[TFLA-list] Spanish Curriculum

Carol Ross Stacy carolrstacy at gmail.com
Fri May 24 00:27:49 EDT 2013


I started a native speaker class in suburban Dallas about 25 years ago.  I
noticed that our native (and heritage) speakers were not well served in a
regular class, so I went to my principal and asked if I could have them all
in one class.  He said yes, and the counselors made the class.  I had no
idea what I was going to do, so I experimented.  It has grown as our
demographics have changed:  we now have 3 teachers teaching 7 sections plus
one section of AP Lit/Culture in a Title I school of 2000 students.

Of course there were challenges.  Your first challenge is convincing the
Powers That Be that such a class is necessary.  First of all, I think the
research shows that kids will not do better in their second language than
in their first language.  I cannot cite the research, but I believe you
will find it in ERIC papers.  The Powers That Be are the admins and
counselors.  The next challenge is convincing kids and their parents that
they need Spanish.  I still have parents who say that their kids already
speak Spanish, and they don't need to take the class.  Your answer will be
to tell them of the advantages of passing the AP, more on that later.

What are the benefits for the students?  Many.  First, your goal is going
to be to get 50% or more through the AP Language/Culture test.  The
advantages are (1) high school credit for Spanish 1, 2, 3 and 4;  (2)
college credit, and (3) creating an AP culture among this demographic
group.  Seeing kids get credit for all that Spanish is good because it
helps them get the credits needed for graduation, and puts a lot of my kids
back on track to graduate on time.  But I really think the third goal, the
AP culture, is the most exciting.  Every year I have kids who pass the AP,
then go on to another AP class.  Passing the Spanish AP gives them
confidence in themselves as potential college students, and then they take
AP chemistry or government or whatever.  I have a kids who is graduating
this year who was a real mess the first year he was a freshman.  He failed
most of his classes.  The second year, in grade 9.5 (we all have these
kids), with a whole lot of encouragement, he took the AP Language and
earned a 4.  That woke him up because with that credit, he became a junior
his third year.  He took AP-something that year (a science, I think) and by
golly, he passed it.  This year he's back with me in Lit/Culture (and took
the test) and also in AP US Government (and took the test).  The high point
of my year was the last afternoon of our Lit/Culture review.  A colleague
(who will replace me when I retire) sat in on the review, and it was one of
those free-wheeling discussions of lit that we all live for.  I ordered
pizza, and this kid went down with me to carry them up.  On the way back to
my room, he said "Gee, Miss, this is really neat.  You all treat us like
we're Hispanic scholars."  Well, BINGO.  Because we respect his culture and
language, and because we pushed him in that class, he's graduating on time,
he has 4 AP tests under his belt, and he had a moment of feeling like a
"Hispanic scholar." It takes a long time to create this AP culture -- the
feeling that "AP is what we do",  but when you hit that point, you have
changed how these kids feel about themselves, how they feel about their
culture, and how they feel about themselves in school.

The program has benefitted the department because we have those kids
enrolled in Spanish, and therefore, we are employed. We also enjoy a
certain amount of respect in the office because admins like our AP scores
and also because our Hispanics have a good graduation rate, good test
scores, etc.  Of course, I have to admit that we have the world's best
principal, so your admins might not afford you that same level of respect
that we get.

Curriculum:  we gear everything toward the AP.  I'm a total heretic, but I
get away with my heresies because I have a good track record.  (Admins love
good AP numbers!!)  We mix our levels 1-2-3 of native speakers because a
newly-arrived ESL student who has no official piece of paper with Spanish
credit is placed in level 1, but a heritage speaker who has been around a
while is in level-whatever.  We put them all together (easier for the
keepers of the schedule) and work on the AP language program.  Some take
--and pass-- the AP after 1 year, some after 2 years.  About half (more?
not sure) of all of our kids in the program take the AP after two years.
(And this, mind you, with our feeder middle school that has a very
successful middle-school AP program that gets a lot of the kids we would
otherwise get.  Our scores would be even better if our middle school
teacher weren't so good.  Hi, Rebeca, that's you I'm talking about!!)   The
specifics of what we do will change with the new AP test, but we stress
reading and writing.  The basics.  I feel that what we do has more in
common with elementary teachers than with other high school teachers.
Teach reading skills.  Teach writing skills:  no fragments, writing
mechanics, a well-organized paper, etc.  (And speaking of benefits to the
students and school:  this greatly helps my nativos on standardized
testing.  Our testing stats are good on other tests as well because we
teach mechanics and testing strategies.)

