Homestead Middle School
Middle Years Programme
Language Policy

PHILOSOPHY
At Homestead Middle School, language is a vital instrument for learning, communication, and expression. Teaching and learning is driven by the idea that through language instruction, we are encouraging intercultural awareness, new perspectives, curiosity, and an appreciation of our world’s diversity. Through the exploration of language, students become communicators in our multilingual world.

PRACTICES
Language A
In order to promote holistic learning within the context of the IB MYP, the stakeholders at Homestead Middle School recognize the importance of incorporating the teaching and learning of language throughout the implementation of the program. Language A is limited to English as the language of instruction of the school, since students must meet English language requirements provided by the state standards. The development of Language A is crucial as it allows students to make connections within and across subject areas, facilitated by the Areas of Interaction. Therefore, all students are required to take Language A in grades six, seven and eight. For assessment purposes, the IB MYP Language A criteria is used along with the Miami-Dade County Public Schools (MDCPS) grading policy. Language A courses support both the Florida Sunshine State Standards (SSS) and the IB MYP Language A objectives.

Language B
The mastery of essential language skills – reading, writing, listening, speaking and viewing – is a vital part of a student’s overall development. The importance of students becoming culturally and linguistically proficient in a second language (Language B) is recognized, and all students receive instruction in either French or Spanish. In realizing that not every student will reach the same level of language proficiency at the same time, a continuum of language B courses is offered that meet both the developing academic and social needs of all learners in order for all students to achieve his or her personal best. Language B courses are assessed using the modified Language B Assessment Criteria for Years 1-3, and support both the Florida Sunshine State Standards and the Modified IB MYP Language B objectives for Years1-3.

The following reading practices will be implemented:
reading will take place in all subject areas, and students will read across the curriculum whenever appropriate;
a variety of practices will be used when planning for instruction, which includes, but is not limited to guided reading groups, differentiated reading instruction, word lists, graphic organizers, use of leveled reading material;
students will be encouraged to read for information, read for pleasure and read aloud expressively;
students will be exposed to a variety of genres, including literature, poetry, plays, trade books, short stories, newspapers/magazines, and informational text;
teachers will promote and incorporate supplemental reading incentive and support programs, such as Accelerated Reader, Renaissance, Reading Plus, and FCAT Explorer, etc.;
vocabulary-building techniques such as aphixes, word walls, word of the day, use of idioms, and literary elements such as metaphors and similes will be utilized across the curriculum, whenever appropriate.
Teachers will recognize student writing through the “Writer of the Month” by selecting an outstanding writer each month.

The following writing practices will be implemented:
students’ natural desire to communicate through writing will be fostered by giving real purpose to their writing, and by exposing them to varied, challenging, and meaningful writing opportunities;
ensure consistency of the promotion of the writing process (planning, outlining, drafting, editing, proofreading, publishing), as age appropriate throughout the grade levels;
students will be provided with opportunities to express themselves in writing through a variety of genres, including but not limited to, journaling, essays; students will be provided with opportunities to acquire, develop and use language specific to different subject areas;
development of writing will be supported by providing constructive feedback from teachers, peers, and other adults;
teachers will provide instruction in and model the correct usage of written and oral language conventions, including spelling, grammar, rules of punctuation, and handwriting.
Several literary elements (i.e., foreshadow, symbolism, synesthesia, etc.) will be reviewed in order to teach good writing skills that allow for more interesting reading—"tricks" used by authors to capture their audience.

Intensive Reading
An early bird reading course is offered to students identified as needing focused and intensive reading instruction, in addition to the regularly scheduled Language A class. These classes are designed to increase the student’s specific reading needs – decoding skills, fluency and/or comprehension of text – in order to achieve higher levels of success. Journeys Reading Program as well as the Internet programs Solo, Reading Plus and FCAT Explorer are used in this course. The students who are placed in this course are those who score at Level 1 or 2 on the reading portion of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT).

