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Featured Video

Two Videos on Creating a Welcoming Environment for ELLs

Ideas for Beginning the Year

Interesting Ways to Get To Know Your Class

Key Rituals and Routines for ELs

  1. Clear goals and objectives (content and language)
  2. Explicit Instruction (big ideas, clear direction, academic language, repeating key ideas...)
  3. Management routines/ schedules with pictures
  4. Motivation
  5. Time to practice and apply newly taught strategies
  6. Accurate, detailed, and immediate feedback
  7. Frequent formative assessment
  8. Developing vocabulary and background knowledge
  9. Guided instruction (reading, writing...)
  10. Metacognition
  11. Graphic organizers and visuals
  13. Peer interaction/ discourse
  14. Using the Primary Language (Cognates, bilingual books, peer language buddies)
  15. Summarize

Quotes to Think About...

The question is not what you look at, but what you see.- Henry David Thoreau

Gloria Anzaldúa (1990, p. 207):

If you really want to hurt me, talk badly about my language. Ethnic identity is twin skin to linguistic identity-I am my language. Until I can take pride in my language, I cannot take pride in myself ... as long as I have to accommodate the English speakers rather than having them accommodate me, my tongue will be illegitimate.

"It is only by regularly questioning the assumptions upon which we base our teaching that we can be responsive to the changes in our student populations, the materials we use, and the demands of our society for which schools function." (Mary Houser, 1992)

"...teaching multiculturally must begin with self-inquiry...as teachers we must first examine the relations among our fundamental values, attitudes, dispositions, and belief systems (personal perspectives), our teaching, and our diverse students' literacy learning. We must ask ourselves: Who am I? What are my beliefs about teaching, learning, and students? Are my beliefs consonant with my practice? What are the consequences of my teaching for the literacy learning and achievement of all children in my class?" (Aby-Perkins & Gomez, 1993)

"The myths about children of color, children from low socio-economic backgrounds and children identified as learning disabled need to be exposed and discarded from our beliefs, our expectations, and from everyday practices. Debilitating myths imprison the mind and render people voiceless and therefore powerless. This voicelessness and powerlessness perpetuate the cycle of oppression, the cycle of inadequacy, and the cycle of failure. We can no longer believe in these myths; we can no longer tolerate their intellectual presence; we must transform ourselves by not participating in their daily use...It is teachers that will change the world of the school by understanding it." (Flores, Teft-Cousin, & Diaz, 1991, Stenhouse, 1985)

"Rather than approaching parents who speak languages other than English and those who have not acquired mainstream literacy skills from a deficit point of view, we need to identify and build first on the strengths they possess from their cultural backgrounds." (Morrow, Scoblionko, & Shafer, 1995)

"Hands-on inquiry based science instruction provides opportunities for all students to develop scientific understanding and engage in inquiry practices. This type of instruction is especially promising for English Language Learners. Hands-on activities are less dependent on formal mastery of the language of instruction and thus reduce the linguistic burden on English language learners. Additionally small collaborative group work provides structured opportunities for developing English proficiency in the context of authentic communication about science knowledge." (Lee, O., 2002)

"Things that may never be an actual part of our teaching are parts of us and thus affect everything we touch. Who we are is woven into how we behave, how we approach colleagues, how we envision our work, our world, and our future together. We need to take the time, no matter how hectic our days become, to stare out at the sea or to sit quietly in the yard or up on the rooftop and ask ourselves what it is we care about and how honestly we share our lives and passions with one another and our students. New methods of instruction will continue to evolve in direct proportion to who we are, and how much of that we are willing to bring to our teaching." -Maureen Barbieri

"Although helping ELLs become proficient in English is typically seen as the responsibility of English-as-a-second language (ESL) and bilingual specialists, this is not enough. To achieve the goal of proficiency, all teachers must assume responsibility for teaching literacy skills to ELLs at the same time as they teach students the core curriculum. Teaching reading and writing skills cannot be done successfully if it is restricted to certain times of the day or to certain teachers, nor can it be isolated from the rest of the curriculum." (Cloud, Genesee, Hamayan, 2009)

