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Our ASL/English bilingual program provides content instruction for Elementary students using both social and academic ASL and English to promote higher levels of language, literacy development and critical thinking skills. Our goal is to keep academic work at grade level in both languages at all times. By linking together the Elementary ASL Language Arts Curriculum and the English Language Arts Framework for California Public Schools for all content areas, students are given a wealth of opportunities for language experience in signing, viewing, reading and writing in both languages. An overview of the ASL/English Language Arts program follows:
ASL Language Arts
CSD Elementary ASL Curriculum: All Elementary students take ASL Maintenance courses taught by two full-time ASL Language Arts in conjunction with grade-level teachers. Maintenance courses further develop students’ natural language, ASL, and provide a spiraling guide building foundations to develop fluent ASL signers.
Signacy Framework: Signacy refers to fluency of a signed language, including both receptive and expressive skills. The elements of the Signacy framework include four kinds of ASL viewing, four kinds of ASL signing and the element of sign choice and sign use.
ASL Immersion courses: Students who have emerging but limited ASL skills participate in ASL Immersion every day for one hour to focus on development of social and academic ASL in support of overall bilingual acquisition.
English Language Arts
Language Arts Framework and English Language Development Standards for California Public Schools
Balanced Literacy: This framework is designed to help all students learn to read and write independently and in both large and small-group settings. The elements include four kinds of reading, four kinds of writing and word work.
At each grade-level, Elementary teachers are paired for team-teaching so that two or more teachers plan toward a common goal for each individual child. Team-teachers use different techniques as they teach students within the same classroom. One teacher may present a lesson to the class while the other teacher reinforces each student’s individual needs and monitors student understanding and behavior. Typically, team teachers design an instructional unit together and model lessons to the students. They plan small-group work and encourage student discussion. Often, the class is divided into smaller groups according to learning goals and each teacher is responsible for teaching the same content to the smaller group. While one teacher challenges learners who grasp the concepts more quickly, the other teacher reviews with or re-teaches those students who require further instruction.
For the second year, Elementary teachers are working with the Curriculum and Media Services department on curriculum mapping for ASL/English Language Arts, Social Studies, Deaf Studies, Science, Physical Education, Health, and Character Education. A grade-level curriculum map is a tool which helps teachers to identify essential questions to incorporate California State Standards and benchmarks for viewing, signing, reading and writing to develop assessments, activities and instructional materials and to make use of technology. Curriculum mapping helps teachers design units of study that are meaningful, relevant and interesting to students.
The social curriculum is as important as the academic curriculum; and this mark our fourth year in the Character Education program. Character Ed offers plenty of opportunities for social and academic learning, balance between teacher-directed and child-initiated experiences, and a foundation in the values that good citizens should have. We have found that this approach/program improves student behavior and creates a more positive and caring school environment. Students assume leadership roles at monthly assemblies by explaining each character trait and recognizing students from each grade. We follow the Responsive Classroom approach that promotes a community, creates a safe climate and invests students in their learning.