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neighboring town of Cross-Midville, whose students come to the district through a courtmandated equity transfer program. The school’s website describes the school as highly diverse, international in nature, with 48% of its students representing ethnic minorities (Hispanic, Asian, African-American, Native American, and Pacific-Islander), and representing 32 countries and over 25 different languages. Because of its highly diverse student population, the school emphasizes global awareness and multiculturalism through classroom and all-school activities Contributing heavily to the 30% of students from outside the Midville Elementary neighborhoods, the Spanish Immersion program was relocated to Midville Elementary from another school in the district after its first two years. Initially, the SI program consisted of only one strand (one classroom in each grade level), but, in part in response to statewide class size reduction measures, was allowed to grow to one and one half strands in the mid-1990s, which called for the creation of mixed grade classrooms from grades 2-5. Parent demand for more space in the program led to a decision to expand to two strands beginning with the 2009-10 academic year. The Midville SI elementary program follows a 90/10 model of TWI education8. Kindergarteners and first graders spend approximately 90% of their class time in Spanish.
Ms. Gomez’s portable classroom was located in the far back portion of campus alongside Ms. Flores’s combination 4th/5th grade class. It faced on the back play field where many of the upper grade students ate lunch and played at recesses. Ms. Gomez’s room seemed very spacious for the 18 students in it, with plenty of room for students to get up from their assigned seats to move to tables placed around the room to focus on their individual work, or to work in small groups other than the ones they were regularly assigned to through their seating arrangements. In addition, the classroom afforded a great deal of space for storage, display of student work, special displays related to specific curricular areas or projects (Appendix A).
5th grade culminating experience: Science and culture camp at El Molino.
Each winter since 2000, the 5th grade Spanish Immersion class at Midville has attended a week-long camp at El Molino, run by the Centro de Actividades y Servicios Educativos, a non-profit organization in Erongarícuaro, Michoacán, México. Located near Lake Patzcuaro, in an ideal situation between the rural outskirts and the center of The 90/10 model of TWI education refers to the proportion of classroom time devoted to instruction in Spanish and English, with 90% of instructional minutes in Kindergarten taking place in Spanish, and 10% in English. Each year thereafter, the amount of time dedicated to instruction in Spanish decreases by 10%, until by 5th grade, the goal is to divide class time equally between Spanish and English language use.
town, El Molino affords its campers the opportunity to experience life in a small Mexican town. Founded nearly 30 years ago, El Molino can house about 90 students at a time on its finca, where kids sleep, eat and play sports. The current director is a North American, but El Molino really involves much of the town of Erongarícuaro. The camp’s counselors include specialists in elementary education, in various fields of science, including ecology, biology, horticulture and animal husbandry, and in local handicrafts, culinary arts, music, even radio production. Some of the counselors work with the kids at the camp, teaching and leading activities; others welcome groups of students into their homes to teach them in small groups, or lead them into the fields around the finca to study the natural environment. El Molino students are often seen walking through town or riding on the small cross-town buses to arrive at one of their talleres, or workshops.
Students get to know a wide variety of adults, of various ages, occupations and economic situations, but also get to mix with kids from Mexican schools. During the 2009 trip, Midville students participated with students from a Montessori elementary school in Cuernavaca. Social activities include bonfires, storytelling, singing, and a final celebratory dance party.
Workshops (talleres) form a significant part of the El Molino experience and each year Midville students attend a variety of talleres, with some carryover in offerings from year to year. During the 2009 camp, students were offered talleres in cuidado de animals (animal husbandry), deshilado (a form of needlework), producción de radio (radio production), sombrerería (weaving straw hats), biología (biology/natural history), ecología (ecology), alebrijes (local sculptural art), and diseño geométrico (geometric design). Each student was allowed to choose two different talleres, one for the morning, one for the afternoon, each of which met four times for about an hour and a half each time.
Setting 2: Midville High School, Spanish Language AP Class
In its 2010-11 profile sheet found on its website, Midville High School presented itself as having a “national reputation for academic achievement,” and as a school whose student body “reflects the community’s socio-economic status and education level.” The school provides evidence for its academic rigor by pointing out the number of Honors (13) and Advanced Placement (18) courses offered each year. They point to the high percentage of students who graduated in 2010 to attend 2-4 year colleges (88.7%) and the percentage that went directly to a four-year college (79.5%). They provide yet further evidence of the academic achievements of their students through a summary of test scores on the ACT, SAT, and APs, as well as through the number of National Merit Semifinalists and Commended Scholars, based on performance on the PSAT exam taken during students sophomore or junior year. (Appendix B). The profile provides no information about the socio-economic status of the Midville community, and points out that of the total student enrollment of 1867 students, a total of 61.2 % would identify themselves as Caucasian. Students of color or of non-Caucasian ethnicities include Asian (23.3%), Latino (8.8%), African-American (4.6%) and Other (2.1%).
In the 2008-2009 school year, Midville High School offered courses in four World Languages, Spanish, French, Japanese and Chinese (Mandarin), taught by over 10 faculty members. Each language program offered Honors level and AP courses, with Spanish offering both Language and Literature AP courses. During 2008-2009, Midville offered at least three sections of Spanish Language AP and one section of Spanish Literature AP.
