Build Vocabulary, Make Meaning, Capture Thoughts, Tell Stories & More
Closing 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
Listening Strategies for Language Acquisition
Do your English learners hear enough real-world academic English? Listen Current selects student-friendly and super interesting audio stories about the real world to expose intermediate and advanced ELs to more spoken academic English. Bring a unique kind of engagement into the classroom using authentic public radio podcasts. Each lesson comes with built-in literacy supports, such as interactive transcripts, vocabulary, and reduced-speed audio. Research shows authentic listening supports academic language acquisition—and students will love the real-world connection.
The nonprofit AFS-USA (formerly the American Field Service) offers international exchange programs in more than 40 countries around the world through independent, nonprofit AFS organizations. Teachers can be involved in an Outreach to Educators Event in their community by conducting targeted, global learning outreach or hosting a workshop or seminar on global competency through intercultural learning (ICL) for educators and administrators. The overarching goal of this year‘s programs is to strengthen the link between global learning and cultural exchange as a means to promote public diplomacy. Outreach to Educators Events Grants are available to offset the cost of intercultural learning events. Proposals for a grant should demonstrate how to foster closer connections directly with educators through ICL in all its forms. The suggested topics for 2016 are Service Learning, Global Education, ICL through Arts and Technology, Human Rights & Cultural Understanding, and Experiential Learning. (Other topics are welcomed.) In their proposals, applicants should highlight the critical link between cultural exchange and 21st century skills. Accepted applicants will be awarded a grant between $500 and $1,500 for their event.
Deadline: April 18, 2016, for proposals
Educators are invited to enter the Collaboration Nation video contest by telling CDW•G about their school or district’s exemplary educational technology collaboration and the measurable impact it has had on learning and teaching. By sharing their successes, schools or districts have the opportunity to win a $50,000 grand prize or one of three $15,000 monthly prizes from CDW•G. To enter, simply create a 90-second video highlighting your school or district’s cross-departmental collaboration project and upload the video to YouTube. Then complete the entry form and submit. Monthly contests are won by votes received through CDW•G’s Facebook page; three industry experts will determine the grand-prize winner.
Deadlines: Monthly through April 30, 2016
Reflections of Diversity
The Walter Dean Myers Grant is named in honor of the celebrated children’s book author Walter Dean Myers (1937–2014). Myers was a lifelong advocate for diversity in youth literature and a National Book Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. His legacy can be seen in the thousands of lives he touched, including those of readers and authors alike. His legacy is also reflected in the We Need Diverse Books (WNDB) organization. WNDB seeks to honor his memory by establishing this grant in his name. Applicants for the grant must be working toward a career as a children’s author or illustrator and identify as “diverse” (as described on WNDB’s website). Five grant winners will receive $2,000 each.
Deadline: May 15, 2016, at 11:59 p.m. (ET), for applications
Literacy and Learning
The Dollar General Literacy Foundation’s Youth Literacy Grants provide funding to schools, public libraries, and nonprofit organizations to help students who are performing below grade level or experiencing difficulty reading. Grant funding is intended to assist in implementing new or expanding existing literacy programs; purchasing new technology or equipment to support literacy initiatives; or purchasing books, materials, or software for literacy programs. The maximum grant amount is $4,000.
Deadline: May 19, 2016, at 11:00 p.m. (CT), for applications; grant announcement to be made on September 1, 2016
Big-Value, No-Cost Resources
Agreeing and Disagreeing
Road to Grammar is a free web resource featuring quizzes, games, and lessons for English language learners. Visitors to Road to Grammar will find grammar quizzes, most of which provide instant feedback, including explanations of why an answer is correct or incorrect. Before taking the quizzes, students can work through a series of practice activities. Road to Grammar also offers a collection of eight downloadable resources for teachers. These free downloads provide discussion starters for English lessons, as well as warm-up activities and practice sheets.
A Drop in the Bucket
Turn-O-Phrase is a simple online game of identifying colloquial phrases from a set of two pictures. Depending on the level, some words may be offered to help students. The further students advance in the game, the more challenging the activities become. If they want to challenge their friends or classmates, students can create their own Turn-O-Phrase games after setting up an account on the website.
