Colbert Nembhard looked more like a traveling salesman than a librarian in his dark suit with his rolling suitcase on a recent Wednesday morning in the Bronx. He had strolled 10 minutes to the Crotona Inn homeless shelter from the Morrisania Branch Library, where he has been the manager for 25 years. As he dug through the dozens of books stuffed inside the suitcase, an announcement crackled over the intercom inside the shelter, where 87 families live: "Mr. Nembhard is here to read stories and sing songs to your children." For the past eight years, Mr. Nembhard has turned the shelter's day care room or its dimly lighted office into an intimate library, tapping into the imaginations of transient children with the hope of making reading books a constant in their lives.
Educators are finding that the new "makerspace" movement – a strategy to teach K-12 students science, math and technology through hands-on activities – is providing the added benefit of helping English learners become more proficient in the language. In makerspaces, students gather a few times a week in a separate classroom, library or museum for a group project using such technologies and materials as 3D printing, robotics, microprocessors, textiles, wood and wires to construct robots and other electronic gadgets. The teaching technique has been around since the early 2000s, and educators have applauded the idea for helping teach science, especially at a time when California and other states are phasing in the Next Generation Science Standards, which emphasize practical application of science over rote learning. But now experts are also seeing makerspaces as a valuable tool for helping improve English, as children talk through their work in teams and keep journals to record their progress.
Guest blogger Michael Hynes, Ed.D, Superintendent of Schools for the Patchogue-Medford School District, writes, "I've had the good fortune to work as a school administrator since 2004. If someone told me twelve years ago I would become an advocate for implementing yoga, meditation, mindfulness and increased recess time into a school system, I would have said to that person they have mistaken me for someone else."
President Barack Obama won't issue a sweeping pardon to undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children because it "wouldn't protect a single soul from deportation," a top White House aide says. Since the program was created through executive authority, the incoming president could alter or end DACA, Cecilia Muñoz, assistant to the president and director of the White House's domestic policy council, said in a Center for Migration Studies podcast interview. "I know people are hoping that pardon authority is a way to protect people. It's ultimately not, for a couple of reasons. One is that pardon authority is generally designed for criminal violations not civil, but also it doesn't confer legal status; only Congress can do that. So ultimately it wouldn't protect a single soul from deportation," Muñoz said. "So it's not an answer here for this population. I know people are hoping for an answer but by its very nature, the use of executive authority in this way is subject to the will of the executive."
With the highest percentage of non-English speaking students in the state, the Pascagoula-Gautier School District has recognized the need for resources to help students learn English. The district will use the money for the creation of a bilingual lending library, which will focus on kindergarten-readiness needs of Hispanic children in the community.
Twenty-eight teachers from Pawtucket are heading back to college for intensive English as a Second Language instruction training as part of a $480,000 initiative to close the achievement gap for students who are English Learners.
Last year, Ayat Husseini's college dream was crumbling. Her father wouldn't let her leave home to attend her first-choice school. But now, she's savoring classes and activities on the picture-postcard campus of her dreams. The story of how this teenager's college hopes triumphed over her family's fears and objections is at once unique and universal, an American tale and an immigrant's journey. It illuminates the kinds of cultural hurdles that sometimes prevent — or threaten to prevent — high-achieving children from immigrant families from choosing postsecondary schools to match their academic promise. Ayat's tale is peppered with hope, fear, faith, and courage, and made possible by the right kinds of help at exactly the right moments.
Marissa González is desperate for her 3-year-old to be in preschool. The Pico Union mother quit her job as a special education teacher when her first child was born because she wanted to be at home with her children in their early years. But as soon as they were old enough, she began applying to nearby preschools. She wants her young son to learn from qualified teachers and play with other children. She’s applied unsuccessfully to subsidized preschools in her area – they're all full. And the family cannot afford private preschool.
School Librarian of the Year finalist Laura Gardner writes, "Last week, a new study from Stanford University revealed that many students are inept at discerning fact from opinion when reading articles online. The report, combined with the spike in fake and misleading news during the 2016 election, has school librarians, including me, rethinking how we teach evaluation of online sources to our students...As articles about the Stanford study get shared around Facebook, I have two thoughts. One, I have to teach this better. And two, as information literacy experts, we school librarians are more important than ever."
Rochester International Academy (RIA), recently named as a School of Opportunity, provides a strong transitional program for newly arrived immigrant and refugee students, working in close collaboration with families and community partners. Because Rochester is an official resettlement site for the United Nations, 98 percent of RIA's students are refugees, many of whom have never before been in a formal school setting. In fact, many of the 16 native languages of RIA's student fall in the uncommon, "low-incidence" category.