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Board Meetings
Bluewater District School Board's Application for Funding to Support FSL Renewal

September 18, 2007

Bluewater District School Board’s application for Funding to Support FSL Renewal will be in two sections; Core French and French Immersion.  In some cases, the initiatives proposed will have impact across both programs where noted but for the purposes of this proposal will be organized in two categories.

Our Board has an enrolment of approximately 19,000 students housed in 52 schools; 41 elementary, 9 secondary and 2 elementary/secondary.  In elementary the core French program is in grade 4 – 8 inclusive.  Nine of our elementary schools offer French Immersion programming starting at JK, SK or grade 1.  One of our secondary schools offers a full FI program, and three others are building their FI program through offering as many credits as feasible based on student enrolment.  Despite being in a board with serious declining enrolment, we continue to show growth in our FI numbers.  This has been accomplished by being flexible about how the program is offered and through our excellent relations with our multiple Canadian Parents for French chapters and our dedicated French teachers.

Where possible we leverage our FSL events to include students from core French and French Immersion.  Over the past number of years, judges at our annual Concours event have been particularly complimentary about the language proficiency of our Core French students in addition to their ongoing accolades for our French Immersion students.  Cultural events are open to all FSL students.  

There is not staffing available for someone at the system level to serve in a coordinating or consulting role.  As the former elementary superintendent I assumed system responsibility for FSL programs.  After assuming the role of director, I have continued with the system portfolio for French.  In 2004 I was honoured by Canadian Parents for French with the W.R. McGillivray Award recognizing my special leadership, initiative and commitment in promoting the development of FSL education.

In order for me to ensure that the FSL programs in Bluewater are effective, I have regular meetings with three advisory committees.  The Core French advisory committee has one elementary core French teacher from each of our five school areas as well as a secondary core French teacher.  The French Immersion advisory committee has representation from each area and all divisions, primary, junior, intermediate and senior.  The French Immersion Principal/Parent committee includes all principals of all FI schools and a parent representative from each CPF chapter from each community where we provide FI programs. This proposal for funding has been informed through input from all three of these advisory committees.

In order to double the proportion of secondary school graduates with a functional knowledge of their second official language by 2013, we feel the following strategies will not only create the conditions for this in Bluewater DSB but have the potential for impact at the provincial level.

1.       Research Effective Instructional Practices:
Over the past 3 years, many core French teachers have implemented the AIM (Accelerated Instructional Method) program in their classrooms.  In 30 of the 39 elementary schools that have grade 4 – 8 core French, some AIM is being used.  40 of 65 elementary core French teachers are using some AIM as part of their program.  Many secondary teachers have participated in the numerous in-service events we have held and are using the program to varying degrees at that level.  (2005-06 statistics).  There is ample anecdotal evidence that this program is improving the achievement of core French students in all areas of the FSL curriculum expectations and the level of student engagement in core French program appears to have increased.  Additionally there appears to be a greater level of enthusiasm amongst core French teachers and an increase in professional sharing.  Before we would move forward as a system to require the use of any specified program, we would need evidence that the program has impacted student achievement.

A small board does not have a research department to conduct the kind of research which would be needed to determine the impact of AIM on student achievement in core French.  This proposal would require the following:

Funds to hire an “external” researcher to develop an assessment to determine the French language proficiency of grade 8 students during 2006-07 and 2007-08 and to collate the data
Release time for the core French advisory committee to meet with the researcher to determine the relationship between the instructional practices and student performance on the district assessment
Funding to develop a Bluewater mechanism to administer the core French assessment to grade 8 students on an annual basis and the in-house capacity to collate that data (2008-09)
2.      High Yield Instructional Strategies
Bluewater DSB has been actively engaged in the implementation of high yield instructional strategies, based on the work of Robert J. Marzano, Debra J. Pickering and Jane E. Pollock.  These 9 instructional strategies have been shown to be statistically significant in student achievement.  Modules have been developed by a central committee that enable school staffs to review a synthesis of the research, participate in an activity to develop a deep understanding of the strategy and to view a video presentation of a Bluewater educator modelling the particular instructional strategy.  This proposal is intended to link core French teachers more deliberately into understanding the power of these high yield instructional strategies.
•     Release time for core French teachers to develop a user friendly resource for core French teachers (grades 4-9) to demonstrate how the following high yield strategies can be used in the core French classroom:
1.      Identifying similarities and differences
2.      Summarizing and note taking
3.      Reinforcing effort and providing recognition
4.      Homework and practice
5.      Non-linguistic representations
6.      Cooperative learning
7.      Setting objectives and providing feedback
8.      Generating and testing hypotheses
9.      Questions, cues, and advance organizers

3.      Strengthening the Secondary Core French Program:
Students are required to take core French in the junior and intermediate divisions of elementary school.  At the secondary level, only one credit is required.  For a variety of reasons, many secondary students opt for the minimum.  By strengthening the elementary program with a focus on oral fluency, the number of students with a functional level in French will be improved.  By also focussing on strengthening the secondary program, the likelihood of Canada’s Action Plan being achieved is increased.  This part of our proposal is based on developing a better understanding between elementary and secondary teachers, reviewing curriculum delivery methods and content to ensure maximum engagement of students, raising the profile of FSL across the district and providing opportunities for our board to be informed by initiatives taking place outside our district.

