‘Very unique program:’ MPS uses ‘blended learning’ to help young refugees adapt, study English

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MILWAUKEE -- When children who are refugees find themselves in Milwaukee, they're often in the same classroom. A Milwaukee Public Schools program is helping them get their start.

"Any day, we might get a new family from Central Africa or Southeast Asia coming to us at any point," said Erin Sivek, MPS teacher.

At Milwaukee Public Schools' Newcomer Center, Sivek helps welcome students to a new culture.

Erin Sivek

"We're definitely a very unique program," said Sivek.

The idea of "blended learning" was implemented at the center -- focused on teaching the fundamentals of academic English while featuring task-based activities that are adapted to the cultural background of each student.

The individual instruction is made possible by technology. The program utilizes a curriculum using FuelEd.

"Every student does have access to a Chromebook," said Sivek.

 

The students spend two years at the center before joining regular Milwaukee Public Schools classes. As of Tuesday, March 5, there were around 35 students at the center.

Sivek said there are challenges, but the students' drive makes learning possible.

"We mostly get students who are very motivated to learn English," said Sivek.

A case study done by Evergreen Education Group found students gain confidence in English using the "blended learning" technique.

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