Celebrate Hispanic Heritage, Facilitate Language Acquisition & 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.
Funding & Recognition
Grant for Classroom Learning Materials
Established in memory of a longtime ESL educator, the Tina B. Carver Fund provides grants of up to $400 for 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 in the United States that carries 501(c)(3) status and provides ESL programming for adults. Grants will primarily serve the hardest-to-reach students with limited resources (such as beginning literacy for intermediate to low ESL students).
Deadline: September 30, 2016, for applications
Contest Exploring Cultural Traditions
Cricket Media has launched its third annual Global Folklorist Challenge in partnership with the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. The challenge asks youth aged 8–18 to examine a local or regional tradition by interviewing a community tradition bearer and creating a video or slideshow to share the story. Cultural traditions students might explore range from dance, games, and handicrafts to cooking, storytelling, customs, and distinctive jobs. 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. Students also have access to professional folklorists at the Smithsonian. Accompanying teacher or parent materials include lesson plans, global collaboration opportunities, a standards-alignment chart, and scoring rubric. The process reinforces a range of 21st-century skills, including the use of digital technologies, and US and international social studies, language, and interdisciplinary curriculum standards. Among the prizes for student winners whose entries best demonstrate the folklorist process of investigation and reporting are digital cameras, boxed sets from the Smithsonian Folkways collection, a Little Passports World Coin Collection, and more.
Deadline: November 30, 2016, for submissions
Plus: Cricket Media provides free downloadable teacher’s resources needed to complete the challenge. Teachers can also view the “Engaging Students With Cultural Traditions” webinar to learn more about the challenge and gain insights from a 2015 winner.
Contest Celebrating America’s Diversity
The American Immigration Council is sponsoring the nineteenth annual Celebrate America Creative Writing Contest. 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. Student 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 sponsored by chapters of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). The contest kicks off in 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 our 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 evaluated 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.
Deadlines: Check website for local contests and dates
Plus: The American Immigration Council provides Common Core–aligned classroom lessons to introduce the contest to students.
Digital Learning • Learning Support
Celebration of Hispanic and Latino Contributions to America
National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 to October 15) recognizes the contributions of Hispanic Americans to the United States by celebrating their heritage and culture. Many Hispanic Americans trace their roots to the cultures of the indigenous peoples of the Americas—including the Arawaks (Puerto Rico), the Aztecs (Mexico), the Incas (South America), the Maya (Central America), and the Tainos (in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and other places). Some trace their roots to the Spanish explorers, who in the 1400s set out to find an easier and less costly way to trade with the Indies. Other Hispanics trace their roots to the Africans who were brought as slaves to the Americas. Students and teachers can share in this special annual tribute by learning about and celebrating the generations of Hispanic and Latino Americans who have positively influenced and enriched the nation and society. The organizers of Hispanic Heritage Month offer a growing selection of free posters, banners, and info cards highlighting Latino and Hispanic contributions to America.
Plus: The National Register’s Teaching With Historic Places Lesson Plans and Park Resources provide educators with a wide array of cross-curricular materials about Hispanic heritage in the United States.
Plus: Fact Monster’s website features famous Hispanic Americans, notable books, holidays, Spanish loan words, ethnic terminology preferences, and more.
Mixed-Media Experiences Promoting Latino Cultural Heritage
The Smithsonian Latino Virtual Museum is an immersive education initiative with bilingual mixed-media experiences created to promote knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of Latino cultural heritage. Michigan State University’s Journalism Department is partnering with the museum to develop virtual reality (VR) experiences through the Smithsonian Eco Explorers website. Students can become an Eco Explorer and investigate the concept of a watershed and Pre-Columbian indigenous cultures through the lens of the Smithsonian’s archaeology, anthropology, and earth science collections and scholarship. For example, learners enter into multiple virtual pathways provided in the Mi Tierra, Mi Mundo/My Land, My World game microsite and take on the identity of scientists (archaeologists, marine biologists, climate scientists, and paleontologists) charged with exploring the world to solve a problem.
Plus: The Latino Virtual Museum Bilingual Teacher Training Took Kit includes animation shorts of Smithsonian projects, teacher training epublications, immersion games, web books, and digital objects that apply 3D augmented reality technologies. The Teacher Tool Kit is available to download in English and Spanish, as an interactive web version or a print version.
