Final Report for the 2015-2016 School Year

Sample for a Mentor School Application

International & Heritage Languages Association

School Name:

Comitator Promotore della Lingua Italiana-Italian Language School

You are interested in being:

Mentor:       X           Mentee:

Topics for Mentorship:

(1) The Creation of Themes Utilizing  Daily Events in Students’ Lives

(2) Pairing Lessons with Fieldtrips

Availability Dates for the Sessions:

May 2016 through November 2016, and February 2017 through April 2017.  Dates are dependent upon availability of Mentee and/or Mentor and also on topics (length of time Mentee would like to employ in undertaking the work).

Preferred Location for the Sessions:

Flexible.  Depending on Topic specifically selected, it may be more useful to be at the Heritage Language School of the Mentee in order for work to be more purposeful and meaning given the classroom of the  Mentee.

Experience in the Topic of Mentorship (If Mentor):

Mentor School has been in existence since 2008 and also operates as a school that runs M-F.  As such, it has had to create lessons that coincide with a different school schedule than a traditional Heritage Language School that operates only one day per week.  With this said, it has gained experience and expertise as to how to create lessons that incorporate students’ daily lives and also  students’ immediate surroundings in order to learn vocabulary that applies to students’ real world lives.  With regard to incorporating fieldtrips, the Mentor School has amassed a substantial resources regarding fieldtrips that have been aligned with the theme being taught for the week/month.

Name and Contact:


 JANUARY 29, 2016


Brief Description of the Mentorship Topics Proposed:

The topics proposed are (1) The Creation of Themes Utilizing  Daily Events in Students’ Lives and (2) Pairing Lessons with Fieldtrips. 


For the Creation of Themes, Mentors will work with Mentees in developing and creating lesson plans with resource materials and activities highlighting a specific theme that can be taught/leaned over the scope of a month (based on the regulary schedule of a Heritage School).  Mentee(s) with Mentor(s) will work take each month and develop plans around the culture of the Mentee school such that lessons can be taught consecutively so that students can “review” the previous week’s lesson using the previous week’s lesson to learn a new facet of the selected theme.  For example, depending on the culture/language, if the month is March, the theme can be Spring, however, depending on the culture, other meaningful facets can be planned within this overarching theme and then used to scaffold new information and language (including grammar, vocabulary). The goal is to have a resource materials binder/book with ideas as to how to work with one theme and create “off shoots” including grammar, culture, day-to-day events within students’ lives.

For the Pairing of Lessons with Fieldtrips, Mentors will work with Mentees in the accumulation of information of fieldtrip sites that are accessible for Saturday Heritage Schools on Satudays and also transportation options that can offer service on Saturdays.  The Mentor school will work with the Mentee school as to how to incorporate a fieldtrip related to a special topic/month theme so that students can continue to relate their Heritage Language to their daily lives within the environment they live in where there are speakers of their Heritage Language in many of the fieldtrip venues possible to visit.

 The Creation of Themes Utilizing Daily Events in Students’ Lives and Pairing Lessons with Fieldtrips

Participating IHLA Schools:  Kiswahili Learning Centre (Mentee School) and Comitato Promotore della Lingua Italiana (Mentor School).

 Content of the Mentorship Sessions:

Sessions were based on Mentee needs for progressive curriculum development, materials resource accumulation/creation information, and teaching methodology.

Directors of the respective Mentee and Mentorship Schools met for the introduction meeting on April 1. On6, May 13 (Actual class in progress school visit), May 28, June 4 (Mentor school visit), June 11 (Mentee school visit), last meeting (June 18to be determined).

Each meeting, with exception of the first meeting (April 16), was structured based on the areas upon which the Mentee School wanted to concentrate on and also, as discussion(s) ensued with Mentor School during each meeting, further information/program needs were addressed.

 The first meeting, April 16th, consisted of a “Needs Assessment” Meeting which was unstructured, however, it becaome the “Planning Meeting” by which the remaining Mentorship Program was defined.  The areas covered as per the Needs Assessment were:

Classroom Environment
Teaching Methods
Differentiated Learning/Teaching according to age of student

During the first visit the Mentor school shared some of the teaching wall charts and other surplus material which the Mentee school has customized to enrich the teaching experience and classroom environment in Kiswahili Learning Centre.

The second meeting on  May 13, comprised of a school visit in which the Mentee School observed a day of “classroom teaching/activity” based on the discussion and information provided on April 16.  

 This visit rendered the next phase of the Mentorship Program to provide:

A comprehensive list of materials/resources for creation of teaching materials.
Discussion and understanding on the part of the Mentee School of what Project Based and Activity Based Lessons/Learning entail with regard to curriculum planning.

The third meeting, May 28, involved working with the Mentee School to best developing and shapeing “Themes” that would encompass a month long lesson and then further broken down into “week lessons” based on subject matter to be taught at the Mentee School.  The scope of the third meeting included a discussion regarding how to “scaffold” heritage language learning and building upon the knowledge created to then move students forward to continue learning more as they develop more competence (listening/speaking/writing) in an activity based learning environment where the target language taught is that which is closely connected to students’ everyday lives.

