Scaffold Language Learning, Develop Language Through Art & More
Close the ELL Achievement Gap
Middlebury Interactive Languages offers a new way to engage English language learners with an online ELL curriculum that focuses on academic English and literacy development. The supplemental curriculum uses individualized, task-based activities, as well as collaborative project-based learning, to help facilitate language acquisition and improve student outcomes. The instructional modules allow students in grades 4–8 to learn the fundamentals of academic English while completing projects that relate to English language arts, social studies, mathematics, and science.
“Winning” Funding Finds
Share Traditional Cultural Stories
Cricket Media and Global Learning Network have launched the Second Annual Global Folklorist Challenge, produced in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. The challenge, which is open to youth aged 8–18 worldwide, asks participants to explore a local or regional tradition through the eyes of a community tradition bearer and create a video or slideshow to share the individual’s story. Students might explore cultural traditions related to dance, games, handicrafts, cooking, storytelling, customs, distinctive jobs, and more. Comprehensive supporting materials reinforce real-world folklorist skills by defining terms; providing examples, tips, and organizational tools; and walking students through professional interview and story-shaping processes. Smithsonian experts are also available to answer students’ questions. Accompanying teacher and parent materials include lesson plans, global collaboration opportunities, a standards-alignment chart, and scoring rubric. The challenge reinforces a range of 21st century skills, including the use of digital technologies, as well as US and international social studies, language, and interdisciplinary curriculum standards. Students whose entries best demonstrate the folklorist process of investigation and reporting will be chosen by a panel of Smithsonian and Cricket Media judges. Among the prizes for student winners are a publishing opportunity in Cricket Media’s Faces magazine, digital cameras, six-CD boxed sets courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, and more.
Deadline: November 30, 2015
Preserve Cultural Experiences Through Literature
The Pura Belpré Award is presented annually to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Hispanic cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth. The award is co-sponsored by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), and The National Association to Promote Library & Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking (REFORMA), an ALA affiliate. The award is named after Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library. As a children’s librarian, storyteller, and author, she enriched the lives of Puerto Rican children in the United States through her pioneering work of preserving and disseminating Puerto Rican folklore. On the ALA website, librarians seeking great books for children and young people, while serving the growing needs of a young Hispanic population, will find a list of the best books among the past award winners celebrating Latino/Latina authors and illustrators.
Deadline: December 31, 2015
Reach the Hard-to-Reach
The Tina B. Carver Fund was established by her family and colleagues to honor the life and work of Tina B. Carver, longtime member of TESOL and the ESL/EFL community. Grants are available for funding the purchase of student classroom learning materials and/or teacher-related materials (for example, ancillary materials that can be used in conjunction with textbooks or other instructional materials). A TESOL member, or member of a TESOL affiliate, may submit an application on behalf of a community-based organization, charitable institution, or other nonprofit organization in the United States that carries 501(c)(3) status and provides ESL programming for adults. Awarded grants will primarily serve the hardest-to-reach students with limited resources (such as beginning literacy for intermediate to low ESL students).
Deadlines: Annually—January 31, May 31, and September 30
Celebrate a Nation of Immigrants
The American Immigration Council is sponsoring the 19th annual Celebrate America Fifth Grade Creative Writing Contest in 2016. The contest inspires educators to bring US immigration history and lessons into their classrooms and gives fifth graders the opportunity to explore America as a nation of immigrants. Fifth-grade writers use the theme Why I Am Glad America Is a Nation of Immigrants to discuss their personal immigration experiences, learn about and share family histories, or write about the broader questions of the challenges facing immigrants in a new land. Students enter their work in local contests, which are sponsored by chapters of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). The contest kicks off in the fall or early winter (depending on local contest rules), as volunteer attorneys from local AILA chapters visit teachers and classrooms. The attorneys give classroom presentations on immigration to inform students and teachers about the important role immigration plays in American society. In winter and early spring, teachers submit students’ entries to local AILA chapters, which then select and honor a winner or winners on the local level. In April local AILA chapters send winning entries to the American Immigration Council to be judged by a panel of national celebrity judges, including US senators, award-winning authors, and noted journalists. The winning entries will be printed in the Congressional Record. The grand-prize winner (and two guests) will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the American Immigration Council’s Annual Benefit Dinner, where the winner will be recognized and will recite the winning piece.
