Friday, May 28, 2010

Grammar Chants

Grammar chants can be a lot of fun to use in classes. They are especially effective when used to help students learn problematic forms, words, etc. through repetition the right side of the brain engages its 'musical' intelligence. The use of multiple intelligences can go a long way to helping students speak English 'automatically'.

Link to Education Week article

Report Finds Long-Term ELLs Languishing in Calif. Schools

Education Week


A portrait of long-term English-language learners in 40 California school districts shows that the specific needs of such students are largely being ignored, a statewide coalition of education and civil rights groups contends in a new report.

Webcast for the teachers of young English Language Learners

This webcast features Dr. Rebecca Palacios and offers information on the following components of a PreK ELL program: language instruction, curriculum, professional development, and family outreach.


From Corolin Colorado:

Summer reading and ELLs

Libraries offer all kinds of resources and opportunities to ELLs and their families, but many families may not know about the kinds of services and programs that libraries offer. In order to increase participation in summer reading programs, it may be helpful to take a field trip to the library during or near the end of the school year or invite a librarian to visit the classroom so that the librarian can introduce the summer reading program to students. The librarian can explain what the summer reading program involves, how to sign up, and other library activities that students will have access to during the summer. When summer arrives, student will feel more comfortable asking for information and signing up for the program if they have some background knowledge!

In addition to library programs, many ELL summer school programs offer some helpful resources, such as ELL/bilingual summer reading lists tied with the upcoming fall curriculum. While the lists may not fit other districts' curriculum guidelines, they offer some great recommendations of books. Check the hot links for a great example of an ELL summer reading list.

Great for Review with English Language Learners

Three Key Verbs: Do, Have and Be

The verbs to do,
to have and to be are used in a number of different ways in English. Here are the main uses of these extremely important and flexible verbs:

to do
to have
to be

Another Activity For English Language Learners

Tell others what she said!

Jane to Susan:
I'm falling in love with Jack!

Susan to Mary:
Jane said she was falling in love with Jack.

This short conversation is an example of reported speech. This reported speech guide provides the rules, lesson plans, quizzes and more for both teachers and students. For this guide, there's also a new dialogue Having a Hard Time Finding a Job which focuses on using the reported speech in conversation.

Great for Older English Language Learners

Disputing a Bill / Getting a Driver's License

These two intermediate level roleplays focus on common tasks that many students need to deal with when living in an English speaking country. The first dialogue and follow-up quiz focuses on disputing an electricity bill with a customer service representative. The second dialogue and comprehension quiz takes a man through filling out a form for a new driver's license.

Ring, ring. Call waiting says it's Curious George

Curious George has a new place to get into trouble, your cell phone.

Children's book authors and publishers are rushing to transform their paper book stories into digital versions on smart phones, blending their once-upon-a-time plots with elaborate sound effects, animation and 3D effects. Some of the newest versions of these books even allow parents and children to record their own page-by-page narration, making them a personal literacy tool.

In just the last few months, Dr. Seuss, Curious George, Mr. Bump, Alice in Wonderland and a slew of other major kids book icons have burst onto the mobile phone scene, often with a digital sticker price a fraction what the paper book version costs. Read more about it in The Tampa Tribune

Books are an outdated technology--like scrolls, headmaster says

The headmaster of a central Massachusetts school that eliminated books in its library says the move has worked well, turning the library into a magnet for students and faculty.

The library at the Cushing Academy in Ashburnham is now "the most-used space on campus, with collaborative learning areas equipped with smart boards, sections for quiet study, and screens for data feeds from research sites," James Tracy says today, May 28, in a letter to the editor in the Globe. Read more about the situation in The Boston Globe
online. The 
original story appeared in September, 2009.

Fifth Grade Class In Utah Participates In Pen Pal Program With Senior Citizens

The Salt Lake Tribune (5/28, Sanchez) reports that the L. Clark Cushing Heritage Center in Murray, Utah, is in its twelfth year of partnering "with an elementary school class for its pen pal program, arranging for students to exchange letters with senior citizens throughout the year." This year, "the center teamed up with Ellie Ferrero's fifth-grade class at Liberty Elementary School." The class met with their pen pals "for the first time in December over a holiday luncheon." The two groups "reunited last week over a game of bingo and ice cream at the program's end-of-the-year party." Center director Susan Gregory said that "the program is a way to show students that seniors can be 'vibrant, educated and fun' and gives adults a chance to stay connected to the youth."

