Sunday, February 21, 2010

A visit to the Princeton Regional Schools and Priscilla Russel, National Supervisor of the Year!

Visiting the World Language program in Princeton, New Jersey was like having an around-the-world experience! I walked from room to room to hear and see vibrant students actively engaging in language learning. Everyone, from the Superintendent to the Kindergarten teachers, is proud of the World Language Department in Princeton and they should be! Nationally acclaimed World Language Supervisor, Priscilla Russel, made the visit unforgettable because of her gracious, generous and professional approach to sharing her district's success.

I saw:

1. An absolute belief in teaching fully in the target language from K-12
2. Content-area teaching at every level. Kindergarten kids learning math and science in the target language and high school students doing long, multidisciplinary units, specifically focusing on a country - like Peru - and having the students do research, create businesses and more.
3. Truly buying into the fact that teaching language is NOT about grammar instruction. Teachers in Princeton don't teach a content-area topic with the goal of teaching the imperfect, but tenses are contextually integrated into instruction.
4. Performance Assessments are used at mid-term and final time in all classes INSTEAD of multiple-choice finals or other traditional assessments. This is true proof that this district is assessing what it teaches.
5. The consistent use of rubrics, pair activities and student-centered instruction.
6. The integration of culture as a natural part of the lesson.
7. A happy, open, interested and excited approach to learning. Students are really engaged and happy to be in their language classes.
8. Students can even joke in the target language!
9. World Language teachers as creators of intellectual content for the field either by publishing or creating workshops to share their good news and best practices.
10. Regular on campus sharing among colleagues in an atmosphere of enthusiastic, life-long learning.
11. Ongoing and meaningful professional development delivered by outside experts in the field to help the teaching cohort engage in reflective practice so that they might avail themselves of the latest pedagogies and tools for learning.
12. An integrated program World Languages which lives and breaths the belief that all children can and will learn a language!

Visiting this district was a true pleasure. It's so nice to see a program that is contributing so much to the development of global citizens!

Brava, Priscilla and Bravo Princeton!

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