January 2014

Start off 2014 with all kinds of great resources, including updated ideas for using technology with ELLs, multilingual resources on cyberbullying, strategies for welcoming newcomer and refugees who may be arriving in your classroom, and lots of children's and YA booklists.

Type of Newsletter: TELLEGRAM
Date: January, 2014

Dear Subscribers:

Happy New Year! We are pleased to start off 2014 with all kinds of great resources, including updated ideas for using technology with ELLs, multilingual resources on cyberbullying, strategies for welcoming newcomer and refugees who may be arriving in your classroom, and lots of children's and YA booklists.

All the best for the coming year!

The Colorín Colorado Team

Don't Miss...

Booklists for Upcoming Celebrations

Reading Rockets Booklist for Kids: Winter Olympics

Winter is a time to get outdoors and enjoy the weather, particularly in places where there is lots of snow — like Sochi, Russia, where the 2014 Winter Olympics are being held from February 7-23. Read about Olympic history, how athletes (human and animal) train for and participate in various sports, and the science of snow. Whether indoors or outside, you'll enjoy the winter games as you watch them and read about them!

Chinese New Year

January 31 marks the beginning of the Chinese New Year (sometimes referred to as the Lunar New Year or Spring Festival), and 2014 is the Year of the Horse. If you're interested in learning more about this festive celebration, take a look at these children's books from beloved Chinese American authors such as Grace Lin, Janet Wong, and Laurence Yep presenting wonderful traditions that help sweep out the old year and welcome the new!

New on Colorín Colorado

Updated: Technology and ELLs Section

English language learners' experience with technology can vary greatly from one student to the next. Some kids may have never used a computer. Others may be doing all of the troubleshooting! This resource section provides guidance for using technology with ELLs, activity ideas from veteran educators, and videos of technology in action in the classroom.

New! Managing Media: Tips for Schools and Families

Technology can be a wonderful way for ELLs and families to use and develop their language skills, whether in a native language or English. Like many parents, however, the parents of ELLs may not be aware of the ways in which their children are using technology — particularly if the kids are using a lot of English online and the parents don't have the English skills required to understand or monitor their child's activity. This new section includes a number of bilingual resources for educators and parents about managing media in school and at home, including tip sheets, classroom activities, and discussion questions.

Common Core Corner

Determining How Much Background Knowledge to Provide for ELLs

Last month on our Common Core and ELLs blog, Dr. Diane Staehr Fenner focused on a topic that has been getting a lot of attention recently: the role of background knowledge in reading instruction for ELLs. Diane summarizes a new article written by Dr. Tim Shanahan (who has served as an advisor to Colorín Colorado) that appears in the American Federation of Teachers' Fall 2013 American Educator magazine, "Letting the Text Take Center Stage." Diane shares highlights from the article and offers guidance on deciding how much background knowledge to share with ELLs before tackling a new text.

Common Core and ELLs Blog: Highlights from 2013

Diane did a wonderful job keeping track of Common Core news for our audience last year, as well as providing thoughtful analysis of ELL instruction and assessment considerations. Here are some of the most popular blog posts she wrote in 2013, each of which features in-depth information as well as multiple links to recommended resources and related posts.

Parent Resources & Outreach

Start the New Year Off Right: Resolve to Raise a Reader!

Many New Year's resolutions focus on developing healthy habits. Here's an important one for parents of young children: providing a regular diet of books and reading for their preschooler. Share this menu of reading activities with parents in the New Year! These tips are also available in Spanish.

Recommended Resources

Resources from Larry Ferlazzo

Larry Ferlazzo teaches English at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento, CA. Through his popular blog, Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day, Larry provides regular updates about new online tools that can be used with ELLs. In his "Best of" series, Larry recommends resources across a wide range of content areas, as well as tools focused on technology, video, and Web 2.0.

In this interview with Colorín Colorado, Larry discusses the way he uses technology in his classroom, how he finds new resources for his blog, and how he has helped to create a "community of learners" at his school.