ORAL LANGUAGE
teachers will model correct language usage in conversation, while being sensitive of students’ cultural background and mother tongue;
students will be provided ample opportunities to develop and utilize oral language beyond everyday classroom conversations through oral presentations, debates, speeches, role-play, poetry recitations, songs, books on tape, listening stations, etc.;
teachers will plan activities that expose students to conventions of oral language and aid them in responding appropriately to a range of contexts and audiences. Second language teachers support the school’s reading, writing and oral language practices as well as the IB learner profile. Students receive instruction using an interactive, immersion approach to second language learning. Emphasis on grammatical structures, verbal and writing skills, and vocabulary development help students develop the tools they need to become effective, multilingual communicators.
International understanding, cultural awareness, and historical knowledge are enhanced through the study of the customs, traditions and everyday life in French and Spanish speaking countries throughout the world.

 

MOTHER TONGUE SUPPORT
The mother tongue of the overwhelming majority of the students at HMS is English, which is also the language of instruction at the school. However, within our student population there are bilingual students, including those whose home language is a language other than English. Included in our multilingual, multicultural staff are speakers of several languages, who are often called upon to assist when translators are needed for parent conferences.

One third of the faculty members at HMS hold a certification in teaching English to speakers of other languages (ESOL) from the State of Florida. The goal of the ESOL program is to encourage fluent language acquisition using state-recommended strategies through immersion in a regular classroom setting.
The media center contains a wealth of resources that support the development of mother tongue languages. Among these resources are over 1,000 books, seven foreign language magazine subscriptions, an online subscription to El Herald (the Miami Herald in Spanish), World Book Encyclopedia in Spanish, access to Rosetta Stone software in
French and Spanish, videos, books on tape, and access to Tumble Books in English, French and Spanish.

 

SUPPORT SERVICES
The school has several formal and informal support services available, including:

Response to Intervention
Response to Intervention (RTI) meetings can be called whenever a student is in need of additional support or early intervention in order to be successful in school. The RTI team members include administrators, MYP coordinator, and special education teacher, general education teachers, reading coach, student services personnel and the student’s parents.

Gifted Resource
Students who have a current gifted education plan receive mathematics and science instruction from certified gifted education teachers in the 6th grade. These teachers use strategies that further encourage vocabulary development, reading and writing across the curriculum, and the exposure to various forms of literature and informational text. Gifted education teachers also work collaboratively with subject area teachers to develop interdisciplinary units with an Area of Interaction focus. These units are designed to provide clearer insight for students as they focus their inquiry on concepts and skills, in order to create a deeper level of understanding.

Special Education
Students with special education needs receive services from a special education teacher. The special education teacher uses strategies that promote the mastery of essential language skills in an effort to maximize the potential of each student. The special education teacher works with students using both “push in” and “pull out” models, as appropriate, and works with the classroom teachers to support the activities in the homeroom.

Listeners program
Specially trained school volunteers work one-on-one with those students who need someone to listen and lend a sympathetic ear. This program helps to increase students’ self esteem and oral language skills.

Media Specialist
The media specialist works closely with teachers, students, parents and the school administration to ensure that any curricular and support materials that are necessary for the development of language are available. The media specialist holds workshops for both teachers and parents so that they can effectively access the many online resources that are available to all stakeholders in the school district. Additionally, the media specialist is able to obtain print and non-print material for teachers, students and parents through inter-library loan. These materials include over 175,000 items in French, Spanish, German, Russian, Mandarin, Portuguese and Italian, as well as books on tape and large-print documents for the visually impaired.

Reading Coach
The reading coach works with classroom teachers and students to improve reading, writing and language skills. Her responsibilities include participation in team meetings, sharing information about district and state initiatives, supporting teachers with instructional strategies and assessments, providing supplemental resources for struggling readers, assisting with the reporting and analysis of data to meet the needs of diverse learners, training teachers and students on the use of computer-based programs, and working with students in small groups in their classrooms and in the media center.
Adopted on consensus by faculty in 12/10