November 2014

November is filled with special celebrations, highlighted throughout our newsletter. Take a look at our booklists and ideas on how to bring these celebrations into the classroom!

Type of Newsletter: TELLEGRAM
Date: February, 2015

Dear Subscribers:

November is filled with special celebrations, highlighted throughout our newsletter. Take a look at our booklists and ideas on how to bring these celebrations into the classroom!

In addition, you won't want to miss our academic and oral language resource sections, filled with videos, articles, professional books, and more. These resources may be particularly useful in professional development focused on English language learners and the Common Core.

Lastly, we are very grateful for you, our audience. Your suggestions and feedback continue to make us better! All the best to you and yours for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.

The Colorín Colorado Team

This Month's Highlights

Colorín Colorado Survey: How can we make Colorín Colorado better?

We have exciting news! We are planning an upgrade of our website for 2015 thanks to the generous support of the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, and we'd love to know what your favorite resources are on Colorín Colorado so that we can make them even easier to find — as well as the new topics, resources, and features that you'd like to see in the future. Please take a moment to fill out this brief survey and enter your name in a raffle to win a bag of books for your classroom or school library from Colorín Colorado!

Colorín Colorado Celebrates Its Ten-Year Anniversary!

In addition, we are pleased to celebrate our 10-year anniversary and collaboration with the American Federation of Teachers this year, and as part of our celebration we will be highlighting some of our most popular resources created with the help of the AFT. This month, don't miss our parent tip sheets available in 11 languages!

Don't Miss...

Updated Booklists: American Indian and Alaska Heritage

Don't miss our updated children's and young adult booklists featuring numerous titles written by/about American Indians and Alaska Natives — including more than 25 new books that have been published in the last two years. Books are organized by topic and range from traditional bilingual stories to photo essays about contemporary American Indian families. We hope you'll get creative and look for opportunities to include these books and related classroom resources throughout the year and across the curriculum!

For suggestions on selecting other related titles, take a look at Tips for Choosing Culturally Appropriate Books & Resources About Native Americans by Dr. Cathy Gutierrez-Gomez.

American Indian Youth Literature Award

The American Indian Youth Literature Awards are presented every two years. The awards were established as a way to identify and honor the very best writing and illustrations by and about American Indians. Books selected to receive the award present American Indians in the fullness of their humanity in the present and past contexts. Lists of the most recent 2014 winners, as well as of the previous winners, are available on the American Indian Library Association Website.

National Adoption Month: Language and Adoption

November is also National Adoption Month, and we are pleased to share our resource section featuring a number of tools for parents and educators of internationally adopted children who may be English language learners. These include tips about language development and adoption for both younger and older children; adoption booklists for kids and teens; and resources for parents and educators about how to approach the topic of adoption in school settings.

Adoption and Language: A Mother's Perspective

Dr. Laurie Weaver is a Professor of Bilingual and Multicultural studies at the University of Houston-Clear Lake. Laurie is also a proud single parent of Marisa, whom Laurie adopted from Guatemala when Marisa was about six months old. In 2002, Laurie wrote an article for Adoptive Families about Marisa's early language development. We interviewed Laurie to learn more about how her daughter is doing today and what advice she has for parent and educators about the language development of internationally adopted children.

Common Core Corner

New video series: Engaging ELLs in Academic Conversations

Be sure to take a look at this new Teaching Channel video series, created in partnership with Oakland Unified School District, that highlights three classrooms where ELLs are engaged in academic conversations. The work is based on Jeff Zwiers and Marie Crawford's book Academic Conversations, and it shows how the teachers got the students to where they are — articulately, confidently, and independently engaging in discussion with their peers and teachers.

The videos are accompanied by related blog posts that pull out specific strategies, activities, and approaches for supporting oral language skills, full of practical ideas that teachers will find useful:

Other elements included in the posts and alongside the videos are recommended resources, discussion questions, and supporting materials.

Using Pair and Group Work to Develop ELLs' Oral Language Skills

Most teachers understand that pair and group work provide excellent opportunities for ELLs' oral language development. However, in order to build on the skills described in the CCSS, it may be necessary to re-envision pair and group work and provide additional supports for ELLs. Based upon the videos mentioned above and recommendations from Zwiers & Crawford (2011), Sydney Snyder and Diane Staehr Fenner take an in-depth look at the teachers' strategies for improving ELLs' oral language skills and highlight successful practices and tools, including examples of targeted questions and prompts; tips for appropriate classroom body language; ideas for including all students in the conversation; and sentence stems that can guide students' responses to their peers' comments.