Digital Courses for Core Content Acquisition
The Virtual High School in Massachusetts is piloting three new courses suitable for ESL students this fall. The new courses were developed in partnership with CERNET Education along with input from ESL experts at the Massachusetts International Academy (MAIA). Fall registration for all courses is currently open. The new ESL courses are as follows: American Studies, an American government and culture course in which students receive an introductory foundation in the major aspects of US government and learn about important issues and topics relevant to modern life in the US. The course provides content exposure with ESL support for students with lower language proficiency. Introduction to Natural Science for ESL Students, which helps ESL students gain technical language acquisition through the review of general topics in science. The course is for students who have had previous exposure to natural science curriculum. And Differential Calculus, a semester-length honors course that introduces students to college mathematics, covering topics such as precalculus, limits and continuity, derivatives and their applications, and applying them in real-life contexts. This higher-level course offers a modified curriculum for Level 5 ESL students, where emphasis will be placed on mathematical vocabulary and explanations of solutions in writing.
Shakespeare Made Accessible for English Learners
English language learners come to reading Shakespeare from diverse backgrounds, with different experiences, prior knowledge, and varying styles of learning. Additionally, students in any given classroom will be at different points in their English language acquisition. Because of these considerations, teaching Shakespeare to ELL/ESL students requires a specific arsenal of strategies for reading and dramatic performance. To provide teachers with ideas to use in the ESL classroom, the Folger Shakespeare Library has made available lesson plans for ELL/ESL students. The lessons incorporate performance-based teaching methodologies that can be highly effective with students of every ability and at every grade level. Although written with ELL/ESL students in mind, these lessons will be valuable and fun additions to any language curriculum. Greta Brasgalla, Folger National Teacher Corps and Curriculum Specialist at El Dorado High School in El Paso, Texas, contributed to the development of the lessons.
Plus: The BBC offers a lesson teaching idioms that Shakespeare either used or invented. The lesson includes specially created illustrations to show the connection between the individual words (for example, night + owl) and the idiom as a whole (night owl). The lesson gives students an opportunity to use the idioms through the creation of a short skit.
Guidance on Implementing CCSS with English Learners
The Common Core State Standards for English Language Learners Series, available from TESOL Press, focuses on the urgent need to provide guidance for teachers who will be implementing the CCSS in classrooms with ELLs. The audience for these books is practicing teachers, preservice teachers, graduate students, academics, researchers, and professional development providers. The table of contents and sample chapters for each book are available to preview online. The books may be purchased in print form or purchased, downloaded, and printed as PDFs from TESOL’s online bookstore.
Strategies for Focusing on Standards-based Instruction
Education Connections, a free online professional learning community, managed by the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL), helps educators of English learners share best practices focusing on standards-based instruction. Membership is free and provides access to a variety of online resources, including the upcoming webinar “Effective Strategies for Integrating English Learner Students’ Funds of Knowledge into Classroom Practices” on September 14, 2016, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. (ET).
SPOTLIGHT! On English Learners with Learning Disabilities
A 20-state review of research and policies from the federal Institute of Education Sciences found no clear-cut process for identifying English language learners with learning disabilities. The report from the institute’s Regional Educational Laboratory West at WestEd found that states and schools often have trouble drawing distinctions between English learners who struggle with the language and those who have learning disabilities.
The report offers four suggestions:
• Rely on additional considerations, such as previous education experience, fluency in the student’s first language, attitude toward learning English, and parent input, when determining whether English learners should be placed in special education programs.
• Establish exit criteria for support programs for EL students in special education.
• Provide test accommodations for English learners.
• Produce manuals to aid classroom educators in identifying and supporting English learners who may have learning disabilities.
