Friday, August 28, 2009

What is LINK?

In the last post I referenced a program named LINK and since the post I have had several questions about LINK. Please keep the questions coming - I'm glad people are reading the blog!

LINK is Language Immersion for New Kindergartners. Nationally this instructional model is known as KLDM - Kindergarten Language Development Model, but we wanted a name unique to ISD 191 and something that was a little easier to remember.

LINK is focused on immersing our Kindergarten ESL students into an English rich environment so that we give them an instructional boost at the earliest possible opportunity. This program does not have a negative impact on non-ESL students; it is not costing anything extra or pulling staff from another program. In ISD 191 ESL teachers are staffed at a ratio of 40:1; 40 students to 1 teacher. During the 2008-09 school year we observed that there were approximately 20 ESL students in our kindergarten program and began to explore other instructional models.

During the 2008-09 school year Mrs. Gonzalez was working with 2-4 students at a time for approximately one 1/2 hour with each group. For our ESL students this meant they were in and out of their Kindergarten classroom and for the students in a half day program almost half of their day was spent out of the classroom receiving Title I asnd ESL services.

With the LINK program in place our ESL Kindergarten students will be in the morning Kindergarten classroom with Mrs. Peterson. They will stay in school for lunch and then move the LINK / ESL classroom for the afternoon. Instead of pulling the students out of the classroom for ESL and Title I services the students will be together in one classroom and all of the services will be provided there. This is not All-Day Kindergarten for free, but it is a creative way to deliver ESL services. The LINK students will only be in Mrs. Peterson's Kindergarten classroom for the half-day program and then they will be in the ESL classroom for the remainder of the day. I believe that if this program is successful we will see long term benefits for 1-6 classrooms, our ESL students and other students as this changes how our teachers teach.

I welcome your feedback on this exciting opportunity for our students.

Friday, August 21, 2009

We're Ready - well almost!

Summer is moving right along - there is only one more week until all of the teachers report back to duty and two weeks until all of the students are here. Almost all of the teachers have been coming in to school to check on their classrooms and starte getting ready.

I've added several photos to give you a sneak peak into some of the classrooms. Those are posted at the bottom of the page.

Here are some updates from Sioux Trail.

Placement letters:
They are ready to go and we mailed them today. In the the school district "mailing" them means they leave Sioux Trail, go to the Administrative Service Center, get processed there and then get handed over the US Postal Service. My best guess is that they start arriving in homes this weekend (8/22) or early next week.

Sioux Trail did not make Adequate Yearly Progress according to the Minnesota Department of Education. There is a letter along with the placement Information that explains this in greater detail. For Sioux Trail teachers this means that our challenge now has a label on it. We will continue to do our very best to meet the needs of every single child and will analyze what we're doing and make sure that we're doing in the smartest possible way.

The short message is that we need as many volunteers as we can get. There is a list of opportunities that is being mailed home and I hope that you will sign up to help in any way that you can.

The interior and exterior of Sioux Trail look great! Here are a couple photos to give you an inside sneak peak of what is happening.

Mr. Glende is applying wax to the floor in one of first grade classrooms. The classrooms on the lower level are getting fine tuned this week and next week. They were used by Project Kids throughout the summer and now that summer is coming to a close Mr. Glende is able to get in and give the remaining classrooms a top to bottom cleaning.

This classroom is clean and ready to go - it is waiting for a teacher! Several Sioux Trail staff members have been in and started setting up for the schol year, but that is voluntary. Teachers will return in force on August 31 for the first official day of work.

Here is the finished product! This is our LINK classroom. LINK stands for Language Immersion for New Kindergarteners and it is part of the ESL program. Sioux Trail and Hidden Valley are conducting research around the idea of immersing Kindergarten ESL students into english instruction. Keep watching for more details.