Recommended Resources

Common Core Standards in Diverse Classrooms: Essential Practices for Developing Academic Language and Disciplinary Literacy

The Common Core State Standards require students to do more with knowledge and language than ever before. Rather than be mere consumers of knowledge, students must now become creators, critics, and communicators of ideas across disciplines. Yet in order to take on these new and exciting roles, many students need daily teaching with an extra emphasis on accelerating their academic communication skills.

Common Core Standards in Diverse Classrooms describes seven research-based teaching practices for developing complex language and literacy skills across grade levels and disciplines: using complex texts, fortifying complex output, fostering academic interaction, clarifying complex language, modeling, guiding, and designing instruction. Most importantly, you will find clear descriptions and examples of how these essential practices can — and should — be woven together in real lessons. You will also find the following:

  • Classroom activities based on the practices
  • Dozens of classroom examples from lessons in different grade levels and disciplines
  • Detailed lessons with annotations focused on language and literacy development
  • Strategies and tools for building system-wide capacity for sustained growth in the practices

Zwiers, J. O'Hara, S. and Pritchard, R. (2014). Common Core Standards in Diverse Classrooms: Essential Practices for Developing Academic Language and Disciplinary Literacy. Portland, ME: Stenhouse.

New! Oral Language Booklist

This new booklist features titles that focus on ways to support ELLs' oral language development through classroom strategies, activities, rubrics, tools, and student examples. In addition, special attention is paid to nuanced cultural dimensions of oral communication in diverse populations.

In the Classroom

Oral Language Development & ELLs

For English language learners (ELLs), the challenge of speaking in front of classrooms, reading out loud, or making a presentation in front of the class can be overwhelming. Yet oral language skills are an essential part of a student's language and literacy development. How can a teacher support ELLs' oral language development in the classroom, especially if students are at different proficiency levels? These resources provide some answers and ideas, as well as recommended resources.

Academic Language Resource Section

This resource section includes articles, video interviews, professional books, and our popular academic language webcast, all of which offer numerous examples and ideas on helping students understand what academic language is and how to incorporate it into their interactions and classroom experiences. We also include resources focused on the role of academic language in the Common Core.

Academic Language: What Teachers Need to Know

This article written by Colorín Colorado Manager Lydia Breiseth helps educators understand the role that academic language plays in their classrooms and in ELL student success. The article also includes information on social vs. academic language, as well as numerous examples of the different kinds of academic language needed for all students to fully participate in classroom activities and assignments. Videos and recommended resources are included.

Parent Resources and Outreach

Reading Tip Sheets for Parents in 11 Languages!

Colorín Colorado offers parent reading tip sheets for grades PreK-3 in 11 languages, as well as tips for babies and toddlers in English and Spanish. Share these at school events, conferences, or in the library! See It Through Your Child's Eyes

One child in five has learning and attention issues. It's one thing to read about these challenges. It's another to experience them. Through Your Child's Eyes is a one-of-a-kind tool. Its bilingual videos and simulations in English and Spanish allow others to experience what it's like for children to struggle with reading, writing, math, organization or focus. Can you filter out the distractions to complete the puzzle? Can you unscramble the letters in time to decode the message? Hear stories from children and find out from experts why these tasks can be so challenging for some kids. And learn strategies to help your students and children thrive.
Create your personalized experience on now >

Books & Authors

Book of the Month

Rock and Roll Highway: The Robbie Robertson Story
By Sebastian Robertson
Illustrated by Adam Gustavson

Canadian guitarist and songwriter Robbie Robertson is known mainly for his central role in the musical group The Band. But how did he become one of Rolling Stone's top 100 guitarists of all time? Written by his son, Sebastian, this is the story of a rock-and-roll legend's journey through music, beginning with the songs and stories he learned from his mother's family as a child on a Six Nations reservation north of Toronto. Rock and Roll Highway is the story of a young person's passion, drive, and determination to follow his dream — and the story of how he became a beloved rock icon in the process.

Thanksgiving Tales

The books on this list offer a wide range of perspectives on Thanksgiving, from stories of immigrants adapting Thanksgiving traditions in their own special way to modern reflections about the things for which we are thankful. Many of the titles are also available in Spanish.