Monday, June 2, 2014

Planning for 2014-2015: Articulation

One of the last tasks of the school year is creating next year's class lists.  My school has one of the largest middle school ESOL populations in the state, making schedule changes very time consuming should we realize in August (or later on) that students have been misplaced.  In addition, most middle schoolers find it absolutely traumatizing to be blindsided with a new schedule after spending days, weeks or months navigating their classes, learning their teachers' names and meeting their new classmates.

Since the school has close to 300 ESOL students, we offer courses that range from newcomer (students receive sheltered instruction for all core content areas) to advanced (students are mainstreamed for all core content classes) levels.  The ESOL department meets with the feeder elementary schools to explain the program and as well as discuss and place each incoming student. Our factors for placement include the WIDA ACCESS scores, grades, length of time in the country and individual student needs. Since we implemented these articulation meetings several years ago, the amount of schedule changes we need to request have been limited to those students that enroll over the summer and are misplaced due to incomplete records.

As far as finding time to meet, we try to arrange these meetings when the elementary schools come for spring orientation.  While we are meeting with the teachers, our ESOL students act as tour guides for the incoming students (with assistance from the guidance office),  This gives the incoming students an opportunity to learn about the ESOL program in middle school and our current students an opportunity to practice their speaking skills.  It's a win-win situation for all: the incoming students receive accurate schedules, the current students are given leadership responsibility and the teachers get a rare opportunity to network with each other.

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