Language Policy

Union Academy Magnet School
IB MYP Language Policy

Words are the leaves of the tree of language, of which, if some fall away, a new succession takes their place. ~John French

Steering Committee Membership:
The Union Academy Language Policy Committee consists of the Language A and Language B teachers, as well as the media center specialist, teacher resource specialist trainer, MYP coordinator, and school principal.

Philosophy:
Union Academy is committed to serving all students through the IB Middle Years Programme. Language is a vital instrument for learning, and every teacher on our campus is considered a teacher of language. We know the instruction in English as well as learning a second language positively affects intellectual growth and enhances a child’s cognitive development. Through the exploration of language, students become communicators in our multilingual world.

Students who are language learners are:

  •  Inquirers – One who possesses the skills to conduct inquiry and work independently
  •  Principled – One who approaches language acquisition with integrity
  •  Open-minded – One who is open to other languages and opinions
  •  Risk Takers – One who has the initiative to explore a new language
  •  Communicators – One who can express ideas and concepts clearly and articulately in the designated language
  •  Reflective – One who thoughtfully considers strengths and weaknesses in language
  •  Knowledgeable – One who actively learns and practices the native language as well as a second language and appreciates the need for  effective communication
  •  Thinker – One who actively follows through the thinking processes of acquiring and excelling in any language
  •  Caring – One who encompasses respect and compassion for languages around the world
  •  Balanced – One who balances mental, social, and physical importance of listening, reading and speaking languages

Language of Instruction:
Union Academy follows the IBO MYP program requirements. English is the language of instruction for all classes at the school.

All students will take at least one Language A and one Language B class. For Language A classes, the language of instruction is English. For Language B classes, the language of instruction is Spanish once students have reached the necessary skill level to allow instruction in the target language. This experience is essential to the international experience and enables the students to understand another culture.

Language A: 
Since students must meet English requirements provided by the state standards, English is the language of instruction for Language A. The development of Language A is crucial as it allows students to make connections within and across subject areas, facilitated by the Areas of Interaction. Therefore, all students are required to take Language A in grades six, seven, and eight. The district curriculum, along with the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards, has been aligned with the MYP Language A Aims and Objectives outlined in the MYP Language A Subject Guide.

Language B:
It is the expectation that all students be enrolled in a Spanish class in grades 6-8. Phase placement (level of proficiency) will be determined through final exams and/or teacher recommendations. Incoming 6th grade students will be enrolled in phase 1 unless they are a native speaker, then they will be placed in phase 2. Due to state mandated requirements, some (currently three) students may be given the option of taking Spanish through a virtual class. We recognize the importance of students becoming culturally and linguistically proficient in a second language (Language B). In order to encourage the use of the student’s native tongue, periodicals and newspapers will be provided in the native language. Students will be expected to speak and write in Spanish. The district curriculum, along with the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards, has been aligned with the MYP Language A Aims and Objectives outlined in the MYP Language B Subject Guide.

Students in year three have the opportunity to take high school credit Spanish as their Language B course. The high school credit Spanish class is taught daily. All other Spanish classes alternate days with arts or physical education throughout the school year. High school credit Spanish students are monitored quarterly and transferred into the middle school Spanish class if they are struggling with the course.

Union Academy provides in-school access to Rosetta Stone for all students, whether or not they are currently in a Spanish class. Rosetta Stone is also available to all staff members. Spanish tutoring, by Union Academy teachers and IB foreign language student group called Team of Tutors from Bartow High School, is open to all students every Thursday afternoon. Union Academy is also investigating the possibility of offering Spanish tutoring for our teachers and staff.

Language Guidelines:

Union Academy will implement the following reading practices:

  • reading will take place in all subject areas, and students will read across the curriculum whenever appropriate;
  • a variety of practices will be used when planning for instruction, which include but is not limited to guided reading groups, differentiated reading instruction, word lists, graphic organizers, and use of leveled reading material(as determined by STAR and TeenBiz assessments);
  • students will be encouraged to set reading goals, read for information, read for pleasure and read aloud expressively;
  • students will be exposed to a variety of genres, including literature, poetry, plays, short stories, informational text and newspapers/magazines such as New York Times Upfront, Read and Scholastic Math;
  • teachers will promote and incorporate supplemental reading incentives and support programs, such as Accelerated Reader and TeenBiz;
  • vocabulary building techniques such as word walls, use of idioms, word of the day, and literary elements such as metaphors and similes will be utilized across the curriculum, whenever appropriate.

Union Academy will implement the following writing practices:

  • students’ natural desire to communicate through writing will be fostered by giving real-world purpose to their writing, and by introducing them to varied, challenging, and meaningful writing opportunities;
  • ensure consistency of the promotion of the writing process (planning, outlining, drafting, editing, proofreading, publishing), as age-appropriate throughout the grade levels;
  • students will be provided with opportunities to express themselves in writing through a variety of genres, including but not limited to journaling and essays. Students will be provided with opportunities to acquire, develop and use language specific to different subject areas;
  • development of writing will be supported by providing constructive feedback from teachers and peers; teachers will provide instruction in and model the correct usage of written and oral language conventions, including spelling, grammar, rules of punctuation, and handwriting.
  • literary elements (i.e., foreshadow, symbolism, imagery, etc.) will be reviewed in order to teach good writing skills that allow for more interesting reading.

