What we believe/value:

At West Goshen Elementary School, we believe that all staff members, along with families, have a role in supporting the language development of our students. We believe that language plays a key role in understanding and that it is a tool for thinking and communicating. We know that language development takes place over time and that not all students have the same language needs. We understand that learning a language is a process that needs to be fostered, modeled, corrected, and encouraged.

We strive to create an environment where every student is surrounded by language no matter where they are in the building or which staff member they are with. We believe students need opportunities to share their thinking multiple times a day and that it is our job to provide whatever scaffolds they need to be successful.  Students here are encouraged to take an active role in their language development and in helping their peers develop language skills. We value supporting students through modeling, questioning, wait time, and visual cues. We recognize the importance of quality literature and connections across all parts of a student’s day as ways to support language development.

West Goshen is a place where the background and language needs of all students and families are respected. It is a place where our daily practices reflect these beliefs. 

 

How our practices support language development:  Spanish Class

At West Goshen, all students have Spanish class once a week. Since our school has a high number of native Spanish speakers, we have differentiated our Spanish classes to better meet the needs of all students. Many of our native Spanish speakers have not been exposed to reading and writing in their first language, and may also have underdeveloped academic Spanish language skills. We address these needs in our advanced Spanish classes. We design our basic Spanish classes to meet the needs of non-native Spanish speakers and focus on developing basic vocabulary and conversation skills. 

Practices in place to support students in our Spanish classes include:

  • Grouping based on needs and language levels
  • Picture supports for concepts vocabulary, including labels in all classrooms
  • Connections to classroom content learning
  • Valuing a variety of cultural backgrounds
  • Appreciating and encouraging oral language
  • Songs and games as tools for learning
  • Opportunities to read and write in Spanish
  • Repeated practice

 

How our practices support language development:  Special Ed/Intervention

Students in need of extra support or who have identified special needs receive services from interventionists, paraprofessionals, or special education staff. West Goshen also has a speech pathologist who works with students who have identified needs specific to speech and language. All staff who provide extra support use instructional practices or programs that help with the development of language skills. 

Practices in place to support students in our special education/intervention programs include:

  • Coordinate support through teacher to teacher communication
    • Student needs, goals, progress
    • Expectations
    • Common language and visuals across the classroom and small group intervention/support (Fundations, Edmark, etc)
  • Modeling in response to specific student needs
  • Wait time
  • Data used to plan and track growth
  • Incorporate academic language
    • Goals, feedback, criteria
    • Learner profile attributes
  • Whisper coaching students during co-teaching (pushing in vs pulling out)
  • Anticipating and planning for student difficulties
  • Attention to rate of teacher speech when working with students who need more time to process language

 

How our practices support language development:  EL Services

The West Goshen student body includes many students whose first language is not English. Students are assessed annually using WIDA, and staff uses the data from these tests to help pinpoint specific student needs in the area of English language development.  Direct services for English Language Learners are provided by EL teachers. Direct services are mostly provided using a push-in model; however, for students who speak little to no English, pull out services may also be used. EL teachers also work with classroom teachers and other school staff to help provide supports and modifications across students’ school days. 

Practices in place to support students who receive English Language services include:

  • Use of WIDA levels/scores to anticipate areas of difficulty and plan support
  • Pre-teaching curriculum concepts, content-specific vocabulary, and academic language
  • Grouping and regrouping students strategically to provide differentiated support
  • “Double dipping”—exposing students to content in more than one setting to provide repetition and multiple exposures
  • High support for new English speakers, such as Grapeseed and Survival English groups
  • Push in support that may include whisper coaching and small group/individual support during lessons
  • Collaboration with classroom teachers
    • Data meetings
    • Common supports and expectations for students across the school day
  • Individualized learning plans with modifications/accommodations for students and important information on what a student can be expected to do based on their proficiency level in each domain.  (Our ILPS have Can Do statements at the end specific to each child) 
  • Modification of curriculum: visual supports, sentence/paragraph frames, adapt reading level, emphasis on vocabulary

 

How our practices support language development:  Classroom/rubric

At West Goshen, all teachers continually work to improve their instruction. We use the TAP evaluation process and weekly cluster group meetings to work collaboratively to increase the effectiveness of our instruction in order to meet student needs. Because West Goshen has many students in need of support for language development, we have worked hard to make sure our classroom practices support all learners in developing the academic language they need to be successful learners. 

Practices in place to support students in the classroom include:

  • Purposeful use of partners/grouping
    • Assigning roles to help support language use
    • Differentiated grouping to meet changing student needs
  • Use of visuals to support understanding of concepts and vocabulary (Presenting Instructional Content)
  • Differentiated sentence stems/frames for students who need them (Teacher Knowledge of Students)
  • Opportunities to speak during activities and assessments
    • Turn and talk (Activities and Materials)
    • Differentiated (verbal) assessments (Teacher Knowledge of Students, Assessment)
    • Partner/group work (Activities and Materials, Grouping)
    • SeeSaw verbal assessment (Assessment)
  • Teacher modeling for speaking in complete sentences, using academic vocabulary, etc (Presenting Instructional Content)
  • Connections between speaking and writing
  • Extending wait time for students to process and rephrasing only when needed (Questioning)
  • Explaining new/unfamiliar words, encouraging students to ask questions when  they don’t understand (Presenting Instructional Content, Questioning)
  • Use of academic language/content-specific vocabulary on criteria guides used by students (Assessment)

 

How our practices include support for the whole school community: communication with families

The West Goshen staff believes that families are an important part of our students’ learning, and that clear communication with our families plays a significant role in supporting the development of our students.  We believe we need to support all families in this, including those who may need support with English or with the academic language used in schools. 

Practices in place to support communication with families include:

  • Parent liaison (bilingual) and school counselor work together to close the gap between school and home 
    • Help families understand the importance of academics, attendance, and behavior
    • Help families understand their role in their students’ language development
  • Bilingual parent liaison explains the policies of our school in a language that our Spanish speaking parents can understand; use of district resources to help with communicating in languages other than Spanish (Russian, Japanese)