One of the most challenging components of any educational setting, in dual language even more so, is ensuring that all students’ needs are met. This can only happen if teachers serving emerging bilinguals have the necessary tools to plan biliteracy instruction that considers individual students’ strengths and needs. Additionally, teachers must be adept and able to fully leverage instructional opportunities in all content areas, in two program languages.
Since most of what has traditionally happened in U.S. schools is implemented through a monolingual and monocultural lens, dual language educators must also be able to maneuver local, state, and national assessments that have been normalized through a monolingual perspective. This complex challenge is an area of growth in the field because a lot of what students in dual language programs are expected to produce via assessments does not fully reflect their full linguistic and academic repertoires.
The Consider component of the C6 Biliteracy Framework specifically addresses this need in the dual language classroom.
In the articles shared in the last couple of months, via www.duallanguageschools.org, we have now taken a look into the first 4 components of the C6 Biliteracy Framework, including Create, Connect, Collaborate, and Communicate.
In this article, we will move on to the fifth C – Consider.
Consider students’ varied instructional needs as an opportunity to promote self-reflection and self-assessment.
- Student learning modalities
- Active student engagement
- Diverse and authentic biliteracy assessments
Whether you serve in an elementary or secondary classroom, ask yourself:
- Do I regularly lesson plan with different learning modalities in mind?
- How do I differentiate for content, process, product, environment, and language strengths and needs?
- What role do language frames/starters/scripts play in my differentiation process?
- Do I actively monitor to ensure that at least 90% students are actively engaged in the construction of their own learning at every point during a lesson?
- What types of formative and summative assessments are being used in my classroom to authentically identify growth and need via a biliteracy lens?
- How do I assess in terms of content vs. language?
One of the things that is often forgotten in dual language programs in terms of differentiation, is the fact that all services that are available to students in traditional monolingual programs, must also be available in dual language and via both program languages. This includes intervention, gifted, talented, and special education supports. Again, this is an area that each of us must reflect about because there are many dual language schools where these types of supports are offered only in English.
By failing to provide services in both program languages, we continue to support monolingual and monocultural systems of oppression that view language learning as an intervention, rather than as the most additive way to leverage all that emerging bilinguals bring into the classroom.
Some resources that specifically can assist school and districts needing to focus on strengthening intervention services in the dual language program are below.
In the Guiding Principles for Dual Language Education: Third Edition (2018), the authors offer the following recommendations in terms of assessment in the dual language classroom:
- Use multiple measures in both languages to assess students’ progress in meeting bilingualism, biliteracy, and content-related goals.
- Assessments in the partner language should be valid and not simply translations of English assessments.
In Biliteracy From the Start (2016), Escamilla and co-authors also support these assessment recommendations. In addition, through their comparison of parallel monolingualism and holistic bilingualism practices, they add that “literacy assessment in both languages is used to document cross-language comparison and biliteracy trajectory.” This idea is extremely important because the two program languages are viewed as mutually reinforcing of one another and any type of instructional practice or assessment is implemented and used as a means to support emerging bilingual students specifically.
Lesson planning through the C6 Biliteracy Framework cycle, and specifically through the Consider component, embraces the fact that each child’s specific needs must be considered as we serve in two program languages. Additionally, antiquated notions that students must be assessed via monolingual frameworks that support English instruction only, must be eradicated.