Each well-established school should go through a regular, periodic curriculum review cycle. We are currently in the process of revising the Standards, Can Do Statements, and Learning Targets for our Mandarin as a Foreign Language track. They are a vast set of statements, inspired by the ACTFL Standards and Proficiency Guidelines.
During a Curriculum Work Session, all our Mandarin teachers engaged in a thorough revision of all our guiding statements, in an effort to ensure that they are still accurate, that they match within the different categories, and that they promote authentic communication.
Next steps would be to make the necessary changes and adjustments, based on the team's findings and on latest research and best practices in language acquisition. The journey to improvement leads sometimes up a sinuous pathway, and it never really ends!
Our school has five School-Wide Learning Outcomes (SLOs) that describe the profile of our learners. They are:
* Insightful Learners
* Effective Communicators
* Principle-Centered Leaders and Team Members
* Active Global Citizens
* Reflective Spiritual Beings.
Recently, we spent a full work session working with our Mandarin language teachers to unpack each of these SLOs and the way they reflect in our teaching, learning and assessing in language classes. These are such universal statements, that they can translate easily in any subject, at any grade level. Our teachers used the thinking routine See-Think-Wonder designed by Harvard's Project Zero to explore the illustrations, descriptions, and possibilities related to these profiles. They commented on how efficient and successful this simple tool was, and how it allowed them to analyze each SLO more in depth. I can add that simplicity is often the key to effectiveness.
Great learning has happened at the International Community School Singapore, where Jaime Thomas and I shared theories, ideas and strategies for working with English Language Learners in international school settings. We discussed topics like building empathy, second language acquisition, social vs. academic language, vocabulary development, differentiation and scaffolding.
We got to work with a group of young and energetic teachers, who aimed to better understand and support the ELLs in their classes.
We also got to experience a snapshot of a consultant's job and we thoroughly enjoyed it. It's definitely something we consider pursuing further.
This year I enrolled in the ISS WLI Certificate program, under the guidance of the world-known and absolutely wonderful Dr. Virginia Rojas, and now, when I am only one week away from completion, I can say that this has been one of the most rewarding professional development initiatives I ever engaged in. The program as a whole has radically enriched my expertise and my understanding of ELLs and their needs in the international schools' world of the 21st Century, but it has also taught me valuable principles of curriculum and assessment development, applicable to all learners.
I decided to share the infographic I created as a summative project for the 2nd course I took within the program, Teaching English as an Additional and Academic Language (TEALL). The infographic is founded on the Six Key Principles for ELL Instruction created by Stanford Graduate School of Education.
My infographic developed the Six Key Principles into a comprehensive framework for curriculum and assessment development in international schools, with a focus on integrated ELL education. I am happy and grateful to say that the presentation I made based on this infographic has helped me move on to the position of Curriculum and Assessment Coordinator at my current school.
You can find it in a larger format here.