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Common Core State Standards release set June 2


The Common Core State Standards will be released Wednesday, June 2 at 10:00 a.m. (EDT) at Peachtree Ridge High School, 1555 Old Peachtree Road Northwest, Suwanee, Georgia, according to a news release from the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI). The initiative is state-led effort launched more than a year ago to develop clear, robust academic standards to prepare students for success in college and careers. The standards were drafted by a working group of teachers, content experts, and leading researchers, and are also informed by the best models from within the U.S. and abroad and nearly 10,000 public comments. 

The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) will release the standards with the help of governors, school chiefs, and education leaders from across the country. This event marks the end of the development phase of the Common Core State Standards Initiative and the beginning of the adoption process in the individual states. Read more at

Two states endorse Common Core Standards

Maryland is one of the first states to endorse academic standards that are part of a movement to unify reading and math instruction across the nation, a move that would affect every public school student in the state and require new teacher training and standardized tests. Kentucky is the other state to endorse the standards and both did so May 25. The new common standards for math and reading, developed by a state-led coalition with encouragement from President Obama, are part of national efforts to improve public education. Current standards and tests are a patchwork of varying quality.

The reforms mean that Maryland's 844,000 students would study the same topics in the same year as peers in other states that sign on to the standards. The changes come alongside others that will tie student performance to teacher evaluations and toughen graduation requirements in math and science -- all part of Maryland's effort to win as much as $250 million in federal Race to the Top education grants. Delaware and Tennessee won money in the first round. Read more in The Washington Post

Cartoon Network To Launch Anti-Bullying Campaign

The AP (5/26, Crary) reports, "Next fall, when millions of kids tune into Cartoon Network to watch Bugs Bunny, Scooby-Doo and other favorites, they'll encounter something new - an ambitious campaign to enlist them as foot soldiers in the fight against bullying. Unlike many bullying programs, this one is geared toward middle school, where experts say bullying is most common." The program "also targets not bullies nor the bullied, but kids who witness bullying, giving them appropriate techniques to intervene."

Impetus For Arizona Ethnic Studies Bill Explained

Valerie Strauss wrote in a blog for the Washington Post (5/25) that Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) has "signed into law" a bill targeting ethic studies that "had been pushed" by Tom Horne, Arizona's longtime secretary of education, "who took a disliking" to an ethnic studies program in the Tucson Unified School District several years ago. According to Strauss, "Historians and educators can argue the importance or lack thereof of such studies, and the merits and demerits of particular programs. ... I find [Horne's] motivations revealing, and read into" an "open letter that Horne wrote in 2007 explaining why he decided to target the program" a "personal dislike that he turned into a political crusade and selectively chose and wrongly interpreted some material to make his case." Strauss goes on to post the letter from Horne, dated June 11, 2007.

Maryland Education Officials Find Widespread Cheating At Elementary School In Baltimore.

The Baltimore Sun (5/27, Bowie) reports, "City and state education officials have uncovered widespread cheating on state tests at" George Washington Elementary School in Southwest Baltimore, a campus once regarded "as an example of against-the-odds achievement." After the discovery, officials "revoked the professional license of the principal," Susan Burgess, "who they are holding responsible." After reviewing "hundreds of Maryland State Assessment booklets at George Washington Elementary," investigators "found thousands of erasure marks. In nearly all instances, the answers were changed from wrong to right." Still, none of the staff have admitted to "taking part in or witnessing any cheating." Burgess also "did not provide an explanation" for the findings.

Student writers sought

Faces magazine is seeking students between the ages of 10 to 17 to write approximately 200-word book or DVD reviews, reports Peg Lopata, associate editor of Faces. Each issue of Faces includes a guest review of a book or DVD that is related to the theme of the issue. Payment is $10.00, the book or DVD, and two complimentary copies of the issue. Additional copies can be bought at a reduced rate. Reviewers must provide a high-resolution digital image or print of themselves to accompany their review. 

For further information, visit the Cobblestone Publishing website or contact Lopata at

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Elementary Web Sites for English Language Learners

by Judie Haynes

Attention all elementary ESL and classroom teachers! Do you want to discover great web sites for the English language learners in your class? Here is a painless way to give students English language practice in the classroom or at home.

There are not many websites designed especially for elementary-age English language learners. In order to provide these students with extra practice in English, it is necessary to examine sites intended for English native speakers.

How do students use these sites? First, I introduce a web site in ESL class and allow students to try out a few activities. In order to do this, you will need to have a computer in your room or access to a computer lab. I use wireless laptops in my room so that students can each look at their own screen.

