Central Elementary School

Photo of Teachers from September's Holbrook Language Academy
These images are courtesy of Lifeworks Photography

This month, we are featuring the Central Elementary School Dual Language Program. The excellence that this school has exhibited is extraordinary, as the amount they’ve been able to accomplish since the beginning of their planning process in 2015 is truly unbelievable. That being said, let’s look into what made this school as special as it is today.

We decided to pursue a Dual Language program in this building because of the demographics and the student programing already occurring in this building. Central School has the highest Hispanic enrollment in the district (77%) and the highest EL population (56%). We are in the process of transitioning our Developmental Bilingual Program into a Two-Way Dual Language Program that began with kindergarten in 2017-2018.- Idalia Marin, Bilingual Coordinator

Their team began the planning process in 2015. They learned about Dual Language Programs by doing a book study on Karen Beeman’s book titled Teaching for Biliteracy. They also attended conferences and visited school districts that already had Dual Language Programing. The Central Team took initiative by evaluating their building and district resources, giving them the necessary information to develop a plan.

Photo of Teachers from September's Holbrook Language Academy
These images are courtesy of Lifeworks Photography

They created a team of teachers to work on the initial implementation, made up of building and district administrators, kindergarten classroom teachers, and support teachers. This team worked together throughout the 2016-2017 school year to develop curriculum for the Dual Kindergarten Program, develop class schedules for the 50-50 program and develop a plan for working with Dual Parents. In the meantime, district administrators worked with other district leaders and community members to communicate with the district and community. In addition, building leaders worked to identify EL and Dual Opt students.

The work that was completed in 2016-2017 helped to lay the groundwork for the initial kindergarten roll out.

We found that there were very few issues once the Dual Program was officially implemented. There have been some changes that the team has made to the curriculum and day to day procedures. These changes have been documented in the district’s Dual Program Units. The team discusses these changes during the quarterly team meetings for the current kindergarten team.

Continue reading to find out more about Central School Dual Language Program…

Photo of Teachers from September's Holbrook Language Academy
These images are courtesy of Lifeworks Photography

The school found these planning procedures to be effective. They modeled their planning procedures with their first-grade team. The first-grade team met throughout the 2017-2018 school year to develop first grade curriculum and day to day procedures. This team will begin Dual Programing in FY2018-2019.

Our recommendations to other district’s interested in beginning a Dual Language Program would be to start early by developing a team. This team should begin to investigate the various models and identify a program that best meets the needs of their school community. The team then needs to develop a plan and a timeline. This plan should include visiting successful Dual Sites.

They believe that these visits were instrumental in their planning process, and that they should include a variety of stakeholders such as district leaders, teachers, parents. They have a strong belief that district leaders need to maintain constant communication with their EL coordinator to ensure that the needs of all EL students are met through the new program.

My advice to schools interested in implementing dual programs is to ask questions, use others as a resource. There are many successful programs that have many years of experience. We have found that these districts are willing to share their experiences. As we develop Dual Language curriculum we need to ensure alignment to the rigor of common core while accommodating our L2 learners. – Idalia Marin, Bilingual Coordinator

Photo of Teachers from September's Holbrook Language Academy
Pictured: Idalia Marin

Some of the challenges that they faced were as their ELL population continues to grow, their balance of being a 2-way program could get off balance. They’ve also had to turn away students who wanted to opt-in. They need additional programming to meet the desire of their parent community. They also feel as though teachers need to provide a deeper learning about social studies and science content for grades K-5.

Overall, the program is excelling in many facets. Their use of GLAD strategies has been instrumental in making content comprehensible for language learners. They also believe that their planning process has provided adequate time to have the right conversations and prepare many minute details so that they’re fully prepared to implement each grade level. We commend the Central Elementary Dual Language Program for their wonderful efforts in creating a more bilingual Illinois!

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