Every year, I invite readers of this blog to share the favorite education-related book they read during the previous twelve months. The books could have been published earlier and the only requirement is that you had read them sometime this year.
In addition to the leaving the name of the title and author in the comments section, it would be great if you could also write one sentence explaining why you liked the book.
The deadline for me to receive your recommendations is December 24th. I’ll publish the entire list the following week.
You might also be interested in seeing book recommendations from previous years:
In addition to teaching full-time in high school during the day, I’m on the adjunct faculty in the teacher education programs at California State University, Sacramento and the University of California, Davis. I’m finding an important question keeps on cropping up:
How do I teach a newcomer, with next-to-zero English proficiency, who is placed in my mainstream classroom without any additional outside support being provided?
Unfortunately, I suspect that this is a very common issue for teachers across the United States – a newcomer is “parachuted” into their classes and they’re just told to “integrate” the student into their instruction.
Here are some suggestions – from readers and from me:
MY NUMBER ONE PIECE OF ADVICE: Remember, your newcomer student is as intelligent as any native-English speaker you have in your classroom. He/she is just new to the English language. Start off by reading this piece that Katie Hull and I have written: Do’s & Don’ts for Teaching English-Language Learners. And, please, don’t make the mistakes of speaking loudly in English to them or giving them a seat at the very back of the room.
PROVIDE EMOTIONAL SUPPORT
* Learn their story – why their family came here, what their interests are, goals they might have for their life. If you cannot speak their home language and/or can’t find another staffperson or student who can, using Google Translate is a very viable option. Using the audio translation mode, it will automatically provide verbal interpretation. It’s not perfect by any means, but you should be able to have a basic conversation. Just last month, Google announced a breakthrough in improving their Translate tool for some languages and expects to apply a similar tech upgrade to all of them.
* Provide access to a computer or tablet (I often will let a student use my “teacher” computer). If a student has zero or next-to-zero English, the best help any teacher – no matter what subject they are teaching – can provide is support to students in developing basic English communication skills. Duolingo, LingoHut, USA Learns and English Central are the four best online tools for that kind of support (here are other language-learning sites, too). Doing this – for a short time, at least – can help them begin to develop self-confidence, get them familiar with online tools they can also use at home (if they have Internet access there) and give you some time to develop a longer-term plan on how you are going to teach them your content matter and pull together needed resources.
*If you are fortunate enough to speak your newcomer’s language, using the Preview, View and Review method is an option (preview the lesson in the home language, then the main lesson in English, and then review it in the home language). I’ve also used the bilingual resources listed in the previous suggestion in the same way – previewing and reviewing with those materials.
*There are many sites that provide similar high-quality materials on multiple subjects using different “levels” of text. For example, an article on the Electoral College might be edited for three or four different reading levels. Using a high English level version of one for most of your students and a simplified version for your newcomer is a fairly easy way to make content accessible. In fact, there are tools that let you do the same for any text you copy and paste into them. You can find links to all these options at The Best Places To Get The “Same” Text Written For Different “Levels.”
*There are a number of content-specific books that are designed to be particularly accessible to ELLs – you can see a list of a few of them at The Best Books For Teaching & Learning ESL/EFL. I use some of the books listed in my history and English classes (note that, though the book titles are all accurate, the links where to purchase them might be out-of-date). You can find other content-specific books at The Best Places To Buy ESL/EFL Books. Software & Multimedia. Providing these textbook alternatives, which likely cover similar subjects to the ones you use with the majority of your students, could be a useful scaffold.
*At the very least, make sure you have a bilingual dictionary in your newcomer’s student language.
*At our high school, seniors often get a class period when they are T.A.’s (teaching assistants) or “Peer Tutors.” With support and minimal training from me, a student who doesn’t even speak the newcomer’s home language can provide invaluable support to them. In addition, having the title “peer tutor” can look better on a senior’s transcript when applying to college.
*Inductive teaching emphasizes pattern-seeking, which is a skill found to be particularly important to those learning a new language (and it’s important for everybody else, too!). If you presently employ inductive methods in your instruction, creating more simple versions for your newcomer should be fairly easy, though would take a little extra time. If you are not using them now, I’d encourage you to consider experimenting with it. You can learn more at The Best Resources About Inductive Learning & Teaching. In particular, you might want to read how I use it: Get Organized Around Assets and The Picture Word Inductive Model.
*If your newcomer does not have Internet access at home (or even if he/she does), providing him/her with accessible books they can read at home can be a big help – plenty of research documents the importance of home libraries. Our local Friends of the Library has provided hundreds of free books for our newcomer students, and you can also print out many online (see The Best Sources For Free & Accessible Printable Books).
