members of their department during the visit. Their support allowed teachers to shadow other teachers and participate in professional development sessions.
About the ERWC team
Dr. Jennifer Fletcher, Professor of English at California State University, Monterey Bay, where she coordinates the undergraduate program for future English teachers. Her twenty-seven years of experience in the field of education include a decade as a high school teacher. The author of Teaching Arguments (2015), Teaching Literature Rhetorically (2018), and write rhetorically (2021), Fletcher leads workshops and webinars on rhetorical literacy skills for teachers across the country and is a frequent speaker at conferences. She is a curriculum developer, workshop facilitator, and chair of the steering committee for California State University’s Expository Reading and Writing Curriculum (ERWC), a nationally recognized rhetoric-based literacy initiative.
Dr. Lisa Benham-Lewis is the Director of i3 Grants for the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools in Fresno, CA. In this capacity, she coaches teachers and administrators, manages tax assignments, and collaborates with educational partners in California, Washington, West Virginia, and New Mexico. Benham-Lewis has served on the ERWC Steering Committee and Advisory Committee since 2010 as a grant partner and member.
Mariam Ogle, content coordinator for the ERWC i3 grant, is a learning coach for the ERWC. She develops and facilitates training in response to the needs of participants and to ensure the effectiveness of the ERWC. She also leads technology-enabled communities of practice to support collaboration, communication, and professional development.