Changes made to Woodbury High School Spanish Immersion programA Spanish Immersion information meeting was held May 22 at Woodbury High to discuss potential curriculum offerings for students enrolled in the program. School to
By: Amber Kispert-Smith, Woodbury Bulletin
High School Spanish Immersion is being tweaked slightly – at the request of parents.
A Spanish Immersion informational meeting was held May 22 at Woodbury High School to discuss potential curriculum offerings for students enrolled in the program.
WHS Principal Linda Plante presented the meeting.
Spanish Immersion is a program that serves non-Spanish speaking families that live within District 833 boundaries.
Currently the program goes through sixth grade.
At Nuevas Fronteras, founded in 2004, students in kindergarten through fifth grade are immersed in Spanish as they learn reading, writing, math, science, social studies, art and health.
Currently, the oldest class of immersion students is now in seventh grade at Cottage Grove Middle School.
Once the current seventh-graders reach ninth grade in 2013, they would then move into the high school Spanish Immersion program, according to plans.
The high school offering would be a partial immersion program similar to that at the middle school level.
Last December at a similar meeting WHS discussed the potential course offerings to mixed reviews from parents.
The initial proposed course offerings, to be delivered in Spanish, would be: freshmen would take both a language arts and geography class taught in Spanish; sophomores would take both a language arts and world history class taught in Spanish; juniors would take both a United States history class Spanish and a foreign language and literature class in Spanish.
When students are seniors, they would take a Spanish humanities course which would have the students read and study authentic Spanish communication. Additionally, students would go out into the community and use their language skills with some sort of community service component.
Students would be placed at service sites through the court system, health care facilities and other community groups.
However, during those discussions, parents voiced concerns over the language arts courses given that Spanish and English composition and sentence structure are different and they felt that students needed to learn English on its own.
However, at last month’s meeting, Plante offered up alternative course offerings.
Spanish lit analysis
Plante said she was approached recently by District 833 Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Assessment Rick Spicuzza about changing the proposed language arts Spanish Immersion courses because the state is in the process of augmenting its language arts standards to include writing, speech, grammar and literary analysis components.
“(Spicuzza) thought that would be very difficult to get across amicably in Spanish,” Plante said. “Those components might be difficult for students if they were delivered in Spanish.”
When Plante first proposed teaching language arts in Spanish, her thought process was that rather than adding a Spanish elective, teaching an already required class in Spanish would allow for students to take additional electives.
“What I was originally doing was trying to keep slots open, but if it puts kids in harm’s way for testing …,” she said.
So, the option Plante proposed to parents last month would be: ninth graders would take geography and advanced Spanish literature and culture, 10th graders would take world history and advanced Spanish language and 11th graders would take U.S. history and Spanish language and literature analysis.
“It’s the progression of English translated into the Spanish Immersion,” she said.
The 12th grade curriculum would remain the same.
Parents at the meeting appeared to be in support of the proposed change given that the courses would focus more on Spanish literature, and Spanish language, rather than translating the English course curriculum into Spanish.
In addition to changing the language arts course to a literature course, Plante also informed parents that she is working to offer advanced placement world geography as a Spanish Immersion class as well since several parents had asked for it.
However, Plante warned parents that students will have a difficult course load.
“Spanish Immersion is going to be the most difficult one we have for kids in the building,” she said.
Plante also informed parents that students don’t necessarily have to take an advanced placement course to take the advanced placement test. Additionally Plante informed parents that there is an advanced placement Spanish test that students in Spanish Immersion could potentially take.
Plante also advised parents that if a student is enrolled in Spanish Immersion it will be difficult to take other elective classes such as music, other advanced placement courses, Project Lead the Way courses, College in the Schools course and post-secondary education Options (PSEO) courses.
“But, I feel like there are some options here,” she said.
The tentative calendar would have District 833 looking at the technical aspects of Spanish Immersion, such as graduation requirements, whether advanced placement classes will be offered or if students would have the opportunity for weighted grades, in the fall of 2012.
Students would begin to enroll by 2013 if approved by the board.
“We’ve gained some big victories in terms of Spanish Immersion moving forward, but there’s more that’s going to come up,” Plante said. “We’re going to be looking at the curriculum as it evolves.
“Once you have kids come through the first year you can take a look at how it went.”