*If your school has a specialized class where the newcomer is learning English, regularly talk with their teacher to learn more about the student and to both listen to – and offer – ideas how you can both support the student in their classes.
Prioritize – choose two or three concepts from the unit you are teacher and work hard to get those across to your newcomers. Trying to ensure the student understands every little last thing will be overwhelming for you both.
In fact, Google just published this video that highlights that feature and the features I mentioned in the earlier post:
In addition, I neglected to mention the obvious strategy of showing English subtitled with any videos you show.
Finally, this was an idea suggested by one of the credential candidates at my California State University, Sacramento, course: if you are teaching whole novels in your class, why not get a version of it in your ELL’s home language, if available?
I don’t know about you, but a good portion of my Friday will be spent writing college recommendation letters for students.
Thanks to Chicago educator Ray Salazar, though, the past couple of years have been made a little easier.
Ray wrote a great post about how he has his students write drafts of their own recommendation letters. With his permission, I ran with his idea and created a form I have students complete. Here’s a slightly modified version of my original post about it from two years ago:
With Ray’s permission, I have developed a form that I will be posting on our class blogs and asking students (primarily from my IB classes) to complete and send to me. However, I’m not using it for all students (English Language Learners and students who I know very well and admire a great deal – which may be one in the same).
I’ve created the form so it can used and modified by anybody, and would love to hear suggestions on how to make it better.
I’ve written a lot about my ongoing search for a helpful an online site that would help all students, and particularly English Language Learners, develop their writing – one that would have model essays, graphic organizers, accessible explanations of errors, etc. Though none have met my hopes, I have collected some that try at The Best Online Tools That Can Help Students Write An Essay.
In my ideal site, teachers would also have access to student first drafts. If we don’t, then we likely wouldn’t see many common errors in our students writing – it might be possible that students correct errors pointed out by the program without any real understanding of why the error was made and the rule behind its correction. That’s just one of many issues I have with computer grading of essays (see The Best Posts On Computer-Graded Essays).
It’s very easy to use – student just copy and paste what they’ve written and, within seconds, the site will give you feedback on writing mechanics. I was very impressed with the quality of the feedback – it caught many essays and, even more surprisingly, offered accurate alternatives. The quality of the feedback the site gives is tons better than the feedback a writer would get from, let’s say, Microsoft Word.
A big problem, however, is that, though the feedback appears to very accurate, it give no explanation of why the word choice might be incorrect. So a student would write an essay with many errors corrected, but I wouldn’t know what those errors were and wouldn’t know if the student understood the reasons why they were errors.
Of course, one huge advantage to students using this tool would be that teachers could concentrate on the “big picture” of student writing and not have to pay as much attention to spelling, grammar and punctuation basics. That might make it more suitable to higher-intermediate, advanced and English-proficient students who, with luck, will have made it past many of those kinds of mistakes.
Some of my concerns would be alleviated if the error explanations were more clear or, at the very least, included a link where a student could learn more about the concepts.
I’m also confused by the “notebook” set-up of the site. You can create “notebooks” with assignments for others in a closed group, but it’s unclear to me how the “owner” of the notebook can access members’ writing, or if that’s even possible. If it is doable, that would make it more attractive to teachers.
What do you think? Do you have suggestions for ways to deal with my concerns?
Recently, they began a joint project with Upworthy to create a series of animated videos called #WhoWeAre, “a campaign to share the stories of every Americans, build compassion, and offer hope to a divided nation.:
He talks a lot at the beginning about the importance of story-telling and what he says meshes very well with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s popular TED Talk, “The Danger Of A Single Story.” Many teachers use it in the classroom now, and I think portions of the President’s speech would be an excellent addition to those lessons.
You can find more info on that idea in two previous posts:
The real surprise to me was the section beginning from twenty-two minutes in and ending at about the thirty-second minute. Victor Rios, who I’m embarrassed to say I had never heard of prior to the show (you can learn more about him at this PBS News Hour segment from a few years ago, One Man’s Journey From Gang Member to Academia), gave a must-watch talk on grit and resilience – with a very different perspective than those who say “Let them eat character” (see The manipulation of Social Emotional Learning). His talk was followed by an excellent short film on undocumented students in Georgia who want to attend college.
Here are a couple of excerpts from his talk:
Here is the entire video (which may, or may, show up in an RSS Readers0:
I gave a presentation to the California Teachers Summit at California State University in Sacramento. Here, I’ve added audio to my PowerPoint presentation.
My talk will eventually be posted at the California Teachers Summit YouTube Channel but I don’t know when that’s going to happen, and I’m also not sure if the video will just be me talking or if it will including the slides, too.
So, I figured getting it out this way would be most useful to teachers, particularly as we all are planning for the upcoming school year.