Supporting Special Student Populations
- How are students with special learning needs identified?
- How can teachers support students with special learning needs in the TWI program?
- How are special education services integrated with the TWI program?
- How can teachers support new students who enter the program in the upper elementary grades and do not have grade-level language skills in one or both program languages? How can teachers help them to participate in activities that require grade-level language skills?
- How can the programs support students whose native language is not one or both of the program languages (i.e., third language speakers)?
- On what basis are children retained in TWI programs? What if a student is only having trouble in one language? How can you be sure that students are retained for academic difficulties and not limited second language proficiency?
3. How are special education services integrated with the TWI program?
The special education teacher needs to work closely with the classroom teacher to see how special education interventions can be incorporated into the classroom. One intervention might be to change the studentís seating arrangement. Another might involve specific strategies, such as developing a brief outline for the student before a story is read (this could be done by the teacher, or better yet, by the student and his or her buddy or peer tutor).
Bringing the special education services into the classroom ensures that the interventions occur in the language of instruction, and that the studentís language development plan is not unduly disrupted. The special education teacher also needs to work very closely with the classroom teacher to ensure that the special education services fit the instruction that is taking place in the classroom at that moment.
At Nestor's 90/10 program, a Spanish-speaking student who qualifies for special education in kindergarten, first, or second grade is supported in Spanish. From third grade on, the decision is made on a case-by-case basis, although generally native English speakers receive services in English and native Spanish speakers receive them in Spanish. At about fourth or fifth grade, however, services for the Spanish speakers may be switched to English to support their progress in English, as that is the major educational language by that point.
Another factor is speech and language pathology services. If a child receives these services, they are provided in the native language, but as the studentís bilingual competencies grow, the speech/language services become more bilingual as well. Even some native English speakers receive some speech/language support bilingually.