October 2011

Don't miss these resources on academic language, including our popular webcast with academic language expert Dr. Robin Scarcella. Share your thoughts about implementing the Common Core State Standards for ELLs, and discuss with other professionals.

Type of Newsletter: TELLEGRAM
Date: October, 2011

Dear Subscribers:

We are pleased to feature our resources on academic language this month, including our popular webcast with academic language expert Dr. Robin Scarcella.

In addition, we'd love to hear your thoughts about implementing the Common Core State Standards for ELLs. What kinds of resources would improve professional development in this area? Thanks for your ideas and comments!

All the best,

The Colorín Colorado Team

This month's highlights

Survey: Common Core State Standards and ELLs

Our updated Common Core State Standards (CCSS) section features resources related to the implementation of the CCSS for ELLs. This is just the first step, though! We'd like to know:

  • What are your questions and concerns about implementing the CCSS with ELLs?
  • What kinds of resources and professional development tools would benefit you and your colleagues as you prepare to implement the CCSS?

Share your thoughts with us through this online survey and enter a raffle to win a packet of children's/YA books!

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Update: September Survey

Thank you to those of you who responded to our September policy survey! You can see a summary of the results in our ELL policy section. The winners of our book drawing were Martha Allexsaht-Snider from Georgia and Heather Frary from Minnesota.

Your Feedback: WIDA ELD Standards, 2012 Edition

WIDA is offering a sneak preview of its 2012 Edition of the English Language Development Standards until the end of October. The purpose of this draft release is to collect feedback from a variety of stakeholders in the field — and WIDA wants to hear from you! Visit the WIDA website to learn more about the new edition and offer suggestions for the draft.

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New on Colorín Colorado

New Booklist! Our Marvelous Moon

In honor of the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, read these books about the annual lunar celebration, such as Grace Lin's Thanking the Moon, as well as other multicultural stories about the moon's role in mythology and our daily lives.

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Updated Booklists: Food and Fiesta!

As Hispanic Heritage Month is ending, this is a great time to think about the importance of using culturally relevant books throughout the school year. Take a look at this article by Donald and Yvonne Freeman about culturally relevant books for ELLs, as well as these bilingual books about some favorite foods and celebrations!

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Recommended Resources

Connecting Content and Academic Language for English Learners and Struggling Students, Grades 2-6

By Ruth Swinney and Patricia Velasco (Paperback)

While many educators may understand why academic language is important, they may wonder how to teach it more explicitly and effectively. In this hands-on guide, experts Ruth Swinney and Patricia Velasco offer a number of strategies and approaches to help ELLs and struggling learners master the language necessary to access grade-level curriculum and to succeed in related reading, writing, and speaking tasks. Part I of the book focuses on ways to integrate language development into classroom lessons, as well as an in-depth discussion of the importance of student background knowledge. Part II offers specific language arts, social studies, science, and thematic units with detailed information on how to model appropriate academic language, address student errors, and identify key vocabulary words and grammatical structures before a lesson. Helpful tools include graphic organizers, concept maps, and numerous examples from a variety of classroom settings and language instruction models.

Swinney, R. and Velasco. P. (2011) Connecting Content and Academic Language for English Learners and Struggling Students, Grades 2-6. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

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Vocabulary Program: Word Generation

Word Generation is a research-based vocabulary program for middle school students designed to teach words through language arts, math, science, and social studies classes. The program employs several strategies to ensure that students learn words in a variety of contexts. Lead developers include Catherine Snow from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Claire White from the Strategic Education Research Partnership (SERP).

Since the materials are still in development, the SERP Institute is eager for schools to use and evaluate the current version of the program. Materials and teacher guides are available for free to users who register online.

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Administrators and Language Instruction

What do school administrators need to know about language instruction? For an introductory overview, take a look at What Middle Level Principals Need to Know About English Language Learners by ESL teacher Courtney George (originally published on the National Association of Secondary School Principals website). While the article is geared towards middle school administrators, it has useful information for school leaders working at all grade levels.

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Don't Miss...

Parent-Teacher Conferences

As the time for parent-teacher conferences approaches, you and your students' parents may be wondering how to have a conversation if you speak different languages. These articles offer tips for both teachers and parents on overcoming the language barrier in order to hold a productive conference.


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October is LD Awareness Month!

Take a look at our ELL resources about special education, RTI, and differentiated instruction, as well as articles in English and Spanish for parents about learning disabilities.

Parents looking for additional information in Spanish may also find the bilingual resources from the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities, KidsHealth.org, and PBS Parents helpful. You can find examples of special education information in other languages from the Minnesota Department of Education and the San Diego Unified School District.

Your resources: Does your district have translated special education forms online? Send us an e-mail with the link if so!

Learn more: For additional information about learning disabilities, visit our sister site, LD Online!

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In the classroom

Language Acquisition: An Overview

Learning a new language requires time, effort, and patience. Fortunately, language researchers have developed a general outline of language acquisition that helps explain the process that language learners go through to develop skills in a foreign language. This article introduces readers to the stages of language acquisition and offers strategies designed to support ELL instruction at different stages of language acquisition.

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Webcast: Academic Language

This webcast featuring Dr. Robin Scarcella provides an overview of academic language instruction for English language learners, as well as teaching strategies, activity ideas, and recommended resources. For additional information on academic language and vocabulary, take a look at related articles on Colorín Colorado!

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Books and Authors

Book of the Month

Thanking the Moon: Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival
By Grace Lin

As she did for the Lunar New Year, Grace Lin introduces readers to the mid-autumn moon festival through a Chinese American family's preparations. Their special night-time picnic includes mooncakes and tea — and much gratitude for the chance to be together. Vibrant, detailed illustrations will appeal to children and an author's note offers background information that just might inspire a moonlit celebration!

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Book Giveaway

Enter our raffle to win a free copy of one of the following:

  • The Moon Was at a Fiesta
    By Matthew Gollub
    Illustrated by Leovigildo Martinez
  • Under the Lemon Moon / Bajo la luna de limón (Bilingual set)
    By Edith Hope Fine
    Illustrated by René King Moreno
  • Beautiful Moon / Bella Luna (Bilingual version)
    By Dawn Jeffers
    Illustrated by Bonnie Leick
  • A Full Moon Is Rising (Poetry collection)
    By Marilyn Singer
    Illustrated by Julia Cairns

To enter, please send an e-mail to Colorín Colorado with "Book giveaway" in the subject by 11:59 p.m. on October 31, 2011, and share one of your favorite activities for getting ready for the new school year!

[One entry per family. Winners of any previous Book Giveaways are ineligible to win any other Book Giveaways for a period of one (1) year from the date of the Book Giveaway. See complete contest rules here.]

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Booklist: Day of the Dead Stories

The Day of the Dead is time of both joy and quiet remembrance as families honor their loved ones who have died. Each of the books on this list offers a unique interpretation of the holiday that will provide an excellent introduction for students who are new to the Day of the Dead, as well as an important opportunity for students who celebrate the holiday to share their own family traditions.

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