This month, we are featuring a wonderful collection of resources focused on engaging the families of English language learners, as well as booklists related to autumn and upcoming celebrations such as the Day of the Dead. In addition, we provide some background information on the literacy and language development of ELLs that you can share with your colleagues.
The Colorín Colorado Team
October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Take a look at these ideas on how to address bullying that affects ELLs in 8 Tips to Protect ELLs from Bullying in Your Classroom and School, originally published by Language Lizard.
We've gotten a question from one of our colleagues, Amber Prentice, and wondered if you had any ideas for her! Amber writes that she will be starting a new job later this month to create an ELL program in a rural district with 2,000 students and about 25 ELL students. The students are spread out throughout grade levels and schools, and they are all Russian or Ukrainian. She has only ever worked in big urban districts before and never with this population. If anyone has any ideas or resources, she'd love to hear them!
Last month, we announced the broadcast of a new PBS series, Latino Americans. Related lesson plans for middle and high school are now available online, and complete episodes can be streamed through the PBS website. Videos in Spanish can also be viewed through Spanish public broadcasting service Vme.
The University of Alabama School of Library and Information Studies is pleased to announce the 2014 National Latino Children's Literature Conference to be held in Tuscaloosa, AL on March 13-14, 2014. This exclusive conference was created for the purpose of promoting high-quality children's and young adult books about Latino cultures and to offer a forum for open discussion of the informational, educational, and literacy needs of Latino youth (children and teens) and their families. The conference features nationally-acclaimed Latino literacy scholars and award-winning Latino authors and illustrators of children's and young adult books.
In keeping with the recurring conference theme "Connecting Cultures & Celebrating Cuentos," conference chair Dr. Jamie Campbell Naidoo invites poster and program proposals to be submitted by midnight on December 9, 2013.
New on Colorín Colorado
Whether you are looking for a cozy autumn tale or a book about why leaves change color, this booklist has a variety of titles featuring diverse cultural backgrounds and languages. A number of bilingual non-fiction books are included that can be used for science, art, and language arts lessons.
These children's booklists feature stories about families from a wide range of diverse cultures sharing special moments together, from noisy holiday celebrations to quiet moments at home. The featured books, many of which focus on ELL families, are great options for the classroom and family literacy events! In addition, they also may be a valuable resource for families who have never seen their own culture represented in a children's story.
Common Core Corner
Dr. Diane Staehr Fenner reports that many new resources focused on teaching the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics to ELLs have been created in recent months. She shares them, along with other ELL math resources and more general Common Core math resources, in this blog post.
There is also a new collection of online Common Core resources from Achieve the Core. With the help of teachers from around the country (including many members of our major partner, the American Federation of Teachers), Achieve the Core has recently re-launched its website with a fresh design and hundreds of Common Core resources, lessons, guides, and professional development tools. While these resources aren't currently scaffolded for ELLs or aligned to English language proficiency standards, they provide one of the most comprehensive collections of Common Core materials to date and offer a great starting point for discussion of what standards-based lessons might look like for ELLs. Learn more from our related blog post!
By Renee Rubin, Michelle Abrego, and John Sutterby
This practical and timely guide offers numerous tools for learning about ELL families and identifying needs as well as interests, expectations, and strengths that can provide a foundation for building a relationship with families. The authors also provide in-depth discussion of why ELL families may not respond to the school's outreach efforts as expected, which will be useful to educators and administrators who are new to working with ELLs or who are getting to know a new ELL population. Each chapter includes detailed activities, discussion questions, and resource lists.
In addition, the authors discuss a number of critical topics in depth, including:
- School safety
- Family surveys and needs assessments
- Weekend and evening use of school facilities
- Open House events and conferences
- Translation and communication
- Parent volunteers
- Communication challenges regarding special education, legal documentation, poverty, homelessness, health, and medicine
- Communication with angry families
- Partnerships with community volunteers, organizations, and businesses
Rubin, R. Abrego, M. and Sutterby, J. (2012). Engaging the Families of ELLs: Ideas, Resources, and Activities. Larchmont, NY: Eye on Education.
These titles offer a myriad of ways to build relationships with the families of English language learners, as well as ideas on how to communicate effectively and engage them in the school community. A number of the books also encourage teachers to identify the strengths of their ELL families and look for ways to build upon those strengths together.
Parent Resources and Outreach
When it comes time for parent-teacher conferences with ELL families, parents and educators alike may have a lot of questions about the meeting and how to make it effective. Here are some steps for getting started:
- Parent Tips: Parent-Teacher Conferences (also available in Spanish)
- Educator Tips: Successful Parent-Teacher Conferences with Bilingual Families
Families of ELLs can bring dedication and wisdom to the school community and be crucial partners in supporting student success — even (or perhaps especially) if their participation looks a little different than what the school expects! These articles, tip sheets, guides, and books provide educators with all kinds of ideas on how get to know and engage ELL families.
Video Bonus: Don't miss our related videos about ELL parent engagement, including Clara Gonzales-Espinoza's wonderful strategy of using parent letters to learn more about her students.
In the Classroom
Language and Literacy: Where to Start with ELLs
As you get to know your ELLs this fall, it may be helpful to learn more about some benchmarks you can look for in their language and literacy development. These articles provide an overview to both topics, along with recommended strategies and related resources. They can be used as accessible introduction for new ELL educators as well as a helpful refresher for veteran teachers.
Books and Authors
By Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy
Illustrated by David Diaz
Product Description: Juanita lives in New York and is Mexican. Felipe lives in Chicago and is Panamanian, Venezuelan, and black. Michiko lives in Los Angeles and is Peruvian and Japanese. Each of them is also Latino.
Thirteen young Latinos and Latinas living in America are introduced in this book celebrating the rich diversity of the Latino and Latina experience in the United States. Free-verse fictional narratives from the perspective of each youth provide specific stories and circumstances for the reader to better understand the Latino people's quest for identity. Each profile is followed by nonfiction prose that further clarifies the character's background and history, touching upon important events in the history of the Latino American people, such as the Spanish Civil War, immigration to the U.S., and the internment of Latinos with Japanese ancestry during World War II.
Learn more about the book in this online interview with Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy, courtesy of the International Reading Association.
In honor of the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, read these books about the annual lunar celebration, such as Thanking the Moon by Grace Lin, as well as other multicultural stories about the moon's role in mythology and our daily lives.
El día de los muertos (the Day of the Dead) is a 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. Many of the books are also available in Spanish.