iTeachELLs awarded President’s Award for Innovation


Meghan Krein

iTeachELLs, a Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College project to prepare educators to teach culturally and linguistically diverse students, was recognized on Tuesday for its innovative contributions to ASU and higher education.

iTeachELLs was awarded the 2019 ASU President's Award for Innovation. Each year, President Michael M. Crow recognizes ASU faculty and staff who create positive change by developing creative and inspiring higher education projects and programs.

“Our purpose is to help our teacher candidates — or anyone who learns with us at our college — be prepared on some level to work with English language learners,” says Wendy Farr, clinical associate professor at Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College and director for the iTeachElls grant. The $11.3M grant was awarded in 2014 and runs through 2020.

After receiving feedback that students felt under-prepared to teach learners whose primary language was not English, a research team came up with the concept and the project was funded by the U.S. Department of Education Teacher Quality Partnership Grants. The team researched the best practices for the work and created an instructional technique called Problem-Based Enhanced Language Learning.

PBELL ensures access to both language and content as students explore real-world problems. This approach asks students to collaboratively solve meaningful problems in their community. Together, students research information to develop a solution to their problem, thereby enriching the content with multiple student perspectives.

Over 1,500 Arizona teachers have completed iTeachELL’s professional development and delivered over 170 PBELL lessons.