World Language Digital Bridge

Howard County Public Schools, MD

Purpose: To provide differentiated instruction in world languages at the middle school level

Traditionally, students in middle school were offered the opportunity to pursue level 1 French or Spanish over two-three years. Later, two schools added Chinese 1. There was no possibility of acceleration.

Why now?- PreK-5 WoRLD Program (World-Readiness through Language Development)

HCPSS has begun a pilot in eight elementary schools where students receive daily instruction in Spanish in grades PreK-5 building skills in speaking, listening, reading and writing. Some rising 6th graders will be exiting with increased readiness levels in Spanish.

Vision: To provide a blended learning environment for Middle School World Languages using the station-rotation model.

Step 1: Secure funding through Maryland State Department of Education Innovation Grant

HCPSS was granted a $500,000 grant in Fall 2014

The grant provides a dedicated laptop cart for middle school world language teams, interactive, leveled target language readers, professional learning for teachers on best practices in differentiating instruction

Step 2: Curriculum Development (Spring 2015-Present)

1. Piloting textbooks with interactive learning management systems: online texts, differentiated assessments, differentiated target language readings
2. Developing open-ended performance tasks
3. Developing tiered assignments
4. Developing enrichment vocabulary lists for more advanced learners
5. Embedding curriculum in our new learning management system (Canvas)

Step 3: Professional Learning for Teachers (Fall 2014-Present)

  1. Implementing Proficiency-Based Rubrics
  2. Tiering instruction
  3. Using authentic text
  4. Implementing performance tasks
  5. Station-Rotation Model
  6. Best practices in using the laptop carts in the classroom

Key Learnings Thusfar

  • Importance of teacher training and laying the groundwork for differentiated instruction
  • Importance of close collaboration with Instructional Technology and Digital Learning
  • Writing new curriculum with a new approach takes time