Engage with Parents, Enhance Language Acquisition, Tap Curiosity & 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 4–10 to learn the fundamentals of academic English while completing projects that relate to English language arts, social studies, mathematics, and science.
Funding & Recognition
Fellowship for English Teaching
Annually the Atlas Corps English Teaching Fellowship is available for aspiring TESOL teachers to spend 11 months teaching English in Colombia while earning a stipend of $1,500 and health insurance benefits. Eligible candidates must already possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, have native English language proficiency, showcase basic or higher level Spanish skills, be 35 years old or under, and display a strong commitment to a career in the bilingual educational environment. Fellows will spend 25 hours per week co-teaching with local Colombia instructors and participate in two-way learning processes for 15 hours per week.
Deadline: November 30, annually, for applications
Grant for Outreach to the Underserved
“Light the Way” Grants of $3,000 are offered to assist public and school libraries in conducting exemplary outreach to underserved populations through new programs or the expansion of existing programs. Preference is given to programs serving children with learning or physical differences, those who speak English as a second language, children from nontraditional school environments or in foster care, children in the juvenile justice system, and those who need accommodation services. The grant program is sponsored by Candlewick Press and administered by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association (ALA). Interested applicants must be ALA members.
Deadline: December 1, 2016, for applications
Fellowship for Reading Research
Sponsored by the International Literacy Association (ILA), the Jeanne S. Chall Research Fellowship is a $6,000 grant presented annually to promising graduate scholars who are pioneering research efforts in beginning reading, readability, reading difficulty, reading development, vocabulary, adult literacy, and/or bilingual reading education. Eligible candidates must be doctoral students starting their dissertation research at an accredited US university, have current ILA membership, and be dedicated to an academic life in literacy.
Deadline: January 15, annually, for applications
Program Supporting Integration of Immigrants
The J.M. Kaplan Fund’s Migration Program identifies promising ways to support the integration of the 42 million foreign-born individuals who call the United States home, allowing them to thrive while contributing to the country’s civic, cultural, and economic vibrancy. The foundation focuses on building robust immigrant integration policies, practices, and programs at the local, state, and federal levels. To that end, the foundation supports efforts to improve the pace and quality of integration by working with receiving communities to embrace the immigrants and refugees in their midst. To date, the foundation has focused on underemployed newcomers who bring skills and education earned abroad and on “Dreamers” seeking to pursue their education and careers. The foundation works to advance efforts to ensure that immigrants capitalize on opportunities to live and work in the United States without fear of deportation.
Digital Learning • Learning Support
Transmedia Dual-Language Curriculum
Pocoyo Playground is a transmedia curriculum aimed specifically at three- to five-year-olds who are acquiring both English and Spanish as they develop early language and literacy skills. A set of nondigital and digital resources for teachers, the curriculum is a project of the Early Learning Collaborative (ELC), a division of the Hispanic Information and Telecommunications Network. ELC’s goal is to help create learning resources for dual-language learning students, or DLLs, who are growing up truly bilingual and biliterate, learning both English and Spanish simultaneously (although often primarily Spanish at home). Each of the apps is a storytelling and digital-creation platform that is structured around language learning, with bilingual supports and scaffolding for younger language learners. The tool is a series of storytelling games that offer children low-stakes practice with literacy. This practice includes speaking and listening in Spanish and English, while prompting children to use new words, pushing them toward their zone of proximal development—that is, challenging them at just the right level to promote learning and growth within both languages.
Streaming Video Literacy Program
SAG-AFTRA Foundation presents Storyline Online, an imaginatively produced streaming video program featuring celebrated actors reading children’s books aloud. For example, Rita Moreno reads I Need My Monster, which runs for 12 minutes. Teachers first choose from a list of books or publishers and then select a player: My VR Spot, YouTube, or SchoolTube. A closed-caption option is available on YouTube. Each reading also has freely downloadable activity guides that include a book summary; discussion points; activities related to the book in particular and the topic in general; questions on the themes and concepts in the book; background information about the author, illustrator, and reader—and more.
