April 2013

This month, we're pleased to present a new video interview with Dr. Kenji Hakuta about implementing the Common Core State Standards with ELLs. We are also focused on writing instruction for ELLs, and we've pulled together lots of resources to celebrate all of the special events that happen in April.

Type of Newsletter: TELLEGRAM
Date: April, 2013

Dear Subscribers:

The cherry blossoms are blooming and it looks like spring is finally arriving!

This month, we're pleased to present a new video interview with Dr. Kenji Hakuta about implementing the Common Core State Standards with ELLs. We are also focused on writing instruction for ELLs, and we've pulled together lots of resources to celebrate all of the special events that happen in April. Be sure to take a look at the story on New Freedom Park too — it's an exciting example of what can happen when immigrants are made to feel welcome and included within their community.

All the best,

The Colorín Colorado Team

This Month's Highlights

Colorín Colorado Survey & Book Giveaway

As we make plans to improve Colorín Colorado, we want to hear from you! Please take a moment to complete our brief survey and share your feedback. We will also share your comments with our major partner, the American Federation of Teachers, and use your ideas in planning for the upcoming 2013-14 year. Five survey respondents will be selected at random to receive a selection of children's or young adult books.

April Celebrations

April is a busy month! The following resource sections from Colorín Colorado offer tip sheets, videos, and books that you can use in the classroom or as part of family outreach:

Parent Article: Is my child ready to enter kindergarten?

Many schools register children for kindergarten during the spring even though classes don't start until the fall. If parents are wondering whether their child is ready for kindergarten, this article will give them some tips on social and educational expectations of children in kindergarten classrooms. Also available in Spanish.

Don't Miss...

Celebrate Día!

April 30th is El día de los niños/ El día de los libros, 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.

For more ideas on Día, take a look at our resources featuring an interview with Día founder Pat Mora, as well as Pat's Bookjoy blog and her new Día planning guide!

Do you celebrate Día?

If so, 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, schools, colleges, museums, and other community organizations that plan and implement Día programs are eligible to submit an application by August 15, 2013.

New on Colorín Colorado

New Freedom Park and the Immigrant Community Who Designed It

We recently learned about New Freedom Park, a Denver community park and garden which opened in 2012, built through a partnership between Denver Parks and Recreation Department and The Trust for Public Land. What caught our attention is that the local community, many of whom were low-income refugees from war-torn countries, played a significant role in the park's design and planning.

In this interview with Colorín Colorado, New Freedom Park Project Manager Wade Shelton describes the process of engaging the refugee community in the park's design, overcoming language barriers in meetings and procedural votes, and learning to set assumptions asides when working with newcomer immigrants and refugees.

Video bonus: See this "before & after" video of the park on the TPL website!

Common Core Corner

Meet the Expert: Kenji Hakuta

Colorín Colorado recently had the opportunity to interview Dr. Kenji Hakuta, Co-Chair of Stanford University's Understanding Language initiative and a leading expert in the implementation of the Common Core State Standards with ELLs. In this interview, Dr. Hakuta discusses how he became interested in the bilingual education field, describes how Understanding Language is addressing the challenges of helping ELLs meet the CCSS, and addresses ELL-specific questions around hot Common Core topics such as pre-reading the text and assessment.

To learn more about Understanding Language and other Common Core initiatives happening in the ELL field, take a look at this webinar from the Alliance for Excellent Education, which was filmed earlier this year. It features Dr. Hakuta and a panel of experts discussing how the CCSS can improve learning for ELLs.

Common Core Math for English Language Learners

In these Common Core and ELLs blog posts, Dr. Diane Staehr Fenner shares considerations for implementing the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics with ELLs, as well as a discussion on the role of academic language in that instruction.

The first post features the work of Dr. Anita Bright of Portland State University and two teachers whom we had the pleasure to meet at TESOL 2013, Angela Vargas and Dulce Nash! The second post features Dr. Debbie Zacarian, author of our ELL federal policy guide, as well as a new series from Corwin Press about academic language.

Upcoming CCSS Webinar from TESOL

For more information on Common Core instruction and ELLs, mark your calendars for TESOL's upcoming webinar in May! The webinar features Dr. Anita Bright and Ayanna Cooper and provides an introductory overview of the key elements of the Common Core State Standards in English and mathematics and the impact the new standards could have on English learners.

Title: Implications and Applications of the Common Core Standards for Effectively Teaching K-6 ELLs: Focus on English and Mathematics
Date: Thursday, 9 May 2013, 3:00-4:30 pm ET
Cost: Free for TESOL members; US$45 for nonmembers
Register: Through TESOL website

Recommended Resources

The Common Core Writing Book, K-5: Lessons for a Range of Tasks, Purposes, and Audiences

By Gretchen Owocki

Product Description: In this new publication written for elementary classroom teachers, Gretchen Owocki breaks the writing anchor standards into manageable chunks, emphasizing differentiation, engagement, and writing for authentic purposes. She offers:

  • a clear description of what each standard asks from students
  • instructional decision trees that connect assessment to planning
  • instructional strategies that gradually release responsibility to students
  • suggestions for tailoring support to meet students' individual needs, including ELLs.

Owocki, G. (2013). The Common Core Writing Book, K-5: Lessons for a Range of Tasks, Purposes, and Audiences. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

An excerpt of this title is available on the Heinemann website.

In the Classroom

Writing and ELLs

For many ELL students, writing poses a big challenge to completing academic work, assessments, and graduation requirements. Our updated writing section includes guided activities, videos, handbooks, and recommended resources for K-12 classrooms.

New! Writing and ELLs: Video Resources

In these Colorín Colorado interview clips, educators and authors offer writing advice for elementary, middle, and high school classrooms. The section also features popular writing videos from Reading Rockets.

Books and Authors

Book of the Month

Tito Puente, Mambo King/Tito Puente, Rey del Mambo
By Monica Brown
Illustrated by Rafael López

Product Description: From musical prodigy on the streets of Harlem to five-time Grammy Award winner, Tito's life was full of rhythm. Drums and claves, saxophones and tambourines were all part of the fun. Monica Brown and Rafael López, the award-winning creators of the Pura Belpré Honor Book My Name Is Celia/Me llamo Celia, team up once again for another spectacular collaboration in this upbeat tribute to a musical legend.

For related classroom resources such as a book trailer, an interview with Monica and Rafael about the book, and a clip of Tito Puente on Sesame Street, take a look at Monica's website, and don't miss our Colorín Colorado interviews with both Monica and Rafael!

Book Giveaway: Tito Puente

Enter our raffle to win a copy of Tito Puente! To enter, please send us an e-mail with "Book Giveaway" in the subject by May 3, 2013.

Books About Nature

In celebration of Earth Day and spring, take a look at these beautiful booklists for some ideas!