Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Saturday School

The Goal of the Saturday School program is for students to reach a level of proficiency in their heritage language to equal proficiency levels required in Latin America for their age group. The catalyst is knowledge of their cultures.

The Goal of grade level achievement will have the Objectives of grade level reading, writing and knowledge of culture. The Goals and Objectives do align. After initial assessment of the students, children of Latin American immigrants who speak Spanish at home or for whom Spanish is their mother tongue, a customized constructivist study plan will be made.

The children will be taught in small groups of 5-7 students with an integrated intra-curricular instruction using culture and history of Latin America in presentations of multi-media, books, music, film and computer, as well as story telling. The students will make presentations both verbally and written for frequent assessments of various methods. The program will be frequently evaluated for effectiveness.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Design Review

The tools, processes, and technologies that we have explored are invaluable to instructional design because they give it the structure, life and future it needs to successfully empower the learner with the knowledge and skills required in this twenty-first century. The tools are all of the acronym-named systematic designs we now have to choose from. The processes are those we design using guidelines formulated by those who came before us. It is by using these processes a better design is developed. Without them the design would depend upon but one person—the designer.

If the whole instructional design depends upon no more that the personal intuition of a designer, and if that designer did not instinctively know the appropriate methods and theories, learners themselves and their learning styles, tasks and objective outcomes, information available for instruction and technologies that could be used, it would be impossible to design well.

The new element of technology in the design is something few instructional designers can master for long—because it changes! Technologies are constantly changing and challenging both instructor and student. This cooperative challenge is part of what will revolutionize learning. By having to face similar challenges together, student and teacher, the democratization process begins. I would hope to use this to best advantage in my design. I would hope more viable programs will be developed in Spain and Latin America. It is not the direct translation of software from English to Spanish that would most help this program. It is the direct creation of technological advances custom made from these Spanish speaking cultures that would be most useful to these children. In order to build upon existing knowledge the base must be native to Spanish not only in words. Its very form must be true to the language and culture.

It is in this spirit of constructivist learning that I design this program. The efforts I have extended to write a Saturday School design for the children of new immigrants for whom Spanish is their first language could be put into action with sufficient funding and a year of lead time to establish it. During this time I would have to run preliminary evaluations of students as well. At present it is a theoretical construct.

I could imagine applying for a grant and working on a pilot program, even as a study program for a PhD and ending in a wonderful story told in journal article form. This would be a model for programs around the country, and even if the program extended no further than preschool to third grade it could potentially make a huge difference in society. Well done and well attended such a program would achieve all the goals I set. These are not meerly wishes or goals that only point direction but may never be achieved. These are goals that can and should be achieved in the Latin American community. Similar goals have been met in the Asian community to great success.

The topics covered in this course are all of vital use in creative teaching in schools, or in instructional design. The birth of constructivist theories, many formulated before I was born, was not enough to change the way children are taught. It is the application of these theories that will revolutionize learning. It may be through instructional design that these ideas spread. The basic framework or structure of the design of educational programs was easily based upon ADDIE in my model, and could be for others as well. It is a good starting point for learning design.

The whole idea of Needs Assessment is not explored in everyday teaching. I found it fascinating and shall make it a part of all planning in the future. It is just as viable to traditional education as to constructivist reforms and should be used in all teaching scenarios. The Learner and Contextual Analysis is closely tied to this and although I could not use it in my design because I do not know my learners nor do they exist, I can see that it is key to successful programs. In fact, other research in Educational Psychology points to just this fact—a teacher who better knows his/her students promotes more learning.

The Goals and Outcomes portion was very important, and I applied it to the Strategic Planning Committee work I did for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools. As they set goals I could critique them intelligently and comment knowledgably upon their effectivness and measurability. I used the ABCD method for lining up goals with outcomes and found it very useful; as I am sure Instructional Designers do in the real world.

Although the New Technologies we explored in the classroom are not directly applicable to the program I am designing, unless in Spanish or adapted for small children, we did learn how they can be applied to the young university student who is familiar with all the newest software available. In my project design it is discouraging that materials I would like to use are not yet available online from Spain and Latin America. This could happen in the not too distant future though.