Release time for grade 8 core French teachers to visit grade 9 core French classroom
Release time for grade 9 core French teachers to visit grade 8 core French classroom
Release time for grade 8 and 9 core French teachers to establish curriculum priorities and instructional strategies for maximum engagement of student
Purchase of the secondary AIM program when it is developed and release time to in-service secondary teachers in the AIM progra
To fund cultural opportunities for senior elementary and secondary students to see French language in a positive light e.g. Musical concert
To hold information events to encourage French exchange
Release time for core French teachers to attend regional FSL meetings and to participate in the OMLTA conferenc

In order to continue to “grow” the French Immersion program in Bluewater, funds to extend some of our current work will enable us to continue to build confidence in the FI program and recruit more students.  In a small board, we need to be very flexible and creative in offering the FI program; this often means few FI teachers in any one school and challenging class assignments, which from time to time include triple grade splits.  It is paramount that we have consistent standards and expectations at the system level to ensure quality instruction in the FI program.  We have developed an FI assessment plan in Bluewater that includes commercial products and locally developed assessments at the primary level and locally developed comprehension assessments at the junior and intermediate levels.

We have spent some time in Bluewater reviewing the research about the opportunities for all kinds of learners to benefit from second language learning.  This research has been shared over the past three years with FI teachers in order to ensure a greater understanding that it is a very rare situation for a student to be counselled out of the FI program.  At the same time, we need to assist our teachers with the strategies they need to provide effective instruction for all kinds of learners.  The demographics of our FI program has changed over time as a result of our desire for the program to be seen welcoming for all learners and not the elitist program it once was perceived to be.  

Informing FI Instruction through Effective Assessment

Release time for French Immersion teachers to come together by division to analyze student data from system reading assessments
Development of a resource package for FI teachers to ensure appropriate intervention strategies are put in place for student learning needs as identified by ongoing assessment
Development of specific intervention strategies for students who are not meeting the learning expectations of the FI program including specific resources for parents to use to support their children
Release time for FI teachers to work with learning resource teachers in their schools to develop expertise in intervention strategies
Development of a system writing assessment by division
Development of a grade 9 reading assessment using the provincial exemplar as a model

System support for French Immersion
For the past three years, we have funded three part time positions in Bluewater.  These French Immersion Literacy Contact Teachers, parallel the English Literacy Contact which have been in place for a number of years.  .1 release time is provided for each FI LCT; these teachers are released every Thursday afternoon.  This parallels the English FI LCT schedule and allows the FI LCTs to participate in relevant in-service sessions.
The FI LCT role description is attached (appendix “a”).  In the absence of a curriculum lead person at the district level for FSL programs, we have found the FI LCT an excellent substitute.  Our experience has shown that the home school of the FI LCT reaps more benefit than the partner school.  This proposal would expand the number of FI LCTs to six, providing support in all elementary FI schools and/or communities.   This is a cost effective way to build capacity in all FI schools while ensuring the district standards are maintained

Release time for an additional 6 FI LCTs to permit one teacher to be assigned to each FI school or each community where FI is offered (in two communities elementary FI is offered in two schools; the FI LCT for those communities would service two schools).
Travel and release time for FI LCTs to meet with FI teacher leaders in other “Schools on the Move” (Port Elgin Saugeen School is one of the “Schools on the Move” identified for 2006-07.  It is an FI school.  The plan is to connect with other “Schools on the Move” who provide FI to share effective practices in FI)
An additional 2.0 staffing to assist in FI schools where small class sizes create a drain on school resources in order to maintain the FI program at the elementary and secondary levels.  (Additional staff is currently provided for this purpose but is inadequate to support all needs)

Raising the profile of the FI program

Contract fees for FI Camp coordinator; (FI camps operated in four sites during the summer of 2006)
Contract fees for a French exchange coordinator (to support FI and core students)
Bussing costs to bring FI students to cultural events and summer camps co-sponsored by Canadian Parents for French e.g. Jacquot, Voyageur Day, PenPal Day
Building on the success of Metropolis Bleu project by developing a Bluewater model to connect grade 9 Francais students from our four secondary schools to a French author and to create a dialogue amongst the Bluewater students (NOTE:   Bluewater successfully participated in this CPF project during the 2005-06 school year as one of four schools in Canada.  Our experience was deemed the most successful and we feel we would be able to replicate and expand the experience for our students with adequate funding)
Funding for a “Writers’ Workshop” for secondary students and senior elementary students to support their involvement in our annual Concours event. This would be an opportunity for FI students from across the District to come together with a professional writer who would assist them in preparing speeches for the March Bluewater Concours
Design fees for a commercial designer to prepare promotional backboards for use at Early Registration Clinics to promote the FI program in a consistent and professional way; funding to produce 20 FI backboards

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