John C. Daniels School is certainly unique. As one of only two dual language schools in New Haven, we have the privilege of educating our students in two languages and creating a welcoming, supportive environment that celebrates both English and Spanish language, culture and values. Our student population consists of about 50% English dominant students and 50% Spanish dominant students, with all students receiving instruction in both languages. Dual language teacher "teams" work together and share 40-50 students between two classrooms. The goal of this model is for students to begin in kindergarten and leave 8th grade both bilingual and biliterate.
Because of our daily schedule, this unit will actually be taught to two different groups of third graders, whom I share with my Spanish-speaking counterpart just next door. My students spend one week immersed in English class with me, then start the next week in Spanish class. During the week, we cover all topics including reading, writing, math, science, and social studies. This method has worked well for us because it allows our students to really immerse themselves in the language of the week and internalize concepts. This has been especially helpful for our English dominant students who don't hear Spanish anywhere except inside the classroom.
After sharing students like this for the last 4 years, my partner and I have quickly discovered the importance of joint planning, organization, and collaboration. More often than not, when planning for science, social studies, or math, we make sure to keep to a specific schedule, so as to ensure that all students are learning the same material, but also not learning it twice when moving to the next classroom. So, although this unit is written for the English component of our program, students will more than likely be learning some of this in Spanish class as well.