Mr. Douglas Mann taught at least two of those sections that year, while a female colleague taught at least one. The 2nd period section I observed consisted of 32 students, 17 male and 15 female. Of the total number of students in the course, four students, all male, were former Midville Spanish Immersion students, and two male students identified themselves as former Spanish Immersion students, but had evidently participated in an immersion program other than Midville’s, since they did not show up on lists of former Spanish Immersion students supplied to me by Midville Elementary School. Located in one of the sections of campus furthest from the administration building at the front of the school, in the wing designated for World Language classes, Mr. Mann’s classroom seemed small for the number of students he taught in it (Appendix C). Once students found their seats during class, they did not move around, pairing up only with the student next to them for specific activities assigned. Space in the room was so tight, the space I was assigned for observing and taking notes felt confining and I would not have had room to move around the classroom had it been appropriate to do so.
Culminating activity: Spanish Language AP exam.
The Spanish Language Advanced Placement test is offered at Midville High School each year in early May, and took place on May 5, 2009 at Midville, as it did on that same day across the nation. It was administered by seven proctors, non-teaching staff at the high school, and supervised by one of the Assistant Principals. None of the students’ teachers were allowed to be present during the administration of the exam.
Held in the school library, it required significant logistics to fit the 102 student test takers into the space allotted for them. Once students checked in for the exam in the morning, they were assigned a seat from which they were not allowed to move, except during the assigned break times during which they were allowed to go to the bathroom, eat a snack or get a drink. In total, the test lasted approximately three hours, with another hour of preparation, breaks and transitions from section to section of the test.
According to the College Board website for the Spanish Language AP exam, the test consists of both multiple-choice and free response sections, each of which counts for 50% of the final score on the exam. In the multiple-choice sections, students must answer questions based on texts they both read and listen to. In the free response sections, they must compose two written responses (one presentational, one interpersonal) and two spoken responses (one presentational, one interpersonal). The presentational responses are based on multiple texts, at least one written and one audio source, which must be synthesized into an essay-like response.
The test is designed and administered each year by the College Board of the Educational Testing Service with the participation of many Spanish Language teachers all over the United States. Mr. Mann is one of the many teachers nationwide who read and scored the essay portions of the exam the June following the administration of the exam.
Setting 3: Midville Middle School and Program Review Group Midville Middle School: Midville Middle School was one of three middle schools serving the Midville School District community. During the 2008-2009 academic year, it served approximately 940 students according to data from Ed-Data (http://www.eddata.k12.ca.us). No data was available on either Ed-Data or the school’s website regarding where Midville Middle School students come from within or outside the district. Unlike Midville Elementary School, the middle school does not make mention of having a diverse student body, and data from Ed-Data seemed to indicate a less diverse population of students than that of the elementary school, even though Midville Elementary fed almost all of its students into this middle school. Ed-Data reported that Midville Middle School had an Ethnic Diversity Index of 36, and that a score of 0 representing a 100% White school population and 100% representing an ethnic diversity spread evenly over seven groups (American Indian, Asian, Pacific Islander, Filipino, Hispanic, African American, and White). Ed-Data has reported that no schools upon which it reported reached a score of 100%, with the highest score being 78. In 2008Midville Middle School was composed of approximately 57% White students, 20% Asian, 7% Hispanic, 2% African American, and under.5% Pacific Islander and Filipino.
Nearly 13% of students were designated “Multiple/No Response” in the database. Their website claimed that their school climate “provides a positive and supportive environment in which students can explore, learn, grow, and use their skills to become independent learners and thinkers. Midville is a place where students and the school community link into the larger real world. Special outreach projects foster a sense of social responsibility to complement students' curricular knowledge.” Midville Middle School’s website reports that the school is “known for its high expectations and innovative programs,” though in none of the schools’ public documents (website, school reports on accountability, future goals, and site plans) was the presence of the Spanish Immersion program (presumably one of those “innovative programs”) mentioned. One might explain that lack of mention as a result of the small proportion of Spanish Immersion students in relationship to the total population of the school. At its peak, the Spanish Immersion classes (6th, 7th, 8th) only consisted of approximately 60-75 students out of a population of 940 students, a mere 6.4-8% of the school population.
The Spanish Immersion program at the middle school had consisted of a sixth grade core class of approximately 25 students. That class focused on the core curriculum in Language Arts and Social Studies (Ancient Cultures), and was paired with a nonimmersion class that shared the same two teachers, one for Language Arts and Social Studies, one for Math and Science. Both classes were taught Math and Science in English by an English-speaking teacher. The Spanish Immersion teacher taught one class in both English and Spanish and the paired class in English only. The Spanish Immersion 7th and 8th graders had consisted of few enough students at one point that the two grades had been combined for their Spanish Immersion classes. The 7th grade class had been taught more like a World Language course, with a focus on grammar, culture, and some reading and writing. The 8th grade class was considered to be a gateway course to high school World Language courses and focused even more on grammar features the students would be expected to control for their entry into either Spanish 3 or 4 courses at one of the high schools. During the year of the study, all Spanish Immersion classes had been suspended pending the new plan to be developed by the middle school Program Review group. To compensate for their suspension, parents of Spanish Immersion students had improvised ways of offering a Spanish language experience for their students, with some students meeting with a parent/teacher in the mornings before school, and others meeting after school.
Spanish Immersion middle school program review.