The beauty of the Assessment and Evaluation process is that it can be applied throughout and not in classification of students but in aid of their learning. This is a threatening concept to traditional style teachers. I can imagine it in the classrooms I observe and find it would work marvelously well. Would the teacher agree? Perhaps not. That is the sad truth. The more Instructional Designers that show the effectiveness of alternative evaluations the more convinced teachers will be. As far as my design is concerned, these alternative assessment techniques would be used often and as part of the learning process. As the Saturday School is not part of a formal school, letter grades would not be required, and it is a perfect place to begin such assessments. This type of alternative assessments described in our readings would be wholeheartedly used in my design.


Assessment and Evaluation is key to the success of this design. In this Saturday School model, the assessments will be authentically alternative. They will be well-recorded assessments in the records of the program for future consultation, but will not be formal in the tradition of schools. The assessment results should be discussed with the parents at least twice each school year, for their information as well as for feedback for the children as they learn. New methods may be tried if old ones are not working. The flexibility of work at home can be an advantage. For example, tools such as DVD's, CD's, and Cassette tapes of music and stories can be used at home for entertainment for all the family. If books do not work, perhaps these technologies will.

Within the context of learning culture, the first priority in the program, there are multiple meanings for common knowledge. Words may be used differently in different Latin American countries. The same holiday may be celebrated differently. Foods may be prepared similarly, but eaten with different accompaniments. Multiple meanings of learning will be acceptable, in fact searched for. Personal history can be compared with written history, which may mean the poor man's view will be compared with the educated upper class man's view.

Learning will be an active process, and for the young children, hands on. As many activities as can be will be active projects and in three dimensions. Continually the learner's knowledge will be called upon to set the stage for further knowledge. Connecting to experience will be the key to unlock the lesson plan. The rooms will be full of art and entertainment, or in terms of assessment tools--projects and presentations.

The way each child learns language will be observed just as closely as the language acquisition. The same will be true for history and culture learning. Once the method of learning is known then the teacher may design the next lesson specifically for the children.

As the children explore, inquiry will be encouraged. Open-ended questions will be used in lessons, as well as openness to questions from students. Curiosity will be rewarded with excitement and exploration for the whole class--with such a wide goal as to learn a whole language; it does not matter in what order it is learned. As the children age lessons may be more concrete, but in the beginning preschool stages curiosity will be encouraged in all aspects.

As the children age a certain purpose of lessons will be made clear to facilitate learning and key concepts. Within the purpose though, creative discourse will be encouraged.

All abilities will be assessed, not just cognitive. The manner in which the children approach, for example, problem solving may be automatically transferred to English as a Second Language learning skill. The cognitive skills must have a strong base to stand on and will not stand alone when evaluating a student.

Assessment will be subjective, as the children will be working so closely with one teacher, but will be well guided and documented. The teachers will be well trained in assessments and evaluations. Projects can be evaluated, and the child would be assessed in more ways than just looking at class work answers. The way in which each child learns would be documented.

The learning will be shared with direction from the teacher. The children will be allowed to pursue, within the general purpose, learning of their choice. If there were technological materials available online that they could use they may have more to choose from, but at present the materials would be reading, games, and cultural history storytelling. Recording their discoveries would also be a big part of the learning process and entail writing in Spanish.

Collaborations would be greatly encouraged, as the native speakers can help each other in many ways that the teacher may not be able to. Positive behavior would be encouraged and modeled. Collaboration as a concept would be taught and fair play would be part of that setup. It would be through the children's interests that the learning would begin.

Key to the process as well would be peer assessments and assessments of the teacher by students and parents. Feedback must be constant and constantly addressed in order to best fit the learning styles of the students. If it is part of the process from the very beginning it will never seem out of place.

To Do: Research Existing Programs

Research reveals that the Latino population have especially low enrollment rates compared to Black and Anglo preschoolers in preschools and centers, even after taking into account maternal employment and family income. The lower enrollment rate appears to be primarily in families that speak Spanish in the home (Liang, 2000).

Although some high schools offer after-school Spanish language programs, such as Liberty High School in New York City, there is more research to support the positive effects in second language reading skills by teaching Spanish skills in intervention at a younger age, such as in first-grade (Linan-Thompson, 2006).