"...most people in the world speak more than one tongue, and in (some) places...it is common to speak three or four distinct languages and a dialect or two as well." (Gibbs, 2002)

"By creating a truly multicultural reading and writing environment in the classroom and throughout the school, you validate and honor the languages and cultures of your minority." (Cloud, Genesee, and Hamayan, 2009)

One's destination is never a place but a new way of seeing things.  Henry Miller

Updates & News

What is Embedded ELD

Attached is a flow chart that will help guide differentiation for EL's

Embedded ELD
Classroom Practices Inventory.doc
The Difference Between Mainstream Instruction and Embedded ELD.doc

Culturally Responsive Teaching

Instructional Strategies:
    • Think aloud—Teacher reads passages and models thought processes for students on how to ask themselves questions as they comprehend text. 

    Reciprocal questioning—Teachers and students engage in shared reading, discussion, and questioning with the goal being to help students learn to ask questions of themselves about the meaning they are constructing as they read. 

    Interdisciplinary units—Recommended that teachers include and connect content learning with language arts and culturally diverse literature. 

    Topics drawn from children’s lives and interests (sometimes from curriculum) demonstrate how to make connections across the curriculum through culturally relevant literature. 

    Scaffolding—Teacher explicitly demonstrates the difference between what students can accomplish independently and what they can accomplish with instructional support. 

    Journal writing gives students opportunities to share their personal understandings regarding a range of literature in various cultural contexts that inform, clarify, explain, or educate them about culturally diverse societies. 

    Character study journals permit students to make their own personal connections with a specific character as they read a story. 

    Open-ended projects allow students to contribute at their varying levels of ability and explore a topic of interest drawn from their readings of culturally rich literature. Artifacts, including writings, poems, and/or letters, from students’ lives or culture can represent an ethnic or cultural group. 

    Cross-cultural literature discussions groups—Students discuss quality fiction and nonfiction literature that authentically depicts members of diverse cultural groups. 

    Character reading—Students form opinions about a specific issue or cultural concept put forward in the text or respond to a significant event that occurred during the character’s life. 

    Written reports give students opportunities to write about their heritages and cultural traditions or a single cultural or ethnic experience. 

Difference Instead of Deficit

Language is a social construct and one with significant political power. There are many languages spoken by the students of our school, but only one that we teach (with the exception of immersion programs and foreign language study).

It is critical that we VALUE the languages our students bring with them as well as their experiences from their communities and homes. These experiences are culturally driven.
Our students also begin school with varying degrees of English proficiency. 

It makes a profound difference when we look at these differences as simply differences and NOT DEFICITS. According to Victoria Purcell-Gates (featured author in Lisa Delpit's The Skin That We Speak), it is easier to write-off students, retain them , feel that they cannot learn, recommend them for special education and the like. 

If we look at these differences stemming from different experiences, then we can address learning with respect to the child's culture, bridging home culture to school culture. We teach students according to their strengths with the highest of expectation.

A powerful quote to think about:

"If the child's family is poor, his parents undereducated, his dialect nonstandard, then we are much more likely to interpret experiential difference as a deficit in the child, in the parents, in the home, in the sociocultural community within which this child has grown up. And when we do this, we play God, conferring or denying educational opportunity to individual, socioculturally different, children. And we do not have the right to do this."- V. Purcell Gates in The Skin That We Speak

When we allow ourselves to appreciate difference, we learn from each other, building collaborative communities. 

Books on Social Justice for Children

taken from Choice Literacy/ Ruth Shagoury

1. Wake Up, World!: A Day in the Life of Children ARound the World by Beatrice Hollyer

A book about the lives of 8 children around the world: Ghana, India, Russia, Brazil, Vietnam, the UK, Australia, and the US. A Photo-journal (contemporary photographs) that shows how children live in different countries, with images of children who struggle for basic water rights, food, shelter, protection, and education.