English as a Second Language:
While we have students who speak Spanish as their native language, we do not have any students who are non-English speaking. In other words, all of our students speak English fluently. For this reason, we do not currently offer any additional services. Should this situation change, we would address the needs of non-English speaking students.

Instruction for Struggling Readers:
Union Academy serves students at all levels of academic readiness. This means that we must have safety nets in place for those students who demonstrate below-standard proficiency in language skills. These students, identified by our yearly state assessment test, take an intensive reading class daily. Students who are placed in this course are those who scored at a Level 1 or 2 on the reading portion of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. (FCAT) These students are placed in the Intensive Reading class, in addition to the regularly scheduled Language A class. These classes are designed to increase the student’s specific reading needs – decoding skills, fluency, and/or comprehension of text – in order to achieve higher levels of success. Fast ForWord, Compass Learning Odyssey, FCAT Explorer, and FOCUS programs are used in this course. The aims of this class are to accelerate the growth in reading beyond one to two years in a school year.

Assessment: 
In order to improve teaching and enhance learning, a variety of assessment tools will be used. Teachers will use rubrics and formative and summative assessments as outlined in MYP: From principles into practice. Teachers will also utilize data from district-level assessments, such as Discovery Baseline Testing, on a quarterly basis in addition to the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test to monitor the progress and development of reading skills. District-wide writing assessment and portfolio are reviewed three times yearly, at all grade levels.

Teachers will use a wide variety of summative assessments that will measure students’ overall performance on a particular unit of study. These will include essays, digital projects, labs, discussions, tests, projects, oral examinations, and other writing assignments. The summative assessments in each subject area will be modeled after the summative assessments required by the IB for the Middle Years Program in year five of the program. Because we offer only the first three years of the program, our assessments, the objectives they assess, and the criteria we use to determine performance are modified from year five.

Both students and parents will regularly receive feedback on student progress with regard to student behavior, performance related to MYP criteria, MYP Areas of Interaction, the district grading system, and performance on state exams through weekly progress reports, Homeconnect, STAR, interim reports, quarterly report cards, and daily access to Pinnacle and Global Scholar (district parent portal).

Teaching and Planning
Teachers will plan together at each grade level in each department weekly to ensure the rigor and quality of each lesson. Teachers will meet weekly with horizontal or vertical teams to ensure all possible opportunities for cross-disciplinary instruction in language development are taken.

As a whole school, we are also looking at developing students’ abilities to retain information through note-taking strategies. We are also using a new district initiative, Comprehensive Instructional Sequence Module (CISM), to enhance comprehension across grade levels. CISM is a form of note-taking and will address the needs of all students and enhance the learning process. Though this strategy will be used school-wide through-out the year, teachers will utilize many more strategies within the classroom to address the needs of their students.

Humanities teachers have also been trained by the district in DBQ (Document Based Questions) – a program where students read a background essay, analyze a series of primary source documents, and write an essay using evidence from these documents. Teachers are given a curriculum-related DBQ to use each 9 weeks.

Media Center:
The Media Center plays an integral role in the support of language development at Union Academy. Currently, we are enhancing our collection of print books, magazine titles, eBooks and databases offered to students whose native language is other than English. Spanish eBooks are being used through the Language B classes in which the students can read and take accelerated reading (AR) quizzes on the computer in Spanish, or they may read the Spanish eBooks for pleasure. The use of the Unlimited Access Spanish eBooks has added a new dimension to the use of literature in the Language B classroom by offering an unlimited number of Spanish Language books for academics and pleasure reading. Periodicals have also become an important asset to the Language B curriculum. The magazine FACES: People, Places and Cultures is used by the media specialist to teach research Skills. The magazine Iguana and Que Tal? provides teachers and students with up to date articles from the Latin and Hispanic communities and people from around the world. Additionally, students may utilize the Rosetta Stone Language Lab through the Media Center to enhance their Language B experience.

The media specialist fosters language and reading throughout the entire school. She encourages students to use their local public libraries in which books can be mailed to their home for their reading pleasure or academic needs. She also works with the Literacy Committee in selecting the required summer reading book. Throughout the year she assists teachers as they plan their individual and interdisciplinary units by researching and purchasing supplemental resources. She accesses the teachers’ MYP unit plans through ManageBac and compiles materials to enhance the teachers units through print and audiovisual resources. Teachers were also invited by the media specialist to attend a book buying trip to acquire books that would enhance their individual and interdisciplinary units.
Rewarding students for their academic success in reading is managed by the Media Specialist. She organizes and coordinates quarterly student AR reward days in which students are rewarded with special activities for achieving their individual reading goals.

The Media Center is essentially the hub of all language development throughout the school.