April 2012

Find resources to help celebrate the many events and that take place in April, including National Poetry Month, Autism Awareness Month, El día de los niños/ El día de los libros, and Earth Day.

Type of Newsletter: TELLEGRAM
Date: April, 2012

Dear Subscribers:

This month, we are focusing on ELL assessment. We are including some of our most popular resources, such as our assessment webcast, as well as new articles and video clips. We also look forward to hearing your feedback on the assessment and policy section we launched last month, which features expert voices from the ELL field.

In addition, we have lots of great recommendations for the many events and celebrations that take place in April, including National Poetry Month, Autism Awareness Month, El día de los niños/ El día de los libros, and Earth Day. Phew!

All the best,

The Colorín Colorado Team

Don't Miss...

Take a look at the following resources that can be used during these April celebrations or any time of the year.

School Library Month: April is School Library Month, and you can celebrate with our ELL resources for librarians! Highlights include tips for school librarians on how to help ELLs feel welcome in the school library, a bilingual tip sheet for parents about using the public library, and library-themed booklists.

Poetry Month: Our poetry and ELLs section has all kinds of great ideas for celebrating National Poetry Month. The section includes information on reading and writing poetry with ELLs, recommended booklists, and video interviews with poets such as Francisco X. Alarcón, Pat Mora, Margarita Engle, and Janet Wong.

Your ideas: What are your favorite poetry activities to use with ELLs? Let us know on Facebook, the Ning, or in an e-mail!

Autism Awareness Month: New estimates from The Centers for Disease Control suggest that 1 in 88 children have an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). However, Latino children have lower diagnosis rates and they are also often diagnosed at a later age than non-Latino children. In this article written for Colorín Colorado, Keri Linas, Ph.D, Psy.D and Sandra Soto, BSN, MPH write about a partnership between Georgetown University and a local community outpatient care clinic to help improve the early identification of autism in young Latino children. Keri and Sandra share lessons learned through the project that are relevant to school settings, such as communicating effecitvely and building strong relationships with diverse families.

Autism information for Parents: For information that parents can use, visit our bilingual web resources on autism for families.

Earth Day: Celebrate Earth with a story! From the waterfalls and hummingbirds of the Iguazú to the Truffula Tress depicted in The Lorax, these bilingual/multicultural books will get kids thinking about what they can do to take care of the planet. Additional lesson plans about the environment, many of which have been designed with ELLs in mind, are available in our Earth Day web resources section.

Celebrate Día! Last but certainly not least is Día! April 30th is El día de los niño/ El día de los libros (Children's Day/Book Day), commonly known as "Día." Learn how the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County in North Carolina transformed their Día celebration from a small library program into a statewide initiative in this article written by Dr. Jamie Campbell Naidoo and Irania Patterson.

If you're looking for ideas about planning a Día event, check out these resources featuring an interview with Día founder Pat Mora, as well as Pat's Bookjoy blog!

Does your school or library celebrate Día?

If so, we'd love to hear what you're doing! Send us an e-mail letting us know what your school does for this reading celebration and think about applying for the Estela and Raúl Mora Award, established by Pat Mora in honor of her parents as a way to recognize exemplary Día programs. Libraries and schools that plan and implement Día programs in 2012 are eligible to submit an application by August 15, 2012.

New on Colorín Colorado

New Meet the Expert Interviews!

These new interviews on Colorín Colorado feature two leaders of the U.S. Department of Education's Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA):

  • Dr. Rosalinda B. Barrera: Dr. Rosalinda B. Barrera is the Assistant Deputy Secretary and Director of OELA. In this interview, Dr. Barrera discusses her goals for her work at OELA, the importance of STEM education for all students, and strategies for preparing more educators to serve ELLs effectively.
  • Dr. Joanne Urrutia: Dr. Joanne H. Urrutia is the Deputy Director of OELA. In this interview, Dr. Urrutia discusses her schooling in Puerto Rico, OELA's National Conversations initiative, the implementation of new college- and career-ready standards for ELLs (and her experience with a similar initiative in Miami-Dade County Public Schools), and some of the accomplishments she is proudest of from her 35 years as an educator in Miami-Dade County.

