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Reiche Native Language Play Space

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Reiche Native Language Play Space
Posted on 04/08/2019

The Reiche Native Language Play Space was created with several goals in mind: 1) honor, maintain, and grow the native language abilities of our students, with an intentional goal of increasing academic vocabulary; 2) provide facilitated activity-based social and conversational opportunities in both native language and English; 3) provide a safe space and a short respite from English-only classroom environments; 4) provide a place in which newcomer students build relationships and take risks using their emerging English with peers and adults who speak their language.

This year, the school started with three of the most prevalent languages at Reiche (Portuguese, French and Spanish) and targeted grades K-2 students who are newer arrivals. Each language small group (no more than 5-6 students at a time) uses an intentionally designed classroom space which we’ve furnished with play and learning areas and materials, including: bilingual books, writing, dramatic play, math, building, fine motor, and games. Students select the activity area/areas they'd like to use and bilingual volunteers interact and supervise while providing native language and English language support. To this end, Reiche EL teacher Suzanne Chevalier provided training for the bilingual volunteers in best language practices for students learning English. Renee Bourgoine-Serio and Lorraine Bobinsky, who are teacher leaders at Reiche, have also provided support for the project.

In a recent reflection meeting, the bilingual volunteers provided amazingly positive feedback about the social and language impacts for students who have participated. In addition, classroom teachers of the students who have participated in this pilot gave positive feedback of the program. Staff involved in the program continue to learn from and reflect on this school year’s experience and hope to expand programming to include more students and more languages next year.