From Abacus to Zero
Math is Fun offers a free online mathematics dictionary with more than 840 definitions of mathematical terms. Almost all of the definitions include illustrations, and more than 200 of the definitions include animations, some of which are interactive tutorials.
Framing the Issues
A free online lesson provided by The New York Times Learning Network helps English language learners increase their English vocabulary as well as their civic literacy. In the lesson, students view a video highlighting a Democratic presidential debate that occurred in March 2016. They also read an article on the clash between the two candidates on immigration and answer questions about the meaning of demographic, landslide, and rigged. Then they engage in an interactive, reading all the words and looking up any words they don’t know in a dictionary or on the Internet. The lesson culminates with a question that requires students to convey their understanding of the vocabulary concepts in the interactive and apply that understanding to a writing prompt in which they back up their response with a quotation from the passage and end with a comment or a connection to their personal interests.
Plus: In October 2015, The Learning Network presented a free lesson on the Republican presidential candidates’ discussion of immigration.
Professional Development Plus
Scope of the Situation
From October 2013 to September 2015, US Customs and Border Protection apprehended more than 102,000 unaccompanied minors from Central America and Mexico at the US–Mexican border. An issue brief from the Migration Policy Institute details the scope of the situation, explains how the US immigration system is handling these cases, and documents the challenges these children face, often including recovery from trauma and gaps in formal education. The brief also notes how school districts serving unaccompanied minors have responded to the influx. Local school districts bear most of the cost of educating unaccompanied minors. The brief includes links to several federal programs that provide states and local education agencies with additional funds for the effort. It also highlights strategies affected school districts have used to serve these students. The report, Unaccompanied Child Migrants in U.S. Communities, Immigration Court, and Schools, is available to download, free of charge, on the Migration Policy Institute’s website.
Teaching Tolerance has developed Reading Diversity, a unique model to make it easier for teachers to include diverse voices in K–12 classrooms. This model promotes a multidimensional approach to text selection that prioritizes critical literacy, cultural responsiveness, and complexity. Teaching Tolerance has designed two versions of the Reading Diversity model as two editable PDF tools educators can download, complete, save, and share: Reading Diversity Lite: A Tool for Selecting Diverse Texts (Teacher’s Edition) is a one-page questionnaire that helps users include diverse voices in their day-to-day planning by answering 14 simple “yes or no” questions. This tool is ideal for busy teachers and anyone else looking to assess a text’s diversity. Reading Diversity: A Tool for Selecting Diverse Texts (Extended Edition) gives users an in-depth look at the complexity and diversity of a text and is ideal for curriculum coordinators, literacy coaches, book-selection committees, and preservice teachers.
SPOTLIGHT! On Socratic Seminars
The goal of a Socratic seminar is for students to help one another understand the ideas, issues, and values reflected in a specific text. Students are responsible for facilitating a discussion around ideas in the text rather than asserting opinions. Through a process of listening, making meaning, and finding common ground, students work toward shared understanding.
Socratic seminars are based on close textual analysis, so it is important to select a text that provides ample avenues for interpretation and discussion. If you choose a simple text in which the meaning is fairly straightforward, students won’t have much to discuss. Additionally the text should not be too long to read closely in the time you’ve allotted. Often teachers select a text ranging from one paragraph to one page. Examples of texts frequently used as the basis of Socratic seminars include the preamble to the US Constitution and excerpts from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”
Facing History and Ourselves, a nonprofit international educational and professional development organization, provides a five-step procedure for conducting a Socratic seminar. Julie Mann, an ESL and Human Rights teacher at Newcomers High School, in Long Island City, New York, created and modified a teaching tool for conducting a Socratic seminar with English learners. The tool was adapted from “Socratic Seminar with a Facing History/Human Rights Flair.”
