Language Planning Committee

Notes on Parent Communications 1/14/2003

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

---- from earlier meeting summary -------

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)


In summary, I'd say the parent communication issues focus on managing expectations about:

  • Language development (how far, how fast, what level of fluency is possible)
  • Academic progress (WASL/ITBS results, as well as yearly progress in all subjects)
  • Assignment process (will JSIS students be able to get into HIMS, what kind of program will there be)
  • School culture (use of immersion language, etc.)

We have some tools already out there and we could develop some more to help address these concerns. It's important to note that not every parent will read a newsletter article, the website, an email from school, or even a letter from the principal, but just having the information out there for those parents who DO partake of it helps. (Then, at least, when parents talk to parents there's a chance of getting more accurate information passed, rather then simply rumors.)

Suggested communications strategies:

A. Add a section relating to language immersion in upcoming principal newsletters.

B. Add a page on the website that summarizes this information.

C. Write some articles for upcoming newsletters (Global Outlook? and the new Our World newsletter).

D. Create a handout to give out at school events (including tours?), have copies at front desk. Teachers could send it home with their weekly letters. (This could be from the web.)

E. Hold a parent evening to share information and listen to concerns.

(I'll reference these strategies below by letter, i.e. [A] etc.)


Tools We Have:

1. Language Immersion Guidelines

We created these in 2000 when the school launched. I couldn't find them any more on the JSIS website. They might need updating, but they would be a good overview of the language acquisition and academic goals of the program. They also explain things like use of immersion language. They might be used at [E] parent evening, then put on the website [B] for later reference. At the very least, they should be reviewed each August with immersion teachers to create a common understanding of the goals of the program.

2. Communication Goals K-1

This was also created in 2000. We could create grades 2-3 and 4-5 versions (or even Spanish and Japanese versions, if appropriate). I think I do have that info from Key Elementary. (I'll look for it and send it to you.) These could be shared by teachers at the beginning of each school year. Might use for [B], [D], and possibly [E].

3. Stages of Second Language Acquisition

This is already on the website [B] -- but might need to be more prominent. Could use for [C] since there hasn't been too much discussion about this (I don't think) in recent years. Also [D] for school tours and possibly [E].

4. Foreign Language Standards

This is already on the website [B] -- but might need to be more prominent (also link to Nebraska is broken, I see). Before we use it further, we probably need to review it with the teachers and see to what extent they feel that their work is aligned with these standards. The standards could apply to both immersion and English teachers since some of the standards, such as Comparisons between languages, might be more likely to show up in the English classroom. Might use for [A] where Karen in each letter highlights one of the five "C's" (e.g., Communication) and comments on some example of how practice at JSIS is exemplifying that standard. (I could help you draft the series.) Other possibilities: [C], [D], and possibly [E].

5. School Report Card

This reports on standardized test results. That's possibly a help in communicating about WASL and ITBS results, but it does only report two years at a time and doesn't indicate things like were the students in immersion or not. (See suggestion 2 below.)


Tools We Need:

1. FAQs about Transition to Middle School [A, B, D, E ?]

I'd suggest answering the questions about transition to Middle School directly, i.e. with a FAQs format. Karen could put this in a principal newsletter or you could have a web page that you could print out and hand out as needed, e.g., at a school meeting.


Q: Will Spanish language immersion continue at Hamilton?

A: (something like this) Hamilton is committed to providing content-based partial language immersion for students coming to Hamilton from the John Stanford immersion program (or who have equivalent or higher language proficiency in Spanish) starting in fall, 2005. Most likely the content areas will include Spanish language arts and literature, Social Studies topics (such as geography, current events, history, and economics), and/or Science topics. At a minimum, this would be a one-period/day class, but it might be an extended period.


Q: Will Hamilton also support Japanese immersion?

A: This year Hamilton has three sections of Japanese. We expect to grow the program each year and be prepared for the Japanese immersion students when they arrive in fall, 2007.


Q: Will John Stanford International 5th graders be guaranteed a spot at Hamilton in fall, 2006?

A: (What's the current status?? When do we expect to know?)


2. Report on Academic Progress [A, B, D, E]

I'd suggest creating a new report for your school taking the data you put in the Annual Report and giving it some context. For example, show results, indicating how many years of immersion the students have had. For this spring's WASL, you would say:

4th grade 2004 -- students have had 3 years of Spanish language immersion;

xx% of students have been in the program since 2000 when the school opened.

% of students who met or exceeded the state standard:

Reading: xx%

Math: xx%

Listening: xx%

Writing: xx%


For parents, I'm not sure that breaking out all the ethnic groups is all that interesting. In any case, they can get that info from the Annual Report.

In summary, I don't think it would take too much to address most of the communication issues raised by the teachers. Sue, I do think the website needs a bit of an overhaul. I'm not sure how it's being maintained right now. My former Safeco coworker, Pete Barnow, is an excellent web developer and has a daughter in first grade at JSIS. I wouldn't mind seeing if he might have some suggestions to make this kind of information more usable for parents on the web. Let me know your thoughts. I'd be happy to talk with teachers in person about implementing any of these suggestions if you like.


Michele Anciaux Aoki
Anciaux International Communication


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