World Language Department: School Inprovement Plan
The World Language Department wholeheartedly belives in and supports Seaholm's building-wide School Improvement Plan. In our classes, our teachers address and engage with the three SIP goals on a daily basis.
School Improvement Plan Goals
- College readiness in reading
- Students feeling valued
- Civil discourse
Below you can see some of the ways in which our teachers incorporate Seaholm's SIP Goals in their classrooms. These are just of some of the ways in which teachers help students to become college-ready in reading, how they let students know they are important and valued, and how they teach students how to have civil conversations around sensitive and/or difficult topics. These are not just one-day lessons, but rather a mindset and philosophy with regards to literacy, student wellbeing, and civil discourse.
College readiness in reading Students feeling valued Civil discourse
Information coming soon!
We read a variety of topics relating to the Deaf/Hard of hearing/DeafBlind community and read in groups. Students read short chapters in our class textbook “Deaf Reality 101.” Students then connect with the chapter by having open discussions, creating comics, and making posters relating to the chapter for a check for understanding and group dialogue. Students are always asked in ASL, “How are you today?” We learn that this is signed TODAY HOW YOU? We discuss our weekends, what we had for breakfast or dinner, clothes we like to wear, etc. in ASL. Students feel valued and appreciated and are able to connect with the teacher. This promotes a positive culture in and outside of the classroom, while being able to continue learning the target language, ASL.
In ASL, we discuss a variety of topics relating to the Deaf, Hard of hearing, and DeafBlind community. We have discussions about controversial topics, Deaf culture, regional signs, etc. We make sure to enhance understanding by having these meaningful discussions, where no opinion is wrong. Students feel comfortable sharing their opinions related to these topics.
As a second language learner of Spanish myself, I find that learning acquisition of the English language and, especially syntax, happens in the World Language Classroom. When learning about gerunds, adjective vs. noun placement as well as many other grammatical concepts, students solidify their new L2 understanding through activation of prior knowledge in their native language (L1). Students are challenged to read many texts in Spanish which include (but are not limited to): informational, narrative, music lyrics, maps, graphic organizers, etc. We challenge them from level 1 to infer, deduce and synthesize what they have read; a skill that is necessary across disciplines and high-stakes exams. A sense of belonging has driven my work as an educator from my start, 16 years ago. It is my reinforcement of the old adage, “a student doesn’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” That motivates me to take care of the social-emotional needs of each student in my room. Subsequently, I have a variety of seating options, from a recliner to high top tables. I have phone chargers, sweets, soft lightening, and extra supplies so that in our ever-changing world of instant grades, social media, floods of information, my students get the unique ability to be unique individualistic and relax while learning their second language. In the language classroom, discussing practices and products of various countries and communities is a regular occurrence. An idea taken from an article ”The Age of Incivility” in Teaching Tolerance that "everyone has a megaphone," I liken to the many Snapchats, Instagram posts or bold shout outs that students place with urgency before thinking through the ramifications of their wording and perspective. Furthermore, I enjoy the quote "the idea of civility does not mean politeness" but rather the idea that members should "comport themselves in a way that seeks (sought) the good of the city." This does not mean that in every discussion everyone must agree nor agree with the teacher. However, I do think developmentally the majority of our high school students argue for the perspective that suits their individual need versus that of "the good of the city," group, or school community. As the educator, I find it ever important that I create a discussion model where students can trust that opposing viewpoints are accepted and encouraged. Teaching students how to think about their thinking before they write, post or speak could create a generation of intellectuals rather than bullies, naysayers or the like.
I agree completely with Ms. Melecca’s comments below, that 2nd language reading skills reinforce our skills with our own native language. In French classes we share cultural readings, literary works, and skits/dialogues on a regular basis. Complexity levels increase as students become more comfortable with the language.
All classes have different chemistry and I try with each new group to promote good rapport and caring from day one. I make an effort to learn everyone's name in the first few days and also encourage various small and large group discussions so they can begin to feel at ease with one another. Students frequently work with partners and small groups of 3-4 to support each other in their learninng.
I consider my classroom a “safe zone,” where diversity is valued and kindness is a priority. As we study the French language and culture and share our daily lives, students are encouraged to notice and value both similarities and differences that we encounter. It is important to treat each other with kindness as we work to understand the interdependence of the world around us.
Naturally, all reading (both decoding and comprehension) done in the World Language classroom supports students’ ability to read in their native language. The skills readily transfer and strengthen students understanding of their native language as they make comparisons to the second language. In my Spanish classes, we tend to focus on reading on Mondays and circle back to those skills throughout the week. The most important thing to me the first two days of school is to learn all of my students’ names. It is a first step in not being invisible in the classroom. Students appreciate being called on by name early on; they recognize that I see them as an individual in the sea of faces around them. I believe this supports a daily positive culture and climate in the classroom from the start. As students learn about other languages and cultures, they are making connections and comparing them to their own experiences. In class, I welcome students to express their curiosity and engage in respectful discussions that allow for them to draw their own conclusions about the world without judgment. These conversations tend to occur naturally in upper level Spanish classes.
Students are introduced to authentic texts that are suitable for their language-comprehension levels. We practice pre-, during-, and post-reading strategies to encourage deeper comprehension of text. These strategies are not only applicable to the WL classroom but also can be transferred to reading in other subject areas. Feeling valued is a core component to my teaching philosophy. I truly believe that students need to know that I care about them before they will care about the material I want to teach them. I greet my students daily and treat each of them as important members of our classroom community. My room is set up to be accessible for students; for example, I have cell phone chargers for students’ convenience and a personal hygiene basket with items like Band-Aids and spray deodorant for student use. Students in my room sit in groups of 3-4 to encourage collaboration and ownership of learning. Classroom activities are posted on Google classroom so that students can access missed work at their convenience. I also openly discuss and practice stress-management strategies with my students such as guided meditation, visual imagery, and practical studying tips. Students treat each other and the cultural topics we discuss in class with respect and dignity. Often when studying a new language, students are confronted by practices and products which differ from their native experience. My classroom is a place in which students feel comfortable to share diverse opinions about cultural topics, as they know their contributions will be valued and accepted.
In my classes I routinely work with the concept of learning new vocabulary in context. Students work on vocabulary acquisition through cognates, contextual clues, etc. I spend the first two weeks of the new trimester working on a unit called "Vamos a conocernos" ("Let's get to know each other"). We still work on language skills and learn new content, but in the context of the self. In class, we engage in a number of topics that begin with the target language and culture, and we connect those to current events in the United States and beyond.
Choral reading/teacher read aloud demonstrated pronunciation and intonation. Modeling good reading skills by highlighting words they know and words that may be cognates reduces anxiety when reading seemingly long reading passages. Choosing authentic texts allows students to become accustomed to the natural language. There is great value in choosing age-appropriate and curriculum-relevant text. My students complete a bi-weekly self-assessment that asks them for their feedback on classroom activities and their lives in general. By modeling appropriate and respectful disagreement behaviors, my students see the value in this goal and follow my lead.
Information coming soon!