Ines Mevs has a soft spot for struggling students — especially those with a language barrier. So it comes as no surprise that she is an English teacher for ELL students. Mevs, a teacher in Florida's Boca Raton Community High School, has gone a step further, though, and recently wrote a workbook to help her students develop literary skills. Her book is titled <i>Think Write Book: A Sentence Combining Workbook for ELL Students</i>, and guides students through grammar, usage, and the conventions of writing. Mevs has also published a teacher edition of the book featuring the research base for her instruction strategies.
When Juana Francisco started kindergarten at Lonsdale Elementary, she spoke only a few words of English. She was one of two or three Latinos at her school. Last August, half of the school's kindergartners were from Guatemalan or Mexican families, according to the principal. Tennessee has one of the fastest-growing Hispanic or Latino populations in the nation, right behind Arkansas, North Carolina and Georgia, and the number of international students in Knox County Schools has doubled in the past decade, to roughly 2,000. While all international students aren't all Latino, they account for about 60 percent of those in English as a Second Language classes in the district.
A traveling photo exhibit called "<em>Querer Es Poder</em>: 50 Examples" is being promoted to help motivate more students to pursue a higher education as part of California State University at Fullerton's 50th anniversary celebration. <em>Querer es poder</em>, which is Spanish for "if you desire it, you can achieve," is the message being sent out by the exhibit, which features 50 successful Latinos who have graduated from CSUF.
Representatives from Colorado's Mesa County Valley School District are sharing their strategies for a challenge facing many of the state's school districts: How to graduate more of its Hispanic students. A program providing extra support in the form of a liaison to the students most at risk of dropping out of school, as well as their families, was implemented four years ago in the district, and now serves as a model for other districts around the state.
Here's a new and significant research finding that won't surprise many of No Child Left Behind's (NCLB) school-based critics: high-stakes, test-based accountability — exactly what the law promotes — has a direct, negative impact on graduation rates. That result, from a new study out of Rice University in Houston and the University of Texas-Austin, flies in the face of NCLB's aim: to improve schools and create more equitable educational success for minorities. Indeed, each year 135,000 students leave Texas public high schools ahead of graduation, and a disproportionate number are African American, Latino, and English as a Second Language (ESL) learners.
Larry Ferlazzo, who teaches English-language learners at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento, CA, testified on his blog this week that it's possible for a high school with lots of English-language learners to make it out of "program improvement" status under the No Child Left Behind Act.
State and national civil liberties advocates have compelled a rural Nevada school district to roll back a policy prohibiting high school students from speaking Spanish on the bus. The guideline was approved at an October school board meeting and affected about a dozen children from Hispanic families who ride a school bus more than an hour each way between Dyer, in Esmeralda County, and Tonopah High School, over the Nye County line. Most of the Hispanic children are from immigrant families drawn to the area to work its cattle ranches and alfalfa farms.
Tennessee's Metro Schools celebrated the opening of the district's new ELL, or English Language Learners, center Thursday. Part of the expanded center is an academy aimed at teaching a select group of immigrant children, many of whom who have never seen a classroom before, how to attend school. Judy Edwards, teacher, said, "Most of our children came straight from refugee camps where there was just no educational experience whatsoever."
I sit across from an Afghan boy named Ali. Ten years old, he is doing reading and writing exercises tailored to his English-as-second-language level, part of a local non-profit program that helps refugee children with literacy. He asks me if I can help him with his schoolwork instead, and I agree. As I open up the Grade 5 reader and go through reading comprehension with him, I am baffled. Asked to underline the words he doesn't know, he turns the page red as he stumbles across each sentence, often resorting to phonics to read. He tells me that he is often frustrated because he falls behind in his classes. Ali is one of many students who struggle with the current integrated approach to ESL.
Having just returned from reporting in the United Arab Emirates and Jordan for Education Week and exploring Egypt (on vacation), I'm particularly interested in an article just published in <i>Childhood Education</i> that guides teachers in selecting children's literature about the Arab world. It seems that teachers of diverse groups of children have caught on to using various stories in their classrooms about Latin American culture. But the teaching of Arab children's literature is less prevalent. The <i>Childhood Education</i> article gives teachers an opportunity to expand their repertoire of children's literature in that regard.