NILA Announces Award Winning Teachers
NILA recognized several teachers during the Fall Conference. Nominations were received from around the state and reviewed by the NILA Board. The selected recipients were recognized in a formal presentation during the lunch on Saturday.
Melissa Hernandez pictured with Shanna Hellerich
World Language Teacher of the Year
Lincoln Northeast High School
Shanna Hellerich and Mariah Wailes
World Language New Teacher of the Year
Lincoln High School
Lincoln Public Schools
Toben Cohen-Dunning and Katy Cattlett
Pro Lingua Award
Omaha Public Schools Foundation
Omaha Public Schools
Jamie Honke and Angie Wagoner
Nebraska Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese Teacher of the Year
Ralston High School
Ralston Public Schools
Nebraska Association of Teachers of French
Lincoln Southeast High School
Lincoln Public Schools
Nebraska Association of Teachers of German
NILA #Collaborate18 Is A Success
Presenter and former ACTFL President Toni Theisen talks with current ACTFL President, Nebraska’s Dr. Ali Moeller at NILA’s Annual Fall Conference in Lincoln. Dr. Moeller and Ms. Theisen are long-time friends and associates.
NILA’s celebrated another successful fall conference. #Collabor18, Collaboration for Student Success, was held October 6-7 in Lincoln. Approximately 130 World Language educators from around the state gathered to attend sessions, collaboration discussions, an exhibitor hall, and a keynote address.
Toni Theisen presented both the Friday workshop and the Saturday keynote address. Ms. Theisen is a National Board Certified Teacher and Dual Language Teacher on Special Assignment in Loveland, Colorado. Her use of comprehensible input strategies in her French classroom gained widespread recognition and propelled her to leadership positions. Friday’s workshop, “Moving Students Along the Path of Language Proficiency”, addressed how to use focusing lenses and topics to increase learner interaction and motivation. Sample exercises provided ‘take-home’ lessons using authentic texts and leveled activities designed to produce learner-led reading, writing, and dialogue.
Field Trip: Castelar Elementary, Omaha Public Schools
This is the beginning of a special series in which the World Language Specialist will visit, by invitation, schools in Nebraska to explore world language options.
A couple of blocks down the hill from the small, gold-domed Ukrainian Church of the Assumption sits Castelar Elementary. Built in 1899, it was the neighborhood school to Italian immigrants. Nearly 120 years later, this south Omaha school has been reborn many times, always as a haven for a global student body. In 2002, Castelar joined Omaha’s growing Dual Language Immersion program. Yet again, the school is over capacity in enrollment. This time, there is a waiting list to attend.
Maria Perez-Mozaz, the Dual Language Facilitator for Castelar Elementary, led me on a tour of the historic facility. Perez-Mozaz came to Omaha many years ago as a visiting teacher sponsored by the Nebraska Department of Education. Her deep appreciation for her adopted home is as apparent as the fine tailoring of her well cut suit. She is both congenial and consummately professional as so many of her colleagues. As we walked through the historic building, I observed signs and student work in both Spanish and English neatly tacked above the tidy lockers. Perez-Mozaz provided the history of Dual Language Immersion.
Dual Language Immersion was initiated by Omaha Public Schools in 2000 as a way of closing the achievement gap for English language learners. OPS now offers dual language immersion (DLI) in six elementary schools, three middle schools, and one high school. Within those schools are “strands” for students enrolled in the DLI option. For each grade level, there is a Spanish side teacher and an English side teacher. Both teachers teach all content areas. In each elementary strand, students spend 50% of the day in
Spanish and 50% of the day in English. This week, Kindergarten is completing writing course work in Spanish. Next week, they will complete writing course work in English.
Content is never repeated; it continues from the point that the class reached in the other language. Students are held accountable to benchmarks in both languages.
