Edtech Literacy Resources to Support English Learners

ShaeLynn Farnsworth @shfarnsworth1A common trait with the districts I work with is the increase of English Learners (ELs) in the classroom. With a focus on literacy, I am often asked to support teachers in their pursuit of providing the best resources and strategies for students. Over the next few days, I will be posting different ways to support ELs in the classroom in terms of literacy instruction. First up, Using Bilingual Books in the Classroom

Using bilingual books in the classroom is advantageous for all students and teachers. Books written in the home language of your students convey the message that you value and respect their culture, their experiences, and them as learners. It provides practice of applying and connecting reading and writing strategies from one language to another. Connecting or “bootstrapping” emergent literacy skills and strategies from a student’s home language to English is essential to the acquisition. ELs (English Learners) use “bootstrapping” when they use their home language to help them read and write English.

Teachers gain valuable insight into their EL students when noticing the connections being made and the strategies they are equipped with their home language and apply them to learning English. Bilingual books in the classroom provide these opportunities for observation as well as experiences for teachers to discern their own language acquisition when reading a text in an unfamiliar language.

The Bottom-Line is:

  • EL students are resourceful learners and use every resource and strategy available to do well in school.
  • Having books in multiple home languages helps to build relationships and honors students as learners.
  • It’s easier to learn something new when it stems from something familiar. Providing books in multiple languages for students gives access to information and choice in reading.
  • Teachers can help bring connections between languages, as well as notice strategies students already possess when providing books in home languages for students to read.

Sources for Bilingual Books

Digital Resources

  • ManyThings.org  (Multiple audio recordings)
  • Unite for Literacy (Books with audio available in multiple languages)
  • Newsela (NF, Multiple Text-Levels, Spanish and English)
  • TweenTribune (NF, Multiple Text-Levels, Spanish & English)
  • Latinitas  (Focused on empowering young Latinas using media and technology, digital magazine)
  • ReadWorks (lessons, texts, and resources for EL students and teachers)
  • MackinVia (library filled with digital books students can read and are available in multiple languages)

Finally, here is a list of activities that educators can do to accompany bilingual books in the classroom:

  • Use for the promotion of metalinguistic awareness.
  • Prepare students for new content for an upcoming unit as a sort of preview.
  • Free reading choice.
  • Self-assessment and monitoring comprehension.
  • Compare the texts in both versions with a focus on tone, word choice in each, evaluate each text.
  • Bring books home to involve families in literacy activities.
  • Write their own companion book for a text.
  • Use picture books and work on oral language acquisition.

 

Source: Nancy Cloud, Fred Genesee, and Elsa Hamayan. Literacy Instruction for English Language Learners.

Celebrating EdTech Women Making an Impact

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March is known as Women’s History Month and this year the theme honors Trailblazers whose passion has influenced their respective field of work. This month I plan to highlight groups of Edtech Women each Friday that are leading the way in our field, celebrating their passion, innovations, and work. These women are helping to lead the way in creating a change in the field of education that is best for kids around the world.

leslie.jpegLeslie Pralle Keehn, Instructional Technology Consultant at Prairie Lakes AEA

“I want to help teachers and students follow their passions to create, change, and lead a  world that is better off than when I entered it.”

  • Current Edtech Favorites: DIY.org, ISTE Young Educator Network, #ObserveMe movement
  • Advice: Don’t let any individual or system keep you from doing the work that is best for your kids. There is a huge network of educators ready to lift you up and support you, often only one click away.
  • Connect with Leslie: @LPralleK (Twitter and IG)

 

beth-500Beth Holland, doctoral student, writer, consultant

“My entire education focus has always been to find the best possible ways to create meaningful learning experiences for students.”

 

julieJulie Daniel Davis, Technology Coordinator

“Somewhat of a futurist, I am passionate about meeting teachers and students individual needs through the use of technology and taking them forward in their growth as lifelong learners.”