Visual Prompt, Vocal Response
An iPad app called Tell About This, developed by RSA Group, provides an easy platform to inspire and capture English learners’ thoughts and stories. Students can explore and respond to any of the 100 interesting photo prompts using their voice. The photos, which are sorted into categories such as culture, people, family, and fun, serve as inspiration for students’ stories. Students can tell their stories using the in-app recording feature. Teachers can create custom prompts with their own images and voice. Cost: $2.99
Students can create impressive video slideshows using research resources built right into the Shadow Puppet Edu iPad/iPhone app designed by Seesaw Learning. They can capture screengrabs from an interactive map, safely search for images from the web, and access image archives from trusted sources, such as the Library of Congress, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and NASA. Students put the slides in order; add text, music, and narration; and then export the final project as a video file. Shadow Puppet Edu supports ELLs in developing academic vocabulary in both collaborative groups and independently. Students can use the app to review new concepts, present research, track progress, explain their thinking, and more. More than 30 lesson ideas supporting the Common Core State Standards make it easy to get started. Cost: Free
Designed for the iPad and iPhone by Press4Kids, the News-O-Matic, Daily Reading for Kids app provides images, videos, and maps to accompany five daily news stories, in English and Spanish, at three reading levels. The app also includes a bilingual Read to Me feature. The articles are reviewed by child psychologists before publication to ensure content is age appropriate. An interactive map with quirky facts, puzzles, and games, and the News Room are all features that engage students in current events. This free news app helps students develop critical thinking skills and understand point of view, and provides opportunities to read a variety of informational texts—all features of the Common Core State Standards. Cost: Free
Soda or Pop?
Vox Media presents 23 maps and charts on language that illuminate small aspects of how people around the world manage to communicate with one another. The maps and charts are categorized under the headings The basics; Language divides; Bilingualism; English; and American English. Topics range from Indo-European language roots to the languages of Wikipedia to linguistic diversity around the world.
Movin’ and Groovin’
Whether students are celebrating holidays, exploring new cultures and languages, or just having fun, music has a way of opening their ears and minds. World Music for Children is a website conceived by an award-winning educator and musician. The website was given a Parents’ Choice Award for its family-friendly introduction of world music to young people and its resources for teachers, parents, and special education professionals. The instrument section allows children to color, hear, and find instructions on how to make world music instruments, such as cajónes (box drums), didgeridoos, shekeres, powwow drums, and guiros, along with cultural background information. A special section for Teachers includes ideas and projects for bilingual classrooms.
Prejudice and Pride
Latino Americans: 500 Years of History, produced by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the American Library Association (ALA), is a nationwide public programming initiative that supports the exploration of the rich and varied history and experiences of Latinos who have helped shape the United States over the last five centuries and who have become, with more than 50 million people, the country’s largest minority group. More than 200 grantees around the country—libraries, museums, state humanities councils, historical societies, and other nonprofits selected through a competitive application process—are receiving funding, resources, and support to host festivals, collect oral histories, facilitate informed discussions, and hold other public events about Latino American history and culture between July 1, 2015, and July 1, 2016. All grantees will also host scholar-led viewing and discussion events that feature the documentary film Latino Americans, created for PBS by the WETA public television station. The award-winning series chronicles Latinos in the United States from the 16th century to present day.
Making Their Way
The two-part film The Graduates/Los Graduados, which aired on the PBS series Independent Lens, tells the stories of six Latino and Latina students and the challenges they face as they make their way through US high schools. In Part 1, “Girls,” Darla, from Tulsa, is trying to return to school after having a son. Stephanie, the daughter of Salvadoran immigrants, is determined to go to college but worries about the violence in her Chicago neighborhood. And in the Bronx, Chastity sees school as a helpful distraction from her family’s struggles with homelessness. Part 2, “Boys,” features Eduardo, who escapes a life of gang crime when he is invited to join a college-prep program. In Griffin, Georgia, Gustavo grapples with how his status as an undocumented immigrant will affect his future. And Juan, from Lawrence, Massachusetts, uses dance to cope with being bullied. Experts including Pedro Noguero and Patricia Gándara offer background information to put the students’ stories in context. The film, along with related resources, is available in English and Spanish on the PBS Independent Lens website.
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