Directions for accessing the site are handed out. Students then work on the site on their own in their mainstream classroom or, if they have a computer, at home. They print out results or make a screen shot and bring it to me the next day. Some games can not be printed or saved. In that case, I ask students to practice a skill for homework and do the game again quickly in class the next day. In some cases, the information on a site will need to be modified for English language learners. Some of the sites listed will not be suitable for beginners in a particular grade cluster.

Here is a list of some of the sites my students are using.

Sites for Grades 1-2

  • Reading instruction and reading games for students in Pre-K-1. It's hard to believe this site is free.
  • Continent song Good for students learning the names of the continents.
  • Reading is Fundamental.This site has many stories for Pre-K-2 students.*
  • -a site with online stories and activities. Grades pre-K-Kindergarten.*
  • Kiz ClubStories about a variety of topics for grades 1-3
  • Online Story Time-This site is more for teachers but has many online stories.
  • Martha Speaks.This site is good for beginning ELLs in grades k-2. It is advertised as a pre-school site but the stories are suitable forK-1 students.
  • British Council Stories -This site has many stories that are read aloud. Check for spelling and pronunciation differences.
  • Games on PBS Kids - Games for K-2. "WordPlay" can be used for students in grades 3-4.
  • Arthur -Sequencing activity where students hear a story and put pictures in order.
  • Storyline Online -A terrific site with stories read by actors from the ScreenActors' Guild. Grades 1-4.*
  • Reading-A-To-Z - This is a commercial site with free books that you can download and print. Grades 1-4.
  • and listening activities for elementary age students.*
  • Tumblebook Library - Click on "stories." A large collection of stories from the Los Angeles Public Library. All grades.
  • Clifford - Activities pre-K-2.Try the reading and writing section with students in grades 2-3.
  • Videos - Short Clifford videos. Click on "See and Hear." Grades K-2.
  • Berenstain Bears Games and Songs - Great activities for young children including word games, songs and puzzles. Grades K-2.
  • Game Goo - Learning that sticks - Great learning games for young children. Grades K-2.
  • The Reading Lady Includes short plays for students in grades 1-2.*
  • Enchanted learning Printable books and for students in grades K-4.
  • Discover Science Simulations Science content from Houghton Mifflin Science Series.

Sites for Grades 3-5

Sites for Grades 4-8

  • Listening Activities - Designed for older students but pronunciation and listening activities could be used for students grades 4 and up.*
  • iKnowthat This link takes you to map and social studies activities for grades 5-12.
  • BrainPop-This site has some free sections to teach grammar. Look up "nouns" and watch the video. Grades 5-8. Grades 3-8. *
  • Multicultural Stories -Stories from around the world by Nick Jr. Grades 3-8
  • Brainteasers, Puzzles and Riddles - Kids' page from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Grades 5-8
  • Translation Site - Students can bookmark this site to translate words from English to their native language. Grades 3-12.
  • Interactive games and activities- Social Studies Games from Ben's Guide to the U.S Government. Grades 5-8.
  • Audio Comprehension - An audio concentration game for Grades 4-12.*
  • Homophone game - Match homophones in this concentration game.* Grades 4-8.
  • Wordsearches - Wordsearches on U.S. Presidents. Grades 4-8.
  • Movie Trailers Listening activities using movie trailers for Grades 5-12.
  • Vocabulary Vocabulary games - From Interesting Things For ESL Students, aa collection of vocabulary games for Grades 6-12.
  • WordBuilderGreat site for phonics practice. Grades 4-12


Storyline Online
Storyline Online is sponsored by the Screen Actors Guild and features celebrities reading children's books. Lou Diamond Phillips, Melissa Gilbert, Jason Alexander and Al Gore are among the SAG members who read.

Graphic Organizers for Content Instruction

by Judie Haynes

Graphic organizers make content area information more accessible to second language learners. They convert complex information into manageable chunks. Download graphic organizers from this page.

One of our roles as ESL and bilingual specialists is to encourage mainstream teachers to employ teaching techniques which make content area information more accessible to second language learners. Content materials present text which is too dense for ELLs. Teach your students to use graphic organizers such as webs, Venn diagrams, and charts to help them better comprehend these texts. These are visual tools that help ELLs understand and organize information. They are like mind maps which promote active learning. Graphic Organizers can also help students develop higher level thinking skills and promote creativity.

One of our goals in teaching our English language learners is to help them summarize and interpret text. Graphic Organizers are excellent tools in achieving this goal.

