The International High School at Lafayette was founded and is supported by our partner organization, the Internationals Network for Public Schools (INPS). As part of the Internationals Network, we serve recent immigrant English language learners who enroll with four years or less of education in United States schools. Our teaching model is based on the Internationals Approach which is a set of 5 Core Principles: Heterogeneity & Collaboration, Experiential Learning, Language & Content Integration, Localized Autonomy & Responsibility, and One Learning Model For All (HELLO).
OUR INTEGRATION OF INPS CORE PRINCIPLES
HETEROGENEITY & COLLABORATION
We strive to attract as diverse a student population as possible in terms of ethnicity, country of origin, native language, race, gender, English proficiency, and academic level. As a result, students have the unique opportunity to learn about nations and cultures from around the globe, giving them new perspectives on the world and developing respect for those who are different from themselves. Heterogeneity in the student population also allows for greater language development. Students are divided into four groups of 20-25 each. In the classroom, each group is rearranged so that when they collaborate on projects, the only common language these sub-groups share is English. Our curriculum is project-based so students have the daily opportunity to speak, read, write, and listen in English with their peers and their teachers. In addition to easing language development, collaboration also spurs academic growth. Research shows that students learn best when they learn from each other. So, in every class, students work together in small cooperative learning groups. Only through working together can they do the research, analysis, synthesis, and application necessary to complete the interdisciplinary projects assigned to them. When we have students very new to English, we pair them with peers who speak the same native language so that they are able to participate in all aspects of the school day. Various extracurricular activities like after school clubs, student government, and cultural celebrations, give students the chance to collaborate in new and different ways.
|Research shows that students learn best by doing. As a result, we support experiential learning, by giving our students opportunities to grow academically and linguistically outside of the school’s four walls. We do this through a variety of field trips developed to supplement the academic curricula, and also through career internships. All students in their junior year are required to complete an eight-week intensive internship where they will gain on-the-job experience, knowledge, and skills. This will prepare them for the world of work. These school-sponsored experiences outside of the classroom will also promote language development for our ELL students. They must use English and their native languages in order to communicate, in both verbal and written forms, in real-life situations that are not structured or scaffolded for them. This gives students the chance to analyze and pinpoint areas where they need continued support.
|LANGUAGE & CONTENT INTEGRATION
|We integrate language and content in what is referred to as a content-based ESL approach to pedagogy. This means that there are no discrete ESL classes where students are learning the mechanics of English in a vacuum. Through the Internationals Approach, opportunities for language development are embedded within all subject area classes. Students acquire English and content area knowledge together throughout the day. As a result, we expect every teacher, regardless of their content area expertise, to be a language teacher as well. Our professional development program ensures that all teachers get the support and training they need to build curricula that provides the necessary supports for the acquisition of language and content area knowledge. Our interdisciplinary, project-based curricula are faculty-generated. Teachers work together in teams to design and implement projects that challenge students at all academic and linguistic levels. These projects also highlight thematic connections between the disciplines. Such interdisciplinary planning facilitates student learning since the content students encounter throughout the day is interconnected. They do not experience the abrupt shifts from period to period that most high school students do when traveling throughout the day between disconnected subject areas.
|LOCALIZED AUTONOMY & RESPONSIBILITY
|We believe that decisions about instruction, operations, and budget are best made by those who are closest to our students – our staff. Our staff knows our students and their needs and thus are best equipped to make the choices which will most directly affect their learning experiences here. Decisions are made collaboratively in a group where all constituencies of our learning community are represented. This decision-making body must come to a near consensus in order for a new policy to be adopted.
|ONE LEARNING MODEL FOR ALL
|Whatever is good enough for the students is good enough for the rest of us. We educate our students by recognizing that everyone in the learning community is continually growing and acquiring new knowledge and skills. Teachers work collaboratively in interdisciplinary teams the same way that the students do at their classroom tables. Together, they develop challenging and engaging interdisciplinary, project-based curricula. They share ways in which to embed multiple opportunities for language development across all subject areas. At weekly meetings teachers sit down together to discuss the progress of their shared community of learners, and to critique each other’s work through the analysis of student writing and feedback from peer observations.