Now the fun begins! It is time to create the curriculum and choose what units to teach. Think about the following as you pick…
2. Connect to community events. Think about what is important to your community at different times of the year. Our city’s website has a calendar and it can be put in several languages. Bonus! We have a month of celebrations based on the Kentucky Derby, so we teach a “Celebrations” unit in April. Maybe a shopping unit around December? Food around Thanksgiving?
3. Vertically align your units. This means that you have some topics that are “repeated” in each level. Our goal is to get students to move up in the proficiency levels. If we build on their previous language knowledge, they can get there easily without having to start back at novice mid each time.
Let’s say level 1, unit 2 is a simple restaurant unit where they talk about what they like to eat and order meals (Novice). In level 2, unit 2, expand on that by making the focus describing meals and giving reviews (Intermediate low).
Think about lesson planning and resource gathering. Your cart teachers will love you if they can use the same resources for all the classes. I taught 3 preps from a cart and it drove me crazy having crates piled up and falling off (insert curse word). When I realigned the units, cart life got easier. When it came time to lesson plan, I could use the same resources too, like fresh tweets and magazine ads. I just adjusted according to their proficiency levels. When you have department meetings, everyone can the share ideas and resources, regardless of what classes they are teaching.
One last consideration is mixed level or ability classes. This is my reality. Two levels in one class. Or sometimes I get a level 2 student that is a wee bit behind the others. It helps them to have a “review” of the previous year so they can catch up.
Enjoy this process and remember there will be a little, or a lot, give and take when making these decisions, especially in a large department. Try to keep the topics broad so it can be adapted to the specific students in your class. Focus on the function, not the vocabulary. For example, if you have a shopping unit, don’t focus on clothing vocabulary. Focus on how to buy items. Let the students decide if they are shopping for clothes, electronics, sports equipment, etc. This also allows the teacher to adapt the unit to his/her experiences. Overall, just remember to keep it focused on THEIR interests!
Here is a link to our JCPS curriculum/profiles. It is not vertically aligned, so I switched the order around myself.