ASLP’s Kinder and Elementary School are currently immersed in the development of a data-driven dual language program (DLP) and literacy system, where assessment, student learning, and best instructional practices are in the spotlight as the protagonists of the learning process.
One of the primary objectives of ASLP’s DLP is to ensure that all learners become biliterate and bicultural. These conditions demand a particular literacy plan and a cultural program that develops full appreciation of cultural attitudes and customs of the people, history, and traditions of both countries. Our student population is mainly Spanish; therefore most of our pupils are both language experts (Spanish) and language learners (English). In addition, we have a valued multicultural community of families from all over the world. Our DLP has the following goals for all our students upon entering Middle School:
• Proficient academic performance at grade level in English and Spanish
• Effective use of both languages in social situations appropriate for their age level
• Effective communication through listening, speaking, reading, and writing in both languages at a level appropriate for their age
• Demonstrate an appreciation of cultural diversity and cross-cultural competence across a variety of social situations
2018 marked the kick-start of the design and implementation of our unique cross-curricular literacy plan: a systematic, consistent, and cohesive balanced literacy approach purposefully drafted for our culturally diverse student population. Our plan envisions a student-centered learning environment rooted in the culture of 21st Century literacies, where all students have the responsibility and autonomy of choice and management of objectives and resources in search and development of their socio-emotional and academic interests and abilities through rigorous, relevant, authentic, and challenging cross-curricular literacy experiences and performance. The mission of the present plan is to ensure that all students learn at their highest levels. Ours is a Kinder and Elementary cross-curricular, skill-focused, balanced literacy plan, rooted in differentiated instruction, informed by rigorous and timely student learning data, and built upon answering the four essential questions of Professional Learning Communities (DuFour, DuFour & Eaker, 2008): What skills, dispositions, and contents do our students need to learn? What is the best way for them to learn them? How will we know they have learned them? How do we respond when they learn and when they do not?
The three main pillars that drive our DLP and cross-curricular literacy plan are (1) on-going development of professional capacity (2) the use of research-based quality core instruction, and (3) the design of student-centered environments.
Within our plan, students receive varying levels of language and content support based on their English and Spanish proficiency levels. Instruction takes place in the general education classroom with push-in support from the English or Spanish language teachers or mentor-students during different moments of the academic day: guided reading sessions, English and Spanish social studies, science, and math. In addition, we are working hard to ensure that students that present a particular need or require specific accommodations, receive support in the classroom from different teachers or mentors pushing in at several moments during the day.
Also, all students have the opportunity to receive an additional period of literacy-based intervention during the school day based on the student’s individual needs (strategic or intensive interventions as well as enrichment/extension):
• Students with lower proficiency literacy levels in English and/or Spanish take part in 200-minute weekly Elementary-wide interventions.
• Students that do not speak English or Spanish receive academic support in in their native language (as available) to support comprehension and to bridge concepts and vocabulary known in the first language to English and Spanish.
• Students that meet or surpass literacy outcomes and expectations take part in 200-minute weekly Elementary-wide enrichment and extension; a slot dedicated to enrich and extend literacy skills through school-based projects, where students’ voice and choice dictate the design, objectives, contents, processes and products of these educational experiences.
DuFour, R., DuFour, R. B., & Eaker, R. E. (2008). Revisiting professional learning communities at work: New insights for improving schools. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree.