Friday, July 23, 2010

Why I make those work lists I do...

Notes for Adobe Connect meeting

# What is the need? How did you uncover it?

The need for an aligned curriculum came about because of an “end of an era”—the French teacher who had taught at Dirigo for her entire career (and by all accounts producing French-speaking students by year 4) retired, leaving me as the “head” of the department.  There had been no strong Spanish teacher (or one that stayed more than 2 years).  The first year without Mme Murray at the helm there was a crisis with the long term sub since we did not find a qualified teacher in time—finally we hired the current French teacher.  By this time, about a year and a half on the job, I discovered the curriculum could be adjusted, as long as we were willing to do the work of alignment.   We discussed options, what we liked, what we didn’t like. We looked at the numbers in the beginning of language instruction (9th) and at then end (12th).  We decided we could re-articulate why and how languages are learned and we decided to collaborate on all themes, units, and assessments, starting at level 1 and working our way up.  That was last summer and we initiated the brand new World Language Seminar to freshmen last year.  Our goal was to provide rigorous, dynamic instruction that would serve as a foundation year for the rest.

# What is your goal?
The goal now is to put the time in to levels 2, 3, and 4—to discuss assessment, align to the MLR’s, integrate technology especially based on my findings from my research project—the end goal being a higher than 12% retention rate at the highest level.

# How do you plan on addressing this need?

This need is being addressed though hours of curriculum work with my colleague.  We set goals, make lists, and “attack” our curriculum time with very focused energy.  This year level 2 should be making its aligned debut.  Next summer level 3 is slated to be aligned, and in 2012 we should finished with level 4 and know the result of this four year initial period.  Ultimately we want to move from 12% in advanced instruction to 30%.

# And, how will you assess the intervention?

The easiest way to see if what we are doing is working is to see how many kids end up in level 4, and if they can compare on a national test of Spanish or French.  The issue currently is non-rigorous, poorly designed sequencing of instruction that neglects the basics.  We want to equip kids with the basics but go far beyond that in advanced study.  Currently our advanced level students are still of the cohort that had another teacher besides us. 

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