Among the states with the largest EL populations, only five—Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, and Virginia—have publicly available manuals designed to aid educators. Among those, only the Illinois and Minnesota guides explore how a child’s cultural background or acculturation process might lead to misdiagnosis. And only the Illinois manual outlines a professional development program for educators serving English learners who may have disabilities.
eBook on the US Constitution
The Library of Congress invites students everywhere to touch, draw, and explore some of its most valuable treasures—all via a set of free interactive ebooks for iPads. One of the 15 Student Discovery Sets available for the iPad focuses on the US Constitution, which will help students celebrate the birthday of the US government on September 17, Constitution Day. With a swipe of a finger, learners can scrutinize George Washington’s notes on the Constitution or zoom in on an early map of Philadelphia featuring the State House where the Constitution was created. Other sets feature Symbols of the United States, Immigration, Japanese American Internment, and more. A Teacher’s Guide for each set, with background information, teaching ideas, and additional resources, is one click away on the Library’s website for teachers. Cost: Free
Bilingual Picture Dictionary with Audio
For teachers who need more comprehensive language support for their Spanish-speaking English learners, the Oxford Picture Dictionary (OPD) app for iOS provides instant access, anytime and anywhere. With more than 4,000 terms, plus bilingual audio in English and Spanish, the app presents the vocabulary essential for effective communication in English. Developed specifically for English language learners, the OPD app introduces students to terms organized into 12 thematic units, including Everyday Language, People, Housing, Food, Clothing, Health, Community, Transportation, and more. Each unit includes phrases and expressions from everyday life that help put words and images in context. The app is designed to engage and motivate students with vibrant art and an easy-to-use format. Students are provided with unlimited independent practice and multiple exposures to the terms. The zoom-in/zoom-out feature allows students to better experience the vocabulary within each scene and image. Students can bookmark any entry to easily search for terms and use the search function to quickly look up any term in the dictionary. Cost: $10.99
Podcasts to Improve Spoken English
Intended for language learners at any level—beginner, intermediate, or advanced—Culips ESL Podcast offers three types of audio episodes—Chatterbox Episodes, Catch Word Episodes, and Simplified Speech Episodes. Topics range from general day-to-day conversations to specific questions. The app, which is designed for iOS and Android devices, allows users to translate each episode into a language with which they’re familiar. In addition, Culips offers learning materials to accompany each podcast. The materials include complete transcripts, detailed explanations, and quizzes to assess comprehension. The written learning materials help students to explore each episode further and learn more about the expressions and topics discussed in the show. The learning materials are accessed through membership fees. Free samples are available online.
Place to Practice Writing
The New York Times Learning Network has introduced a new feature, called Picture Prompts, for the 2016–2017 school year. These short, accessible, image-driven prompts include both photographs and illustrations, and invite a variety of kinds of writing and discussion. Although each of the Picture Prompts will be connected to a related Times article, all that students will need to start writing is the image itself and the fairly short, simple language used to introduce it. The Learning Network will publish at least one new Picture Prompt every Tuesday through Friday. (On Mondays, instead of a Picture Prompt, The Learning Network will continue to post its popular What’s Going On in This Picture? feature, which is a live-moderated visual literacy exercise that invites students to explore and discuss a mysterious image in detail.) The weekly Picture Prompts will encourage personal or narrative writing; invite argumentative or expository writing; draw on international news, issues, or images; or feature an “op-art” illustration, graphic, historical photo or editorial cartoon that demands some interpretation. Any student 13 years of age or older, from anywhere in the world, is welcome to post a comment to any of the prompts. It’s an easy way for teachers to provide an “authentic audience” for student writing practice, as all comments are read by Learning Network staff members and often by other students around the world. The Learning Network welcomes English language learners to this feature and hopes they will consider it a place to practice their writing.
Social Connections for Language Learning
MyLanguageExchange.com is a social networking website that allows language learners to connect and help one another learn their respective languages. For example, a native English speaker who wants to learn Spanish can do activities in Spanish and receive feedback from native Spanish speakers who, in turn, are learning English and want feedback from native English speakers. MyLanguageExchange uses a method of language exchange in which small groups work together doing activities half the time in one native speaker’s language, and the other half in the other native speaker’s language. Learners form practice groups when they are at the intermediate fluency level. Before this stage, they can form penpal relationships, communicating in emails and text chats.
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« September 13, 2016
· Celebration of Hispanic and Latino Contributions to America
· Mixed-Media Experiences Promoting Latino Cultural Heritage
· Digital Courses for Core Content Acquisition
· Shakespeare Made Accessible for English Learners