I'm a year or two away from my own "graduation" (other people call it
"retirement,"), and as I look back, I can tell you that working with these
kids - not exactly every teacher's favorite demographic - has been one of
the great joys of my life.  I have a bunch of ESL kids who are graduating
after 3 years in this country.  The credits they earned in the AP helped
them be able to graduate.  And my "Hispanic scholar" kid?  He was a prime
candidate for becoming a drop-out.  But no, he is graduating on time with 4
AP tests behind him.  What's not to like about a native speaker program?

Carol
crjs at mac.com


On Wed, May 22, 2013 at 4:15 PM, Heather Piepkorn <
HeatherPiepkorn at hebisd.edu> wrote:

> ****
>
> Question~****
>
> ** **
>
> For those of you that have native speaker classes at your high school, how
> were they started? Were there any challenges that you faced in getting them
> created? How have the native speaker classes benefitted the students? The
> department? What is the curriculum like (focus on writing/reading)? Any
> particular successes or challenges that stand out as a result of the
> program?****
>
> ** **
>
> We have proposed the idea of a native speaker class in the past, but
> unfortunately have been met with some resistance. I really think it would
> be so valuable to have a course dedicated to the special learning needs of
> the both the native speakers and the Spanish heritage speakers, especially
> since a lot of these students tend to fall into the high risk category. It
> would open a lot of doors for them, building upon the valuable skills they
> already possess, and even advance to taking certain AP tests for college
> credit. ****
>
> ** **
>
> Really, any information you would like to share would be helpful. J Thank
> you so much. ~Heather Piepkorn****
>
> ** **
>
> *From:* TFLAlist [mailto:tflalist-bounces at list.tfla.info] *On Behalf Of *Anderson,
> Anna
>
> *Sent:* Wednesday, May 22, 2013 9:27 AM
> *To:* Ana Snyder; Nava, Marcelina; Reyna, Janie; TFLAlist at list.tfla.info
>
> *Subject:* Re: [TFLA-list] Spanish Curriculum****
>
>  ** **
>
> We are trying to revamp our native speakers program, does anyone have test
> or list of requirements for native speakers? That are either given at the
> middle school level or coming into the high school wanting to enroll in
> native speakers.  Any help is greatly appreciated!****
>
> ** **
>
> Anna Anderson****
>
> Spanish 1 Teacher****
>
> Assistant Volleyball/Softball Coach****
>
> [image: Thslogo]****
>
> ** **
>
> ** **
>
> ** **
>
> *From:* TFLAlist [mailto:tflalist-bounces at list.tfla.info<tflalist-bounces at list.tfla.info>]
> *On Behalf Of *Ana Snyder
> *Sent:* Tuesday, May 21, 2013 2:44 PM
> *To:* Nava, Marcelina; Reyna, Janie; TFLAlist at list.tfla.info
> *Subject:* Re: [TFLA-list] Spanish Curriculum****
>
> ** **
>
> Here's something from our district (HISD) if interested.  I teach
> Beginning SSS at my middle school and have materials if you have anything
> specific you're looking for  :)****
>
>  ****
>
> Ana****
>
>  ****
>
> Ana Snyder, MS Ed****
>
> Woodcreek Middle School****
>
> Spanish I & Beginning Spanish for Spanish Speakers****
>
> 281-641-5288****
>
> "A Quest for Excellence"****
>
> ana.snyder at humble.k12.tx.us****
>
>  ****
>
> >>> "Marcelina Nava" <marcelina.nava at plainview.k12.tx.us> 5/16/2013 12:20
> PM >>>****
>
> Good afternoon educators,****
>
> ** **
>
> Is there anyone that teaches specifically to native speakers?  I would
> like to know about your curriculum.****
>
> ** **
>
> Thank you,****
>
> Marcy Nava****
>
> Plainview HS****
>
> ** **
>
> ** **
>
> ** **
>
> This message and any attachment are intended only for addressee(s) and may
> contain information that is considered sensitive or confidential. If you
> have received this message in error, please notify the sender immediately
> and delete the misdirected e-mail. Furthermore, any release or further
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