The ESL/ELL Teacher's Survival Guide: Ready-to-Use Strategies, Tools, and Activities for Teaching English Language Learners of All Levels

By Larry Ferlazzo & Katie Hull Sypnieski

Product Description: The ESL/ELL Teacher's Survival Guide offers educators practical strategies for:

  • Setting up an ESL-friendly classroom
  • Motivating and interacting with students
  • Using technology effectively with ELLs
  • Communicating with parents of ELLs
  • Using student reflection in the classroom
  • Determining what kinds of homework are appropriate
  • Planning targeted field trips
  • Assessing student performance

In addition, the authors offer tips for handling difficult situations such as error correction, multilevel classes, limited access to technology, and classroom management. Free online materials accompany this book, including interactive exercises and up-to-date information on Common Core standards for ELLs.

Ferlazzo, L., and Sypnieski, K. (2012). The ESL / ELL Teacher's Survival Guide: Ready-to-Use Strategies, Tools, and Activities for Teaching English Language Learners of All Levels. San Francisco: Wiley.

Research & Reports

English Learners and 21st-Century Literacy

In her award-winning doctoral dissertation, Dr. Mary Amanda "Mandy" Stewart studied the communication and literacy skills of four 17- to 20-year old students from Mexico, El Salvador, and Guatemala. She found that, while these students were considered "at-risk" in a school setting, they were communicating effectively in both English and Spanish in their out-of-school activities, such as in social media use, at their jobs, and in their consumption of entertainment. Dr. Stewart suggests that the students are "learning more English outside of school than in their full day of English-only classes," and notes that in addition to providing opportunities for language development, these activities bolster students' self-esteem, sense of identity, and motivation to learn English — even though these kinds of activities are rarely drawn upon as a way to engage students in a school setting. Dr. Stewart concludes with suggestions for ways that educators can tap into and build upon these activities in order to strengthen adolescents' engagement and language development.

Note: Only the abstract of this dissertation is available online, but more information is available from featured articles about Dr. Stewart's research on the Learning First Alliance website and Edutopia.

Stewart, M. (2012). Social networking, workplace, and entertainment literacies: The out-of-school literate lives of newcomer Latino/a adolescents. University of North Texas.

In the Classroom

Welcoming Newcomers and Refugees

As the New Year starts, you may have some new faces in your classroom! Here are ideas for creating a welcoming environment for newcomers, as well as for addressing the wide variety of needs of refugee students and SIFEs. In both articles, be sure to take a look at the great video tips from our ELL experts, also available on YouTube.

You may also find some helpful resources in these recommended booklists:

Bullying and ELLs

ELLs can be an easy target for school bullies. The following articles offer tips for addressing bullying problems (including cyberbullying) that may affect ELLs, as well as additional information about the connections between bullying and bias.

Books & Authors

Booklist: Snow, Snow, Snow!

These cozy, snowy stories are perfect for bedtime or for curling up on the couch! From beautiful wordless books about snowmen and polar bears to colorful stories about the magical experience of a character's first snowfall, these bilingual and multicultural stories will provide enjoyment for readers young and old alike.

Book of the Month: Breadcrumbs

By Anne Ursu

Hazel is having trouble fitting in to her new school, although she is no stranger to feeling like an outsider. Her teacher wonders why Hazel, who is adopted, doesn't "have culture" from her home country, India, or why she is always looking out the window and never at the blackboard. The only tolerable thing about school is that her best friend and next-door neighbor, Jack, is with her each day.

Then Jack disappears. It is only when another classmate confides that he saw Jack walking into the forest with a snow witch that Hazel realizes that only she can rescue her friend. She bravely sets off into an enchanted forest where nothing is what it seems and where she meets people who are trapped seeking hopeless dreams. As she continues on her treacherous journey, she soon realizes that the hard part may not be finding Jack — it may be convincing him to come home. A lyrical and fantastical adventure from Anne Ursu. (Grades 4-8)


New Board Book Edition: Bringing in the New Year

By Grace Lin

Grace Lin brings the Chinese New Year traditions to life through the eyes of a young girl and her family as they prepare for their family New Year celebration. Vivid color and bold line illustrate their planning which concludes with a dragon and noisemaking for a joyful celebration of this special Chinese festival.