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Equity in Dual Immersion In her article, Dual-Language Immersion Programs: A Cautionary Note

Concerning the Education of Language Minority Students, Guadalupe Valds discussed issues of language and power that teachers in DLI programs should be aware of. She writes, For minority children, the acquisition of English is

expected. For mainstream children, the acquisition of a non-English language is enthusiastically applauded. Children are aware of these differences (1997, p. 405). Now that I have spent some time in the DLI program, I can see that this is

an issue at our school. I know that the goal of the program is biliteracy for both groups of students, but since in the early years the focus is on acquiring Spanish, its important to applaud the efforts of all students and not just the students who are learning Spanish. Valds also emphasizes the importance of ensuring a high level of Spanish with as little translation as possible. Modifying the language to make it more comprehensible to the non-native speakers, even slightly, influences the language development of the native speakers. Can NSS in a DLI program

acquire academic Spanish at a level comparable to that in an Alternative Bilingual Program? Previously, when I taught in an Alternative Bilingual-fourth grade class, all of my students were native Spanish speakers, so I didnt feel the need to alter my language. Until now, I hadnt considered the implications of

slowing down and simplifying my language so that NES would not be left behind. Now I wonder if NES are indeed dominating class discussions and out performing their NSS classmates, what part does altering the language play in this? If I were to eliminate translating and make a conscience effort to deliver instruction in unaltered Spanish, would there be less of a gap?

Another challenge Meghan and I discussed is the socioeconomic gap between the NES and the NSS families. In general, most of the NES parents have university degrees and work in professional careers. volunteers come from this group. The majority of my parent

In Kindergarten, we typically have three

parent volunteers daily to work with students in small groups. After meeting with parents during parent teacher conferences, I found that the majority of NES moms work part-time or less and therefore are able to help out in class, go on field trips, attend special activities and drop off and pick up from school. On the other hand, many of the NSS parents have not attended college and nine out of the twelve families are considered low income and receive free lunch. In the majority of the NSS families both parents work full time, necessitating before and after school care and not allowing time to volunteer in their childs classroom. In the DLI program the native English speaking students often benefit at the expense of the native Spanish speaking students. I have heard some form of this quote from several colleagues that teach in DLI programs. This has also been a concern of mine, considering that overall at Capri NES outperform their NSS classmates on both English and Spanish assessments. In the article, Dual Language Programs on the Rise, Ron Unz, the California software developer who spearheaded the ballot initiatives against bilingual education in California and Massachusetts states, The Spanish-speaking kids are roped in as tutors for the English-speaking kidsThe whole debate on dual language is dominated by English-speaking parents who want their children to learn Spanish. I question whether the Spanish-speaking students are [really] learning English. (2011, p.2) While I dont agree with his quote completely, I also question how effective our program is at ensuring NSS acquire a proficient level of academic English. The

ultimate goal of the program is biliteracy; however in 2012 only 33% of English language learners in grades second through sixth scored at the proficient level on the CST (California Standards Test). On the other hand, according to a review of research findings by the Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA) minority students in two-way immersion programs benefit in the following ways: ELL students in 90:10 programs attain the same levels of proficiency in English and the same or higher standards of achievement in reading and language arts and math (measured in English) as ELL students in 50:50 programs. Thus, more exposure to instructional time in English does not lead to an improvement in English language proficiency or achievement in reading/language arts and math as measured in English. There are significant correlations between achievement in English and Spanish for both reading/language arts and mathematics. Thus, the ELL students who score the highest in reading, language and math achievement on achievement tests as measured in English also score the highest on achievement tests measured in Spanish. ELL students who participate in high quality two-way immersion programs achieve at levels that are comparable or superior to their ELL peers in the district and state. By

fifth or sixth grade, almost all ELL students who had attended a two-way immersion program since kindergarten or first grade were rated as proficient in both languages. (2007, May) This quote explains beautifully what I hope to help my students achieve in our program. It seems to me that patience is essential in any DLI program. Parents and teachers need to have realistic expectations based on reliable