Deadlines: Check website for local contest dates; national deadline for local winners is April 8, 2016
Plus: For 2016 the American Immigration Council is providing new Common Core–aligned classroom lessons to introduce the contest to students, along with collaborative learning projects and digital storytelling opportunities. All of the materials are freely downloadable from the council’s website.
Find Curated, Current Funding Opportunities
GetEdFunding is a free website sponsored by CDW•G to help educators and institutions find the funds they need in order to supplement their already stretched budgets. GetEdFunding hosts a collection of thousands of grants and other funding opportunities culled from federal, state, regional and community sources and available to public and private, preK–12 educators, schools and districts, higher education institutions and nonprofit organizations that work with them. GetEdFunding offers customized searches by six criteria, including 43 areas of focus, eight content areas and any of the 21st century themes and skills that support your curriculum. After registering on the site, you can save the grant opportunities of greatest interest and then return to them at any time. This rich resource of funding opportunities is expanded, updated and monitored daily.
Big-Value, Low-Cost/No-Cost Resources
Bridge Language Barriers with Art
Teachers and students can use the J. Paul Getty Museum’s innovative Language through Art: An ESL Enrichment Curriculum! to explore together the ways in which observing and expressing ideas about art help to improve language skills. The online curriculum uses art objects as a catalyst to enhance language skills, develop new vocabulary, and expose diverse visitors to a variety of world cultures and experiences. The materials are divided into three themes: People, Things, and Places. Each theme includes three lesson topics with student activities for each of those lessons, as well as ideas for extended enrichment activities. Student activity sheets for each lesson are provided as free downloadable handouts.
Put the Words into Their Mouths
The eReader’s Theater website offers teachers a fun way to encourage reading, listening, speaking, and writing skills in history/social studies, science, and mathematics. The engaging scripts for all grades and supporting resources—graphic organizers, lesson plans, and vocabulary extensions to build Common Core skills—emphasize oral language development and fluency practice. The printable plays are available in English or Spanish at a cost of $1.99 or less. Also available are free, easy ideas for making costumes and masks.
SPOTLIGHT! On Second-Language Acquisition*
For students who are English language learners (ELLs), learning English has many levels, and academic language is one that emerges quite late. ELLs will often learn the social contexts of English long before they master the elements that they need for learning and conveying their knowledge of academic content.
What do teachers need to do to scaffold instruction for students who are learning English? To answer this question, teachers first need to think about the various levels of English learners: (1) preproduction (also known as the silent period); (2) early production; (3) speech emergence; (4) intermediate fluency; (5) advanced fluency. Each of these stages has distinct skill characteristics and, therefore, calls for different instructional strategies.
Interim assessments, such as Northwest Evaluation Association’s (NWEA) Measures of Academic Progress (MAP), and progress-monitoring tools, such as NWEA’s Skills Navigator, can help teachers identify the stage of student functioning, and the strategies that students need for support, and chart their growth over time. With a better understanding of the various stages of second-language development, the use of assessment tools such as MAP and Skills Navigator, ongoing formative assessment, and the use of instructional scaffolding, teachers can set students up for growth and a positive mindset regarding their academic achievement.
*Excerpted from “Building to Code,” Language Magazine, November 2015.
Screen Students Online
Two computer-based tests of English language proficiency will debut this school year, ushering in a new era of online testing for millions of the nation’s English learners. The World Class Instructional Design and Assessment consortium, or WIDA, is launching its operational online test, ACCESS for ELLs 2.0, in November. The 36-state group shares English language proficiency standards and assessments for English learners that are aligned with the Common Core State Standards. The English Language Proficiency Assessment for the 21st Century consortium, known as ELPA 21, will roll out the new test for its 10 member states in February and March. Primarily used to screen students for ELL services and to determine when they no longer require language instruction, the tests measure students’ progress in learning to listen, speak, read, and write in English.
Professional Development Plus
Create a Welcoming Environment
On December 7 and 8, 2015, the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL) will conduct an interactive institute titled “Newcomers in Your School: Cultural Connections and Instructional Strategies.” The institute will provide effective strategies and practical hands-on activities to create a welcoming environment for newcomer students and facilitate their learning—both socially and instructionally. The institute will focus on two key components for optimizing success for newcomer students in the classroom: day 1 will address cultural perspectives, influences, and key resources; day 2 will address adapting content instruction for newcomer students. Participants will receive proven strategies and practical resources they can use right away. The institute is designed for preK–12 teachers, administrators, and other practitioners, such as social workers, counselors, and after-school specialists, who work in educational settings with newcomer students and their families. CAL encourages teams of educators and practitioners to participate.
