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LEAP Document

I have copied below the Denver Public Schools Appendix to the World Language LEAP Document. The LEAP acronym stands for Leading Effective Academic Practices. Search “DPS LEAP” for more information. Sometimes we refer to it as the Framework for Effective Teaching. It has a lot of teachers freaked out. If they don’t do what the document says that they are supposed to be doing in their field, they can lose their jobs within three years.

The observation/evaluation process for LEAP is incredibly complex, so complex, in fact, that Diana Noonan’s close friend Meredith Richmond, an excellent CI teacher who was hired to initiate the process of evaluating each of the 100 WL teachers in DPS, quit her job at the beginning of the second year of the program, about a year ago. Basically this huge multimillion dollar initiative is meant to change education in Colorado.

Oddly, the originally published statements on WL, since they were written by teachers who largely had their heyday in the last century, conflicted with what (DPS WL Coordinator) Diana Noonan is actually doing with her WL program throughout the district. Basically, it was inaccurate. To address the disconnect between what the LEAP document said and what we are actually doing in our DPS classrooms, Diana Noonan and Meredith Richmond spearheaded a drive to add the Appendix below, and it was added successfully shortly after the publication of the original document.
If you know of any statewide initiatives in your state, you may want to check on what they are approving for final publication in World Languages before the same thing that happened in Colorado happens in your state. People are going to want a document that is current with research and ACTFL.

So here is the Appendix to the original document:

WORLD LANGUAGE Indicator:

I.1

In world language classrooms, the overall objective is: “Understand and interpret written and spoken language on a variety of topics.” (from the New Colorado Academic Standards for World Languages) [ed. note: the new CO standards were put in place in December of 2009]

Teachers communicate the learning objectives for the lesson which changes according to form and domain.

The function essentially stays the same: to demonstrate understanding.

Since the overall objective remains the same, conversation/discussion in English about objectives does not contribute to language acquisition and should be limited to only a few seconds.

I.2

Rigorous tasks include active listening, focused reading of comprehensible text and oral translation.

Rigor can be observed in the use of a variety of questions and the students’ responses to those question: low-to-high order.

“Problem solving” is acquiring the target language: students acquire the language when they comprehend the message.

In novice-level (Levels 1-3) world language classrooms, students do not have the required proficiency to justify and critique reasoning of themselves and others.

Rigorous tasks and critical thinking may be observed in the following ways:

a) Analysis:

1. Answering why questions (e.g., when the answer may be either indirectly stated or implied in a story).
2. Breaking down the main actions of the story.
3. Using a Venn diagram to compare and contrast characters (e.g., physical description, personalities, likes/dislikes).

b) Synthesis:

1. Writing an original story.
2. Composing a class story.
3. Inventing new details for a story.
4. Generating/inventing answers to hypothetical questions.
5. Rewriting a story adding details/characters that were not in the original.

c) Evaluation:

1. Evaluating appropriate and inappropriate actions of characters.
2. Comparing cultures.
3. Predicting what will happen next in reading or a story.

I.3

Teacher speaks in target language at least 90% of the class time.

Target language is 100% comprehensible; students are observed responding appropriately.

Teacher uses repetition and questioning as strategies for language acquisition.

I.4

The target language is the academic language.

Teacher should emphasize mastery of high-frequency words using the target language and spend little time explaining grammar concepts in English during a lesson.

The teacher is the only one in the classroom who can speak the language accurately and fluently; therefore, group work, cooperative learning and paired practice activities should be minimal as they do not lead to language acquisition. Minimal use of these activities may reinforce previously acquired language.

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