Download the PDF files listed below or try a customized graphic organizer at This site allow you to print out several graphic organizers with the labels that you want.


Compare and Contrast Organizer (30k .PDF)

Story Map (2k .PDF)

KWL chart (2k .PDF)

Story Action Map (2k .PDF)

Story board (3k .PDF)

Venn diagram (2k .PDF)

Fishbone map (23k .PDF)

Network tree (2k .PDF)

Spider map (6k .PDF)

Story star (93k .PDF)

Cycle chart (2k .PDF)

T-Chart (2k .PDF)

Tips for parents to develop good readers

When it comes to kids today, it seems to be all about the screen -- computer games, handheld games, websites, social media, cell phones, TV, and, of course, text messaging.

But what about reading? Many parents today are concerned because they know that being a good reader remains a crucial skill that kids need in order to be successful in school ... and life.

If you're one of those worried parents, here's a bit of good news: There are simple things you can do to encourage, entice, and even excite your children about picking up a book. The first is to set aside some family time for reading. For seven tips from the editors of Weekly Reader Digital and Print  to make the experience enjoyable -- while developing your child's skills, visit the Kansas City Star online.

The New York Times Student Challenge

If you assign summer reading, or create reading lists (or even if you don't), consider adding The New York Times as an option. And if you're teaching summer school, or trying to engage your own summer-vacationing children, this challenge can work for you, too.

Many experts believe both that students don't read enough nonfiction and that letting kids make their own reading choices builds a genuine love of learning. So, if students are regularly reading the articles of their choice in The Times, you can check off two literacy goals at once.

So from now until the end of August, The Times invites you to visit weekly to share the articles, columns, blog posts, photos, graphics, videos and podcasts you've found interesting, and tell why you chose them. The program is for ages 13 to 25. Learn more about the Student Challenge in The New York Times

Friday, May 21, 2010

Interactive Whiteboard Language Arts Tips

Find easy-to-use Interactive Whiteboard teaching tips and make the most of Language Arts Online Activities on your Interactive Whiteboard. This site from Scholastic features a variety of activities for students of all ages. Check it out.

George Washington off the hook for overdue book

George Washington is officially off the hook after a book he borrowed from a New York library 221 years ago was finally returned to its rightful place.

Staff at the New York Society Library happily accepted a replica copy of "The Law of Nations" from members of the first U.S. President's Mount Vernon estate yesterday after they discovered he removed it from their collection on Oct. 5, 1789, but never brought it back. Read more about this transgression in The New York Daily News

Report indicates that having books in the home is vital

Whether rich or poor, residents of the United States or China, illiterate or college graduates, parents who have books in the home increase the level of education their children will attain, according to a 20-year study led by Mariah Evans, University of Nevada, Reno associate professor of sociology and resource economics. 

For years, educators have thought the strongest predictor of attaining high levels of education was having parents who were highly educated. But, strikingly, this massive study showed that the difference between being raised in a bookless home compared to being raised in a home with a 500-book library has as great an effect on the level of education a child will attain as having parents who are barely literate (3 years of education) compared to having parents who have a university education (15 or 16 years of education). Both factors, having a 500-book library or having university-educated parents, propel a child 3.2 years further in education, on average.

Evans said, "Even a little bit goes a long way," in terms of the number of books in a home. Having as few as 20 books in the home still has a significant impact on propelling a child to a higher level of education, and the more books you add, the greater the benefit. "You get a lot of 'bang for your book'," she said. "It's quite a good return-on-investment in a time of scarce resources."

The study by Evans and her colleagues at Nevada, UCLA, and Australian National University is one of the largest and most comprehensive studies ever conducted on what influences the level of education a child will attain. It is titled "Family scholarly culture and educational success: Books and schooling in 27 nations," and it appears in the journal Research in Social Stratification and Mobility. It can be accessed (for a fee) from

Discover Your Zodiac Personality!

Studying Zodiac signs and the personality traits is a great way to quickly improve your vocabulary related to personality. This upper level visual dictionary contains adjective rich descriptions of each Zodiac sign as well as a follow-up quiz to help you learn the new vocabulary. Does your sign reflect your true self?

This lesson plan builds on the Zodiac sign resource at the site. Whether students believe in the Zodiac or not, working with Zodiac sign descriptions provides a great opportunity to widen their vocabulary knowledge about personality and characteristic adjectives. Use this Zodiac signs lesson plan to get students talking about themselves and their friends. You'll all have a good laugh, and students will improve their active vocabulary beyond the standard happy, funny, sad, and lucky.

