Hundreds of paper flags from different countries were decorating HISD’s main building last Saturday, October 20. The reason? The Inaugural Dual Language Parent Leadership Conference that gathered almost 100 parents from 25 schools with one sole purpose: to learn how to support their children at home with new and effective instructional second language acquisition strategies.
The four-hour event organized by the Multilingual Dual Language team offered parents the opportunity to attend empowering workshops with experts in the field, a Dual Language model lesson, and a parent panel where they were able to clarify doubts and questions.
Xochitl Maya-Lege, Dual Language and Professional Development Manager, welcomed parents and briefly shared with them the long-term benefits that the program offers to their children. “This proven method helps students become proficient in two languages,” Maya-Lege said. “Not only do English Learners acquire the skills they need to be successful in school, but native English speakers also have the opportunity to become bilingual and biliterate.”
After parents listened to the keynote speaker, Dr. Mario A. Ferron, explain what it means to have a child enrolled in the program and gain tools for advocating for bilingualism and biliteracy, attendees were presented with a 20-minute lesson of cross-linguistic connections from Hobby Elementary teachers Ms. Reyes and Dual Language Coordinator Ms. Donalson.
“Both educators modeled a lesson in English and Spanish to a group of children from 2nd, 3rd and 4th grade,” explained Multilingual Dual Language Program Specialist Priscilla Chavera. “Turn and Talk, which is an oral language strategy to help students with their discussions, was used. Then, Ms. Reyes was able to front-load vocabulary in English, while Ms. Donalson read the text in Spanish. Students interacted in the language of instruction.”
The lesson ended with students receiving an exit ticket, which is one way to check for understanding, while parents gave presenters and students a round of applause. “Parents were very excited about the model lesson,” added Chavera.
Next, participants were able to choose from eight empowering workshops facilitated by some teachers and principals of Browning, Burnet, Durham, Helms, and Hobby Elementary Schools. “It was impressive to see parents interested in obtaining effective strategies, interacting with the presenters, specialists, and other members of the HISD team during the Conference,” mentioned Dual Language Program Specialist Anne Leal. “But most importantly, seeing them interact with each other, sharing their experiences as their children participate in the dual language program. Their overall participation was dynamic.”
To end the Conference, parents and guardians had the chance to ask questions to the panel that included experts in the field like campus Principals, Curriculum Department representatives, Dr. Ferron SAID Dual Language Director and parents who have enrolled their children in the program. “It is always great to get feedback and responses to how parents help their children at home. It was an important experience to hear how much parents wanted to know about the program and what they could do at home to help their child be successful,” expressed Evelyn Martinez Dual Language Program Specialist.
HISD’s Interim Chief Academic officer Noelia Longoria and the Officer of Special Populations Dr. Courtney Busby also congratulated parents on their participation.
“In this global society, the more languages that your children can speak, the more opportunities you are giving them to be successful in all kinds of jobs. So, we thank you for being here today,” Chief Longoria said. Dr. Busby added: “We know it takes an extra level of commitment from you as parents, so thank you and continue to be advocates for the dual language program.”
Parents were about very excited about the model lesson. “We received many compliments on how all the sessions were so informative,” noted Chavera. (See what parents had to say and here) “I’m a firm believer in parental involvement, parents are their child’s first teacher. It was good to see all our parents, teachers and campus administrators come together for this event”.
We want to thank everyone who made this event possible:
Teachers and principals of Browning, Burnet, Durham, Helms, and Hobby Elementary Schools for their insightful and eye-opening sessions.
Home Instructors from HIPPY, who provided childcare to over 80 children. They did an excellent job of keeping the scholars engaged by providing different learning stations while their parents learned about the Dual Language program.
HISD Nutrition Services
HISD College Readiness
Houston Public Library
Principals and leadership teams of all the 50 Dual Language campuses for communicating to parents about the event.
And all the volunteers and Multilingual Department for their support in all tasks.