Tool to Simplify the Reading Experience
Rewordify.com helps English learners with reading comprehension and vocabulary development by simplifying English to a lower reading level. The online tool lets the user reword a sentence or reword a paragraph. It simplifies English by reducing text complexity. Students paste a link into Rewordify’s search field and get back a version of the webpage with simpler words and sentence constructions. When students hover over highlighted areas, the original, richer text shows up so they can gradually build their vocabulary and familiarity with difficult texts.
Tool to Support Reading and Writing on the Web
The free Chrome extension Read&Write for Google, offered by TextHelp, provides a range of tools to support students with both reading and writing on the web. This extension allows users to have words, passages, or whole documents and web pages read aloud, providing support for English learners. In addition, students have the ability to highlight text in multiple colors, see word meanings explained with both text and pictures, turn words into text as they speak, and hear text translated into other languages.
Templates for Customizing School-Home Communications
Casa Notes templates allow teachers to quickly make, and customize, typical notes that are sent home to parents or given to students. Using the templates, teachers can customize some of the content, choose a color scheme, and add a graphic. They can then print the notes in black and white or in color. They can also select whether the notes should be in English or Spanish. Approximately 12 note templates are available, including a student contract, a student progress report, a field-trip permission slip, a homework pass, a reminder of a parent–teacher conference, and more.
Helpful Ideas for Implementing ESSA
How does the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) affect educators of English learners (ELs)? TESOL’s free Resource Kit English Learners and ESSA: What Educators Need to Know provides an in-depth analysis of the portions of ESSA most pertinent to teachers of English learners in K–12 schools across the United States that receive federal funds. The kit presents the essential components of ESSA and its effect on TESOL educators. The resources also offer ideas for how to improve instruction for English learners by advocating for policies, funding uses, and other priorities at the local and state levels.
Video Series for Developing Oral Language
Key Strategies for Developing Oral Language, a video series from Teaching Channel, focuses on academic conversations with English language learners (ELLs). The series, created in partnership with Oakland Unified School District, highlights three classrooms where ELLs are engaged in academic conversations. The videos show how the teachers got their students to where they are—articulately, confidently, and independently engaging in discussions with their peers and teachers. The videos are accompanied by three related blog posts that pull out specific strategies, activities, and approaches for supporting oral language skills: Part 1—“Engaging ELLs in Academic Conversations,” Part 2—“Why Are Academic Discussions So Important for Our ELLs?” and Part 3—“Key Strategies for Developing Oral Language.” Along with the videos, the blog posts include recommended resources, discussion questions, and supporting materials.
SPOTLIGHT! On Writing and Language Acquisition
Last school year, the National Writing Project invited teachers from six high-need elementary schools across the United States to help expand the vision of what it means to recognize, prepare, and honor K–12 English learners (ELs) and their families as writers. Teacher leaders in six communities across six states (Arizona, California, Illinois, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Wisconsin) worked together to develop that expanded vision. The result was the EL Family Academic Literacy Projects.
All six Family Academic Literacy Projects created after-school learning spaces for EL elementary students and their families. Participants were teachers, administrators, students, and family members. They connected academic literacy to family experiences and wrote, read, and spoke in the languages of their choice. Each project provided bilingual instructional materials. Participants also wrote and took part in social and community projects—for example, planting a garden. Participants’ writing was published in a final anthology.
The workshops helped teachers better understand how to communicate with and integrate parents into classroom writing lessons and how to encourage writing at home. The projects demonstrate parents working alongside their children and in partnership with teachers to help EL students grow as readers and writers and to honor their language background and expertise. Family Academic Literacy Projects can be adopted anywhere and adapted to fit local contexts.
Strategies to Build and Strengthen Literacy Skills
Reading Rockets’ Classroom Strategies provides teachers with dozens of activities they can do before, during, or after reading a text. In addition, the strategies are organized into categories that include Phonics, Comprehension, Fluency, Phonological Awareness, Writing, and Vocabulary. For each strategy, teachers can click its name, and the website will explain when, how, and why teachers can use a strategy, along with examples of it in practice. Each strategy also includes free downloadable templates; recommended children’s books to use with the strategy; differentiation for second language learners, students of varying reading skill, students with learning disabilities, and younger learners; as well as supporting research.