The benefits to students is significant. OPS saw that gaps in reading, math, and science closed quickly for DLI students. On the now defunct state standardized test, DLI high school students out-performed their peers consistently. Attendance, behavior, and academic achievement is significantly higher for DLI students at all levels. DLI students at South have a graduation rate of over 90% and in some years reaching the goal of 100%. South High Magnet School has seen steady gains in achievement and had the highest number of University of Nebraska at Omaha enrollees in the fall of 2017.
Katy Cattlett, Supervisor of Dual Language and World Language Instruction, commented that dual language education changes the mindset of parents and students. Most of all it changes the mindset of teachers. The expectation is now about making plans for post-secondary education.
If these statistics may not seem notable yet, this is an underdog story. Many of these students come from immigrant homes. Their parents do not speak English. At Castelar, 92% of the student body qualifies for free and reduced lunch. 89.9% of the school population is Hispanic. 61.8% of the students qualify for English Language Learner services. Fifteen percent of the students have tested out of the required EL services but do speak another language at home. Five percent of the students who qualified for EL opted to waive EL placement. In all, 81.8% of the student body are not native English speakers.
They are not, however, all Spanish speakers. Castelar, like many OPS schools, has a growing Central American population. Many students from Guatemala speak Q’anjobal at home. Several of these students have not had formal education. The act of attending school and understanding the social and academic requirements can be a learning curve.
Castelar staff reach out to parents to help with the transition. Monthly chats are held to review information and resources in both Spanish and English. Castelar Principal Adriana Vargas appreciates the strong partnerships with the Henry Doorly Zoo, the Durham Museum, Lauritzen Gardens and Brookside Church. Brookside continues to offer a care center with reduced cost clothing, coat drives, and a carnival. The Learning Community also helps by reaching out to parents of prekindergarten students to offer three years of English language learning for parents.
The district, surprisingly, does not see an undue cost burden for DLI schools. The dual language programs were placed at schools with a high population of English learners. Due to the needs of the population, each school had several teachers of ELLs. A redesign of staffing replaced an ELL teaching position with a Dual Language Resource Teacher. Some of the existing regular classroom teaching positions were staffed with bilingual teachers who now teach in Spanish. OPS staffs these positions with Spanish-proficient teachers from the Nebraska, out-of-state recruitments, and international visiting teachers. As the program has aged, OPS is finding new teachers in its alumni groups.
Astoundingly, OPS Dual Language Immersion gets little recognition in Nebraska. Three Nebraska school districts that have sought counsel and resources from OPS in order to start their own programs. However, many outside of Omaha are unfamiliar with the DLI concept. Last year, Castelar was recognized for the second time as a finalist for the Elementary School of the Year award by the International Spanish Academy, sponsored by the Ministry of Education of Spain. South Magnet High School was honored as the high school of the year. While Omaha is the largest city in the state, it is not the only city with ethnic and national diversity in Nebraska.
In 2016, Nebraska was the state receiving the greatest number of refugees per capita. Nebraska has welcomed refugees since the 1960s from places such as Vietnam, Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia, Somalia, Syria, Cuba, and Burma. The cities of Bellevue, Crete, Grand Island, Hastings, Lexington, Lincoln, Schuyler, and Scottsbluff are among those receiving refugees. Certainly, there is a need for supporting ELLs.
Meanwhile, OPS continues to expand DLI instruction. Three years ago, Castelar had an internal waiting list of over 250 students already in the school but wishing to be included in the DLI program. Last year, Castelar began a new strand of DLI for Kindergarten. The second strand is now in first grade and next year second grade will be added by repurposing a traditional English classroom to a Spanish classroom. This year, 320 of the 660 Castelar students are in the DLI program.
Maria Perez-Mozaz certainly hopes the program will continue. In every classroom we enter, she can point to a child and tell me the academic history and recent benchmarks the child has met. Students know her and she stops periodically to accept a hug, give a high five, or ask a student—in Spanish—about the materials that are on the table. While she has copious quantitative data clearly defining the success of this program, her real indicators are here in the high ceiling, sun-lit classrooms of Castelar.
