September 2011

Find great resources for the new school year with you this month, including recent additions to Colorín Colorado as well as a few old favorites!

Type of Newsletter: TELLEGRAM
Date: September, 2011

Dear Subscribers:

We are pleased to share some great resources for the new school year with you this month, including recent additions to Colorín Colorado as well as a few old favorites!

We are also launching a new section about policy and English language learners — and we need your help! What topics would you like to see included in the new section? We look forward to hearing from you!

All the best,

The Colorín Colorado Team

This month's highlights

New! ELL Policy Section

This section from Colorín Colorado offers a selection of resources related to policy issues that affect ELLs around the country, from the district to federal level. Resources include news updates, reports, guiding documents, and online video interviews with experts.

ELL Policy Survey

We want our policy section to be as useful as possible to you in your work on behalf of ELLs. What kinds of questions do you have? What information do you need? What information does your administration or district need? Share your questions and ideas with us in this brief survey, and two respondents will be selected at random to receive a selection of children's or YA books.

New on Colorín Colorado

Meet the Experts: Video Interviews

Take a look at the strategies and suggestions from veteran educators Janet Davis and Ginny Thomas!

Janet Davis: Janet Davis is a professional development advisor with the Los Angeles Unified School District. Ms. Davis has more than 25 years of experience as a classroom teacher in LAUSD and more than 10 years of experience advocating on behalf of California teachers through her work with United Teachers Los Angeles, the California Federation of Teachers, and the California Teachers Association. In this interview, Janet discusses California's long-term ELLs, the connection between the civil rights and language rights movements, and her personal experience with the importance of encouraging success.

Ginny Thomas: Ginny Thomas is a native of Dallas, TX and has taught English language learners at North Dallas High School in the Dallas Independent School District for more than twenty years. Ginny is also a curriculum and test writer for the DISD. In this interview, Ginny discusses how she uses graphic novels with ELLs as well as the services her school offers teenage parents.

Commemorating the 10th Anniversary of 9/11: Including ELLs

In North Plainfield, NJ, a school district where half of the population speaks a language other than English, two teachers have successfully integrated ELLs into a pilot program introducing a curriculum and discussion about the attacks of September 11, 2001 in the classroom. In this article written for Colorín Colorado, Hope Blecher-Sass and Diana Sefchik share some of the lessons they learned from their experiences, as well as ideas for engaging ELLs in discussions about 9/11 and related issues.

Recommended Resources

For Parents: Tips for a Good School Year

This bilingual tip sheet, also available as a pdf, outlines 10 things that parents can do at home to help their child have a good school year. Share these tips at parent night and conferences!

Foundations for Teaching English Language Learners: Research, Theory, Policy, and Practice

By: Wayne E. Wright
Caslon, Inc. (2010)

Dr. Wayne E. Wright offers a timely overview of the ELL field for educators and administrators that includes chapters about: ELL demographics; second-language theory; historical background; ELL policy; ELL assessment; language and content-area instruction; primary language support; and technology in the classroom. Chapter tools such as guiding questions, activities, key terms, supporting documents, and exercises available on a companion website make this an essential resource for pre-service courses and professional development.

In the classroom

ELLs: Identification and Placement

Federal and state law requires that students who struggle academically in a mainstream, English-only classroom due to lack of English skills must receive the support they need to be successful. Effective assessment can identify those ELLs who need special instructional services, such as sheltered English, ESL, or bilingual education. See Identifying Language Proficiency for Program Placement for tips on assessing students' home language preferences, educational background, English proficiency level, and academic content knowledge.

ELL Identification: Information for Administrators

Administrators play an important role in shaping the policies and procedures for identifying the language and academic needs of ELLs. In this excerpt from Transforming Schools for English Learners: A Comprehensive Framework for School Leaders, Debbie Zacarian offers administrators an overview to ELL identification and placement best practices. Topics include information about home language surveys, test validity, and scheduling considerations.

Zacarian, Debbie. Transforming Schools for English Learners: A Comprehensive Framework for School Leaders. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, 2011.

Ideas for First-Year ELL Educators

Whether you are brand new to the teaching profession or are a veteran educator who is just starting to work with ELLs, you'll find these tools and strategies helpful! Resources include video interviews, our ELL Starter Kit, and advice from other educators.

Books and Authors

Book of the Month

Carmen Learns English
By Judy Cox
Illustrated by Angela Dominguez

Carmen is a young girl preparing for the first day of school, and she is nervous about starting school without speaking any English. Things get worse when she arrives to school to find that none of her classmates speak Spanish. Much to her surprise, however, her teacher (Señora Coski) greets her in Spanish! While her teacher's Spanish sounds muy terrible, Carmen knows that she has at least found someone who won't laugh at her English. Whether you are talking about learning a new language, big sisters, bullies, or being brave, Carmen's spunk and courage will inspire children of all backgrounds and will offer young ELLs the chance to get to know an unforgettable heroine.

New Booklist: Back-to-School

From back-to-school jitters to the stories of children who go to great lengths to get to school each day, these stories are perfect for students who are settling into another school year and they will provide lots of topics for discussion! For related titles, take a look at our ELL stories booklists.

Booklists and More: 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
  • Celebrating Grandparents: There are so many great bilingual books about grandparents that we've split our booklist into Grandma's Stories and Grandpa's Stories!

Book Giveaway: Carmen Learns English

Enter our raffle for one of three copies of Carmen Learns English by Judy Cox!

To enter, please send an e-mail to Colorín Colorado with "Book giveaway" in the subject by 11:59 p.m. on September 30, 2011!

[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. Previous contest winners See complete contest rules here.]