La Prensa Libre de Simpson Street
Provided bySimpson Street Free Press
The La Prensa program addresses what scholars call the “language achievement gap.” Students engage in research and writing activities in an authentic workplace atmosphere. They work across languages. We focus on the acquisition of practical skills. Curriculum used in the La Prensa program was developed through a collaboration between UW-Madison and SSFP staff. Lesson plans incorporate cutting-edge language acquisition strategies backed by research and proven to support English Language Learners (ELL) and students enrolled in Dual Language Immersion programs (DLI). This program also places young people of color in key leadership roles. Experienced, bilingual volunteers provide robust forms of assistance.
Several characteristics distinguish La Prensa from other SSFP programs. Most La Prensa writers are Spanish-English bilinguals. Students include balanced bilinguals and bilinguals who identify Spanish-dominant or English-dominant. Bilingual students from other language backgrounds are also encouraged apply. La Prensa students conduct research and write articles in English, Spanish, and other non-English languages. Languages are ‘unmarked’ at La Prensa: writers are encouraged to work and write collaboratively in either language or use hybrid forms (code-switching across languages).
Wisconsin’s new, more rigorous academic standards emphasize writing proficiency and literacy. These new academic standards place additional pressure on bilingual, DLI, and ELL learners. La Prensa students write, read, collaborate, and publish across languages. This approach turns bilingualism into an academic advantage. We teach productive literacy habits and academic curiosity. Students write across the curriculum. Because students write about the core subject areas (science, history, geography), core content area understanding improves. In the La Prensa program young people are leaders. This is a job, and students are promoted through the ranks. Students publish a bi-weekly online newspaper.
La Prensa Libre de Simpson Street is an extended learning model. We use a content specific curriculum designed to supplement classroom instruction. La Prensa is a project-based approach, designed to support the classroom but not replicate the school day. We structure these programs like part-time “jobs.” So, all La Prensa programs are free of charge. Parents meet with staff at program enrollment and sign engagement letters.