The use of trained parents for language instruction has positive results in the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean communities. Students learn from a native speaker. Intercultural communication and personal relationships are built between instructors and parents and between the families themselves. The parents feel they are making a significant contribution to their new home society by teaching the children, especially if in a public school setting (Cooper, 1999).

The use of professionals understanding Positive Behavioral Support practices (PBS) involves understanding and respecting the values of the culture of the family. Four key features to understanding the culture are collaborative partnerships, functional assessment, contextual fit and meaningful lifestyle outcomes (Wang, 2007).

Therefore my preliminary research reveals that successes in existing programs can guide the design of this Saturday School program. There is a need for preschool level instruction for the Latino child from a Spanish-speaking household. Although it was not mentioned in my research, the common feeling among educators I spoke with was that illegal immigrants were afraid to register for any formal school or government program that would entail they risk deportation due to their illegal status. At thier Catholic church they are not afraid that their status as illegal immigrants will be revealed to the authorities. This is one reason the church classrooms may be a safe environment--because the parents would feel safe and be willing to utilize the program and participate in it as long as they did not have to show any documentation to register their child.

My research here and before shows that there is a need for reading comprehension in Spanish at the begin-to-read level of first-grade to boost reading comprehension in English. Using parents, even uneducated ones, to teach Spanish can be an advantage for their fluency and native speaking abilities, as well as for their cultural story telling. Getting to know these parents by having them help in the classroom will instruct teachers in the culture and lifestyle of the family to better understand the children. In order to model both positive behavior and learning skills, understanding of the family could be a key factor. This use of cultural understanding has shown successful results with PBS in the Asian communities.


Cooper,T., & Maloof, V. (1999) The Journal of Educational Research (Washington DC). 92 no3 p. 176-83.

Linan-Thompson, S., Mathes, P., & Vaughn, S. (2006). Effectiveness of Spanish Intervention for First-Grade English Language Learners at Risk for Reading Difficulties, Journal of Learning Disabilities, 39 no 1 p. 56-73.

Liang, X., Fuller, B., & Singer, J. (2000). Ethnic differences in child care selection: the influence of family structure, parental practices, and home language. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, v. 15 no. 3, p. 357-84.

Wang, M., McCart, A., & Turnbull, A. (2007) Implementing Positive Behavior Support With Chinese American Families: Enhancing Cultural Competence. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions. v. 9 no. 1 p. 38-51.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Strategies for Instruction

The design of this program should require a learning outcome of grade level skills in Spanish for every student. The assessment strategies will be testing similar to testing in the Mexican Public School Curriculum as well as alternative assessments of grade level achievement by teachers and fellow students. All references to grade level achievement will be set by this Mexican curriculum which is readily available at the Mexican Consulate. The strategies for instruction will be closely aligned with the sought for objectives.

The three main objectives are:

--Read Spanish at grade level

--Write Spanish at grade level

--Know Latin American culture at grade level

The instructional strategies for these three objectives will match technological implementation, learning resources and teaching style with learning style needs that are determined upon initial evaluation of the students. As the design is theoretical the strategies that could be chosen are as follows:

1. Integrated curriculum using culture and history to excite students about reading and writing Spanish

2. Classes conducted completely in Spanish

3. Constructivist principles guiding instruction allowing for student curiosity and input

4. Instructional groups will be of 5-7 students for each teacher. Project and reading groups sizes will vary within the instructional group. (Students will be given the choice of working with small groups or as individuals on projects.)

5. Strategies for cultural proficiency will be:

Parent and teacher storytelling
Reading material in Spanish rich in cultural traditions and history
Music traditional to Latin America as background music in class and to be sent home for listening (CD's for car stereos)
Singing traditional Spanish songs in class.
Using Mexican Public Schooling curriculum requirements for history knowledge at grade level as a guide.
Acting out traditional Latin American cultural traditions in play form, or making a film to show classmates.
Reading great literature selections in Spanish.