research. Having read research on high-quality DLI programs, I realize the same things that make a traditional elementary program successful also apply to DLI: consistency across grade levels and teacher fidelity. I am encouraged by the conversations weve had at our DLI staff meetings around collaborating on grade level goals, but I still feel we are at the beginning of a long journey. First Day of School Jitters Since this was my first time teaching Kindergarten many challenges arose as I embarked on my research. I struggled with how to modify my survey questions, my methods of collection and which strategies I had considered for fourth graders would work for 4 and 5 year olds. Another concern was how to make my questions comprehensible to the whole class. With all of these challenges in mind, I tried to keep a clear focus on what I wanted to observe: How do the two groups of students in my class interact and communicate and how will this change as we grow together as a classroom community? Im always a little nervous the first day of school, but since this was also my students first day of school in their elementary school experience, I was more nervous than usual! My biggest concern were the criers I had heard so much about from my friends that teach Kindergarten. School starts at 8:00am, but loads of kids arrived at 7:30am to check out their new classrooms. It was an exciting time and most of the kids were happy to be starting Kindergarten. I did see several students hugging their parents legs and fighting back tears, so I swiftly brought them inside and we started our day. As we gathered on the rug, I saw a sea of curious faces staring up at me. We started the day singing a song about Juanito who loves to dance. The kids loved it! At first, I felt a little

goofy (not a lot of singing and dancing in the upper grades), but their energy was contagious and the smiles and giggles started to appear. We must have sung that song 20 times the first week! Anytime I noticed they were getting a little squirmy, tired or homesick, we put on Juanito and danced! My concerns about all students understanding me were validated within the first few minutes of school, but luckily I had several students who were able to translate. It was important to me that all students understood certain key phrases quickly: Puedo usar el bao, por favor? (Can I use the bathroom, please?), Me lastime! (Im hurt.), Puedo tomar agua por favor? (Can I drink water, please?), and Levante la mano, antes de hablar. (Raise your hand before speaking.) I made vocabulary cards with visual cues for these key phrases and I would point to them as I asked students to repeat the phrase. Hoping to scaffold and introduce a Cooperative Learning strategy called Face-to-face Promotive Interaction where students explain concepts learned to a partner, I had students create hand gestures to help remember key phrases. Students volunteered to show the class a gesture that went along with a phrase and we all repeated both the phrase and the gesture whole group. For example, Michael came up with holding an imaginary cup and drinking it for the phrase, Puedo tomar agua por favor? I then asked students to turn to the person sitting next to them and sit eye-to-eye and knee-to-knee to practice the gesture and phrase. This seemed like a perfectly simple idea, however the results were less than perfect! I got a lot of blank stares and the few NSS that did turn towards a friend were met with the back of the other childs head. After asking them to turn and practice, I had Michael (whos bilingual) repeat the directions in English. I really wish I had filmed this, but I had no idea

it would prove to be so funny. So, Michael stands up and with exaggerated hand gestures and a very mature tone, says, Ok, guys, what the teacher wants you to do is to turn and sit with your knees on a friend and look at their eyes and say: Puedo tomar agua por favor? Most of the students didnt know where to turn and they ended up fidgeting around, with a few making the gesture and saying the phrase, but most clearly confused. Take two! I then asked my trusty friend Michael to model with me what I wanted them to do. As I looked at my

students faces I noticed a little less confusion and even some nodding heads! I quickly stepped carefully through the rows of Kindergarteners and physically turned them towards their partner, since in my excitement I hadnt told them who to turn and practice with! We practiced and Im happy to sayit went okay. By that time we need another song and dance. As I reflected on this first experience with Face-to-face Promotive Interaction, I realized I would need to give more detailed instructions and really break things down in order for my students to understand. Baseline Survey: How comfortable do my students feel working with their classmates? Going from fourth grade to Kindergarten was a huge transition. I, of course, knew I would need to adjust my expectations and certainly my plans to implement my research, but the adjustments were bigger than I anticipated. My initial plan was to ask the students a series of baseline questions about how they felt about working with a partner in class, since my research would focus on how students worked together. (Appendix A) I tried to think through how to give the survey, since my Kindergarteners were not able to sit down independently and fill out a survey. I asked a parent, a high school Spanish teacher, to help me out. I gave each child a copy of the survey, a clipboard and a pencil and projected the

survey on the screen, so students could follow along as I went over each question explicitly. The first thing that really threw them into a fit of laughter was the document camera. As soon as my hand appeared to point out the first question and the smiley and frowning faces to circle, they exploded into laughs and oohs and ahs! It never dawned on me that theyd never seen anything like it before. Each time I used my finger to point, they cracked up. So, I decided to just continue without the visual. As I read each question in Spanish, my parent helper read the question in English. Here are some of the questions we asked the students: 1. Cuando estas aprendiendo algo nuevo, como te gusta trabajar? When you are learning something new, how do you like to work? (alone, with a friend or with the whole class) 2. En la escuela, como prefieras leer? At school, how do you prefer to read? (alone, with a friend or with the whole class) 3. Te parece que un compaero de la clase te puede ayudar a leer mejor? Do you think a friend in class can help you learn to read better? (yes, no or sometimes) 4. Aprendas de sus compaeros de la clase? Do you learn from your classmates? (yes, no or sometimes) 5. Te parece que escuchas con atencin? Do you think you are a good listener? (yes, no or sometimes) 6. Haces preguntas cuando no estas seguro de algo? Do you ask questions when you are wondering something? (yes, no or sometimes) 7. Te gusta hablar con un compaero de la clase? Do you like talking with a friend in class? (yes, no or sometimes) 8. Te gusta compartir libros con tus compaeros? Do you like sharing books with friends in class? (yes, no or sometimes) We both explained several times that they were to circle one of the three choices. However, most of them ended up circling all three on each and every question. This was definitely a learning experience for me and an indicator that I would need to modify my data collection even further.