Printable Grammar Review Quizzes

These grammar review quizzes by level are a good way to review your English. You can take these interactive quizzes here on the site:

Beginner Review
Intermediate Review
Advanced Review

Teachers can also take advantage of these quizzes in class with the new updated printable versions which contain all the questions on one page.

Beginner Review
Lower Intermediate Review
Intermediate Review
Advanced Review

Dialogues for Practice and Comprehension

These eight lower-intermediate dialogues provide role play practice as well as reading comprehension practice on specific grammar points. Each dialogue is also followed by a multiple choice comprehension quiz.

The City and the Country - Comparative form, as ... as
Interview with a Famous Actor - Daily routines, present simple
What's in Your Office? - Use of there is / there are, prepositions and office furniture vocabulary
What Were You Doing? - Use of the past continuous in combination with the past simple
The Oregon Weather Forecast - Use of the future with will for predictions, weather vocabulary
A Business Presentation - Use of the present perfect
A Business Traveller - Speaking about likes and dislikes with like, enjoy
A Customer Interview - Superlative Forms

Visual Tense Charts

Visual clues can really help learners understand tense usage. This resource provides a visual tense chart for each of the major uses of the 14 tenses in English. The visual tense chart also includes a quick overview of each particular usage, as well as structure and example sentences.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Elementary School In Arizona Provides Technology Instruction To All Students

The Arizona Republic (5/20, Faller) reports that Navajo Elementary School is currently the only school in Arizona's "Scottsdale Unified School District that's designated as a STEM school and the district's only elementary school that teaches science every day." Navajo principal Shaun Holmes notes that "the focus on achieving good math and reading scores" is a major contributor to "the de-emphasis on science in elementary schools." But at Navajo, "all students learn technology, starting with an introduction to programming in kindergarten." Meanwhile, "older kids study software, three-dimensional animation, and robotics." The Arizona Republic notes that several Arizona school systems "are working toward getting more schools designated as STEM." And, "Congress this week is expected to vote on the America COMPETES Act, which authorizes $84 million in funding for STEM education as well as technology research and jobs."

Educators Focusing On Younger Students At Risk Of Becoming Dropouts

USA Today (5/20, Toppo) reports, "For years, educators have tried - often in vain - to get more students to graduate from high school on time and boost college-going rates," with few approaches having much success. Recently, however some educators have been "taking a hard look at what happens to kids years before they get to high school, where" they have found that "red flags appear with alarming regularity." USA Today adds that the Diplomas Now program at Philadelphia's Feltonville School of Arts and Sciences focuses on "students as early as the sixth grade" who are at-risk for failing or dropping out, "in the belief that by the time they're in high school, it's too late to intervene." The programs' results have been "so impressive that the program has spread to four more cities: Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans and San Antonio."

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Report profiles secondary schools by state

The National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) has announced the release of the State Secondary School Profiles. NASBE's High School Redesign Initiative has researched and compiled information regarding high school reform in every state. These profiles serve both to inform policymakers on the status of secondary schools in the state and highlight innovative initiatives.

Each profile is continually updated with data on the following topics: NASBE's Collaboration with the State, Graduation and Dropout Rates, Graduation Requirements, High School Reform Initiatives, Enrollment and Demographic Information, NAEP Rankings, and more.

To see your state and other state profiles, visit the report page. Further information about NASBE and State Boards of Education can be found on the NASBE website.

Moving toward a "bookless library"

One chapter is closing — and another is opening — as Stanford University moves toward the creation of its first "bookless library."

Box by box, decades of past scholarship are being packed up and emptied from two old libraries, Physics and Engineering, to make way for the future: a smaller but more efficient and largely electronic library that can accommodate the vast, expanding and interrelated literature of Physics, Computer Science and Engineering.

"The role of this new library is less to do with shelving and checking out books — and much more about research and discovery," said Andrew Herkovic, director of communications and development at Stanford Libraries in Santa Clara County, California. Read more in The San Jose Mercury News

Common core standards final draft link on website

A link to an "unproofed, unformatted final version of the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects" currently appears on the website. There is no associated article but a link to a .pdf introduced by a letter addressed to State Partners.

Most Classes Online At Texas High School For At-Risk Students

The Dallas Morning News (5/19, Holloway) reports, "Many school districts have programs to help at-risk students graduate" with a focus "on allowing students to work at their own pace, often at night." However, at Garland Non-Traditional High School in Texas "most classes are taken online," there "are no more than 15 students in a class, and each classroom has a teacher to explain concepts and answer questions." Garland's "success in increasing graduation rates led to recent recognition from the Texas Education Agency."