Tips for Teachers Reviews for Upper Level Students
Brett Avila, Spanish Teacher
Sydney Public Schools
Last year was the first time I have had kids in Spanish II-IV. I knew what we had done in Spanish I. Spanish II is beginning with the AVANT STAMP IV test (Reading, Listening, Writing, Speaking). Their scores have given me a strong indication of where they are and seeing their writing samples and listening to them talk through their brainstorms for what they intend to write also give me a good indication of where they are.
I generally try to start with Terry Waltz’s Super 7 and Mike Peto’s Sweet 16, and go from there with a lot of PQA.
Do and Review Bingo
Deb Rohrich, Spanish I-IV
Wood River Public Schools
Do and Review BINGO
Give each student a blank 5X5 grid of squares. Have them count the squares in Spanish (uno, dos, tres….veinticinco).
When they finish tell them to randomly number the squares 1-25. This will become his or her Bingo Card.
Post or give each student a list of review tasks numbered 1-25. These could be any concepts you taught in first year, such as, introductions, clothing vocabulary, etc..
Randomly select a student. Tell him/her to choose a number and do that task. After the task is completed, all students mark that # on their Bingo grid. Continue until someone gets a Bingo. When that student gets a Bingo, they must perform each of the 5 tasks before getting the prize.
“Hot Tamales” Review
Deb Rohrich, Spanish I-IV
Wood River Public Schools
Offer students a handful or a scoop of Hot Tamales, Mike and Ikes, or other candy. (You need to limit this somehow by saying 1 handful or giving a scoop, so they don’t take hundreds. Tell them they cannot eat then until they complete the task.)
The task is to count the tamales in Spanish, with a partner. They think they are reviewing the numbers. When they finish, each person must report the # of tamales of his or her partner. I write the number down for accountability purposes.
I then let them enjoy their candy while I share some facts about myself in Spanish. I expect them to casually translate as I read them. I review the basics, introducing myself, describing, giving my age, birthday, likes, dislikes, family, members, pets, things I did over the summer, future plans, etc.
When I am done, I tell them they have to write one sentences about themselves for each hot tamale they took.
The next class period, they are assigned a name. As each student reads his/her sentences, we go around the room translating them. The person who was given that individual’s name must record 5-10 interesting ideas that he/she will summarize and share at the conclusion of all students’ presentations. In very large classrooms, you could put them in sharing groups to read their statements and only share the summaries with the entire class, using it as a way for one student to introduce his/her “subject” to the others.
To further extend this, I will have each student combine his/her own tamale sentences into longer, more complex statements. I then have each create a picture collage with a selfie and a 5-10 sentence paragraph about him/herself on the iPad (we are 1 to1 with iPad). I print them and put them on my wall.
*I do the picture collage project at every level, and adjust the amount they have to write or control the content that they include.
If you would like to contribute a tip, send an email to the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Next month’s topic: How do you reach out to students who struggle with behavior issues?
Behind The Standards Development Process
In 2016, Dr. Janine Theiler initiated the first World Language Colloquium to discuss and establish priorities for NDE in meeting the needs of world language teachers across the state. Task force groups were formed to address needs in the areas of programming, proficiency, professional learning, advocacy and collaboration. Around that time, NDE decided to establish a consistent and cohesive plan to creating and revising standards in all content areas. A schedule for revision was created that marked 2018 as the year for World Language revision.
The NDE World Language Specialist sent a statewide survey to all world language teachers in December 2017. Teachers were asked for input that would help to shape the discussion at the upcoming second World Language Colloquium. Questions included prompts for language demographics, materials used, the role of the current world language frameworks, and professional practices.
World Language Colloquium 2018
Forty participants gathered in Lincoln in February 2018. The majority of participants were those who had participated in the 2016 Colloquium. Representatives from districts throughout the state, technical colleges, universities, educational service units, and international associations discussed the purpose of language learning and the skill sets that it requires.
World Language Standards Advisory Council
Seventeen educators arrived in Lincoln in June and August 2018 to author the revised standards. The group analyze and compared standards from other states, from other content areas, and from national organizations both language and non-language specific. Working through mindful discussions, the Council established the essentials of world language learning.
