ELL News Headlines

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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Why Grading Policies For Equity Matter More Than Ever

While some students are learning in homes with abundant resources and parental support, others are sharing devices or bandwidth, taking care of siblings, or fitting school work around jobs. Such varied learning conditions raise a question: how can schools grade fairly during a pandemic? For some educators, the answer is simple: they can’t. “If we’re grading right now, we’re grading privilege,” said school equity consultant Sheldon L. Eakins. Resource disparities are one of several reasons that grades cannot accurately represent student learning right now. Other factors include the enormous stress families are experiencing, which can impede cognition and lower student performance, and the reality that teachers have rapidly shifted to online instruction with little training. At San Leandro Unified, leaders took all of those factors into consideration when devising a plan for grading during COVID-19. Their solutions included switching to a pass/incomplete system at secondary schools and focusing on narrative feedback at elementary schools.

We Might Have Gotten Remote Learning Wrong. We Can Still Fix This School Year

If you accept the position that the end of the school year hasn’t usually accounted for much learning, you could easily wonder if teachers, students, and their families would have been better served if we had used this time differently. Instead of trying to mimic, as best we could, regular school, we could have instead: 1. Offered optional enrichment activities for those students and their families who wanted it rather than adding stress to their lives and the lives of teachers, too. 2. Focused on supporting the most vulnerable populations of students–English-language learners, those with special needs, and students who are at risk of failing or dropping out. Those are the students most affected by “opportunity gaps,” and the ones, it seems to me and others, who are most hurt by the school closures. 3. Planning for the kind of hybrid teaching we're likely going to have to do for the next two years until there is a vaccine, along with training on issues relevant to both physical and virtual classrooms—culturally responsive teaching, ways to create the conditions for student intrinsic motivation, and more.

California Boosts Training for Teachers and Higher Education Faculty to Meet the Needs of Dual Language Learners

As California adopts policies that value bilingualism, early childhood teachers need training and support if they are to ensure the children in their care are ready for kindergarten. An early learning classroom in Los Angeles can be juggling a dozen different languages, including native dialects. In the Imperial Valley, immigrant or refugee children may stay only a short time. Teachers must learn to meet those children’s needs even if they themselves don’t speak the child’s language. Realizing this, California’s Preschool Instructional Network (CPIN) used new available funding to offer online professional development through the California Department of Education that trains early educators to better serve DLLs.

Visualization of 'Tips for Remote Teaching With ELL Students'

The blog Classroom Q&A With Larry Ferlazzo has featured educator-created English- and Spanish-language visualizations and infographics of key points in a number of Ferlazzo's videos. In a recent blog, Ferlazzo shares a new visualization of the key points made in his video, 'Tips for Remote Teaching With ELL Students,' which discusses student choice, rethinking synchronous teaching, keeping things simple, connecting with parents, and more.

Four "Magical" U.S. Latino Bookstores You Should Know

The quarantine is hitting the book industry hard, although some say people are reading more than ever. In the end, what other windows to the world do we have? The Internet, yes, but the reading experience provides what no other art provides, a stimulus to the imagination of complete freedom where the reader becomes, in his own way, a co-creator of the story. To celebrate International Book Day, we have visited some of the most interesting and beautiful Latino bookstores in the United States that, as you can imagine, not only promote reading but have strong community ties. Will you join us?

Settlement for Detroit literacy lawsuit eyes nearly $100M in funding

A historic settlement reached between the state and Detroit students calls for $94.5 million in future literacy funding, a $280,000 payout among seven plaintiffs and the creation of two Detroit task forces to help ensure a quality education for students. News of the agreement came after the Detroit students were locked in a nearly four-year legal battle with the state for better school and learning conditions. The lawsuit was brought by seven students who argued they were deprived access to literacy because of a lack of books, teachers and poor building conditions. The proposal faces an uncertain road in the Republican-controlled Legislature, which has fought with the Democratic governor over budget priorities including education spending.

Teacher Takes In Her Student’s Newborn Brother After His Entire Family Falls Ill With COVID-19

A Stamford, Connecticut, teacher is being heralded a hero after she generously took in the newborn brother of one of her students whose mother sick with the coronavirus. Thirty-two-year-old Luciana Lira teaches at Hart Magnet Elementary School and knew she had to do something when her 7-year-old student Junior's entire family came down with the coronavirus at the same time his mother, Zully, whose last name has not been revealed, was going into labor. So the teacher did what she had to for a family in need.

How teachers are trying to reach English language learners during pandemic

Administrators at Dorchester School District Two in suburban Summerville, South Carolina, were well aware of the digital divide when they decided to give students both paper and online resources after shuttering schools because of coronavirus. But even their best efforts have some educators worried, especially those who teach English to speakers of other languages (ESOL).

Teachers use high- and low-tech means to reach English Language Learners during coronavirus crisis

By law, schools must ensure ELLs can participate meaningfully and equally in educational programs. Schools often fell short of these requirements, even before the current crisis. Tim Boals, executive director of WIDA, a group that provides educational resources for multilingual learners, worries the shutdowns will result in an even greater marginalization of those students. “I think schools are struggling now to serve all their kids, so there is no doubt in my mind that this is an issue,” he said. From phone calls to text messages and handwritten letters, educators employ multiple tools to find what works.

DeVos Appoints New Director for English-Learner Office

U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has appointed Lorena Orozco McElwain to lead the federal office for English-language-learner education, shaking up a long-standing tradition of selecting candidates with significant experience in bilingual or federal education policy. She takes over as the director of the office of English language acquisition just as language and access barriers threaten to shut many of the nation's nearly English-learners out of the learning process during the widespread coronavirus-related school closures.