December 2010

Check out new resources related to culturally responsive instruction, classroom management, and book selection.

Type of Newsletter: TELLEGRAM
Date: December, 2010

Dear Subscribers:

As the year winds down and holiday traditions of all kinds abound, we thought that December would the perfect time to share some new resources related to culturally responsive instruction, classroom management, and book selection.

Many thanks for your support and distribution of Colorín Colorado throughout 2010! We reached more visitors than ever before this year and we know that the best recommendation is one that comes from a trusted colleague or friend. Thanks for spreading the word about the work we are doing on behalf of you and our ELLs.

All the best for a wonderful holiday season,

The Colorín Colorado Team

This month's highlights

Reading A Christmas Carol with ELLs

Each year, ELL teacher Michelle Lawrence reads an adapted version of A Christmas Carol with her high school students in Buffalo, NY. Learn how she prepares students for reading and monitors comprehension in the "Story setup" and "Making connections" segments of our Watch & Learn video series. Even Scrooge himself would be impressed at the enthusiasm with which her students take on this classic holiday tale!

Question from the Ning: What kinds of resources would you like to see on Colorín Colorado in the upcoming year? Share your ideas on the Ning or send us an e-mail with "Topic of Interest" in the subject line.

Don't Miss…

Background knowledge is vitally important to good reading comprehension. One way that we can support ELLs' comprehension is by including texts that represent familiar concepts and situations from the students' own cultures. Culturally Responsive Instruction for Holiday and Religious Celebrations, by Cynthia Lundgren and Giselle Lundy-Ponce, offers some great ideas for bringing cultural content into the classroom in a way that increases all students' knowledge and interest while at the same time being respectful of the culture being featured.

Choosing Culturally Relevant Books in the Classroom

In this excerpt from English Language Learners: The Essential Guide, ELL researchers David and Yvonne Freeman offer a comprehensive set of tips for choosing culturally relevant books, as well as a rubric that teachers and students can use to determine whether a book is culturally relevant. Questions include "Are the characters in this story like you and your family?" and "Have you ever had an experience like one described in this story?"

Freeman, D. and Freeman, Y. English Language Learners: The Essential Guide. New York: Scholastic. 2007. Reprinted with permission from Scholastic, Inc.

My Life Is Normal, Too: Diversity in Children's Literature

When Jacqueline Jules' young Latino students were frustrated that they couldn't find superhero books they found appealing, the children's author and librarian tackled their frustration head on. Her new Zapato Power series features Freddie Ramos, a young boy who finds a magical pair of sneakers that allows him to perform heroic deeds around his neighborhood. In this article, Jacqueline explains the reasons she created Freddie as her main character for the series, as well as the importance of children from different backgrounds seeing themselves represented in all kinds of books.

If you're interested in more ideas related to culturally responsive instruction for ELLs, check out our new set of resources under the For Educators section!

For Parents

Reading: The Perfect Gift

For some great suggestions of bilingual books, magazines, and children's music, take a look at our holiday gift guide, also available in Spanish!

School Attendance: A Key to Success

This article suggests some things parents can do to help their children make the most of each school day and ensure their children don't fall behind when a school absence necessary. The article is available in English and Spanish.

Recommended Resources

Managing Diverse Classrooms: How to Build on Students' Cultural Strengths

This groundbreaking book by researchers Carrie Rothstein-Fisch and Elise Trumbull examines the impact of culture on classroom management. The authors present the results of Bridging Cultures, a longitudinal five-year action research project focused on immigrant students in the U.S. school system. Throughout the course of the project, a team of four researchers and seven elementary teachers working with Latino students in southern California explored individualistic and collectivistic (or group) orientation in the classroom.

For example, from the individualistic point of view (often representative of the United States, Western Europe, Australia, and Canada) a typical classroom goal might be for a student to complete a task and demonstrate responsibility and independence. From the collectivist point of view (representative of 70% of the world's countries, including those of many U.S. immigrants), the goal might be help the group succeed and demonstrate respect for others and cooperation. As the Building Cultures teachers considered what impact this orientation might have in the classroom and what it might mean for students coming from a collectivist background trying to fit into a highly individualistic U.S. school system, they began to try new strategies, sharing their successes, challenges, and reflections with the rest of the team.

The result was a transformational approach to classroom management in areas such as instruction, behavior, assessment, and parent relationships drawing on the strengths of both individual and group orientation. The book shares a number of valuable lessons (particularly for the ELL classroom) learned by the teachers and researchers, as well as clear examples of strategies that did and did not work in specific classroom settings.

Chapter 1 of Managing Diverse Classrooms, A New Way of Thinking About Classroom Management, outlines the individualistic-collectivistic framework that the Bridging Cultures project used and explores its implication in the U.S. school setting. The chapter is available online from the ASCD website. You can also learn more about Bridging Cultures in this knowledge brief from WestEd.

Rothstein-Fisch, C. and Trumbull, E. Managing Diverse Classrooms: How to Build on Students' Cultural Strengths. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2008.

Multicultural Professional Booklist

We are pleased to offer a new set of books addressing culturally responsive instruction and classroom management for students from diverse backgrounds.

Book Giveaway: Managing Diverse Classrooms: How to Build on Students' Cultural Strengths

Raffle Rules:
Enter by submitting an e-mail with the subject "Book Giveaway" on our Contact Us page by January 2, 2011. We will choose five random winners and notify them by e-mail in early January, requesting their mailing address in order to send their prize.

Note: Please see official contest rules on our website.

In the classroom

Assessing Fluency

Fluent readers decode words accurately and automatically. They also make sense of the text as they read. With English language learners, it is especially important to check not just for fluency, but for comprehension as well. Many ELLs can be deceptively fast and accurate in their reading and yet demonstrate little understanding of the text. Learn more about effective ways to teach and monitor fluency skills for ELLs from the strategies listed in Assessing Fluency.

Additional guides for monitoring fluency are available from the following resources:

Books and Authors

Zapato Power: Freddie Ramos Takes Off (Book 1)

By Jacqueline Jules

Freddie isn't sure where his new sneakers came from, but he loves the way they help him zip around his neighborhood! Whether it's to save a puppy or help a friend, Freddie is sure to put his new shoes to good use. Freddie will appeal to children of all ages and backgrounds, but he is likely to hold a special place in the hearts of kids whose families are struggling during difficult times. Author Jacqueline Jules offers an activity guide and discussion questions on her website.

Book of the Month

Going Home
By Eve Bunting
Illustrated by David Díaz

Mama and Papa are excited to take a break from working in the fields and go home for Christmas, but Carlos and his sisters are not sure how they feel about traveling to Mexico. Soon after arriving, however, they meet their loving extended family, and the children begin to understand what it meant for their parents to leave home in order to offer the family a better future. David Diaz's stunning illustrations layered on top of photos of Mexican folk art bring Eve Bunting's beautiful story to life.

Classroom Connection

In their above article about culturally relevant books, the Freemans share the following: "When Yvonne read Going Home to her graduate class, she realized quickly that this book was especially relevant for teachers. After reading the story, one teary-eyed teacher raised her hand and said, 'That story taught me how important it is that my students go back to Mexico for the holidays. I've always complained and wondered why parents take their children out of school. I understand a bit better now.'"

Featured Booklist: Holiday Tales

Colorín Colorado presents some bilingual holiday books to share with your students and family, including classic children's stories and depictions of Hispanic families' celebrations of Christmas and Las Posadas. Whether you give these as holiday gifts or find them at your local library, they will delight everyone! Many of the titles are in Spanish.