The Chinese Dual Language Program (grades 6-8) will welcome its first 6th grade cohort in the fall of the 2017-2018 school year. The cohort will consists of students from Jing Mei Elementary School, as well as in-district students whose proficiency levels are at the higher end of Intermediate Mid to Intermediate High. A standardized computer-based proficiency assessment will be required for students who are entering into the Tillicum program from outside of Jing Mei Elementary School. The results from the proficiency assessment will also be reviewed by Chinese DL teachers as an additional measure.

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To help prepare families for the Chinese Dual Language Program at Tillicum Middle School, here are some answers to questions from parents.

How many hours of Mandarin instruction per week? What subjects will be taught in Chinese?

50 minutes per class Monday through Friday, with each class being 40 minutes on Wednesday. 6th grade Chinese Language, Literature, and Culture, and 6th grade Honors Social Studies will be part of the Chinese Dual Language Program. This equates to 480 minutes/8 hours of Mandarin instruction per week.

Who are the teachers and what are their qualifications and experience?

Ms. Zhiling Hu is the 6th grade Chinese DL teacher. For her experience and background, please refer to the PowerPoint. She was a student teacher at Jing Mei during the 2016-17 school year. She worked closely with the students, teachers, and the leadership team at Jing Mei and is familiar with the BSD Chinese DL philosophy and curriculum. We are so excited to have her!

Will Ms. Hu, the 6th grade Chinese DL teacher, have tutorial? When?

Yes, as a part time teacher Ms. Hu will have close to one hour of tutorial weekly, the schedule is TBD.

What periods will Social Studies and Chinese Literature be?

Our master schedule is still in the development phase and this is not yet finalized.  We place priority and ensuring that students have access to their first choice electives whenever possible so it is a time consuming process, but worth it in the end.  We do plan to have draft schedules by the end of the year.

What are the bus routes and times for the students?

Our start and end times will not change next year.  Bus routes and times will not be finalized until later this summer, and parents will be informed directly from the transportation department.  We don’t anticipate major changes so the routes and times should be similar to this year’s, posted here.

How will the success of the middle school program be measured? Are we modeled on an established program? What standards exist for similar programs elsewhere?

Tillicum already has established language programs; the Chinese DL program will be collaborating with both the ISA and French immersion programs at the school so we can learn from each other as much as possible.

We evaluate the effectiveness of these programs using ACTFL Benchmarks. We use assessment measures aligned to these targets and students exit middle school achieving at the expected “intermediate high” range.

We have a unique need for supporting resources. From where will funding come for Mandarin library books, online library, and classroom learning aids specific to our program?

Any in-classroom online learning aids will be provided by the curriculum department. Library books and in-class book resources will be based on building budget and partnering with PTA grants.

Tillicum has already applied for a PTA grant to begin building our Mandarin collection to support our present classes and the incoming Dual Language program. Ms. Tsuchiyama (Tillicum’s Library Specialist) is working with Ms. Lee (Teacher-Librarian at Jing-Mei) for recommendations.

What opportunities are we sacrificing in order to participate in this program? What is the opportunity cost?

The program enriches a student’s schooling experience in that the student receives not only bilingual education but will be biliterate and bicultural. While students who are not part of the program will be selecting two electives, the Chinese DL’s students will be reading and learning about Chinese literature, the language, and the culture. These are challenging courses and designed based on best practices through research.

Most Tillicum students who are not part of the ISA or French Immersion Programs (over 70%) are enrolled in a World Language course as an elective (Chinese, French, Spanish).

How will the school prepare for the new curriculum and new teacher hiring? What kind of curriculum and in-class support, and ongoing training will the new Chinese teacher receive from Tillicum and BSD?

Background of question/concern: at Jing Mei, for the pioneer class, we typically did not have the curriculum ahead of the start of each school year. Teachers who themselves are new to dual language program, build teaching materials as the semesters go. While it is understandable there will be some “guinea pig” experience, I felt the program did not have enough advance prep for its 1st class at any given grade.

Both class’ curriculum will be literacy-based. This means that instead of focusing on just textbooks, the curriculum will include literature pieces based on various themes pulled from the textbooks and the district curriculum. To ensure equity in all 6th grade social studies classes across the district, the Chinese DL Honors Social Studies will explore all topics and themes from the SS district curriculum.

Chinese Lang/Lit/Culture will include readings that respond to the students’ culture and background as Chinese DL students in the U.S. that are both proficiency level and grade level appropriate (including some American literary pieces and authentic Chinese literature)

New teachers will receive both individual curriculum training/planning and ongoing professional development within and/or outside of the district.

Will the new Chinese teacher have opportunities to work with Jing Mei teachers to find out more about the Chinese Dual Language program during the elementary years? This relationship is critical to the success of the middle school program so that the teacher and the program understands the “immersion” language acquisition model, what has been taught already, and how to continue teaching in the right level.

The MS DL teacher will receive curriculum training/planning and ongoing PDs within and/or outside of the district. While there will be opportunities to collaborate with the JM teachers, it is important to remember that the MS approach should be different from the elementary approach to best serve students’ growing abilities and skills, as well as their individual development. In addition to the curriculum continuing being theme and literacy based as supported by research and best practices, it will also be MS appropriate and aligned.