 

alice.jpgAlice Keeler, Teacher and EdTech Blogger

“You don’t teach a class, you teach a room full of individuals.”

headshot_jenn_2Jennifer Womble, Program Chair, Future of Education Technology Conference

“My mission is to design the highest quality professional development that inspires educators, accelerates learning and engages curious minds.”

  • Current Edtech Favorites: Catchbox (great for engaging audiences and getting people talking), Mentimeter (perfect for visualizing responses from an audience),
    Google Cardboard (inspiring VR with low cost tools and apps)
  • Advice: Engage your professional passion every day; teaching children requires building relationships and inspiring thinking, when educators are passionate, students are motivated to create, be curious and learn new things.
  • Connect with Jennifer: Twitter @JenWomble and at face to face conferences around the country–especially FETC

 

karaKara Welty, Mentor Teacher and Technology Integrationist

“Do everything with great love.”

  • Current Edtech Favorites: All things GAFE, Do Ink Green Screen App for iPad, Seesaw
  • Advice: Let your heart steer you. Follow and embed your passions as an educator into everything you do. When it is clear to others that you love your work and thoroughly enjoy what you do, it is contagious to all who interact with you. Be the person that uplifts everyone you meet through EVERY single interact you have. Furthermore, anyone who dedicates their life to teaching, leading, and learning understand how important our roles are and see how much it takes to be an educator that our students need.  Having said that, through your journey, keep your eye focused on what really matters, which is always the people we serve. Through serving others, we grow and become better as a result. Give yourself grace and acknowledge the incredible acts of service YOU dedicate to your school and community. Lastly, continue taking in as much knowledge and inspiration from the people around you and you will be UNSTOPPABLE!
  • Connect with Kara: Twitter- @kara_welty, Website- karawelty.com, Instagram- kara_welty

 

sueSue Gorman, Consultant

“Always see the good in everything and everyone and be kind always.“

victoriaVictoria Olson, Grade 3/4 Teacher & Technology Coach

“To me, education is about nurturing the growth of the whole child and providing them autonomy in their learning so that they’re proud of what they can offer the world.”

  • Current Edtech Favorites: Explain Everything, YouTube Playlists, Google Classroom, IFTTT
  • Advice: Let kids make mistakes and give them space and time to realize it. When adults interject too much in the lives of kids, we are failing them. Realizing mistakes allows kids to build independence, self-regulation, and resilience.
  • Connect with Victoria: Twitter @MsVictoriaOlson, Insta @msvictoriaolson, Blog: techteacheronamission.com

 

kerryKerry Gallagher, Digital Learning Specialist at St. John’s Prep, Director of K-12 Education for ConnectSafely, and EdSurge Columnist

“Start with a question, and let your search for answers lead to better questions.”

  • Current Edtech Favorites: Open Education Resources, Formative , PlayPosit
  • Advice: While it is important to listen to the feedback of your colleagues in your school and your PLN, be true to yourself and your students when you make your final decisions about what happens in your classroom and how you represent yourself to the world professionally.
  • Connect with Kerry: Twitter: @KerryHawk02, My Blog www.KerryHawk02.com

 

heatherHeather Callihan, District Technology Integrationist

“Every day is an opportunity: As an educator, I embrace the opportunities, reflect on the process, learn from others and never stop learning!”

  • Current Edtech Favorites: Google Keep, Twitter and Podcasts
  • Advice: Failure is a learning opportunity.  Own your experiences and embrace all opportunities!
  • Connect with Heather: Twitter @hcallihan email: hcallihan@ginorthwest.org

 

Consider These 6 Areas When There is a Glitch in Reading Comprehension

when-reading-comprehension-breaks-down

Direct instruction in literacy should not end in elementary school. Students of all ages need continual modeling and practice of reading comprehension skills. And while many elementary teachers use running records to inform instruction, at the intermediate grades, this type of assessment can be modified to meet the needs of our older readers.

