From Shoreline School District spring 2018 Newsletter
Dual Language program translating to student success
New program at Briarcrest Elementary has some classes spending half their day learning in English and the other half in Spanish
After two years of study and planning, two Dual Language classrooms were opened at Briarcrest Elementary this school year. The Dual Language program is an instructional model that provides content-based instruction to students in two languages allowing students, over a number of years of participation in the program, to become proficient and literate in both languages, while also meeting high academic standards in all subject areas.
Briarcrest was selected to offer the program because it has the highest number of the number of Spanish-speaking students who enroll at the school each year.
This year, one kindergarten class and one first grade class are participating in the program. In the years that follow, the program will be expanded to the grade levels these students move into while a new kindergarten class is added for families who apply to be part of the program. Each class is comprised of 50 percent native English speakers and 50 percent native Spanish speakers.
There are three goals for the program, according to Dr. Ellen Kaje, director of categorical programs and academic support. “We want students to obtain bilingualism and biliteracy in English and Spanish, have high academic achievement for all students, and for students to have a cross-cultural awareness,” said Kaje. “There’s a lot of research about the many cognitive benefits bilingual students will enjoy throughout their lives, such as flexible thinking, increased ability to problem-solve and an appreciation for other cultures.”
Dual Language teachers Maria Trevino and Selena Killin work as a team to ensure their students meet their learning goals while learning to read and speak a new language. The kindergarten class spends their morning in Trevino’s classroom receiving instruction in Spanish, while the first grade class is learning in English in Killin’s classroom. Halfway through the day, the classes switch.
“Our teachers have created a curriculum that teaches one unit in one language and then effectively bridges to the other at the end of the unit,” said Killin. “For example, a math unit is taught in Spanish and covers addition and then at the end of that unit, the academic vocabulary necessary to be successful in both languages is taught in English.”
The teachers also structure their learning chants and layouts of their classrooms to be very similar. “We planned it, so we’re able to incorporate chants and strategies in each other’s classrooms, so it doesn’t feel like a disconnect between classrooms when they’re switching back and forth,” said Trevino. “We purposely made the set up similar so that the students would feel at home in both classrooms.”
Briarcrest Principal Jonathan Nessan shared how excited he is to see the program get off to such a great start. “We’ve seen a lot of growth and success with both groups of students in this first year of the program and we’re very excited to see them continue to grow next year as another group of kindergartners begin the program,” said Nessan.