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Harrison Eyes Elementary School Foreign Language Clubs

Harrison Schools Superintendent Louis Wool reads to students at Harrison Avenue Elementary School.
Harrison Schools Superintendent Louis Wool reads to students at Harrison Avenue Elementary School. Photo Credit: Harrison Central School District

HARRISON, N.Y. -- The Harrison Central School District hopes to create an after-school club that would salvage its elementary foreign language program, which it cut in the adopted 2014-15 budget to comply with the tax cap.

The program cost more than $400,000 a year and was cut in favor the district’s most essential academic needs, according to Schools Superintendent Louis Wool, who introduced it eight years ago.

Now, the district is researching the possibility of a blended learning model that would use online learning and an after-school club supported by teachers to keep at least some foreign language instruction at the elementary schools.

Wool said it would be patterned after the flipped classroom teaching method, which is based on the idea that kids learn better when exposed to the information before there’s any teaching.

“What people have discovered is going back into the classroom once the kids have had that initial exposure, the conversation and lecture and orientation toward questioning is more profound,” Wool told Daily Voice. “In this sense kids would get that exposure to foreign language on their own, would learn their own concerns and deficits, and when they come back to that club model would be able to say, ‘Here’s where I’m struggling.’”

The online learning would be done through a database that students, teachers and parents can access. Students can watch videos, read text, answer questions, write in the foreign language and record themselves speaking and get real-time feedback, Wool said.

Students would then get face-to-face feedback on their learning when the club meets, which Wool said would likely be once or twice a week.

“It would be nowhere near what we were doing. But, until we can get out of the tax cap mentality, we’re going to have to figure out how to keep that program at least in play,” Wool said.

If the blended learning model works, the district will make it available to all of its elementary school students. Each elementary school would be given a club stipend to cover the costs.

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