Next month, Colorado's Roaring Fork Valley community will launch a new effort to get more Spanish speakers and younger readers involved in their local "The Big Read" month-long event. As part of the effort, communities are being invited to read the same book and then discuss it. The book selected is <em>Bless Me, Ultima,</em> by celebrated Chicano author Rudolfo Anaya, a one-time Chicano-rights activist, former teacher, and recipient of the 2001 National Medal of Arts. The book is a coming-of-age story about a young Latino boy living in New Mexico who is guided by a mysterious <em>curandera</em>, or traditional healer, as he confronts problems and puzzles in his life.
<em>Yum! ¡Mmmm! ¡Qué Rico!: Americas' Sproutings</em>, written by Pat Mora and illustrated by Rafael López, is a book about many edible things. Peanuts, blueberries, corn, potatoes, tomatoes, and more — all of these native foods of the Americas are celebrated in this luscious collection of haiku poems.
The Panther Cafe at Maryland's Annapolis High School is a teenager's after-school paradise. Students can grab a banana smoothie and dive into the virtual world of Nintendo Wii. They can opt for the old-fashioned fun of ping pong, air hockey, or chess. Some may decide to take salsa lessons. All of this is available three days a week in the school cafeteria, as long as they attend a mandatory help session with a teacher or tutor other students. Since the cafe opened in October, grade point averages have increased, there have been fewer incidents of bad behavior during lunch periods, and the student body has become more cohesive — all goals for the school as it seeks to improve its reputation.
Emmanuel Bolio, a second-grader at Hoover Elementary School in Redwood City, CA, looks at a difficult sentence in the storybook that's open on his desk. He wants Grace Walovich to read it for him, but she insists he try it himself. "You can do it," she says. In a classroom with some 20 kids, most of them nonnative English speakers, a teacher rarely gets the chance to devote so much individual attention to one student. But Walovich isn't Bolio's teacher — she's a sophomore at Woodside High School who serves as his "buddy" in a mentoring program called Forever Read.
From <em>Education Week</em>'s Learning the Language Blog: "I draw your attention to the reporting project that took me to Amman, Jordan, for 10 days: "The Lost Years: Iraqi Students in Jordan," a collection of photos, videos, and an in-depth article about Iraqi refugees. It was published this week by <em>Education Week</em>. The project isn't, of course, about English-language learners in the United States — the subject of this blog — but many of the nation's ELLs are refugees and the piece might give you some insight into issues affecting displaced people in general."
More Utah students will soon have an opportunity to learn languages such as Arabic and Chinese thanks to a last-minute decision by state lawmakers Wednesday night. Just before midnight, the Senate approved House changes to a bill that would put $750,000 toward dual-immersion language programs and language classes. Twenty Utah high schools and junior highs already offer Chinese and Arabic, and the bill, if signed by the governor, would enable another 40 schools to also offer Chinese, Arabic, and Russian. It also would help create 15 elementary school dual-immersion programs in Chinese, Spanish, French, and Navajo.
Two Dual Language schools in New Mexico's Los Lunas district were recently awarded $3,000 each in incentive funds for making Annual Yearly Progress under the federal No Child Left Behind program. Both schools run a dual language program in which teachers teach half the day in English and the other half in Spanish, and both schools have a majority of students who are English language learners.
Instead of cutting its budget through staff reductions, the Toronto District School Board recently opted to barely trim its work force of educational assistants while also boosting the number of English as Second Language teachers.
Oregon schools have dramatically changed the way they teach English to non-native speakers over the past two years, and the new methods are paying off with more students reaching proficiency, new state figures show. Across the state, nearly 9,000 students passed the state English exam in 2006-07, demonstrating they had reached fluency in reading, writing, and speaking English, up from the fewer than 4,000 students that had reached full proficiency the year before.
More minority and poor students in Denver are being classified as highly gifted under a new system that gives extra credit to children who are economically disadvantaged or nonnative English speakers. Denver Public Schools is trying to fix a disparity in the program that serves its smartest and most talented students — which up until now has drawn mostly white students in a district that is largely Latino.