September 2010

Learn about our new professional development video series, information about grouping ELLs for instruction, and tips for running an effective before- or after-school program.

Type of Newsletter: TELLEGRAM
Date: October, 2010

Dear Subscribers,

As you get back into the swing of things, you will find lots of great new resources on Colorín Colorado, including our new professional development video series, information about grouping ELLs for instruction, and tips for running an effective before- or after-school program.

All the best for a great school year!


The Colorín Colorado Team

New on Colorín Colorado

AFT Special Project: Watch & Learn in the ELL Classroom

We are thrilled to present a new online professional development series for middle and high school ELL educators! Watch & Learn, a special project funded by the American Federation of Teachers, presents video modules featuring strategies from secondary ELL classrooms and interviews with experts on ELL best practices. The four modules focus on creating a welcoming classroom environment, chapter walks through a content textbook, pre-reading strategies for fiction, and creating an active and engaged reader. Note: Many strategies will apply in elementary classrooms as well.

Take a look and let us know what you think!

Question from the Ning: How can we establish a more structured way of teaching language and literacy for ELLs in our middle school?

Back to School: Lessons Learned from Immigrant Families

In this article written for Colorín Colorado, Young-Chan Han, Family Involvement Specialist for the Maryland State Department of Education, shares a number of poignant lessons she has learned from immigrant families. These lessons will serve as an excellent resource for administrators and teachers new to working with ELLs, particularly in conversations about making ELL families feel welcome within the school community.

Related information is available in our section on supporting ELLs in the mainstream classroom.

Tips for First-Year ELL Teachers

Take a look at these ideas that veteran educators shared with new ELL teachers. If you have other ideas, feel free to share them on the Ning or by e-mail!

This Month's Highlights

Monthly Celebrations

Get ready to share some wonderful books and resources with your students this month:

  • Hispanic Heritage Month: Resources in English and Spanish, including booklists for grades K-12, puzzles, and multimedia lesson plans
  • Grandparents' Day: There are so many great bilingual books about grandparents that we've split our booklist into Grandma's Stories and Grandpa's Stories!

Parent Resource: Tips for a Good School Year

This bilingual article, also available as a pdf, outlines 10 things that parents can do at home to help their child have a good school year. Print out copies to share at parent night and conferences!

See tips in Spanish >>

Don't Miss...

Conference: Implementing Common Core Standards for ELLs

Earlier this summer, Mary Ann Zehr of Education Week reported on an upcoming conference that will focus on how the common core standards can be implemented appropriately for ELLs. The conference, scheduled for Sept. 27 and 28 in Alexandria, Va., is being sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers, the Council of the Great City Schools, the National Council of La Raza, and the Association of Multilingual Multicultural Education.

Documentary: Speaking in Tongues

Meet Jason, Durrell, Julian, and Kelly. Four typical American kids, with one exception. Their parents placed them in schools where, from the first day of kindergarten, their teachers speak a foreign language. Speaking In Tongues uses this scenario to explore the provocative notion that being bilingual can be a national asset regardless of your home language. Educator resources included on the website.

You may be able to catch a local screening or PBS broadcast of the documentary, or host your own local screening of the film. In addition, PBS will make the video available online through September 17, 2010. DVDs include English, Spanish, and Chinese subtitles.

Recommended Resources

Setting Up a Classroom for English Language Learners

The first chapter from English Language Learners Day by Day, K-6, available online through the Heinemann website, is full of detailed suggestions for creating a welcoming classroom that fosters learning and language development. Teacher Christina M. Celic shares practical tips on everything from organizing leveled books in the classroom library to arranging desks for collaborative workspace. She also includes a number of ideas for "centers" in areas such as math, science, social studies, listening, and writing, as well as suggestions for setting up computers, charts, word walls, and reading areas in the classroom.

Celic, C. (2009) Setting Up a Classroom for English Language Learners. Chapter 1 of English Language Learners Day by Day, K-6. Online sample. Heinemann.

For more grade-specific ELL strategies, take a look at our new professional booklists:

In the Classroom

How should ELLs be grouped for instruction?

Placing ELLs in the appropriate instruction group presents a number of challenges to teachers, administrators, and ELL curriculum directors. Factors such as age, language proficiency level, language groups, staff time, program models, and available resources for ELL students can affect these decisions in a variety of ways. Experts Ester de Jong and Nancy L. Commins provide a quite a bit of helpful guidance about this topic in this excerpt from English Language Learners at School: A Guide for Administrators.

Source: De Jong, E. and Commins, N. (2006). How should English language learners be grouped for instruction? In E. Hamayan & R. Freeman, English Language Learners at School: A Guide for Administrators. (pp. 118-121). ©Caslon Publishing. Printed with permission, all rights reserved.

Additional information is available in Identifying ELL Language and Academic Needs for Program Placement.

Before- & After-School Tutoring Programs for ELLs

Before- and after-school programs can play an important role in ELLs' success by providing a place and time for homework, extra academic support, and enrichment activities. These programs are particularly helpful for older students who may not have access to academic resources or help at home, or those with responsibilities such as working or caring for younger siblings. Learn more about the elements of an effective ELL tutoring program from this excerpt of Teaching Adolescent English Language Learners: Essential Strategies for Middle and High School.

Source: Cloud, N., Lakin, J., Leininger, E. & Maxwell, L. (2010). Teaching Adolescent English Language Learners: Essential Strategies for Middle and High School. (pp. 46-48). ©Caslon Publishing. Printed with permission, all rights reserved.

Books and Authors

Book of the Month

Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx
By: Jonah Winter

This bilingual picture book tells the story of Sotomayor's childhood in the Bronx, her time at Princeton, and her confirmation on the Supreme Court, with a special focus on her mother's unwavering support throughout her life. Lovely illustrations capture the warmth and joy of Sotomayor's family and story. Note: The biography includes a discussion of the racial undertones of her nomination and confirmation hearing.

Booklist Updates

Don't miss the new titles we've added to our ELL Stories booklist, as well as our new booklist about Ramadan and Eid! The books in this list provide an introduction to Ramadan and its traditions from a child's point of view. From the nightly watching of the Ramadan moon to the family discussions of when a child is old enough to start fasting, these selections portray Ramadan customs throughout the world with engaging stories and stunning illustrations.

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