World Language Standards Writing Team
The writing team will begin to meet in late October. In a series of meetings, the team will be tasked with creating indicators at specific proficiency levels. As decided by the Council, the revised standards will use the proficiency levels established by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages: Novice, Intermediate, Advanced, Superior, and Distinguished. The writing team is still in the process of formation.
World Language Standards Focus Teams
Several areas require focused work groups. These areas include, but may not be limited to dual language immersion, heritage speakers, classical languages, critical languages, and Native American languages. These groups will be convened electronically as needed to provide input into the standards.
The Final Steps
When the indicators are completed and edited, the entire document will be reviewed and open to public commentary before going before the state Board. It is hoped that the standards will be approved in September 2019.
While the work and this list are not complete, there are many who have contributed in one way or another to the making of the standards. In a year, this list will be significantly longer. For now, thank you to:
Brett Avila, Sidney Public Schools
Amber Beltrand, Schuyler Public Schools
Theresa Catalano, University of Nebraska Lincoln
Katy Cattlett, Omaha Public Schools
Jan Coone, ESU 16, retired
Alicia Dallman Shoemaker, Elkhorn Public Schools
Brooke David, NDE
Jonathan Dettman, University of Nebraska Kearney
Steven Duke, University of Nebraska
Chad Dumas, Hastings Public Schools
Janet Eckerson, Lincoln Public Schools
Cory Epler, NDE
Mary Lea Free, Norris Public Schools
Rebecca Gill-Rose, Palmyra Public Schools
Shanna Hellerich, Shelton Public Schools
Chris Heselton, University of Nebraska Confucius Institute
Kristen Hetrick, Doane University
Jami Holbein Swanson, Lincoln Public Schools
Jamie Honke, Ralston Public Schools
Nila Jacobson, Lincoln Public Schools, retired
Jesús Jurado Mendoza, Embassy of Spain, Ministry of Education
Becky Keilig, NDE
Faye Kilday, Northeast Community College
Candida Kraska, Millard Public Schools
Amanda Levos, Grand Island Public Schools
Jared List, Doane University
Amy Mancini-Marshall, Grand Island Public Schools
Naomi Mardock Uman, Metropolitan Community College
Liz Martinez, Elm Creek Public Schools
Ali Moeller, University of Nebraska Lincoln
Rita Ricaurte, Nebraska Wesleyan University
Mytzy Rodriguez-Kufner, Wayne State College
Brenda Romero, University of Nebraska Lincoln
Brenda Schiermeyer, Fremont Public Schools
Cathy Scurlock, Omaha Public Schools
Patty Simpson, University of Nebraska Lincoln
Yasuko Taoka, Wayne State College
Martha Thompson, Norfolk Public Schools
Marie Trayer, Nebraska Wesleyan University, Retired
Janine Theiler, Lincoln Public Schools
Angie Wagoner, Crete Public Schools
Michelle Warren, University of Nebraska Kearney
Nick Ziegler, ESU 5
Are You Ready for the New Standards? Standards Revision Process Maintaining Steady Pace
Members of the World Language Advisory Council working through a group exercise to craft a declaration of student interaction with culture in the world language classroom.
How will the 2019 standards differ from the 1997 standards? While the revised standards carry all of the intellectual design, second language acquisition pedagogy, and flexibility of the 1997 standards, the 2019 standards are greater than the sum of their parts. There is a paradigm shift in the functionality of the language and the expectation of proficiency. World Language Advisory Council Member Jamie Honke shares, “The revised standards are going to put more emphasis on the necessity to integrate intercultural competencies into the curriculum…I think also the standards will impact those who focus a tremendous amount of time on grammar and explicit language instruction because our standards [will be] how to function within the language and not solely understanding the language’s function.” How will this impact teachers? Fellow Council Member Michelle Warren commented, “World Language teachers across the state recognize the urgency to push for ability to communicate and to help students use their language across the disciplines.” The standards process is lengthy; the work is not done. There will still be opportunities for involvement from others. Council Member Jami Holbein Swanson shared that the experience so far has been favorable. “There were protocols in place that allowed all voices to be heard, and understood. We had choice in how to proceed, and with the expertise in the room, our choices were well informed.”
