One of the challenges of working with newcomer English language learners who have only basic English skills is keeping content on grade level. At the ENLACE Academy for newcomers at Lawrence High School in Massachusetts, teachers have found that the structures of Model United Nations offer a good way to get students discussing a grade-level topic with materials that support language acquisition.
The Guardian Teacher Network went in search for inventive ways to get students excited about reading and writing. Here's their round-up.
As teachers across the country are walking out recently in a fight for higher pay and better school funding, librarians are fighting to keep their jobs. From Oakland to Dallas to Scranton, PA, and in large and small towns across the United States, school librarian positions are being eliminated at an alarming rate. When the jobs are cut, it is difficult to know what to do. Emotions are running high and fighting seems futile. Besides, says Elissa Malespina, it’s against the nature of most librarians to cause trouble. But that stereotype must be shed when necessary and Malespina did just that.
Federal authorities recently swept through a meatpacking plant in Eastern Tennessee, rounding up nearly 100 people they accused of being in the United States illegally. Immigrant rights groups say last week's operation in eastern Tennessee was the largest workplace immigration raid in a decade. More than 500 students stayed home from school the next day. Now, a week later, most are back in class. But the community is still reeling, teachers say.
District leaders of Piscataway Township Schools five years ago decided they needed to more effectively serve its large—and rapidly growing—population of English language learners. A combination of grants and community outreach allowed the New Jersey district to adopt a “cradle to career” approach by expanding its preschool program to more effectively prepare infants and toddlers for kindergarten, providing ESL certification for pre-K through 12 teachers, and creating a Saturday program for students and parents.
The Every Student Succeeds Act becomes a working reality in district central offices and schools this fall. But it's unclear if the law, which passed in a haze of rare bipartisanship more than two years ago, will live up to its promise.
About five million K-12 students in the United States do not speak English fluently, and their numbers are growing fast. Schools across the country are turning to technology to help them better serve these students and to help connect with their families. "Any time there's an opportunity to quickly connect with a parent and not have the language be in the way, that's a win for me and for the student," said Tasia Fields, a technology administrator and former teacher in Waukegan Public Schools in Illinois.
In August, Ruben Alonzo will open Excelencia Charter Academy. The elementary school will start with 120 seats for transitional K-1st grade, with an innovative teaching model for English learners. It will grow to serve grades K-5th grade. Alonzo said his vision for Excelencia grew out of his own experience, working hard in the Texas fields during summers and excelling in school the rest of the year.
A report from The Education Trust—West finds promising practices around the state that are increasing math supports for English learners (ELs) and boosting achievement rates for this group which had remained low. Second in a series exploring English learner education, the report, Unlocking Learning II: Math as a Lever for English Learner Equity, connects research to real-world classroom examples, providing a roadmap for statewide implementation of best practices in closing opportunity and achievement gaps.
Only about one in four English language learners from the Class of 2017 graduated on time last year. More than 40 percent dropped out somewhere between the start of high school and graduation day. That is raising alarm bells, most recently from a group that understands the struggles and is speaking up on behalf of these students, many of whom are kids of refugee and immigrant families that have proliferated in Buffalo in recent years. "To us, this is really a crisis," said Haoua Hamza, a member of the Buffalo Immigrant Leadership Team, a project of VOICE-Buffalo, the community organizing network. "It's an issue for our families and there aren't adequate resources to address it."