October 2009

We are excited to share some great new resources with you in this edition of the T.ELL.E-GRAM, including the full video interview with author and illustrator Lulu Delacre, parent tip sheets for parent-teacher conferences, and an in-depth article about reading instruction for ELLs.

Type of Newsletter: TELLEGRAM
Date: October, 2009

Dear Subscribers,

We are excited to share some great new resources with you in this edition of the T.ELL.E-GRAM, including the full video interview with author and illustrator Lulu Delacre, parent tip sheets for parent-teacher conferences, and an in-depth article about reading instruction for ELLs.

Also, don't miss the survey about stimulus funding and ELLs put together by the Working Group on English Language Learner Policy. It's an important opportunity to share your input and ideas about how stimulus funds can best be used to meet the needs of ELLs. We look forward to seeing the results!


The Colorín Colorado Team

This month's highlights

New on Colorín Colorado!

Author Interview with Lulu Delacre

Lulu Delacre has been writing and illustrating children's books for almost thirty years, striving to create quality literature. Her Latino heritage and her wide-ranging life experiences inform her books. In our video interview with Lulu (also available in Spanish), she talks about her experiences growing up in Puerto Rico, her work, the treasures of the public library, and why familiar rhymes, games, and songs can help children build the skills they need to become strong readers.

Tips for Parents: Parent-Teacher Conferences

These new bilingual tips from Colorín Colorado give parents an overview of parent-teacher conferences and answer questions such as "What if I don't speak English?" and "What will my child's teacher want to talk about with me?" Parent checklists are provided that can be used before, during, and after the conference. These tips are also available as a downloadable pdf in English and Spanish.

For ideas on how to hold an effective conference with the parents of your English language learners, don't miss these Teacher Tips for Successful Parent-Teacher Conferences with Bilingual Families

Survey: ELLs and Stimulus Funds

The Working Group of English Language Learner Policy (which includes Diane August, Kenji Hakuta, Robert Linquanti, Jennifer O'Day, and Charlene Rivera) would like your input about how funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) can be used to meet the needs of ELLs, as well as obstacles that might prevent these funds from being used to serve these students. The group has created a brief online survey (10-15 minutes) addressing these questions, and they will compile this information and make it available to school districts and state departments of education. They are eager to hear from ELL educators around the country and to inform them of the group's recommendations for use of ARRA funds for ELLs.

Recommended Resources

The Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS) is an assessment tool designed to identify children at risk for developing reading difficulties. The PALS website is also a valuable resource for activities that address the foundational literacy skills that are essential for reading success. Activities are organized by skill (e.g., blending, letter sound knowledge, comprehension) and by grade level (PreK, K, and 1-3), and they can be downloaded free of charge.

Note: PALS is currently piloting Spanish versions of the Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening for Kindergarten and Grades 1-3. If you teach in a bilingual or dual-language school that might be interested in participating in this pilot, the PALs team would love to hear from you! Please send an e-mail to Colorín Colorado and we will forward it to the researchers.

Check out the Starfall website for excellent activities that allow children to have fun online while practicing their literacy skills. Activities range from alphabet recognition games to poetry reading. There are also lots of lessons and activities that teachers can download and photocopy for use in the classroom.

Featured Articles

The good news about teaching reading to ELLs is that you don't have to learn an entirely new method. Although ELLs will need additional support, you can and should use what you already know to be effective, research-based reading instruction. See our Teaching Reading section for some great ideas!

Pre-reading activities are an important component of comprehension instruction. They may be designed to motivate student interest, activate prior knowledge, or pre-teach potentially difficult concepts and vocabulary. Introducing a Text Before Reading presents lots of effective pre-reading strategies that will enhance learning for the ELLs in your classroom.

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In the Classroom

Bright Ideas that Work: Reading 101 for English Language Learners

Reading is a complicated process, which is why so many children struggle to become strong readers. The process of learning to read can be particularly challenging for English language learners. In this month's Bright Idea, Kristina Robertson highlights ELL instructional strategies based on the five components of reading as outlined in Teaching Children to Read by the National Reading Panel (2000): phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension.

Frequently Asked Questions

Beginning readers are working hard to learn to match sound to print. Having a repertoire of sight words, or words they can quickly read without spending a lot of time decoding, can help them become fluent readers. If you're looking for ways to help your ELLs develop their sight word knowledge, the following FAQ may be of interest:

Find the answers to this and many other Frequently Asked Questions about Teaching ELLs.

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Beyond the Classroom

Book of the Month

Where The Wild Things Are
By Maurice Sendak

Max's imaginative adventure begins the night he wears his wolf suit and makes some mischief. When he is sent to his room to cool off, he travels to the land of the Wild Things, where he is crowned king. This beloved classic is also available in Spanish!

Where The Wild Things Are: Bilingual Family Literacy Pack

Go on a "Wild Thing" reading adventure! Teachers can support reading together at home with Reading Rockets family literacy bags (also available in Spanish) — designed to encourage hands-on fun and learning centered around paired fiction and nonfiction books. (Level: Kindergarten)

In a Word: Alphabetic Principle

This month's glossary term refers to the basic idea that written language is a code in which letters represent the sounds in spoken words.

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

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