Recommended Resources

Stanford Project on Common Standards and English-Learners Goes Live

The team of English-language learner experts assembled by Stanford University education professor Kenji Hakuta to create resources for teaching the Common Core State Standards to ELLs launched its Understanding Language website last week. Professor Hakuta and his colleagues launched the site with the publication of 13 papers that examine a variety of issues related to language and literacy in the content areas of the Common Core State Standards, as well as the Next Generation Science Standards. (Adapted from Learning the Language blog, Education Week)

Assesment and ESL: An Alternative Approach (2nd Ed.)

By: Barbara Law, Mary Eckes
Portage & Main Press

Veteran educators Barbara Law and Mary Eckes present an in-depth discussion of what assessment really means for ELLs and ELL educators in this follow-up to The More-Than-Just Surviving Handbook. One of the strengths of this guide is that Law and Eckes simultaneously explore the big picture (what teachers need to know and trends in assessment), the programmatic implications (how to grade and when to exit students), and hands-on strategies regarding the details and mechanics of assessment (how to record your observations and present information to stakeholders).

What is perhaps most refreshing, however, is the compassion, common sense, and humor they demonstrate throughout the book, underscored by numerous examples of student work and personal experiences.

Law, B. and Eckes, M. Assessment and ESL: An Alternative Approach. Winnipeg: Portage and Main, 2007.

Creating an Effective Data Reporting System for ELLs

In this excerpt from Assessment and ESL: An Alternative Approach (Portage and Main, 2007), authors Barbara Law and Mary Eckes walk through the process of designing a successful reporting system for English language learners. They explain different steps of the process, including deciding who the audience for different sets of data will be and how the information will be used.

For more titles on assessment and ELLs, take a look at our assessment professional booklist!

In the classroom

ELL Assessment and Placement

This section addresses the critical questions of how to properly assess and place English language learners. Topics include federal and state ELL regulations; informal, formal, and written assessment; and information about testing for parents. Be sure to watch the new video clips about ELL assessment featuring teachers, administrators, teacher educators, and policy makers, also available on our new YouTube channel!

Webcast: Assessment of ELLs

This webcast, featuring Dr. Lorraine Valdez Pierce, covers performance-based standardized assessments; assessment as a tool for informing instruction and reinforcing reading comprehension; and student self-assessment and self-monitoring.

Hot Topics: ELL Assessment and Policy

As part of our new ELL policy project, we have asked ELL experts to share their thoughts on hot topics in the field. We hope you'll chime into the discussion in the comment boxes at the bottom of the articles! Our ELL assessment and accountability articles include the following:

The PALS Program is looking for field test sites!

The Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS) is an early literacy assessment designed to screen children for possible reading difficulties and to diagnosis their strengths and weaknesses in literacy development. The PALS Office at the University of Virginia is currently field testing Spanish versions of PALS assessments for Kindergarten and Grades 1-3. If you teach in a bilingual or dual-language school that might be interested in participating in this project, the PALS team would love to hear from you! Please send an e-mail to Colorín Colorado and we will forward it to the researchers.

Books and Authors

Book of the Month

Waiting for the Biblioburro
by Monica Brown

Ana loves stories. She often makes them up to help her little brother fall asleep. But in her small village there are only a few books and she has read them all. One morning, Ana wakes up to the clip-clop of hooves, and there before her is the most wonderful sight: a traveling library resting on the backs of two burros — all the books a little girl could dream of, with enough stories to encourage her to create one of her own.

Inspired by the heroic efforts of real-life librarian Luis Soriano, award-winning picture book creators Monica Brown and John Parra introduce readers to the mobile library that journeys over mountains and through valleys to bring literacy and culture to rural Colombia, and to the children who wait for the Biblioburro. A portion of the proceeds from sales of this book support Luis Soriano's Biblioburro program.

Bonus Video Clips: Learn more about the story behind Waiting for the Biblioburro, as well as what Monica learned while researching the story. These excerpts are part of our recent interview with Monica, which will be posted on Colorín Colorado in the coming month. Stay tuned!

Biblioburro: Book Giveaway

Enter our raffle a signed copy of Waiting for the Biblioburro!

To enter, please send an e-mail to Colorín Colorado with "Book giveaway" in the subject by 11:59 p.m. on April 30, 2012.

[One entry per family. Winners of any previous Book Giveaways are ineligible to win any other Book Giveaways for a period of one (1) year from the date of the Book Giveaway. See complete contest rules here.]