Is the 6th grade Mandarin Dual Language curriculum ready? How will the program make sure the material being used for Social Studies is presented in a way that is accessible to our kids – i.e. Chinese language isn’t a barrier to the material. Learning to read vs. reading to learn.

There is an ongoing translation project of the 6th grade SS material. Teachers will ensure that the translation is proficiency level and grade level appropriate. Since the curriculum is literacy based, students will be learning the SS materials through other literary pieces in addition to what is provided in the textbook to ensure that both language and content skills are addressed.

How will our Mandarin Dual Language students interact with other students at Tillicum and students in other grades? Will there be a counselor dedicated/focused on this first class in this new program? Since the 5th graders are the first cohort at Jing Mei, they have always been the oldest grade and have never had an experience where they had students older than them.

New 6th grade students have the opportunity to participate in our 6th grade WEB orientation (date TBD) prior to the start of school. They will be matched with 8th grade mentors, meet other students, get a tour of the campus, and learn what the transition to middle school is like.

Dual Language students will be clustered for their Language and Social Studies classes, and will then be included with our student body for their other classes, based upon elective choices, etc.

Students are assigned alphabetically to a counselor.
Ms. Johnson (A-L)
Ms. Ankerson (M-Z)

Sports teams/activities – there seems to be no football team. Any plan to have one?

Tillicum offers a wide range of after school clubs and activities.

Will our children have the option to choose elective classes? If so, how many will they be able to select and will that apply for every semester?

Chinese DL students will have a full year of elective. Students who are not part of the program receive two electives and over 70% of them chooses a World Language class as an elective.

Please see below for a sample schedule. The order of the classes is just an example; your student’s schedule may look different than this one.

What is the class size and teach/student ratio?

Our average, class size is about 28 students.

Are there any opportunities for parent involvement in the classroom at Tillicum? At Jing Mei, while volunteers are needed in the classroom, teachers are so new, they first need to get a good handle of the class. I hope this can be improved/clarified at Tillicum if possible.

Yes. At the middle school level, students are often more comfortable seeing their parents from a distance. We have volunteer opportunities working directly with teachers, during lunch, etc.

The parents of the pioneer class have worked hard to lay a good foundation at Jing Mei so that future generations can reap the benefits of an established and supported program. As we move into middle school and continue the Chinese Dual Language program at Tillicum, how may the parents and students continue to work together with administration and BSD, especially the first few years, to ensure the Chinese teacher is supported, our program students are thriving, not just academically but socially and emotionally in middle school, and BSD and Tillicum are committed to the success of this new program?

Become active members of our PTA! We value open communication and problem solving and school administration meets regularly with PTA leadership.

Moving from a school with 330 students with the 5th grade class having only one class of 24+ kids throughout their elementary school years, is there anything we can do to help our children transition to such a large middle school, without them getting lost and feeling overwhelmed?

Plan to have your child attend Tillicum’s 6th grade WEB orientation (date to be finalized, usually the 2nd to last week of August). For more information about WEB see our website, under Tigers – WEB Program.

It is developmentally natural for kids to worry about the transition to middle school. Listen to them, and hear what their worries are. Reassure them that the adults at Tillicum care about them and their success, and will help them make the adjustment to middle school.

Lockers and combination locks can be stressful- have your child practice a combination lock if possible. Help them stay organized, but don’t do it for them.

While attrition is inevitable, how is the school proposing to preserve the integrity of the Chinese Dual Language program when allowing new students to enter the program? We’ve learned the hard way that when proper testing is not enforced, it is not in the best interest of all students in the class and everyone suffers, including the new student, the teacher and the program.

Student proficiency levels will be assessed–we expect all students who are entering into the 6th grade cohort to be at the high range of Intermediate Mid to low range of Intermediate High based on the ACTFL proficiency standards.

Is there any opportunity to rename our program as Puesta del Sol has for its middle and high school programs?

We would like to become part of an established network, the Confucius Classrooms network is one example.

Since Jing Mei students have had substantially less instruction time in English than the students coming from neighborhood schools, are there any additional support Tillicum will give to our students for those that might need it in classes such as English language arts so that they can catch up to their peers? And this goes for other subjects such as math and science. The fact that they have learned these subjects mainly in Chinese, there are definitely some gaps along the way.

Students will have the option of staying for tutorial period after school. This will be a time for students to receive any additional help that they may need in any subject.

Based on our K-5 data on various math assessments at Jing Mei, as well as the comparison of our data with other Chinese DL programs outside of BSD, we have consistently found that there is no significant difference between math scores from Jing Mei students, other Chinese DL program students, and students from the rest of the district.

Will there be support in Chinese for students whose proficiency level may not be at the expected grade level one?

We will work individually with students and their families based upon specific needs. Students will have the option of staying for tutorial period after school. This will be a time for students to receive any additional help that they may need in any subject.

We will also continue to provide professional development for our DL teachers for best practices, which will also include differentiated instruction to meet the needs of all students with various skills and proficiency levels.