James R. Watson Language Policy
At James R. Watson Elementary, we believe that language is foundational to all learning, communication, and expression. Language is the thread that connects and supports all of our curriculum elements and ultimately supports the mission of our school. We believe in developing a language-rich environment that encourages intercultural awareness, new perspectives, curiosity, and an appreciation of our world’s diversity.
Identification of Language Needs
As required by federal and state guidelines, all students enrolled at James R. Watson must complete a Home Language Survey indicating the language most often spoken in the home, as well as additional languages spoken. For any student who is not from a home in which English is the listed primary language, testing must occur to determine the level of ability in English. This information determines whether or not the student is classified as a student for which English is the second language, and informs the school of the primary language. The assessment tool used is the WIDA.
Support for Language Learners
The teachers and support staff at James R. Watson work to create a caring language community to enhance the language learning of all students. We strive to provide a language-rich environment for all students through the implementation of literature, technology, and library resources. James R. Watson encourages families to continue mother tongue development at home.
Parent Support for Language
Parents are encouraged to support language development at home. Parents may be asked to read with students on a regular basis, discuss concepts to check for understanding/comprehension, assist with inquiry-guided research, complete writing tasks, and encourage oral communication.
Language in the Classroom
In the classroom, language is supported through various literacy activities such as guided reading, writer’s workshop, writing in content, classroom libraries, daily read alouds and opportunities for students to use language during presentations and collaboration.
Learning is differentiated in the classroom in a variety of ways. Students are individually assessed in their reading ability using the Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark system and NWEA. Students are organized into skill groups based on need. Instruction is provided using a workshop model with both whole and small group instruction to differentiate based on student needs.
Language and the Program of Inquiry
Language is integrated throughout the Program of Inquiry. Higher level thinking, key concept questions, and extended research all lend themselves to having a strong vocabulary and language presence within the planners. Oral, visual, and written language are all present within planner activities. Literature selections both in read-alouds and guided reading texts are chosen to build an understanding of the concepts within the planners.
All PYP grade levels participate in weekly special area classes including Art, PE, Music, and Spanish. Activities and lessons within the special area classes encourage connections with the POI planners.
Spanish is the second language taught at James R. Watson. Each student in grades K-2 attends a 30-minute Spanish class weekly. Each student in grades 3-5 attends a 40-minute Spanish class weekly. Our school library has a section dedicated to books written in the Spanish language.
James R. Watson has an extensive literacy library with leveled books that support our IB planners. Our school library has a vast selection of fiction and nonfiction books to support language development. We also have a variety of online resources to support student learning and research such as National Geographic Kids, True Flix, Pebble Go, and Inspire.
Access and Review of Language Policy
The Language Policy at James R. Watson has been compiled and stored in a common location accessible to all stakeholders. Our language policy is reviewed annually by the staff and revised as we continue to learn, grow, and evolve.
IB School Team