High School In California Cancels "Stay-At-Home" Field Trip For Seniors

Howard Blume wrote in the Los Angeles Times (5/19) "LA Now" blog that on Tuesday, Verdugo Hills High School in Tujunga, California, "abruptly canceled a three-day 'stay at home' field trip for seniors after a parent and officials questioned it." The purpose of the field trip "was to get seniors off campus during the three days of annual standardized testing of underclassmen." The school is now "scrambling to arrange a daylong study hall in the auditorium for Wednesday and Thursday." The Los Angeles Times notes that typically, area schools provide activities for seniors to do in school while underclassmen test. These activities include "prepping for graduation ceremonies, special assemblies, senior picnics, career days, class photos, movies, make-up work."

Thousands Of Students Worldwide Participate In Virtual Field Trip To National Park In Utah

The Salt Lake Tribune (5/19, Schencker) reports that "nearly 100,000 from around the world...journeyed to" Utah's Bryce Canyon National Park "via an electronic field trip Tuesday." The excursion "was part of a series of such trips to national park sites across the US hosted by the National Park Foundation." During the live journey, "park rangers explained Bryce's features with help from area students" and "answered live questions from kids and teachers" while walking "students through interactive activities."

Kim’s Korner

Okay, so the spelling is a little… Froot Loops, but this site is a good resource for teachers.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Language Arts -- Graffiti Wall

Cover a bulletin board with red paper. Use a black marker to create a bricklike design. Then add the name of your current novel and its author on the board. As your class reads the novel, challenge students to write concepts or new vocabulary words from the novel on the wall using different-colored paints or markers. Each time a student adds a word or concept to the wall, have him explain its meaning or relevance to the book.

Some Districts Installing Wireless Internet On School Buses

NPR (5/18) reports that some students in the Vail School District in southern Arizona "can easily spend more than 2 1/2 hours on a school bus every day." To make the ride more productive, the district has since November provided wireless Internet access on its buses. "To pull this off, the district installed a wireless router just above the front windshield," creating "an instant Internet hotspot." According to Sterling Pratz, CEO of Autonet, "the company that makes the routers...the devices had been primarily for private vehicles. School bus connectivity wasn't even on his radar a few months ago, he says." Since then, however, "about 25 US school districts, both rural and urban, have signed up for the service." The company has also "adapted the service for schools" by filtering out "adult content."

California Bill Aimed At Protecting Content Of Textbooks Moves Forward

The AP (5/18) reports, "A bill seeking to protect California social studies textbooks from revisions advocated in Texas has cleared a legislative hurdle." The California Senate Appropriations Committee "on Monday voted 6-3 in favor of the legislation" which "would require the state Board of Education to examine new textbooks for curriculum revisions approved in March by the Texas school board."

Report Ties Early Literacy To Graduation Rates

USA Today (5/18, Toppo) reports, "If educators want to shrink the number of students who drop out of high school each year, they must greatly increase the number who can read proficiently by the time they're in fourth grade, a key non-profit children's advocacy group says in a new report" by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The Washington Post (5/18, Chandler) adds that the report, "Early Warning: Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters," focuses on "links between early literacy and high school graduation rates and future economic success."


According to Education Week (5/18, Viadero), it says that 85 percent "of poor 4th graders in predominantly low-income schools are failing to reach 'proficient' levels in reading on federal tests." Education Week also points out that the report "lays out the statistical case for the foundation's soon-to-be-announced, 10-year initiative to ensure that more children become proficient readers by the time they leave 3rd grade. As part of the new campaign, the report says, the foundation plans to join with other philanthropies to finance reading-improvement efforts in a dozen states representing different geographic regions in the country

Free for all--reading treasures from the past

For a special treat, especially during the summer vacation months, visit Children's Literature: Digitized Print Materials, a free Federal Resources for Educational Excellence website that provides 50 digitized texts of rare books: The Arabian Nights, A Child's Garden of Verses, Ballad of the Lost Hare, A Christmas Carol, Humpty Dumpty, The Grasshopper Stories, Mother Goose Finger Plays, The Pied Piper of Hamelin, The Rocket Book, The Secret Garden, Stories from Hans Andersen, The Three Bears, Three Little Pigs, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and others from the Library of Congress.

