September 2013

As the school year picks up steam, we wanted to share a number of new resources from the ELL field that have become available this month and also focus on the importance of getting to know ELLs and their families.

Type of Newsletter: TELLEGRAM
Date: September, 2013

Dear Subscribers:

As the school year picks up steam, we wanted to share a number of new resources from the ELL field that have become available this month and also focus on the importance of getting to know ELLs and their families.

In addition, we are featuring information about the PBS series, Latino Americans, co-produced by WETA (the public broadcasting station in Washington, DC where Colorín Colorado is based).

All the best as you settle in to the new year!


The Colorín Colorado Team

Don't Miss...

Tonight on PBS! Latino Americans

Check your local PBS listings for Latino Americans, a six-hour documentary about the rich and varied history of Latinos in the United States airing tonight (September 17) and on September 24 and October 1. (All video will be available for streaming on PBS after initial broadcast premieres.)

The series documents the evolution of a new "Latino American" identity from the 1500s to the present day, featuring interviews with nearly 100 Latinos from the worlds of politics, business and pop culture — including Herman Badillo, Dolores Huerta, Gloria Estefan and Rita Moreno, among many others — as well as deeply personal portraits of lesser-known Latinos who lived through key chapters in American history. A Spanish-language version will also be broadcast on Spanish-language public television channels through Vme.

Related resources include:

  • Educational materials for middle and high school aligned to the Common Core and National Social Studies Standards (stay tuned!)
  • A companion book written by Ray Suarez and available in both English and Spanish.
  • "Mi Historia," a video project where individuals are invited to share their experiences and thoughts via YouTube
  • Latino Americans Blog featuring Latino writers from diverse backgrounds

We encourage you to add your voices to the mix, and you can join the discussion online and follow #latinosPBS for information about watch parties, local events, and how to host your own screenings!

Feedback Requested for ELL Support / Research

Education Week reports that the U.S. Department of Education is looking for guidance from the public and the ELL field on how it can better support the needs of ELLs with two calls for feedback on the following topics:

Comments must be received by September 25 and October 9 respectively.

Common Core Corner

PARCC Assessment Task: Strategies for ELLs

In this two-part post from our Common Core and ELLs blog, Dr. Diane Staehr Fenner takes an in-depth look at a sample English language arts assessment item posted by the PARCC consortia from an ELL point of view. In Part 1, she walks through the task and identifies the kinds of Common Core skills ELLs would need to complete the task. In Part 2, she suggests strategies to help ELLs master those skills in the classroom. We'd love to hear what you think — feel free to post your comments or questions on the blog!

Smarter Balanced Assessment Resources in Spanish

Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortia (SBAC) recently launched a Spanish webpage (Smarter en Español) with information about the consortium and the Common Core. The webpage features a section that describes what SBAC is doing to support students learning English and special needs students, several Spanish resources created by SBAC for parent, students, and teachers. The page also includes Spanish resources about the CCSS developed by organizations outside of SBAC (such as the Council of Great City Schools). The webpage ends with three questions and answers about the standards and assessments in Spanish.

New Online Course About Common Core and ELLs

The Understanding Language Initiative from Stanford University is offering a Massive Open Online Course (or MOOC) for Educators around Common Core State Standards and ELLs. The course focuses on helping students engage in meaningful classroom discussions. Educators can take the course for free. More information is available on our blog and on the course website.

Recommended Resources

Common Core for the Not-So-Common Learner (Two-Book Series)

By Andrea Honigsfeld and Maria G. Dove

These books by Andrea Honigsfeld and Maria G. Dove (one focusing on Grades K-5 and the other on Grades 6-12) offer the most comprehensive discussion to date of the implications of the Common Core for diverse learners, including ELLs and students with disabilities. The authors walk through each anchor standard of the English Language Arts standards and offer strategies, considerations, support materials, activity ideas, and reflection questions across the domains. They also focus on the importance of academic language in meeting the standards, as well as ideas for collaboration around the standards.