World Language Societies and Clubs
Alliance Française d’Omaha:
Articles, events, classes, and community activities for French and Francophones.
German-American Society of Nebraska
Activities, clubs, community events, language classes, and student exchange.
Japan America Society of Iowa
Community events, presentations, language school
Asian Community and Cultural Center
Community events, English language support, presentations
Where to Start: Resources for 2018-2019
Target Field Trip Grants
Target Foundation offers field trip grants of up to $700 for K-12 schools nationwide. Consider a trip to Joslyn, the Lied, or another performance venue for an artistic exposition of the target culture. https://corporate.target.com/corporate-responsibility/community/philanthropy/field-trip-grants
Shopko Foundation Community Grants
Shopko Foundation offers grants of up to $2,500 for K-12 private and public schools within 25 miles of a Shopko location. https://www.shopko.com/content.jsp?pageName=Education
Monsanto Fund Education Grants
Monsanto benefits programs in K-12 education. Although the program is primarily for STEM focused programs, Monsanto will consider other content areas. Consider using world language as it applies to agricultural vocabulary, technical training, or biological research. https://www.monsantofund.org/grant/2016/7/1/education
Teacher Created Materials Classroom Supplies
Win up to $250 in teaching supplies for your classroom from Teacher Created Materials. https://www.weareteachers.com/contest/back-to-school-shopping-spree/
Dremel DigiLab 3D Printer Giveaway
WeAreTeachers and Dremel are giving away a 3D printer. Imagine creating your own “authentic resources”. https://www.weareteachers.com/contest/win-a-3d-printer/
Vista Higher Learning
Celebrate world language learning with Spanish, French, German, and Italian posters to download. https://www.weareteachers.com/free-posters-quotes-about-language-learning/
Language Learning By The Numbers
Middlebury Interactive Languages offers three posters detailing world language studies in the U.S. and abroad. https://www.weareteachers.com/posters-language-learning-by-the-numbers/
Binational Brings Migrant Educators to Nebraska
This summer, thirteen Mexican teachers traveled to Nebraska to teach in migrant education programs at ESU 1, ESU 7, ESU 9 Head Start, ESU 13, OPS, and Madison Public Schools. Students engaged in reading, writing, and artistic expression focused on Mexican culture and history as well as the Spanish language. Educators shared their experiences at a Binational Reception at the State Capitol on June 18. Mexican Consul Guadalupe Sanchez Salazar and Dr. Lazaro Spindola, Executive Director of the Latino American Commission of Nebraska, acknowledged the teachers for their dedication and professionalism.
The Nebraska Department of Education works with the Secretary of Public Education in Mexico to sponsor teachers from Mexico to work with migrant education in Nebraska. The exchange is part of a larger federal program, the Binational Migrant Education Initiative organized under authority of the US Department of Education. The purpose of the program is to support the education of children who qualify as migrants in the U.S. This year, Nebraska ranked first for the number of qualifying moves of migrant children. Texas and California ranked second and third.
Chinese is Lingua Franca at UNL STARTALK
UNL was the site of the STARTALK Chinese Language, Culture, and Technology Summer Academy again this year. Twenty Nebraska high school students with little to no prior Chinese experience lived in an immersion experience for fourteen days. The Academy also offers a professional development side for teachers who attend from China and throughout the U.S. Fifteen teachers arrived for the ten-day institute to focus on second language acquisition pedagogy. Students and teachers alike cite the experience as a special experience that allows them to make tremendous gains in a short period of time. Dr. Sherri Hurlbut and Dr. Ali Moeller, President of the American Council of the Teaching of Foreign Languages, organize this annual event.