This month, we are featuring great materials related to March highlights such as Women's History Month and Migrant Farmworker Week.
In addition, we have included a new, timely article on computer-based assessment and ELLs from our blog, as well as teacher and parent tips for using technology with ELLs.
All the best for spring — which has to come eventually!
The Colorín Colorado Team
This month's highlights
Celebrate Women's History Month with these bilingual books about girls and women who refused to abandon their dreams simply because of their gender, such as Gabriela Mistral, Celia Cruz, Sonia Sotomayor, Frida Kahlo, Dolores Huerta, and Sor Juana Inés. This booklist is also available in Spanish. For additional titles, see the following lists from Reading Rockets:
Women's History Month: Classroom Resources
Our partners, the American Federation of Teacher and the National Education Association, both have compiled resource sections for Women's History Month:
In honor of Migrant Farmworker week, celebrated in conjunction with César Chávez's birthday (March 31), learn more about the challenges that face children of migrant farmworkers and how to provide them with opportunities for success. This resource section includes an article written by Giselle Lundy-Ponce from the American Federation of Teachers, recommended guides and websites, and video clips featuring Pat Mora, Pam Muñoz Ryan, and teacher Bobbi Houtchens.
Related children's books are featured in the following booklists:
If you are planning on attending TESOL 2015 in Toronto, be sure to stop by and say hello! We'll be in Booth #1111, hosted by the American Federation of Teachers.
Education Week's Corey Mitchell recently interviewed Libia Gil, the head of the U.S. Department of Education's Office of English-Language Acquisition (OELA), about efforts to reduce the assessment burden on ELLs and their teachers. The article also cites a 2013 AFT report entitled "Testing More, Teaching Less" that tracked the amount of time students spend in testing and test preparation, as well as the cost of testing to districts. The study concluded that students in heavily tested grades spent 20-50 hours taking tests and 60-110+ hours preparing for tests per year.
New on Colorín Colorado
Video Interviews: Janet Wong & Dr. Sylvia Vardell on The Poetry Friday Anthology
Reading Rockets and Colorín Colorado are pleased to share a new series written to help teachers bring poetry into the classroom for all students, The Poetry Friday Anthology — just in time for Poetry Month in April! The series, compiled and edited by poet Janet Wong and poetry instruction expert Dr. Sylvia Vardell, includes editions for elementary and middle school, as well as an edition focused on science. All poems are aligned to both the Common Core State Standards and the Texas TEKS standards. Each volume features a wide range of diverse poets and topics, including some bilingual poems, along with brief five-minute activities to accompany the poems called "Take Five" exercises.
Highlights from Interviews
In these interviews with Colorín Colorado and Reading Rockets, Janet and Sylvia both discuss the inspiration behind the series, the importance of including diverse voices throughout the series, and ideas for using poetry with ELLs. In addition, they each share unique perspectives; Janet talks about her reluctance to write poetry and the ways that her Chinese-Korean heritage has shaped her writing, while Sylvia talks about the reasons teachers may not like teaching poetry and her own experience growing up as an ELL and second-generation immigrant.
Don't miss Janet reading aloud from her books and poetry collections, including a video where she bravely reads out loud in Chinese even though she doesn't speak the language! Through this video, not only does she want to entertain Chinese-speaking students, but she shows how teachers can make the effort to show that they understand how hard it is to speak a new language.
Common Core Corner
The transition to assessments aligned to the Common Core this spring has focused a lot of attention on computer-based assessment for all students, including ELLs. We have heard from teachers in different states about their students' struggles with the new technical demands required by the tasks on a range of assessments. In response, our Common Core blogger Diane Staehr Fenner has written a timely post on considerations for planning for upcoming assessments. Taking into account extra challenges like coordinating multiple testing windows and snow days this year, she also offers ideas for helping students practice the technological skills they'll need to take computer-based tests. In addition, she provides a brief summary of accommodations for both PARCC and Smarter Balanced.
Note: While the post focuses on assessments aligned to the Common Core, it includes a number of tips that apply across different platforms and tests. This may be a valuable article to share with colleagues and administrators as you advocate on students' behalf during assessment planning and preparation in order to help others understand ELLs' particular challenges in this area.
Parent Resources and Outreach
These tips from the Growing Readers series offer parents some practical tips for making test days a little more manageable.
Last month, the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop released three reports that explore the diverse and growing Hispanic population in the U.S. and how these families are using media to promote learning at home. You can learn more about the reports from Michael Levine in this article from the Huffington Post.
The reports examine questions such as who has access to computing devices and high speed Internet; how diverse families engage with media; who is producing digital content aimed at children and parents and how those companies view the Latino market; the impact of technology on family ties; and ideas for building upon low-income families' strengths to support more meaningful digital participation.
Larry Ferlazzo teaches English at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento, CA. Through his popular blog, Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day, he provides regular updates about new online tools that can be used with ELLs. In his "Best of" series, he recommends resources across a wide range of content areas, as well as tools focused on technology, video, and Web 2.0. He also manages a classroom Q&A for Education Week.
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.
These articles from Edutopia share ideas for the classroom that can be used to engage ELLs and encourage language development.
- Literacy Through Photography for English-Language Learners by Dr. Tabitha Dell'Angelo
- Blogging for English-Language Learners by Rusul Alrubail
In the Classroom
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 for the class! This resource section provides guidance for using technology with ELLs, activity ideas from veteran educators, and videos of technology in action in the classroom.
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 speak English themselves. 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.
Books & Authors
By Pam Muñoz Ryan
From School Library Journal: In her epic novel Echo (Scholastic, February 2015; Gr 5-8), Pam Muñoz Ryan weaves together three stories of young people living through a tumultuous period in the 20th century: 12-year-old Friedrich Schmidt in 1933 Germany, as the Nazi Party gains momentum; orphaned 11-year-old Mike Flannery in 1935 Philadelphia during the Depression; and Ivy Maria Lopez living in Southern California in 1942 as World War II rages. Their stories revolve around a single Hohner Marine Band harmonica and are framed by a tale of a lost boy, three sisters, and a witch's curse.
In this School Library Journal interview, Ryan discusses the origins of the story, how it grew, and the unexpected twists it took.
School Library Journal: This year's Pura Belpré winners and honor books provide the ideal opportunity to get to know their authors and illustrators — such as Susan Guevara, Yuyi Morales, and Duncan Tonatiuh — better and use these distinguished titles in a library or classroom setting.