Honigsfeld, A. and Dove, M. (2013). Common Core for the Not-So-Common Learner: Grades K-5. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Honigsfeld, A. and Dove, M. (2013). Common Core for the Not-So-Common Learner: Grades 6-12. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

WIDA Early English Language Development (ELD) Standards

WIDA has released the Early English Language Development Standards for children ages 2 to 5 for use by early childhood practitioners including child care, Head Start, preschool/prekindergarten educators, and caregivers. The purpose of the E-ELD standards is to provide a developmentally sound framework for supporting, instructing, and assessing dual language learners. The E-ELD Standards correspond with WIDA's English Language Development (ELD) Standards framework for Kindergarten through Grade 12 and to states' Early Learning Standards and Head Start's Early Learning and Child Outcomes.

Parent Resources and Outreach

How Parents Can Support the Common Core Reading Standards

This article from our bilingual Growing Readers parent newsletter introduces parents to the four main areas of the Common Core reading standards, along with things parents can do at home to help their child build skills in these areas. The article is available in English and Spanish.

In the Classroom

Professional Booklist: About ELLs

This booklist, which includes a number of new titles, offers a great introduction to working with ELLs through these user-friendly guides. Each book covers helpful topics such as getting to know your students, welcoming ELLs, and working with parents.

Making Your First Home Visit: A Guide for Classroom Teachers

One great way to get to know ELLs and their families is through a home visit early in the school year. In this article written for Colorín Colorado, Drs. Gisela Ernst-Slavit and Michele Mason provide a number of practical tips for home visits with ELL families, including steps to take before, during, and after the visit.

Getting to Know Your ELLs: Six Steps for Success

When asked for the secret of their success with English language learners, veteran ELL teachers point to the importance of getting to know their students. This article provides some guidance on what information is most helpful to gather about students, ideas on who will be able to help find that information, and recommendations of useful resources. We welcome you to contribute your ideas in the comments section below the article and encourage you to share this with classroom teachers and colleagues!

Video Bonus: Don't miss the video clips of our expert teachers' ideas following the article.

TED Talk: The Danger of a Single Story

In her 2009 TED talk, award-winning Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie cautions against "the danger of a single story"; in other words, when learning about another person or another place, it can be easy to assume that we already know all there is to know. It is a trap she has experienced on both sides. She describes her college roommate's question about her "tribal music" upon learning that Adichie was from Nigeria (and the roommate's disappointment when Adichie pulled out a Mariah Carey tape), but she also recalls being surprised that a poor family she knew as a child included artisans who could do beautiful handiwork. She observes, "Show a people as one thing — as only one thing — over and over again, and that is what they become."

This powerful video may be a particularly useful tool for staff development and conversations about ELL services or changing demographics in your community.

Books and Authors

Children's Books: ELL Stories

These stories capture the varied experiences of learning English through a child's eyes — from the shy and nerve-wracking beginnings to the joy of a blossoming new friendship. ELL students will recognize the highs and lows of the situations and emotions of the stories, many of which were written by authors who themselves were immigrants. The books also provide valuable insight to adults working with ELLs in the classroom.

Hispanic Heritage Booklists

We are excited to present more than 50 themed Hispanic Heritage booklists on Colorín Colorado for children and young adults! Booklists are organized by topics that can be used throughout the year and feature a number of books published in recent years, as well as earlier favorites. Some of the new booklists focus on music, art, biographies of famous Latinos and Latinas, folk tales, neighborhood stories from the barrio, and stories about coming of age. For additional titles, see the books listed in our updated AFT Toolkit for Teachers.

Book of the Month

Marisol McDonald and the Clash Bash
By Monica Brown
Illustrated by Sara Palacios

Product Description: Marisol is turning eight, and it's time to plan a birthday party that will be fabulous, marvelous, and divine. She also hopes that Abuelita, who lives far away in Peru, will be able to come to the celebration.

At the party store, Marisol can't decide what kind of party to have. There are so many choices, but everything in the store matches! Nothing seems right for soccer, pirate, princess, unicorn-loving Marisol. Finally she comes up with just the right idea, and when her friends arrive for her Clash Bash birthday, a big surprise awaits. But in a heartwarming turn of events, Marisol gets the biggest surprise of all—a visit from Abuelita via computer.

Learn more about the author and Marisol McDonald in this video interview with Monica Brown.