If there is a PDF link, you can use the Acrobat viewer to peruse the material, and print it in its entirety. The bibliographic information link will query the Library's online catalog and display the catalog record for the item.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Libraries ramp up use of cell phones, mobile devices

While mobile device ownership is a major trend in American society, few libraries and educational institutions have developed resources and services for mobile users. According to Educause, over 50% of schools had done nothing as of 2009 to adapt their web-based services for handheld devices. This is starting to change as schools and libraries begin creating versions of their websites for mobile users and designing services for mobile devices.

Read more of "A Library in Your Pocket" by Meredith Farkas in American Libraries

A look at summer school

"Is Summer School the Key to Reform?" A commentary in Education Week by Ron Fairchild and Jeff Smink of the National Summer Learning Association offers some interesting ideas. For further details, read the full article. Watch for an article on the importance of summer reading in the June/July issue of Reading Today.

Brown v. Board of Education decision 56 years old

Today marks the 56th anniversary of the United States Supreme Court ruling in the case of "Oliver Brown et al. v. Board of Education of Topeka et al." It is worth taking time to consider the progress that has been made and the challenges that remain in our public education system to ensure all students are treated equally and have every opportunity to benefit from a good education.

The so-called Brown decision marked the beginning of a new era of opportunity for African Americans. "Separate but equal" was no longer the law of the land in public education. Read more of this opinion piece in The Jackson Sun

USDA To Revamp School Meat Safety Program

USA Today (5/15, Weise) reported that this fall, "the ground beef used in school lunches will be as safe as ground beef sold to the nation's fast food chains." Last week, the US Agriculture Department announced "that it will require all ground beef purchased for the National School Lunch Program to adhere to new safety standards after July 1." According to USA Today, "The rules call for more stringent microbiological testing and say beef should be sampled every 15 minutes on production lines."

Central Falls, Rhode Island, District To Rehire Fired Teachers

The AP (5/17) reports that the Central Falls, Rhode Island, school district, which "gained the support of President Barack Obama for promoting accountability after it fired all its teachers from a struggling school, announced Sunday it reached an agreement with the" teachers union "to return all the current staffers to their jobs." According to both sides, a "transformation plan for Central Falls High School for the coming school year would allow the 87 teachers, guidance counselors, librarians and other staffers who were to lose their jobs at the end of this year to return without having to reapply."


CNN (5/17) reports on its Website that "the agreement, which must still be ratified by teachers, includes measures to improve student achievement, including a longer school day, targeted professional development for teachers and more after-school tutoring," according to a statement by the teachers union.

Report: Educational Attainment Rising Among Racial, Ethnic Groups In America

Education Week (5/14, Robelen) reported, "Americans across major racial and ethnic groups became better educated over the past decade, though significant gaps remain in the rates at which blacks and Hispanics earn a high school diploma or college degree, a new analysis of US census data" by the Brookings Institution. The report said that "college-completion rates also climbed for blacks and Hispanics, though by far smaller amounts, about 2 to 3 percentage points."

Jonas Brother Promotes "Field Trips For All" Contest

The Los Angeles Times (5/15, Stevens) reported that when Kevin Jonas of the Jonas Brothers is "not hobnobbing at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, prepping for his summer concert tour or plugging his, he's promoting a new Field Trips for All initiative to send 50 classrooms nationwide on free field trips to a destination of their choosing." The "contest...lets parents, teachers, and kids nominate a 1st- through 8th-grade classroom to win a fully funded educational outing." Nominations may be submitted at the website.

Friday, May 14, 2010

How many years will you have studied by the time you take the exam?

Wow! The phrase above is complicated! It's an example of the future perfect tense. Here are guides to those complicated future and past tenses.

Future Perfect Tense
Future Perfect Continuous Tense
Future Continuous Tense
Past Perfect Tense
Past Perfect Continuous Tense

Study: Quality of instruction most important for ELLs

A new study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University's Center for Research and Reform in Education could change the way schools in the United States teach nonnative speakers to read and speak in English.

The traditional argument surrounding the instruction of English-language learners has been whether English immersion or bilingual approaches work the best. But the Johns Hopkins study is poised to make that debate irrelevant: After five years studying Spanish-dominant children in six schools in California, Colorado, New Mexico, Minnesota, Illinois and Texas, the researchers found that the quality of instruction had a greater impact on how easily the children learned English than did the language of instruction.

Unique in that it follows children over a long period of time, the study was presented last week during the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association in Denver. For more, read the article in The Johns Hopkins University Gazette

The full study is available on Johns Hopkins' Best Evidence Encyclopedia Web site.

