In this issue:
We are pleased to feature a number of resources focused on writing instruction for ELLs at all grade levels this month.
We are also including multicultural holiday booklists, gift suggestions, and reading ideas for the winter season.
All the best for the holidays and thanks for making 2014 a great year!
The Colorín Colorado Team
This Month's Highlights
Education Week has announced that reporter Corey Mitchell will be taking over coverage of English language learners, bilingual education, immigration, and civil rights in education for the publication's Learning the Language blog. He'll also be covering school districts, educational leadership, and school management issues. Corey last worked as a Washington correspondent for the Star Tribune, Minnesota's largest newspaper. In his prior work covering education, he documented the challenges facing ELLs in Minnesota classrooms. Welcome, Corey!
Each year, ELL teacher Michelle Lawrence Biggar reads an adapted version of A Christmas Carol with her newcomer 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, produced in collaboration with the American Federation of Teachers. Even Scrooge himself would be impressed at the enthusiasm with which her students take on this classic holiday tale! These videos are also available on YouTube.
For more great reading and writing strategies for newcomer high school ELLs from Michelle, see her complete video interview on Colorín Colorado.
This article written for Colorín Colorado by Dr. Cynthia Lundgren and Giselle Lundy-Ponce offers some helpful ideas for bringing cultural content into the classroom in a way that increases all students' knowledge and interest while respecting the featured culture. Additional articles about culturally responsive instruction in the ELL classroom are featured in our For Educators section.
Featured Booklists: Holiday Tales and Gift Ideas
If you're looking for a book to share in the classroom or with someone special, check out the following recommended titles:
- Holiday Tales (also in Spanish)
- Asian Pacific Holiday Tales
- Hispanic Heritage Holiday Tales
- Native American Holiday Tales
- The Gift of Reading: 25 Beautiful Books
- Multicultural Books for Young Adults
Justin Minkel, former Arkansas teacher of the year, teaches 1st grade at Jones Elementary in northwest Arkansas, a public school where 99 percent of students live in poverty and 85 percent speak English as a second language.
In this post published by Education Week, he writes, "Eighty-five percent of the students at my school speak English as a second language. Many of these children come to us in kindergarten without knowing the English words for 'pencil' or 'butter.' But by the time they leave us in 5th grade, they're talking confidently about cytoplasm, the associative property of multiplication, and key features of informational texts.
"What's the secret to this dramatic growth? It comes down to a few simple factors:
- Explicit language instruction in structures of English that are invisible to native speakers.
- High expectations paired with individualized instruction.
- A school where every teacher is trained in ESL techniques, in a district where everyone from the custodians to the superintendent respects the family, nation, and culture that each child comes from."
Read the complete post at Education Week.
Latinitas Magazine is the first digital magazine made for and by Latina youth. The magazine is focused on informing, entertaining, and inspiring young Latinas to grow into healthy, confident, and successful women. It features Latina youth voices from the organization's Youth Editorial Advisory Board and reader submissions. In addition to magazine versions for girls (ages 11-13) and teens, Latinitas offers writing prompts for classroom use and a place for teachers to submit student work for publishing.
These titles include grade-specific ideas for developing the writing skills of ELLs at all ages along with lots of great prompts and vocabulary lists to help your students become stronger writers!
Common Core Corner
Teachers of ELLs often observe that writing is the last domain in which their students develop English language proficiency and that the pace at which ELLs develop writing proficiency has an impact on how soon students are able to exit language development programs in their schools. Teaching ELLs to write successfully in English is even more complex with the Common Core State Standards. In this three-part series for our blog, Diane Staehr Fenner and Ayanna Cooper offer an overview of the writing standards from an ELL perspective, discuss how culture impacts writing (with a special look at students whose first language is Arabic), and walk through a writing prompt with ideas for scaffolding the assignment.
In the Classroom
Writing is a key to academic success, but it can be a challenging skill for English language learners to master. This section offers a number of grade-specific tips, activities, and videos to help ELLs develop their writing skills in school and at home.
These videos include elementary and high school classroom videos featuring writing instruction as well as writing protocols, strategies, and activities designed for ELLs from teachers at different grade levels. Highlights include:
- Writing a cooperative paragraph (Teacher: Ali Nava, Grades 1-2, New Mexico)
- Writing a paragraph with high school ELLs (Teacher: Michelle Lawrence Biggar, Grades 9-12, New York)
- Writing Protocol for High School ELLs (Teacher Bobbi Ciriza Houtchens, Grades 9-12, California)
Parent Resources and Outreach
The following bilingual articles offer writing ideas and information for parents:
- Developing Writing at Home (PreK & K-3 versions)
- Handwriting: What's Normal, What's Not
- Tips for Parents of Adolescent Writers
Winter vacation is the perfect time for families to enjoy reading (and writing) together. Share these ideas and book titles with your students' families, and remind them that the winter break is also a good chance for kids to practice their home languages with friends and relatives. This article is also available in Spanish.
Books & Authors
By Janet Wong
Illustrated by Teresa Flavin
You have to write! It's a class assignment. But you have nothing to write about. All the other kids seem to have some ideas because they start working right away. What can you do? Stop and think. No one else can tell your stories — about your family, your dog or cat. No one else can describe what it was like when your library book got soaked in the rain. Beloved poet Janet Wong says it took her a long time to figure out that her "regular, boring life is full of lots of things" to write about: her messy room, mistakes, family, and fears. This is an encouraging and sympathetic book from Wong and illustrator Teresa Flavin for all young readers who worry about what to write when they're told to write something.