After looking over the surveys we did whole group I realized that I would not be able to use the results, since they clearly did not understand what to do. I decided to ask students the survey questions in pairs, with their compaero. As part of my research, I paired students up with a partner or compaero. The pairs consisted of a native English speaker and a native Spanish speaker. I

thoughtfully paired them up with someone they had shown interest in forming a friendship with in class, based on whether or not they chose to play together during free choice or recess. I also made sure I didnt pair up two children who were reluctant to talk. Another important consideration was if the Spanishspeaking student was also bilingual. The levels of bilingualism vary, but most of the Spanish speakers in my class attended at least a year of preschool in English, so they are able to communicate at some level in English. So, after the not so great results of my first survey, I decided to give it again.
At school, how do you prefer to read? When you are learning something new, how do you like to work? 0
Figure 1. Reading Survey Results

Whole Class With a Friend Alone 2 4 6 8 10 12 14

The results were not too surprising to me, since Id already noticed that my students were very social and were interested in getting to know each other. However, at the beginning of the year most students still felt more comfortable having the teacher read to them, rather than reading with a friend. I was pleased to see that students preferred to learn something new with a friend, since I had a lot of partner work planned for the year.

I also asked students whether or not they read at home, 100% said they did and 90% of students said they liked reading or being read to. When I asked students whether or not they thought a friend could help them read better, I got a lot of confused looks. I rephrased the question and asked if they thought a friend could help them with some of the words they didnt know or explain what was happening in the story. After this explanation, most students seemed to understand, but the majority of students, 75%, answered no. I was a little

disappointed, because I had hoped that they would see each other as resources. I suspect that at this age most children look to adults for help. Many of my students were transitioning from parallel play, where children play next to each other but interact very little, to engaging in interactive play, where they participate in group games or play together. I noticed during those first few months many students would exclusively come to me for help. Thankfully, this changed as the school year progressed. Through the questions in my baseline survey, I hoped to get at whether or not my students felt comfortable asking for help from their classmates and if they thought this was useful. When I asked the questions with their partner I had to do quite a bit of explaining and give examples to help them understand what I was getting at. Also, relying on a five year old to translate clearly was difficult and a lot to expect, but most of them rose to the occasion and were able to make themselves understood to their partner. I felt conflicted having students

translate, since this is an immersion model and translation should be very limited, if at all. However, Im not really sure I would have gotten the data any other way.

20 18 16 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 Do you learn Do you think Do you ask Do you like Do you like from your you are a questions talking with a sharing classmates? good when you are friend in books with listener? wondering class? friends in something? class?
Figure 2. Baseline Survey Results

Yes No Sometimes

Initial Observations: How can I encourage students to see each other as resources? During my informal observations throughout the first month of school, I noticed the children in my class were not so interested in working together. As I watched them work at table groups on activities, like drawing what they liked to do with their friends, they interacted very little. I saw one student crawl across the table to reach the crayon basket. I realized quickly they needed to learn the basic language skills to ask for help. It wasnt just the phrase or the words, but explaining to them and modeling how they could use each other as resources to get their work done. I also observed during our first few class meetings that they were not too excited about discussing what we were doing in class. This was a big surprise to me; I thought theyd be excited to share ideas and questions. It was important for me to include student voice in my research. For example, I asked the class, Qu es lo que te gusta ms cuando trabajas con tu compaero? What do you like best about working with your partner? Mostly, I got a lot of blank stares. I

relied on my bilingual students to translate, but usually the translation didnt get at what I was asking. I also suspect that by the time a student finished the

translation the kids were tuned out. The children in my class that speak Spanish as their first language were tuned in most of the time and ready to share with their compaero, but their native English speaking (NES) partner was usually confused and not sure what to do. At the time, I was frustrated at my inability to get more input from my students about how they were experiencing the first few weeks of school. Now I realize that my expectations were not reasonable for where they were at developmentally with respect to language acquisition and simply being a Kindergartener. Another thing that I noticed was the classroom behavior of the Spanish dominant students compared to that of the English dominant students. The English dominant students, in general, were able to sit, listen to directions, do their work quietly, and basically follow the class rules. Many of the Spanish dominant students had a more difficult time attending, sitting for more than a few minutes at a time and following the class rules. This was surprising to me. In my 13 years working with a very similar population there hadnt been such a discrepancy. Each group of students came from different socioeconomic The majority of the NSS

backgrounds and attended different preschools.

attended the local Head Start preschool. I wondered if the different expectations and structures of the preschools my students attended had something to do with their behavior. I also wondered whether the NES were quieter and better

behaved during those first few months, because they were unable to understand most of what was said.

