Department Members Overview
The High Intensity alternative program is offered in both middle schools. The program provides the opportunity for all English Language Learners in grades 6 through 8 to receive two consecutive periods of ESL instruction totaling 86 minutes each school day.
The ESL program at the middle school level continues to evolve to meet the changing needs of our students and the community. Currently students are taught English via thematic, content-based instruction that is aligned with the district’s curricular objectives. These curriculum units provide the support necessary to achieve learning targets in oral communication, reading, writing, literature, and academic content while helping students to accelerate their language acquisition, meet grade level expectations, and develop the knowledge and skills assessed by the NJ ASK.
Students are scheduled for ESL classes by their proficiency level rather than their grade level. Students may be enrolled in beginner, intermediate, or advanced level classes. Proficiency levels are determined by student performance on the ACCESS for ELLs as well as through consultation with the students’ ESL and subject area teachers.
All classes are taught by ESL-certified language specialists, and the curriculum has been designed to address the requirements of the WIDA standards for grades 6-8. Connections to content area curricula have been established to reinforce the themes, learning targets, and the development of cognitive academic language proficiency.
All students in the middle school ESL program are given periodic formative assessments using the New Jersey Edition of Learnia. Teachers are empowered with the data produced from these assessments to address the individual strengths and weaknesses of each students, and the monitor the students’ acquisition of skills that will be assessed on the NJ ASK. The data is reviewed by the ESL teachers and literacy support coaches, which allows informed decisions to be made regarding differentiation strategies and identifying focused learning targets.
Goals include ensuring that students are challenged to do proficient and advanced proficient level work and that instruction is geared to developing cognitive academic language proficiency and promoting higher order thinking skills. Students are engaged in a structured, student-centered approach with scientifically based reading strategies, techniques and interventions. Performance-based assessments are embedded within our instructional activities.
Additionally, the ESL and World Language teachers frequently collaborate to provide international service learning opportunities that call upon the talents and experiences of our ESL students. ESL and World Language teachers advise clubs such as Friends Beyond Borders, the Cultural Diversity Club, and school wide participation in Peace Corps correspondence. They often invite guest speakers and organize programs that help generate cultural awareness, peer support, and a cohesive school community.