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Cloud Forest Program Requirements


Students must complete 3.0 credits of internship.


Students must complete the following assignments.  Each includes a description of documentation of the assignment, to be presented when students return to Swarthmore.

1) The Swarthmore student must work full time with one or more classroom teachers.  After observing and assisting for about 2 weeks, the student will be responsible for some weekly aspect of classroom teaching.  The student's responsibilities would be planned in conjunction with the classroom teachers and could include some or all of the following:

  • Teaching one or more lessons a week;
  • Working on a regular basis with one group of students in reading, math, etc.;
  • Working regularly or as needed with individual students.

Documentation for credit: A weekly journal that describes observations, lesson plans, and examples of and reflections on teaching classroom processes.

2) The Swarthmore student must develop at least one thematic curriculum unit (5-7 lessons) that is continuous with or complementary to the curriculum already in place.  The unit would not replace any of the existing curriculum at the school but would be an opportunity for the student to think about curriculum planning in the specific context of the school.  The unit should include a range of disciplines as appropriate for the class/grade level, drawing upon but not limited to: reading, writing, communication, mathematics, science, and environment, social studies, art, music, theater, gardening, etc.  If appropriate, the student could teach some of the lessons in this unit in the classroom.

Documentation for credit: A complete unit plan, including rationale, lessons, teaching materials, etc.; examples of student work; and a reflection on the experience of planning and teaching the unit.

3) The Swarthmore student must do 5 or 6 observations of an hour or two in other classrooms in the school, including the grades above and below the one within which he or she is placed.  We also recommend an observation at each of the school levels (elementary, middle and high school).

Documentation for credit: A journal consisting of dated observations and reflections for each classroom visited.

4) The Swarthmore student must write up case studies of two different students.  The case descriptions should be based on classroom observation, work with the student, and student's collected work.  Mentor teachers will help students select the children to study and gather necessary information.  The descriptions should include:

  • A statement of materials/observations/work used to write the description;
  • A description of the child's physical presence, disposition and temperament;
  • A description of the child's relationships with others (both children and adults);
  • A description of the child's interests and preferences;A description of the child's modes of thinking and learning. 

Documentation for credit: Two complete student descriptions or narratives that include the information listed above. 

5) In order to get a sense of the multiple (local, community, and national) contexts within which the school works, the Swarthmore student must conduct an extended conversation/interview with one or two teachers/staff members at the school, one of whom should have worked at the school for at least 6 years.  While the details of the interview may depend on the student's interest, the interview might cover questions about the school's history, mission, place in the Costa Rican educational system, areas of strength and goals for the future, challenges and plans to address them. 

Documentation for credit: A 4-5 page paper drawing on the interview data and reflecting on some of the issues and/or patterns of thinking that characterize the multiple contexts within which the Cloud Forest School works. 

6) The Swarthmore student must complete a reflective essay (4-6 pages) on some aspect of the bilingual program of the school.  This essay should be grounded in a few of the readings recommended at the end of this document and should focus on an aspect of the bilingual program in which the student has been involved.  This might include issues around bilingual and special education; early immersion in bilingual education in the early grades; working with students who arrive at the school in upper grades; student/teacher/parent relationships, etc. 

Documentation for credit: A 4-6 page paper that uses both literature and specific observational data to explore some aspect of the bilingual program at the Cloud Forest School. 

Documentation for Credit Summary 

Students returning to Swarthmore must present the following portfolio of materials in order to receive credit: 

  • A daily journal documenting their work in their primary classroom that includes observations, lesson plans, reflections on teaching and work with groups and individual students.
  • A unit plan of 5-7 lessons that includes objectives and daily plans, materials, student work, and reflections on implementation.
  • A journal of observations and reflections on other classrooms in the school.
  • Two student narratives or descriptions.4-5 page paper on the context of the school, drawing on interviews with teachers and parents.
  • 4-6 page paper on some aspect of bilingual education at the school

Recommended Readings 

Gamberg,R.,  Kwak,W.,  Hutchings,M.,  &  Altheim, J. (1988).  Learning and loving it: Theme studies in the classroom.  Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. 

Himley. M.  &  Carini, P. F. (2000).  From another angle.  NY: Teachers College Press.

Levy, Steven, (1996).  Starting from scratch: One classroom builds its own curriculum.  Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Hornberger, N. (Ed.). (2004).  Continua of biliteracy: An ecological framework for educational policy, research, and practice in multilingual settings.  Philadelphia: Multilingual Matters.

Freeman, R. (1998).  Bilingual education and social change.  Philadelphia: Multilingual Matters.