February 2010

We are excited to present new content-area resources this month, including an article on ELL strategies for Social Studies instruction to complement our math and science articles.

Type of Newsletter: TELLEGRAM
Date: February, 2010

Dear Subscribers,

Greetings from Washington, DC, where the snow is melting just in time for another dusting! We are excited to present new content-area resources this month, including an article on ELL strategies for Social Studies instruction to complement our math and science articles.

Our online community on Ning is attracting educators from around the country, and we look forward to seeing new discussions posted from you in the future.


The Colorín Colorado Team

This month's highlights

From the Colorín Colorado Community

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Discussion of the month

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New on Colorín Colorado

Content-Area Web Resources

Take a look at our new section of recommended websites and resources that can be used to enhance the curriculum in content subjects such as math, science, and social studies.

Research and Reports

In Making Social Studies Meaningful for ELL Students: Content and Pedagogy in Mainstream Secondary School Classrooms, Szpara and Ahmad describe a study that partnered university faculty with high school social studies teachers in an effort to make social studies content accessible to English language learners. The social studies curriculum poses particular challenges for ELLs because it assumes both culture-specific background knowledge and proficiency in English literacy skills. To be successful, students must master material with a high cognitive load that includes extensive specialized vocabulary and abstract concepts.

Szpara and Ahmad suggest a three-tiered approach to social studies instruction for ELLs that includes creating a socially supportive classroom, providing explicit instruction in strategies that support comprehension, and reducing cognitive load without reducing content. For each of these tiers, the authors list specific, concrete strategies that the university-school partnership identified as best practices for the social studies classroom.

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Recommended Resources

Teaching English Language Learners Across the Content Areas

This new book by Judie Haynes (creator of everythingESL.net) and Dr. Debbie Zacarian offers hands-on, practical strategies that educators (including teachers, paraprofessionals, curriculum directors, and administrators) can implement immediately to provide effective content instruction for ELLs. Chapters focus on topics such as creating engaging lesson plans, successful small group work activities, content vocabulary instruction, and strategies focused on writing, homework, and assessment. Appendices include guided terms for composing language objectives and a lesson modification worksheet that can be used to adapt lesson plans for ELL instruction.

The first two chapters are available for online viewing from the ASCD website:

Haynes, J. & Zacarian, D. (2010). Teaching English Language Learners Across the Content Areas. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Education Week Spotlight on ELLs in the Classroom

The editors of Education Week have compiled a number of articles about ELL instruction in their latest Spotlight feature, with topics that range from assessment and data-driven instruction to math and science instruction.

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In the Classroom

Teaching English Language Learners to Navigate Textbooks

For ELLs, learning how to navigate a textbook effectively can be a powerful tool in increasing their comprehension of material in all of their academic work — particularly in the content areas. This article offers some strategies for teaching students how to use different parts of a textbook, understand the organization of a chapter within a textbook, and preview chapter content with a "chapter walk."

For more information on ELL content instruction, take a look at teaching ELLs in the content areas.

Social Studies Strategies for English Language Learners

When learning new material, ELLs have the double challenge of learning content as well as the necessary academic language to access that content. In classes such as Social Studies, that challenge is even more complex because mastery of the content relies heavily on background knowledge and a historical or cultural context. In this Bright Ideas article, Kristina Robertson explores a number of strategies that can be used to support ELL comprehension and mastery of social studies material.

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Books and Authors

Book of the Month

Stranger in the Woods: A Photographic Fantasy (Nature)
Carl R. Sams & Jean Stoick

Who is in the woods? When did he get here? The animals of the forest are wondering how this quiet stranger came to their home. Beautiful, whimsical photos and text complete this winter fantasy of what happens when a snowman arrives in the forest. Spanish version available.

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About the Colorín Colorado T·ELL·E-GRAM and ColorinColorado.org

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