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Language Policy

Language Policy 2016-2017

 

Because without our language, we have lost ourselves. Who are we without our words?

~Melina Marchetta

 

Philosophy

 

J. Workman Middle School believes that communication is at the center of bringing people together. Language is the key to communication. The fundamental concepts of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years promotes “international mindedness” and communication these concepts strengthen our commitment to the development of the abilities of our students to communicate effectively with others. Language allows us the ability to communicate through listening, speaking, reading and writing fluently. We at J.H. Workman believe we are all teachers of language.


Language of Instruction

 

English is the language of instruction for all classes at Workman Middle School.  For Language B classes, the language of instruction is either Spanish or Mandarin Chinese. Ideally, students must attain a (level 3 or higher) on the English language Arts (ELA) reading portion as measured by the Florida State Standards Assessment (FSA) before entering a language acquisition class.

 

English Language Instruction:

 

English is the language of instruction for Language A classes for grades 6-8 at Workman Middle School and closely follows the objectives and grading criteria provided by the IB Middle Year Programme. Guided by the fundamental MYP concepts of holistic learning, intercultural awareness, and communication, we encourage our students to make interdisciplinary links using their Approaches to Learning Skills (ATL)  Our students enter our classrooms at different levels of learning and experiences with language.  We offer classes to meet the level of learning the student is to ensure the student reaches their highest potential.

 

Language B

 

It is the expectation of all students not enrolled in 90 minute intensive reading classes, Exceptional Student Education (ESE) or in the English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program, to take either Spanish or Mandarin Chinese as their Language B class required by the IB Middle Years Programme. The Language Acquisition department follows the IB programme model that “requires the study of at least two languages to support studen4ts in understanding their own culture and those of others”. All students who have scored a level 3 or above on the reading portion of the ELA FSA test are encourage to learn a second language. We value the importance of students becoming culturally and linguistically proficient, and believe that by exploring a foreign language will help them develop their cognitive and critical thinking skills.  Reading writing, listening and speaking are all vital parts of language development, and our students can choose to develop these skills in either Spanish or Chinese grammatical structures, verbal and writing skills, and vocabulary. These are taught through context that helps students develop as effective communicators.  The Language B courses are assessed using the assessments required by the Florida Common Core standards, and the IB middle Year Programme Language B objectives and assessment tools.

 

English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)

 

The English language learner’s population in Workman Middle School continues to grow and the diversity of students continues to increase on a yearly basis. Currently, there are 33 ELLs in grades 6-8 speaking Spanish, Vietnamese, Arabic and Mandarin Chinese. The J.H. Workman Middle School ESOL program provides effective and comprehensible instruction so that they gain both proficiency in Basic Interpersonal Skills (BICS) and Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP) based on Jim Cummins (1981) research.  The focus of Workman’s ESOL program is aligned with Florida’s missions that are to prepare successful bilingual and bicultural English learners as contributing members of a global society fully preparing them to achieve the challenging academic standards required of all students. The ESOL program ensures that English learners have access to academic content in language arts that is equal in scope, sequence, breadth, and depth to the curricular offerings available to students whose first language is English.   

 

Mother Tongue Instruction

 

Mother tongue development is supported for students whose native language is English.  For students whose first language is one of the more than four languages spoken on our campus other than English. Both ESOL teachers are fluent in the Spanish language and are certified to teach Spanish. The teachers utilize bilingualism as a strategy to encourage development of the Spanish language while teaching English. Students will study literature and practice expressing thoughts and communicating ideas in their mother tongue. Students also have an opportunity to be a member of the international club that focuses on developing the cultural literacy of the students, as well as giving the students the opportunity to speak in their native tongue.

 

Instruction for Struggling Readers

 

J.H. Workman Middle School serves students at all levels of academic readiness.  This means that there must be safety nets in place for those students who come to with below standard proficiency in language and mathematic skills. These students, identified by scoring a level 1 on the Florida State Assessment (FSA), must take an intensive reading class for 90 minutes daily.  The intensive reading program adopted by the Escambia County School District is developed by Read 180 and has been correlated with the Florida Language Arts Standards. Students who score a level 2 or low level 3 on the FSA, take 90-minute reading classes every other day. The reading program used for these classes was developed by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and it directly corresponds with the resources used by Language Arts teachers in their classes. Also available to the reading teachers are USA Test Prep and Learn and Listenwise, which are online programs, aligned with Florida State Standards. Read 180 and the computer-based programs being utilized target specific benchmark skills, and will provide data that will drive instruction addressing specific areas of difficulty. The aims of this class are to accelerate the growth in reading beyond one to two years in a school year. This course serves students who are more than two or three years behind what the state identifies as on grade level in reading. 

 

The intensive reading class does not take the place of the Language A course.  This additional requirement, mandated by the state, excludes struggling readers from the Language B course.  Students take the FSA in the spring of each school year. If the students score at least 3 or above those students will be enrolled in Language B at the start of the next school year. An exception being made for students who score a low level 3 and have a prior history of below proficiency scores.

 

Assessment

 

With the goal to improve teaching and enhance learning, a myriad of assessment tools will be utilized.  Teachers will administer several diagnostic reading tests that may include, but are not limited to the following: SRI, QRI, DRA, Florida Oral Language Fluency test, and teacher made diagnostic materials.  In addition, teachers shall also utilize district level assessments on a quarterly basis to monitor the progress and development of their students ‘reading skills in order to plan for instruction.

 

A wide variety of summative assessments will be utilized to assess the student’s overall performance on a particular unit of study, while providing reliable and valid information on student learning. These will include but are not limited to essays, labs, projects, oral examinations, and other written assignments.  The summative assessments in each subject area will be modeled after the summative assessments required by the IB for the Middle Years Programme in year 5 of the program.  Albeit, J.H. Workman IB Middle School offers only the first three years of the program. Our assessments and the objectives assessed, along with the criteria we use to determine performance will be slightly modified from year five. The state Reading Assessment the FSA (Florida Standards Assessment) will be administered by the district to identify students who need intensive intervention for reading difficulties. 

 

 

Teaching and Planning

 

J. H. Workman IB Middle School has adopted several research-based strategies to assist with the development of language skills to be implemented school-wide.  For the 2016-2017 school year, we are focusing on using intensive vocabulary strategies in all classes.  We will begin our vertical and horizontal planning on vocabulary acquisition with a look at the Frayer Model vocabulary strategy.  Additionally teachers in all subject areas will be utilizing text sets in modified literature circles in order to enrich the instruction provided.  The entire school is also focused on developing students’ abilities in the retention and use of information through note taking strategies such as Cornell Notes.  Though the above strategies will be used school-wide through-out the year, teachers will utilize many more strategies within the classroom that incorporate technology (i.e. USA Test Prep, Vocabulary.com, Achieve 3000, Listserv ) with the goal to address the individual  academic needs of their students.

 

Teachers shall actively participate in collaborative planning of co-curricular elements at each grade level within each department on a weekly basis to ensure not only the rigor and relevance of each lesson, but to ensure the development of a curriculum that reflects and supports the school’s identity.  Moreover, teachers will meet weekly with their horizontal teams to ensure all possible opportunities for active dialogue about ATL skills, key concepts, and global contexts considered across years. Teachers are to be provided a 90-minute planning period each day in which they will be expected to utilize this time for IB Unit planning with fidelity, the creation and implementation of authentic and targeted assessment strategies, and rubric design and reflection.

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