The fourth meeting, June 4

The fourth session will focus on engaging classroom design ideas(both interior and exterior) and what strategies are effective based on the mentor’s experience in retaining the language skills gained by the students. The classroom design does impact the overall experience and ability for the student to learn by observing. The meeting will focus on how the student interaction with the classroom can be made to be a learning experience from the moment they enter through the exterior school doors to the time they settle down in the classroom. In the mentor school, the mentee observed that there are outdoor shoe racks and a coats area where students get to practice some Italian as the teachers help with the changing of shoes. The classroom has been designed to engage the students with every day vocabularly and matching pictures.

The community where the students come from is an important factor in determining how successful the students become in speaking the language once the teacher has done her part. The Mentee school and the Mentor School will find out what strategies have worked in language retention.

The fifth Meeting, June 11

This meeting will be an opportunity for the Mentor school to observe how the lessons learnt in the mentorship program are being implemented by the Mentee school  in the day to day lesson delivery.

The changing classroom design and teaching material/resources  addition will be evaluated as well. The Mentor school will have an opportunity to meet the students that are taking classes in the Mentee School.

The Sixth Meeting, June 18

This will be the last meeting for the mentorship program. The Mentor school and the Mentee school will summarize the key learnings in the context of ‘The Creation of Themes Utilizing Daily Events in Students’ Lives and Pairing Lessons with Fieldtrips’. In this meeting, the next steps in the implementation of the theme based mode of foreign language delivery will be summarized and the  mentorship program will be concluded.

Final Report for the 2016-2017 Mentorship Program

Developing Curriculum with limited resources

Meeting One (2 hours):

The first meeting was a phone call between the two schools where they set an agenda for future plans. The two hour phone call was essential for goal setting and covered important topics such as a school mission statement, school advertisement, a school Facebook page, curriculum documents, rent/rental agreements, storage facilities, and professional development.

Meeting Two (3 hours):

Two teachers at Truong Lac Hong School (TLHS) visited the Eritrean School. They spent half of the session in classes observing and the other half engaged in conversation with the school director. Through observation Lac Hong School noted that the classes were very teacher-centered and that all of the school’s materials were carried into the school at the start of each lesson. Half of the children completed a single worksheet in which they traced the letters of the alphabet. The other half of the children were called to the board one-by-one to practice reading three letter words. After the children had snacks, TLHS teachers met with the principal and learned about the school’s process of creating curriculum documents. TLHS showed their documents which focused on highlighting not only topics to be covered, but also the materials and underlying skills needed to achieve the goals. TLHS noted that a lack of materials and a lack of places to store school supplies and realia were major impediments to school improvement.

Meeting Three (3 hours):

Two teachers from The Eritrean Community Tigrinya School (ECTS) visited TLHS for a school session. ECTS spent the first half visiting the K-2 class in which children learned about how to talk about illness.  The second half of the day was spent with the TLHS principal who gave them an overview of different activities that they could complete with the children. She showed them work samples that have been collected from TLHS children. She showed them curriculum documents and school organizational documents.

Meeting Four (Email bombardment):

The principal from TLHS sent emails to the staff of ECTS. She sent many of the books that she had translated from French Immersion to Vietnamese. She sent worksheets that could be paired with the translated books. She sent curriculum documents, the mission statement process, and other important papers. She sent the school registration form and information about where to purchase insurance.

Meeting Five (3 hours):

The principal and one of the teachers from ECTS visited TLHS in the evening to learn about how to teach when you have little access to teaching materials in your language. TLHS teachers pulled out all of the materials according to themes. ECTS staff took photos of materials that are readily available for purchase at the local teachers store. They also learned about ESL materials that are available and can be adapted as well as flyers/newsletters that can be cut up and used for learning tools.

Meeting Six (1 hour):

The principal from TLHS met with the principal from ECTS at ECTS to finalize the project for this report and to make future plans. The lessons learned were as follows:

From the Eritrean Community Tigrinya School:

Teaching materials: What we had before focused on the alphabet and spelling. We learned about ways that you can create language teaching materials when your language does not have many (or have things at the right language level). For example, we can build a calendar with word cards, pictures from ESL textbooks, and newspapers/flyers for cutting out words.

Teaching techniques: We learned about ways to organize students and their work. TLHS uses notebooks instead of binders. They repeat things a lot for the students. They use a lot of games to keep things interesting. They do speaking and listening activities before they do reading activities. They teach the kids to read the things that they can say.  

Organization: We learned that to teach a different way we need better organization. We need to get a storage space for our school. We need to get wifi passwords so that we can get a school Facebook account. We looked at their curriculum documents and saw what categories they include.

Support systems: We learned that working with a sister school helps us. Although the language is different, there is still a lot of help available. Some of this happened through dialogue where we talked about managing student expectations and communicating to parents.

From Truong Lac Hong School:

A-Ha moments!: We got to see how far we have come through the eyes of someone who is a few steps behind.

Cataloguing: We catalogued many of the activities that we have done, the materials that we have created, and the items we have purchased. This project was a good opportunity for us to create an inventory list.

Documentation: Since we are in the process of documenting what we are doing in an attempt to create School Sustainability, we can see what information newcomers need in order to be successful. It has been through helping the Eritrean School that we have learned what information needs to be passed on to newcomers to our school. This will allow for greater school sustainability.

Future Goals:

Both schools have agreed to a future shopping trip, a review session of lesson plans and materials. Both schools have made a promise to nurture an ongoing relationship towards school improvement.