A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n

School Reform and Student Diversity - September 1995

Table 4
Case Study Research Area #2B:
Design and Implementation of the Reform at the Elementary Grades

Curriculum and Instruction

CHARACTERISTIC DEL NORTE HOLLIBROOK LINDA VISTA INTER-AMERICAN
Curricular Strategies Language arts curriculum focused on the reading and writing processes. The literature-based curriculum included instruction that taught specific skills such as phonics. Students worked on research-based projects that integrated multiple content areas. They used the Accelerated Reading program to motivate students to read. Language arts curriculum focused on the reading and writing processes; the Writer's Workshop and the Reader's Workshop strategies were both used as well as instruction that targeted development of specific skills. Language arts was taught using Whole Language strategies that focused on literature and writing. An effort was made to capitalize on the diversity of the students' experiences through assignments that allowed students to build on their own experiences rather than assignments that relied on a common experience base. The culture and traditions of students' home countries were integrated into the social studies curriculum. The school emphasized the study of the Americas (they also covered Africa, especially as African history and culture have influenced the Americas). Teachers developed social studies-based themes that made connections across disciplines. The language arts curriculum focused on literature and writing in both Spanish and English. Literacy in both languages was also developed using a content-based approach.
Instructional Strategies Teachers had high expectations for the students' reading and writing and allowed students to direct their own work. Most teachers employed cooperative learning strategies. There were a variety of instructional strategies in place in this school; the instructional philosophy was based on an enrichment, rather than remedial approach. Some teachers teamed to accommodate varying student needs and there were "continuum classes" in which students stayed together with the same teacher for multiple years. Students were encouraged to work cooperatively and to direct their own work, particularly in the continuum classes. Within ungraded, developmentally appropriate classes, teachers used cooperative learning and employed a variety of different grouping strategies. Teachers also integrated technology into instruction. Cooperative learning was used extensively, as was hands-on science and math instruction. A variety of grouping strategies, including peer tutoring, were employed at the school.

Table 4, cont.

CHARACTERISTIC DEL NORTE HOLLIBROOK LINDA VISTA INTER-AMERICAN
Instructional Discourse/Role of Teacher and Student In many cases, students managed discourse and initiated relevant discussion, and teachers played a facilitative role. In these cases, students were engaged and self-motivated. In other cases, the teachers lectured or were more directive and students were more passive. In many cases, students managed discourse and initiated relevant discussion, and teachers played a facilitative role. In these cases, students were engaged and self-motivated. In other cases, the teachers lectured or were more directive and students were more passive. Teachers played a facilitative role and students managed discourse during cooperative learning exercises, including the time students' worked on computers. In these cases, students were engaged and self-motivated. Whole class discussions tended to be less student-centered. In many cases, students managed discourse and initiated relevant discussion, and teachers played a facilitative role. In these cases, students were engaged and self-motivated. In other cases, the teachers lectured or were more directive and students were more passive.
Use of Instructional Technology There were some new computers, as well as some older equipment. Computers were used as part of the Accelerated Reading program, as well as for word processing. Technology was not integrated into the curriculum. There was a lot of up-to-date technology at the school and students had access to it. The use of technology did not tend to be integrated into the curriculum. Four classrooms in the school were designated ACOT classrooms and they were technology-laden: 4 Macintosh computers with CD-ROM drives, Powerbooks, scanner, Palmcorder, laserdisc, etc. All other classes have at least one computer. The use of technology is supported by a resource teacher; she is paid out of funds from a state Restructuring Demonstration Grant (SB 1274). They used technology for projects that were integrated into curriculum. Most of the equipment at this site was pretty old; their computer lab was primarily used to develop computer literacy and word processing skills. There was little use of technology in the classroom.
Assessment Strategies The statewide assessment system played a significant role at this school. Teachers showed interest in alternative means of assessment and sought training, but few alternative approaches to assessment were in place. The statewide assessment system played a significant role at this school. All classroom teachers kept student portfolios. There was a comprehensive schoolwide assessment system (for language arts and math) based on standards and rubrics. Students advanced based on their progress toward the standards. Student work samples were stored in an "electronic portfolio." Most teachers were using student portfolios in conjunction with teacher-designed tests; some teachers were also using published tests, particularly at the 7th and 8th grade level.
Articulation with Middle School The middle school that the school fed into relied solely on ESL instruction for LEP students; school staff expressed that the need to prepare students for an all English environment compromises their program by rushing the transition for students that arrive in the later grades, particularly those that arrive without literacy in their primary language. There was little connection or continuity in terms of the programs for LEP students. The district's bilingual department served grades K-5; 6-12 LEP students were served within the secondary schools' department. Articulation with the junior high school was facilitated by the restructuring of the district into "clusters" of schools that feed into one high school. The "cluster" superintendent eased articulation issues by fostering communication through joint activities. The school fed into a junior high that was also on a year-round schedule. As a Pre-K though 8 school, articulation with the middle school was not an issue. As a magnet school, there was not one high school that the students fed into; school staff expressed concern about the high school options available to their students.

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[Table 3 Case Study Research Area #2A: Design and Implementation of the Reform at the Elementary Grades] [Table of Contents] [Table 5 Case Study Research Area #2C: Design and Implementation of the Reform at the Elementary Grades LEP Student Program]