NSF Awards Research Grant to Drawp to Develop Digital Tool for K-12 English Learners


SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 23, 2017 Moondrop Entertainment, the parent company of Drawp for School educational software, has received a six-month Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for the development of the first Spanish to English language transfer tool in the United States. Moondrop Entertainment is working with the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) and expanding Drawp for School technology to create the digital tool. Language transfer is the process by which students first learn in their native language, and then use those skills to acquire a second language.


The percentage of public school students in the U.S. who are English Language Learners (ELL) grew from 8.7 percent to 9.2 percent between 2002 and 2013 – an increase of about 300,000 in a decade (NCES, 2015). Although the majority participate in ELL (Digest of Education Statistics, 2015), they are clearly disengaged. About 40 percent drop out (Gunderson, 2007).

Krashen (1982) argues that the main reason why ELL fails is a lack of comprehensible input (a minimal level of understanding of the task at hand). This can occur when instruction is designed for English speakers (cf. Gunderson, 1985, 1986b, 2004, 2007) without leveraging native literacy. Students do better on standardized tests when they are taught using at least some of their native language (Greene 1998), and when instructors work on Spanish literacy before English (August, Calderón, and Carlo 2002).

LACOE is on the forefront of implementing these findings, and has developed a powerful scaffolding methodology for ELL students that uses sentence frames (a series of fill-in-the-blank sentence fragments) for different levels of English. Educators quickly learned that students were most receptive when allowed to frame assignments in their native languages, and LACOE has since released a Spanish version of the sentence frames.

Drawp is developing innovative technology that will give students the ability to use either English or Spanish LACOE scaffolding tools, depending on their proficiency levels in each language. The Drawp for School digital tool will expand the modes of expression with which the students use the scaffolding tool. The digital tool will allow students to answer the LACOE questions/sentence frames with their voice, with sketches, or with text. Finally, Drawps patented swipe-to-share feature will make it easy for students to work on the sentence frames individually or in groups. Moondrops CEO and Founder Ana Albir said, We are excited to be working with LACOE to bring forward the first digital language transfer tool for English learners.



Moondrop, LLC was founded to provide outstanding educational tablet apps for children. The companys first release, Drawp, connects children with loved ones through the simple acts of drawing and sharing. With Drawp for School, Moondrop continues its mission of combining technology and learning to enhance education while adding a platform for seamless classroom collaboration that promotes communication between teachers, students and parents.


Established in 1852, LACOE is the Los Angeles County Office of Education, a public agency with headquarters in Downey, California. LACOE is a premier provider of integrated educational programs and services, from birth to adulthood, in a richly diverse and multicultural global environment. LACOE serves as an intermediate organization between local school districts and the California Department of Education. LACOE is one of the largest education agencies of its kind in the nation.


The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense NSF is vital because it supports basic research and people to create knowledge that transforms the future. With an annual budget of $7.5 billion (FY 2016), NSF is the funding source for approximately 24 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by Americas colleges and universities. In many fields such as mathematics, computer science and the social sciences, NSF is the major source of federal backing.

For more information about Drawp, visit www.drawpforschool.com and follow @DrawpEDU on Twitter.

References Cited:

August, D., Caldern, M., & Carlo, M. (2002). Transfer of Skills from Spanish to English: A Study of Young Learners. Submitted to the Office of English Language Acquisition, Language Enhancement, and Academic Achievement for Limited English Proficient Students, ED-98-CO-0071.

Greene, J. P. (1997). A meta-analysis of the effectiveness of bilingual education. Austin: University of Texas, The Tomas Rivera Policy Institute.

Gunderson, L. (1985). L2 reading instruction in ESL and mainstream classrooms. In J. Niles & R. Lalik (Eds.), Issues in literacy: A research perspective (pp. 65 69). Rochester, NY: National Reading Conference.

Gunderson, L. (1986b). ESL students and content reading. TESL Canada Journal, 4, 49 53.

Gunderson, L. (2004). The language, literacy, achievement, and social consequences of English-only programs for immigrant students. In J. Hoffman & D. Schallert (Eds.), The NRC Yearbook (pp. 1 27). Milwaukee, WI: National Reading Conference.

Gunderson, L. (2007). English-only instruction and immigrant students in secondary schools: A critical examination. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Krashen, S. (1999). Why Malherbe (1946) is NOT evidence against bilingual education. Accessed January 20, 2013 at http:// www.languagepolicy.net/archives/ Krashen4. Htm.

National Center for Education Statistics. (2004). Language minorities and their educational and labor market indicators recent trends. U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, #2004 009.

Table 204.20: Number and percentage of public school students participating in programs for English language learners, by state: Selected years, 2003-04 through 2013-14. Digest of Education Statistics. Washington: GPO, 2015. Web. Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d15/tables/dt15_204.20.asp.


Julie Brannon


Email: school@moondropapps.com


Tags: , , , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply