Language Planning Committee

Meeting Notes 12/15/2003

At John Stanford International School 3:45-4:15 pm

In attendance:

From John Stanford:
Brent Hester (4 Spanish), Mihoko Tsang (K-1 Japanese), Mary Lynn Powers (2 Spanish), Hiromi Pingry (2 Japanese), Karen Kodama (principal), Ed Noh (principal intern)

From Hamilton:
Sue Ranney (Director of International Education), Claudia Sandler (World Languages Coordinator, Spanish teacher)


1. What's Working Now?

Everyone contributed ideas about what's working right now in both schools.

Hamilton: many kids involved; all 6th graders taking language; kids like it; great teachers; Japanese teacher amazing, has grown program from 15 (who started mid-year last year) to 90, plus is teaching world cultures classes; other (non-language) teachers are excited and asking for language resources for math, for example; see it as fun

Stanford: kids are happy; families are (generally) happy; parents have high commitment to immersion and next steps (i.e. middle school and high school); academically, immersion students showing higher performance on ITBS than might have been expected (at this early stage in the program); a number of 4th grade students are starting to speak Spanish most of the time; several new kids in 4th grade have transitioned very well; listening comprehension is "amazing"; ability for students to understand normal rate of speech is surprising; high-level of collaboration among immersion teachers and with English counterparts; Brent is using the SOPA Rating Profile for his progress reports to parents


2. What Are Concerns (or Perceived Concerns)? What Seems "Hard"?

- Some parents are concerned that the students "aren't fluent yet"

- Some parents still insistent about speaking English to the immersion teacher (in front of students)

- Some parents are panicked about middle school (assignment process, will there be a program?)

- Possible perceived concerned about WASL results

- Teaching new grade every year (Brent has been doing this, but he kind of likes it too)

- Being clear on what the goals are at the end of the year

- Dealing with attrition, how to best integrate new students after other students have had several years of immersion

- Resources: time to translate or modify materials; few resources available for Japanese, esp.

- Making effective use of tutors (teacher has to be organized about identifying what student needs and supplying appropriate resources)

- HIMS: challenging to address so many levels of Spanish (could use help of UW tutors, perhaps?)


3. Issues for Transition from 5th to 6th grade (JSIS to HIMS)

- Grammatical accuracy of students' language

- Communications with families so they know what to expect

- Assignment process (from the District)

- What to prepare for going into high school (e.g., more literature and language study in 3rd and 4th years, what about content usually taught in Spanish for Spanish speakers classes?, ability to speak (extemporaneously) on an assigned topic)


4. What We'd Like Next

* Decision about content area for immersion in 6th grade and availability of "right" teacher

(Hamilton seems clear that Math won't be the immersion content area, but some parents are assuming that what's been done till now will continue into middle school. We talked about exploring possibilities more. For example, maybe shift from Math/Science in immersion in 5th grade to Spanish Literacy (language skills) and Social Studies. That might provide a smoother transition to middle school. Perhaps immersion content area at middle school could be flexible based on what teachers can best offer there.)

* Resources needed for language immersion

(Is there a "language immersion" curriculum for non-native speakers? Perhaps an outline or curriculum guide? Immersion teachers are currently developing resources as they go (translating or modifying existing resources). Volunteers are sometimes available, but then the teacher needs to be organized to use them well. Karen suggested getting a grant to fund some teacher time during the summer (or even school year) for intensive curriculum development. People agreed that now that they've been doing it for a while, they have a better idea of what's needed. Also, they still have to tailor materials each year because the students and their needs are different.)


5. What's Next

- Sue and Claudia will be talking with Hamilton teachers (similar to this conversation)

- Michele will organize meeting with UW language partners in January to get their input and suggestions

- Also, since a lot of the issues that came up have to do with parent communications, Michele will draft some ideas and send them to Karen and Sue


Future dates to think about:

Mar. 1-5 - National Foreign Language Week

Mar. 20 - WAFLT Spring Regional - PLU - Tacoma, WA
(How about doing an immersion track there and bring together immersion teachers from Sunset, JSIS, Sheridan, Richmond, plus middle schools?)

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