Throughout the week, Colorín Colorado gathers news headlines related to English language learners from around the country. The ELL Headlines are posted Monday through Friday and are available for free!
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The death of George Floyd, the community response to it, and the subsequent police violence are shedding some light on racism and its effects — in our country, our communities, and in our institutions — including in schools. Two teachers reflect and communicate about what they think educators should learn from the murder of George Floyd, including the importance of being anti-racist and challenging White teachers to acknowledge their implicit biases.
Since their beginning in 1967, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards celebrate notable titles in children’s books, middle grade and young adult novels. The books are sorted into the categories of picture books, fiction and poetry and nonfiction, and then reviewed by a panel of three judges. This year, the judges were Sujei Lugo, Leo Landry and Julie Danielson. In its first-ever virtual ceremony, Roger Sutton, editor-in-chief of Horn Book, announced the award-winning titles and honor recipients in each category.
For the first three weeks that Alba Avila delivered virtual Zoom lessons, only four out of her 15 of English learner (EL) students had the technology needed to participate—the rest got hard copy packets. When her district finally purchased and distributed Chromebooks for families in need, Avila, a fourth grade dual language teacher in San Antonio, was tasked with getting students online. Like Avila, teachers and school leaders across the country made the herculean move to remote learning in response to COVID-19 with no time to prepare and little federal guidance. Published two months after this frantic transition, new guidance from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) aims to clarify what schools and teachers should be doing to fulfill their responsibility to the country's nearly five million EL students during school closures. Federal officials say schools and educators must provide “meaningful access” to remote learning during school closures, but they give schools the flexibility to determine how to provide access to these learning opportunities.
Four out of 10 of the poorest U.S. students are accessing remote learning as little as once a week or less, according to a new survey from ParentsTogether, an advocacy group. By contrast, for families making more than $100,000 a year, 83% of kids are doing distance learning every day, with the majority engaged over two hours a day, the survey found. From the beginning, experts in distance learning warned that it can magnify inequities, with the most able and highly advantaged learners humming along while learners who need more support fall far behind.
For 40 years, Communities in Schools has used a case management approach to confront the numerous road blocks keeping vulnerable students from graduation. Hunger, homelessness, depression, and needs as unique as the 1.62 million students the organization serves yearly in roughly 2,500 schools across the country. Until this March, all of these services were provided from a common hub: the school. With school buildings locked, Communities in Schools had to find a way to address the growing needs, and bring that solace and that safe space to students at home. Phone calls, Zoom groups, pen pal letters, even movie watching apps have become means of connection for site coordinators and the students they serve. Students who are hungry for connection in this uncertain and isolating time. Connection also gives staff a chance to check on new concerns that may be arising for their students. They knew they couldn’t take for granted that home was a safe place—physically or emotionally.
The new question-of-the-week is: What are ways to make lessons more "relevant" to students' lives? Shawn Wooton and Dawn Mitchell from Spartanburg School District in South Carolina write about culturally inclusive practices that add relevance to instruction. Kevin Parr, a 1st grade teacher from Wenatchee, Washington suggests that teachers find relevance via "small things," for example, responding to a student's writing with personal comments related to the student's story (not only the style and mechanics) can help make learning more relevant. Michael Haggen, chief academic officer for Scholastic Education, says that relevance = engagement and to provide access to high-quality authentic texts. Keisha Rembert, an 8th grade English and U.S. history teacher at Clifford Crone Middle School in Naperville, Illinois, suggests bringing in students as co-teachers. Find more suggestions in this blog post hosted by Larry Ferlazzo.
My dear high school class of 2020: Oh, where do we even begin? First, I want to say how much I love and adore you. I’ve known many of you since you were 12 years old, bouncing around my 7th grade classroom, reading, thinking, and laughing with me. You indulged me when I made funny voices during read alouds and participated when I made you go outside to try the “Unity clap” we learned about in a lesson on the United Farm Workers strike. I was so happy that our small school meant I got to teach you as 9th graders as well. I loved watching you grow once you moved on and become the marvelous young adults you are today. You made me so happy to be back in the classroom with you. You reminded me then (and now) why I love being a teacher.
The new Rising Voices Library is a collection of books from Scholastic that feature underrepresented communities in children's literature. Dedicated to black and Latino boys, the collection contains 300 nonfiction, fiction and biographical titles. Scholastic Vice President and Executive Editor Andrea Davis Pinkney says there’s a “dearth of diversity” in children’s literature. As a mother with a black son, she says the books in the collection have relevant themes: family, culture, heroes and role models. Along with the books, the collection comes with storage bins, book stickers, teachers’ guides and teaching cards. For parents, Davis Pinkney says buying a few books from the collection can help prevent what’s known as the summer slide — the tendency for kids’ reading ability to decline over the summer.
Researchers have found that one key way to encourage intrinsic motivation to learn is by making classroom lessons relevant to students' lives. This element is constant—whether we're doing remote teaching or are with students in our physical classrooms (you can see this video we made showing specific ways to apply it in distance learning). This six-part series will share multiple strategies to put this concept into practice. The series is "kicked off" with responses from Blanca Huertas, Marcy Webb, Anabel Gonzalez, Cheryl Abla, Maurice McDavid, and Nadine Sanchez.
Today, there are many publishers and imprints that seek to spotlight and promote diverse, inclusive stories and work by creators of color, but 30 years ago, that was not the case. Noting that lack of multicultural voices in children's literature, Thomas Low and Phillip Lee launched Lee & Low Books in 1991. This week, Low died of cancer, but he leaves behind a legacy of booklists, careers launched, and a publishing house to continue the mission. "He was proud each and every season we released a new list of books," his son Jason Low, publisher and co-owner of Lee & Low, wrote in an email. "We have heard from librarians who have recommended our titles; educators who use our books in their classrooms; authors and illustrators who have published with us; and agents who have brought manuscripts to Lee & Low for years. The common theme people tell us is that the work that we do is important, that diversity matters, and that even though they are sad to hear of Tom's passing, they are glad that his legacy will live on through us."