Support Undocumented Youth
In an effort to ensure that all students have access to a world-class education that prepares them for college and careers, the US Department of Education has released a resource guide to help educators, school leaders, and community organizations better support undocumented youth, including Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. Aimed at high school and college students, the guide includes an overview of the rights of undocumented students; tips for educators on how to support undocumented youth in high school and college; key information on noncitizen access to federal financial aid; a list of private scholarships for which undocumented youth might be eligible; information on federally funded adult education programs at the local level; and guidance for migrant students in accessing their education records for DACA. In coming months, the department plans to release a resource guide for early learning and elementary school settings.
Share the Wisdom of Generations
Since 2003 StoryCorps has given more than 100,000 Americans a quiet booth and a facilitator to record meaningful conversations with one another about who they are, what they’ve learned in life, and how they want to be remembered. Now this nonprofit oral history organization is sponsoring The Great Thanksgiving Listen. StoryCorps is working with high school teachers across the country to ask students to interview a grandparent or elder over Thanksgiving 2015, using the StoryCorps mobile app. The app guides users through the interview experience, from recording to archiving to sharing their stories with the world. It provides easy-to-use tools for students to prepare interview questions and record high-quality conversations on their mobile devices, and upload their recordings to the StoryCorps archive at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, which serves as a home for those recordings and also provides interview and editing resources. Cost: Free
Plus: StoryCorps has launched a series of national initiatives, including The Historias Initiative, an effort to record and share the diverse stories and life experiences of Latinos and Latinas in the United States.
Get into the Conversation
The Conversation English iOS app is perfect for anyone learning English as a second language. Dedicated to helping users practice and improve their conversational English skills, the app provides 20 lessons solely dedicated to conversational English. Students can learn more than 200 common English idioms and expressions, improve their listening skills, and develop conversational speaking skills using this app. Cost: $3.49
Dig Deep into Meaning
Students can download InferCabulary 2 lite, a free educational iPad app that presents vocabulary words commonly found in middle school literature. Every word has five detailed photographs with captions. Each caption is read aloud to the student upon touching the word. Students determine the common thread among five carefully chosen pictures that convey the broad, deep meaning of each word in a variety of contexts. Age-appropriate definitions help students anchor their understanding of the words. Three modes of play include Teach, Word Games, and Definition Games. Cost: Free, upgrade to paid version, $14.99
Create a Path into Programming
Facebook’s new TechPrep website is intended to empower more African American and Latino children to learn about computer programming and coding, and to encourage them to pursue careers in the tech field. Featuring resources in Spanish and English, the website assists students and their caregivers in the exploration of the IT field, describes types of IT professional activities, and details the competences of software developers. The TechPrep hub offers community events, books, and games to introduce parents and students to the IT world. Resources are available for every age group and skill level. To extend the program’s visibility into communities, Facebook has scheduled a roadshow in US cities in the upcoming months.
Promote Understanding Across Global Cultures
The Center for Children’s Literature at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin, has launched a website devoted to new international children’s books. OmniLibros includes an annotated bibliography designed to help teachers, librarians, reading resource staff, and parents select English language books that promote understanding across global cultures. Each featured book has been translated into English, published outside the United States, or set in another country. The site offers multiple ways to search, including by age level, keyword, country, and awards won. Many of the authors have received prestigious honors, such as the Astrid Lindgren or Hans Christian Andersen award, or a place on the IBBY Honour List. Each book is available in many US libraries. The titles also are part of the Center for Children’s Literature collection and can be checked out through interlibrary loan.
Help Young Minds Go Global
The Kid World Citizen website presents an ever-expanding database of engaging, age-appropriate activities gathered from around the world and organized by topic and country. In addition to games from different countries, the site features global celebrations, holidays, and festivals; recipes; multicultural art projects; foreign films for children; world music; reviews on children’s literature related to world cultures; map-reading, geography, and geoliteracy activities; service projects that reach both locally and globally; and many other activities that help cultivate and expand young minds.
Explore Immigration Experiences Through the Years
During many of the most prolific moments in America, the contributions of immigrants altered the course of the nation’s history. America’s Heritage: A History of Immigration is an interactive timeline from the American Immigration Counsel that takes a comprehensive look at the history of American immigration and the major laws that establish US immigration policy.
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