6. Strategies for reading proficiency will be:

Similar strategies as used in English reading instruction will be used, for example: phonetics, the Wilson program.
Integrating reading materials with classroom instruction to immerse students in subject matter and excite them about it
Reading materials will be plentiful for in class reading as well as pleasure reading at home.
Rather than checking out materials, small printouts are preferable for take home to keep.
CD's and DVD's of age appropriate music, movies and games may be sent home with those who have technology at home
Film, DVD, and computer presentations (power points with pictures, or any Spanish web sources) can accompany reading

7. Strategies for writing proficiencies will be:

For younger students, play acting and creative construction of stories along cultural lines
Play and film writing will be used in group project work
Publication in Spanish newspapers of reports, poetry and prose, as well as letters to the editor
Book reports to be presented to other students will be written, similar to school work in English
Essays for assessment will be required for grade level proficiency evaluation

8. Assessment would be made of student progress using Mexican Public School curriculum as a guide for each grade level. Alternative assessments would also be made by teachers who will be trained to do so for projects, presentations, and portfolios. Reporting to families will be done at least twice yearly to note progress towards goals set individually for each student. The plan of study for each student will be assessed at least once annually for revisions, Teacher strategies will also be assessed annually for revisions.

In summary, the course work will be language and culture integrated, completely in Spanish, constructivist in nature, varied in technological support, and depend upon initial evaluations for individual design. Students will work closely with teachers in small groups or individually. The evaluation of the program as a whole, and student progress will be made along the way to insure responsiveness to learner needs.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

To Do: Obtain Teaching Materials

In the implementation of instructional strategies teaching materials in Spanish would be obtained from Mexico, Spain, and other Latin American countries. The rules governing use of these materials seem favorable to educational uses of protected works. Spain, as well as Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Granada, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela and the United States are all member nations of the World Intellectual Property Organization.

Their agreements of 1996 from Geneva, Switzerland are understood to include free use of intellectual property, which means use without having to compensate the rights owner for the use of the work without authorization. Examples of this free use are:

1.) Quoting from a protected work, provided that the source of the quotation and the name of the author is mentioned, and that the extent of the quotation is compatible with fair practice.
2.) Use of works by way of illustration for teaching purpose
3.) Use of works for the purpose of news reporting

(Source: http://www.wipo.int/export/sites/www/freepublications/en/intproperty/909/wipo_pub_909.pdf on November 4, 2007)

These agreements are felt by some Latin Americans to serve big business, not the developing nations. Some Latin American countries have initiatives to abolish these copyright agreements and national copyright laws. The Literary and Artistic International Association is meeting this weekend in Punta del Este, Uruguay, for their annual congress to discuss just such issues.

There is a lot of "pirating" of books, DVD's and CD's that make reading, movies and music affordable for the poor. In Peru a pirated CD or book is called "Bamba" and commonly sold in the more rudimentary marketplaces. These international accords and national copyright laws are not well enforced in the case of pirated items in poor neighborhoods. This is especially true in Central America, according to Mr. Ballesteros who was the secretary general of the World Intellectual Property Organization from 1986 to 1999.

At any rate, the use of protected work for teaching purposes is clearly allowed by the OMPI, Organizacion Mundial de la Propiedad Intelectual (World Intellectual Property Organization) and can be used in the United States from all of these member countries for the Saturday School design. In fact, from my preliminary research, I suspect they may have fewer restrictions on their use for teaching purposes than materials produced and copyrighted in the United States

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Line from Needs to Deeds

To align tasks with needs and goals the illustration attached may be helpful. The Saturday School Program would begin the first year with three and four year olds at the pre-kindergarten level. The program would grow to pre-kindergarten and kindergarten the second year.

The kindergarten teacher would have been trained by the pre-kindergarten teachers the first year. The kindergarten teacher would be observed by and train the first grade teacher during the second year of the program. In the second year of the program there would be only two grades: pre-kindergarten and kindergarten. The third year of the program the first grade teacher would be observed by and train the second grade teacher. In the third year of the program there would be three grades: pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, and first grade.

The Saturday School program would grow year by year in a similar fashion. As the original group of four year old children advance year by year, so will the program grow, year by year, one year at a time. By thirteen years time the original children from the first year of the program will be graduating from high school. The goal of the Saturday School program would be for these children at this time to be well enough prepared in Spanish to be able to enter a Latin American or Spanish University program, as well as one in the United States.