It's a short month, but we've got a long list of ideas to support ELLs
It's a short month, but we've got a long list of ideas to support ELLs
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February 1, 2021

Asset-Based Approach in Multilingual Programs

Dual language programs are designed for both English language learners and students whose first language is English to develop language and academic content in two languages, with the goal of achieving full bilingualism and biliteracy. Being fluent in two (or more!) languages provides innumerable assets, so we are highlighting Essential Practice 4 of our Essential Practices for ELLs during Distance Learning: Asset-based approach in multilingual programs.
The federal Office of English Language Acquisition created the graphic below which summarizes some of the major personal benefits of bilingualism, including educational and employment opportunities, improved brain function, and social connectedness. But we know that linguistic diversity, like any kind of diversity, also makes our OUSD and greater Oakland communities stronger and more vibrant.
Read below to find out more about our Biliteracy Pathways Awards. Learn about how one Oakland high school is engaging students as peer interpreters, while one elementary school worked to define its language plan and move toward becoming a dual language school. Also read an interview with a student from a dual language program about how he's benefitted from learning in English and Spanish. Don't miss our Multilingual, Sanctuary, and ELL Ambassador Corners for important resources and information too!

Biliteracy Pathway Awards Celebrate Progress Toward  Bilingualism 

In California, students who attain a high level of proficiency in English and one or more other world languages can receive the State Seal of Biliteracy on their diplomas. We look forward to recognizing more than 100 graduating seniors with the Seal of Biliteracy in May!
To celebrate students' steps toward achieving this significant milestone, OUSD annually gives out Biliteracy Pathway Awards to students who demonstrate that their language skills are progressing toward this larger goal. Students in kindergarten, and grades 3, 5, 8, and 10 are eligible to receive the award. In order to apply, students must submit a Portfolio of Language Experiences, which includes literacy assessments, ELPAC & Avant test scores, and writing assignments. Click here to learn more!

Castlemont High Employs Students as Knight Interpreters 

Starting this year, a unique group of interpreters has been stopping by some classes and community events at Castlemont High School to provide language support: other Castlemont students!
Etiene Torres, an ethnic studies and world history teacher in the school's International Program, leads a group of 12 students, sophomores through seniors, who go by the name Knight Interpreters. Student interpreters go to in-person events, like community tech distribution, make phone calls home, or drop into Zoom classes, and provide language support in Spanish and Mam to fellow students and their family members.
With funding from Oakland Kids First and under Castleworks, the work-based internship pathway program at Castlemont, students get paid for their work hours, which occur outside of their regular class times.
Students said that in working as interpreters, they've seen their own professional skills grow, which will help them in future careers. They've also seen improved outcomes for their classmates and built a stronger sense of community. Teachers who've utilized the interpreters have called the support "environment-alterning." "I truly believe that my having an interpreter dramatically impacts my ability and success in reaching and resonating with a large group of my students," one teacher wrote.
Read more about the program via an interview with students and faculty here. To find out more about the Knight Interpreters program, email Carrie Haslanger, the International Student Program Coordinator at Castlemont, or Etiene Torres

ELLMA Spotlight

English Learner in Focus: Sergio

For Sergio, a student in Global Family's dual language program, starting school was the start of a journey toward becoming trilingual: in Mam, English and Spanish. We talked with Sergio about how he's learned more about different cultures through his multilingual education, and why he now has the confidence to summit any language "mountain" he might come across.
Fifth Grade Student
Global Family Elementary School
How did you feel about learning English in school when you were in early elementary?
I felt like it was a language that I knew but still I didn't know much about, but I knew a little before because I used it with my friends.
And about learning Spanish?
It was like learning a new language all over again. When I grew up I only spoke Mam, but after a couple years, I started a new language.
How do you think being bilingual and biliterate will help you in your future, let’s say, choosing a high school, applying to a college, finding a job?
I think it will help me find a job not only being bilingual but also biliterate. If there are multiple spots I can write a resume in both languages and not just speak and listen but also read and write!
When you look at yourself and think about who you are, would you say that languages are part of your identity, that you are proud of speaking multiple languages?
Absolutely, when I think of who I am, I basically think of someone who communicates with people, and I can speak languages and sometimes I do not speak a language but I know I can learn it because I can speak three already!
Anything else that you would like to share? Any tips to a student who is about to enroll in a dual language program?
Don't be nervous or scared. Let your teachers support you and try your best in learning a language. Learning two different languages is like climbing a mountain. When you get to the peak is like when you are fluent. It takes much time but it is worth it when you can speak two or three languages!
Read the full interview to learn more about Sergio's language journey.

Bridges Leader Describes Process of Transitioning School to Dual Language 

Leaders on the School Redesign Team at Bridges Academy at Melrose have spent years deeply engaging with staff, families, and the larger community around its language program. Now in the process of becoming a full dual-language program, Bridges Principal Anita Comelo spoke over Zoom about what this process entailed and the goals for Bridges' dual language program. Watch the video below!
February is Black History Month, when we highlight the historical and contemporary contributions of people of African descent. Did you know that more than 200 of OUSD's English language learners are African American? For ideas and resources for observing this momentous month with your students, check out these resources from the National Education Association and from the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Sanctuary Corner

Resources and tools to ensure all families are welcome, safe, and empowered in our schools and community! 
Following his inauguration last month, President Joe Biden signed a number of executive orders with implications for our immigrant and refugee communities. Here are some of the most notable:
  • Reversed a Trump policy barring entry to the U.S. for refugees and residents from seven predominantly Muslim countries. Visa processing for these countries will resume within 45 days of signing the order.
  • Revoked a Trump policy that cracked down on "sanctuary" communities that shielded undocumented immigrants from deportation.
  • Committed to including undocumented immigrants in the national census, who Trump had attempted to exclude.
  • Pulled funding for the construction of a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.
  • Blocked deportation of Liberian refugees living in the U.S., in line with previous policies under Bush and Obama administrations.
  • Reaffirmed DACA, a program that Trump had sought to dismantle.
These are just some of the more than 40 executive orders signed by Biden in the first few days of his presidency. To read about all the orders thus far, check out the Federal Registrar

Multilingual Corner

A regular section for our Dual Language and bilingual educators!
Benchmark Universe is now providing Social Justice lessons for units 1, 4 and 6. The lessons can be found for each grade level under Whole Group Teacher Resources. Units 2, 3, 7 and 9 will be added next. To find the lessons in Benchmark Universe, use the filters to select a grade level, then select units 1, 4 and 6. Then scroll to the end of the Whole Group Teacher Resources section when in Advance or Adelante just before the Whole Group Weekly Presentations.
Benchmark is also offering the opportunity of a PD to explore these resources. Please fill out this Google Form in order to find a date that would work for the majority of us.

ELL Ambassadors Corner 

While addressed to our amazing ELL Ambassadors, this section has important information for the whole school community about our ELLs' civil rights and procedures and policies in place to secure these rights. 
A huge shout out to ELL Ambassadors for consulting with hundreds of families in order to complete reclassification for 425 students. Reclassification certificates for these students will be created and distributed to sites in the weeks ahead, and schools are encouraged to recognize newly reclassified students in assemblies and other community events.
ELL Ambassadors will wind down this busy season and look forward to the rest of the year at the next regular meeting, tomorrow, Feb. 2, at 3:30 p.m.
As always, questions about ELL Ambassadors or reclassification can be directed to Tom Felix.
Meet the ELLMA Team!
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