Guide for Providing Support and Assistance to Newcomers
Refugees from Syria is a refugee backgrounder published by the Cultural Orientation Resource Center, Center for Applied Linguistics, which provides a brief guide to Syria’s history, people, and cultures. The backgrounder then looks at the crisis in Syria and the conditions refugees face in first asylum countries. Finally, it considers some of the strengths and resources resettled refugees may be able to draw on in their new communities and some of the challenges they are likely to face. The backgrounder is intended primarily for those providing initial support and assistance to the newcomers. Teachers may use the backgrounder to educate students about a people whose plight they may only have read about or watched on television. Readers may also include members of the general public interested in learning about their community’s newest residents.
Tool to Build Social Language Skills
Designed for the iPad and iPhone, Enuma’s Kid in Story Book Maker app enables students to use green screen-like technology to put photos of themselves (or others) into a story template and then add text and voice recording. Twenty in-app templates focus on social stories, such as visiting a new place, getting a haircut, or celebrating holidays. For English learners, the templates offer a useful foundation for modeling and building social language skills. Plus, the app’s voice-recording feature offers low-stakes speaking practice, since students can record themselves talking and then listen and re-record as many times as they want. Cost: $6.99
Database of Curated Books Reflecting Diversity
In January 2017, We Need Diverse Books (WNDB) will launch OurStory, a database of more than 1,200 curated books reflecting diverse characters and themes that librarians, educators, parents, and children can access for reading recommendations. OurStory will have an option for users to purchase books from preferred booksellers and will be available on the Internet and via iOS and Android platforms. The app will have two versions, OurStory and OurStoryPro. The OurStory app will aid parents, children, and teens in searching for diverse books, while the OurStoryPro app will inform teachers, librarians, and educators about diverse books that may be appropriate for their classrooms or patrons. The app will also provide a curriculum developed by WNDB, as well as lists of books. In addition, subscribers will have access to videos featuring authors and books.
SPOTLIGHT! On Listening and Language Acquisition
Many English learners are not acquiring the level of academic language needed for college and career readiness.
Are we underestimating the impact that ongoing work with oral academic language can have?
New research shows that a growing number of students fail to develop adequate reading comprehension skills primarily due to poor listening comprehension.
Listenwise makes it easy to bring authentic voices and compelling nonfiction stories to the classroom. The site curates the best of public radio to keep teaching connected to the real world and build students’ listening skills at the same time.
Podcasts That Captivate Curious Kids
Produced by Vermont Public Radio, each episode of But Why, a podcast for curious youth, starts with an audio recording of a child asking a question (listeners are invited to send in their own), such as, Why do people have different religions? Why is the sea salty? Do bumblebees have hearts? Who invented words? The rest of the episode goes on to answer that question by inviting experts to share their knowledge on the topic in simple language children can understand. Cost: Free
App with Interactive Video Dialogs
An interactive app, SpeakingPal English Tutor, offers exercises, dialog with a virtual character, role-playing, and a series of minilessons. It uses speech and language recognition and provides instant feedback on how well each sentence and word is spoken. It also has a progress page to help students track their improvements. The app works on iOS and Android devices. Cost: Free, with in-app purchases starting at $4.99
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« November 8, 2016
· Transmedia Dual-Language Curriculum
· Streaming Video Literacy Program
· Tool to Simplify the Reading Experience
· Tool to Support Reading and Writing on the Web
· Templates for Customizing School-Home Communications
· Helpful Ideas for Implementing ESSA
· Video Series for Developing Oral Language
· SPOTLIGHT! On Writing and Language Acquisition
· Strategies to Build and Strengthen Literacy Skills
· Guide for Providing Support and Assistance to Newcomers
· Tool to Build Social Language Skills
· Database of Curated Books Reflecting Diversity
· SPOTLIGHT! On Listening and Language Acquisition
· Podcasts That Captivate Curious Kids
· App with Interactive Video Dialogs
· BOOKMARK THESE!