The Waco I.S.D.’s 50/50 bilingual model has proven very effec-tive for Kendrick’s Kindergarten class where scores are soaring.
"In fact all of the students in this class are showing progress," Principal Julie Sapaugh notes. "I think one of the reasons for this is the strong foundation they receive in preschool."
Ms. Valdez, the bilingual preschool teacher, uses the 50/50 model by alternating the English and Spanish languages every other day when teaching reading, science and social studies. Math is always taught in English.
"Most of my students came to me with very little English," Ms. Valdez says, "but now they are easily using both languages."
Ms. Valdez demonstrated an example of this 50/50 model. She started out reading a book on construction/demolition in Spanish and dis-cussing the book in that language. She then read the same book again the next day in English, asking questions and discussing different aspects of the book in English this time. Reading activities included hands-on activi-ties, in this case a dramatic play area housing construction tools, which she reviewed with the children in both languages. Each tool was identified and Ms. Valdez demonstrated their function. Vocabulary words were pulled from the book for the children to define and practice rhyming in both lan-guages. Ms. Valdez followed this up by singing a rhyming song, using some of the taught vocabulary. Ms. Valdez’s Instructional Aide, Darlene Miller, always conducts her centers in English, which she feels helps rein-force the teachings of Ms. Valdez.
"By the time they reach Kindergarten," Ms. Valdez said, "they are very fluid in both languages." Ms. Leon, Kendrick’s bilingual Kindergarten teacher, attributes her student’s success to practice and hands-on learning. Children in her class are already counting by 2’s, 5’s and 10’s in both languages and reading at or above grade level. They work on writing daily in a variety of different subjects.
"I think," Leon says, "that teaching is all about letting students discover their own learning style and teaching to that style."