At the end of the oral reading, students retell what they had just read summarizing, analyzing, and connecting to the text. This retelling is preferred over the typical question-answer assessment for older students. Retelling gives us a glimpse into the reader’s cognition and provides valuable insight as to what was grasped and what may have been lost.

During the reflection with the student following the retell, teachers can hone in on 6 areas to identify possible sources that contribute to the breakdown of comprehension.

6 Areas to Explore when Reading Comprehension Breaks Down

  1. Background Knowledge on the topic. Do I need more information on the topic in order to understand the text? Would rereading or talking about it help me understand new concepts presented by the author?
  2. Vocabulary. Were there lots of words I’ve never heard of or seen in this selection?
  3. Cultural Differences. Is this about a way of thinking or pattern of acting that is different from mine?
  4. Word-Recognition Skills. Can I figure out hard or unfamiliar words?
  5. Comfort with the task. Am I worried about doing well?
  6. Responses to environmental influences inside and outside of school. Am I confident I can be successful?

(Based on the work of Mary Shea)

When teachers and students reflect and identify areas that contribute to the breakdown of comprehension glitches can be addressed efficiently. Teachers instruction is targeted and students understanding of themselves as readers grow enhancing independence and comprehension.

The Gift of Literacy

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Part of my role includes the training and coaching of teachers in the implementation of Reading and Writing Workshop. This past week marked the kickoff for cohort 2, and was spent defining “Workshop”, modeling components, and preparing teachers for the first weeks of school. Learning will continue throughout the year, accompanied by weekly coaching meetings.

During the final day of the training, we invited cohort 1 teachers to sit on a panel and share their insights to the flood of questions the new implementors had on their minds. After the panel concluded, a cohort 1 teacher stopped me and shared a “Magical Moment” that she experienced in her own classroom. The workshop framework shifts focus from the content to the child and provides differentiation to move every reader forward! This is her story…

(all names have been changed)

Sarah started 4th grade with a reading level of a 2nd grader. She was identified as a struggling student in kindergarten and had an IEP which outlined support in the areas of literacy. As a teacher new to workshop, Ms. F was unaware of the profound impact her classroom would have on Sarah.

Sarah’s love for reading blossomed through intentional instruction, scaffolded application, and reader’s choice in the classroom. At an “Open House” a few months after the start of school, Ms. F met Sarah’s mom and was eager to share her growth. Ellen, Sarah’s mom who had a 3rd grade reading level herself, spoke about the changes she saw in Sarah at home. “She was always reading or had a book in her hand.” Ellen was pleased with her daughter’s progress and the teaching of Ms. F.

At Christmas break, Ms. F bumped into Sarah and her mother at the supermarket. After a brief conversation with Sarah about the series she was currently reading, Ellen shared with Ms. F that “We” had been reading over Christmas break together, and that every night, “We” would talk about our books.

At the end of 4th grade, Sarah had the reading level of a 3rd grader and was on her way to closing the large gap that was once there. Ms F, Sarah, and the rest of the students ended the year celebrating their favorite books and sharing their most prized writing with classmates, parents, and others.

During the summer, Ms. F again ran into Sarah and her mother in the supermarket. Ellen spoke to Ms. F about Sarah’s growth in reading and her new goal of entering the 5th grade at the 4th grade reading level. She then quietly continued to share her own personal goal. She had always wanted to read the Little House on the Prairie series and was already on book three. And although she found the next book more challenging, she had set a goal for herself and planned to meet it before Sarah started back to school in the summer!  

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As the teacher finished sharing this moving story, we both stood with tears in our eyes and I had goosebumps on my arms. Not only was Ms. F able to impact the life of a child, providing a new path in life, one filled with opportunities and the tools necessary to be a literate student and adult; but this gift, the gift of literacy, opened new doors of learning and understanding for Ellen as well, and perhaps, breaking the cycle that accompanies illiteracy!

One of the most powerful gifts we can give our students is the gift of literacy!

Enjoy your school year!

-S