2. Listen to the Wind (picture book version of Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson)  

The story of how Dr. Greg builds a school in Iran with the help of the local community.

3. Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by SItting Down by Andrea Pinkney

A book of the Woolworth's luncheon counter sit-in, fifty years ago.  A story of a heroic protest. At the end of the book is a Civil Rights Timeline highlighting the sit-in.

4. Ryan and Jimmy: And the Well in Africa That Brought Them Together by Hern Shoveller

Ryan's first grade teacher tells them about a place in AFrica where people did not have clean drinking water. Ryan earns 70 dollars to help build a well in that region . This is the story of how Ryan earned the money and gathered a social network to help build a well in Agweo, Uganda. He meets an Ugandan boy, Akwana Jimmy.

Addressing the Achievement Gap

I attached a bulleted list that describes pedagogy teachers incorporate to differentiate instruction and address the achievement gap.

"Nieto (2000) (says) that the most important way to become a multicultural teacher is to become a multicultural person. Teachers, like their students, interpret and give meaning to instruction through the concepts, categories, and worldviews they bring to learning (Wubbels, 1992)."
Pedagogy for Narrowing the Achievement Gap
Addressing the Achievement Gap Checklists

The Digital Divide

It is very easy to assume that everyone has equal access to computers. Attached, is an article from Ed Change that addresses the Digital Divide. Essentially, the Digital Divide is a new term that refers to the growing reliance and presence of technology in our lives (especially our teaching lives) and the challenges that surface. The article points out interesting topics to think about when using technology in the classroom.
Digital Divide

20 Things I Will Do To Be a More Equitable Educator

I attached an article from Ed Change, a website devoted to promoting equity in education. 

Thinking About Assessment: Matching Informal Assessments to Classroom Practice

Often, the most informative assessments are informal and occur when teachers observe and interact with students as they read for a genuine purpose, not just for assessment.

1. Keep anecdotal records: Check the FORM section and ATTACHMENTS for forms that help organize anecdotal assessments (Note: These are records of students DEVELOPING skills and not evidence of mastery.) In addition to records of change, anecdotal assessments can be logs of student goals developed by the student with guidance from the teacher.

2. Hold One-on-One conferences: Make sure to have these last only a few minutes in order to make this strategy practical for the classroom. (Regie Routman, (2003,105) suggests using questions like: Bring me a book you can read pretty well. Why did you choose this book? Tell me what this book is about so far. Read PART of this book for me. Tell me what you remember about what you just read. Let's discuss your strengths and what you need to work on.)

The power in informal assessment is in the discussion. It is personal and caring, lowering the affective-filter of students that struggle or are learning more than one language. Instead of grappling alone on a multiple-choice test, a child is able to have a scaffolded discussion with their teacher. This time is used to improve skills through language development, as well as serve as an assessment of student learning.

As you perfect this strategy, it is also a time-saver because it requires no materials. It can be used anywhere and in any content area.

Note: Use a variety of means of assessing, including non-print (oral/visual prompts, pictures, signs/symbols, video clips) to provide entry points for children at different levels of language development.

Start With Wordless Books

To develop oral language and the ability to retell fiction in any grade level, use wordless books to talk about and/or write about the story. Aside from developing language and vocabulary, you can analyze story structure and introduce different retelling graphic organizers.


**Send the books home for familes to retell in English and their primary language. With no words, insecurities about competency in the English language will disappear.

***Check the attached booklist. I have noted which books are immediately available from me. Also check with the school librarian.

This webpage has 135 wordless books: http://nancykeane.com/rl/317.htm

book list

Post a "Welcome in Many Languages" Poster

Related Pages

Graphic Organiz...
Resources By Grade Level
Reading with EL...
Writing Ideas
Integrating Content
Multicultural Books
Increasing Student Talk
Partnering with Parents
Links in Other ...
CELDT/Language Standa...
El Specialists/ Teacher Leaders
Teacher Books

4/23/2014 4:31:29 AM