As I considered my NES overall behavior and reluctance to share during class meetings, I recalled my undergraduate linguistic studies on language acquisition. Nearly all of the research I had done up until now had been on students learning English as a second language. However in the DLI program, my NES students were also second language learners. According to Stephen Krashen (1982), most English language learners (ELLs) will go through a silent period, when they are unable or unwilling to communicate orally in the new language. The silent period may last for a few days or longer depending on the learner. The silent period occurs before ELLs are ready to produce oral

language and is generally referred to as the Pre-production stage of language learning. Krashen cautions that ELLs should not be forced to speak before they are ready. They need time to listen to others talk, to try to comprehend what they hear, to develop receptive vocabulary, and to observe their classmates interactions and reactions to language. When students do speak, we want the speech to be real and purposeful instead of contrived. When the students are in the silent period, it does not mean they are not learning. They may

understand what is being said, but they are not yet ready to talk about it. Although much of Krashens work is around ELLs, the idea of a silent period pertains to any second language acquisition. Revisiting this research helped me make sense of why my NES students were seemingly better behaved and not as responsive. Now this seems glaringly obvious, but at the time when I was concerned I wouldnt be able to get my students to give me their input on working together, it wasnt as clear. As the months passed, I noticed a shift in NES input during our class discussions. Once they had acquired more phrases and vocabulary in Spanish

they began to share more and ask more questions. Sometimes they would speak completely in English. Other times they would use the Spanish they knew and add words from English to fill in. For example, Ayer I had a sleepover con mi amigo. (Yesterday I had a sleepover with my friend.) The overall behavior of the class shifted as well. NES seemed to feel more comfortable in class and began to talk out of turn and misbehave more frequently. I still noticed that the NSS misbehaved more frequently, but my NES students had clearly found their voice! Parents and Students: How can I balance parent expectations and reality? During this time, educating the parents about what to expect at this age and in this program, was a challenge. The first few months of school were filled with parent concerns about the behavior of a few students in my class. I had a difficult time dealing with parents and helping my students adjust to Kindergarten. There were five students who were behavior problems almost immediately. All five were NSS, three girls and two boys. Lola, who was also one of my focus students, was a twin and one of six children in her family. She was defiant and acted out constantly within the first week of school. Vera was the youngest of three girls. She lived with her biological Mom and Dad and two older half sisters (same Mom different Dad). Sadly she had a history of sexual abuse and didnt speak until she was four. She was immature for her age and would not follow the basic rules of the class; often she would crawl around and meow to get attention. Yolanda was the youngest of four girls and had severe separation anxiety. Without exaggeration, she cried every day, nearly all day long for two months, often causing herself to vomit. Ricardo, also one of my

focus students, was the youngest of five boys and Evan was the oldest of three children all under the age of five. They were both extremely active and had difficulty following directions. The biggest challenge in dealing with their difficult behaviors was the constant presence of parent volunteers. During morning literacy rotations, I had two parent volunteers to work with small groups and help with prep work, from 8:00am to 10:15 am. In the afternoon, one parent volunteer came in from 1:00pm to 2:15pm to help out with Math centers. Although their help was valuable and necessary for some of the involved activities we were doing, I couldnt escape their scrutiny of the behavior of my students. This was a delicate time as I was working on establishing norms and procedures with the class and trying to get to know them amongst the five students who were presenting daily behavior problems, all under the watchful eye of parent volunteers. Several of the parent volunteers spoke to other parents in the class about their concerns with the students behavior. They also contacted the principal and myself. Ironically, classroom management and difficult student behavior has been a strength of mine. It was hard to have my authority and my ability to deal with the problems questioned. However, I worked hard not take it personally and to realize that all parents have their childs best interest at heart. Thankfully, most of the behavior problems I mentioned got progressively better as the year went on. This didnt happen magically. Improving student

behavior became my main focus. I wanted to help all of my students adjust to Kindergarten and create friendships. In order to do this I implemented the

following strategies and structures to help improve classroom behavior and create a more united community.