Two-Way Dual Language Immersion
Dual Language Immersion (DLI) offers a rich bilingual experience for young learners when their minds are developmentally best able to acquire a second language in meaningful contexts.
Students will receive seven years of dual language instruction and will become proficient bilinguals. Typically, immersion students develop greater cognitive flexibility, attention control, memory, primary language skills and problem solving. In addition, dual language immersion students are more aware and positive of other cultures and people.
In the two-way DLI program at Leesburg Elementary, balanced numbers of English speaking and native Spanish speaking students will be enrolled and serve as the language models and learners. WCS’s adopted curriculum will be used and instruction will be divided between two highly qualified, caring and creative teachers.
The English-speaking teacher will teach reading and writing, as well as portions of other content areas (social studies, science, math) for half of the day. The Spanish-speaking teacher will use the other half of the day to teach Spanish literacy, mathematics, and portions of other content areas using only Spanish. From day one, the Spanish teacher speaks only Spanish and communicates using a wide range of engaging strategies including pictures, songs, games, body language, expressions and drama. After a brief period, students will also speak only Spanish during Spanish class.
STEM is an additional focus at Leesburg Elementary. We integrate STEM instruction within each classroom. These are authentic, real-world experiences that are provided through inquiry based learning. During these projects, students are faced with a driving question and they then develop an understanding of the subject material in order to answer these questions.
Through grant funds, Leesburg Elementary has created a STEM-focused outdoor classroom at our wetlands and onsite pond. The grant funds were used to purchase a variety of resources to compare and sample both bodies of water. Some of these include Wi-Fi access, whiteboard and demonstration table, picnic tables, an observation deck over wetlands, and piers on both bodies of water to explore and compare habitat and water samples of each. A WCS partnership with Hoosier Riverwatch provides curricular resources and ongoing professional development.
Social Emotional Learning
Leesburg Elementary puts student wellness as a top priority. We believe that we need to meet students where they are in their development and to help prime their brains so that they are ready to learn. Our focus has been on the pillars of WCS’s SEL framework: Neuroeducation, Attachment/Relationships, Regulation, and Educator Brain State.
Neuroeducation: We have begun by providing neuroscience education to students and staff regarding how brains are wired (provided by the SEL Coordinator and classroom teachers). This helps them to understand the effects of stress on our brains, the neuroanatomy of the brain, and the importance of allowing for ninety seconds to allow the brain to flush the cortisol and other chemicals out of the brain and regulate. This education and the use of the amygdala reset stations equip our students with tools to be learning ready. Science and research studies are showing us that when students are regulated, they are able to cope and perform better academically.
Attachment/Relationships:Leesburg Elementary also continues to equip staff and train students on how to understand and manage emotions, set and achieving positive goals, feelings, and showing empathy for others, establishing and maintaining positive relationships, and making responsible decisions. Positive mental health and creating an environment in which students, staff, and family members are embracing their whole health in a positive way is extremely important to us.
We have helped teachers schedule time in their days to include morning meetings and school-wide meetings. This time is used to check-in with each student and prime their brain for learning. Teachers are intentional with this meeting time, integrating the SEL Core Competencies to teach skills and build a strong foundation.
Regulation: We believe that promoting positive self-regulating will help to provide preventative strategies that all students need to be equipped with. Building these preventative strategies, coping, and regulating skills, students will be building a strong foundation that will equip them. We recognize that all people will face adversity at different times, our goal is to equip our students with preventative strategies so that in times of adversity they are equipped and able to lead healthy resilient lives.
Educator Brain State: The most important brain state in the classroom is that of the teacher. This sets the stage for the success of students in the classroom. We share neurobiology like a lending library! Attachment to adults is the prerequisite to learning from them. -D.Nibarger
As a school, we believe that it is important to model the SEL work so that we are able to serve each other. Professional development is essential to this journey, our SEL Core Team provides regular training to our staff along with the partnership with our district SEL Coordinator. This is not a curriculum, nor a program; it is a mind-shift and a foundation for how we sit beside our students in relationship and development