China sends teachers to American schools

Zheng Yue, a young woman from China who is teaching her native language to students in Lawton on the Oklahoma grasslands, was explaining a vocabulary quiz on a recent morning. Then a student interrupted.

"Sorry, I was zoning out," said the girl, a junior wearing black eye makeup. "What are we supposed to be doing?"

 Zheng seemed taken aback but patiently repeated the instructions. "In China," she said after class, "if you teach the students and they don't get it, that's their problem. Here if they don't get it, you teach it again."  Zheng, 27, is teaching Chinese in Lawton — and learning a few things herself about American culture — because of a partnership between an agency of China's Education Ministry and the College Board.

China wants to teach the world its language and culture, and Zheng is one of about 325 guest teachers who have volunteered to work for up to three years in American schools, with their salaries subsidized by the Chinese government. A parallel effort has sent about 2,000 American school administrators to visit China at Beijing's expense. Read more about the project in The New York Times

Nonprofit education news site launched

A new model of journalism that provides in-depth coverage of national education issues through a website and collaborations with other news organizations launched on May 10. The Hechinger Report goes beyond daily events to explain, analyze, investigate, and monitor trends in U.S. education. The Report is produced by the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, based at Teachers College, Columbia University.


Reading pays in cold, hard cash

The Reading Pays program has helped sixth-grader Tyler LaBelle in his science and social studies classes at Holland Woods Middle School in Port Huron, Michigan.It also allowed the 11-year-old to buy a remote-controlled car.

The program, which started this semester at the Port Huron school, helps students struggling with reading and rewards them for their progress with cold hard cash.About 30 students are participating in the program, operated through a local nonprofit organization called His Life Foundation. It uses computer software called Reading Naturally and rewards students with $1 for every story they read and gives bonuses along the way.

The software allows students to read along as a recording of the story is played. Then, students practice reading it on their own until they met certain goals.Principal Ethan Barden said he's still on the fence about paying students for progress. But he is pleased with the results. Read more about the program in The Times Herald

RTI webinar set for May 18

On Wednesday, May 18, at 8:00 p.m. EST, the International Reading Association will present the seventh in its series of webinars focusing on various aspects of Response to Intervention (RTI). This one will focus on Principle #6: Expertise, taken from IRA's Guiding Principles for Educators. To register for this free webinar, e-mail your name, phone number, and e-mail address to To learn more about IRA's various resources pertaining to RTI, visit the RTI overview page on the IRA website.

Response to Intervention

Professional Resources

Libraries ramp up use of cell phones, mobile devices

While mobile device ownership is a major trend in American society, few libraries and educational institutions have developed resources and services for mobile users. According to Educause, over 50% of schools had done nothing as of 2009 to adapt their web-based services for handheld devices. This is starting to change as schools and libraries begin creating versions of their websites for mobile users and designing services for mobile devices.

Read more of "A Library in Your Pocket" by Meredith Farkas in American Libraries

Few States Meet No Child Left Behind Goals For English-Language Learners

Education Week (5/12, Zehr) reported, "Only 11 states met their accountability goals for English-language learners under" No Child Left Behind "in the 2007-08 school year," according to "a study commissioned by the US Department of Education." Also that year, "59 percent of school districts or district consortia that receive federal money for English-language-acquisition programs achieved all their goals for ELLs." According to Education Week, "Those are some of the findings included in three research briefs released this month by the Washington-based American Institutes for Research," which are "precursors to a much more comprehensive study evaluating implementation of Title III, the section of the NCLB law that authorizes aid for English-language-acquisition programs."

California District Wins Award For Using iPod Touch To Boost Test Scores

KNSD-TV San Diego, CA (5/13, Fry) reports that the Escondido (CA) Union School District say "has won a prestigious award for its use of iPod Touches in a program credited with improving test scores." According to KNSD, one study finds that "students using iPod Touches for math skills showed the equivalent of two years of growth in six months. On May 20, the county Office of Education is scheduled to present the district with the Impact Award from the Classroom of the Future Foundation for its commitment to technology."

Thursday, May 13, 2010

He Said - She Said

Peter said he was angry and that he wanted to leave. -> Peter menacingly stated that he was angry. He then sullenly muttered that he wanted to leave.

Doesn't the second sentence read better? It's easy to just use the 'he said / she said' when telling stories, or relating incidents. This lesson plan focuses on using vocal verbs and adverbs to spice up students' writing and relating of dialogues.

ESL Printables - Use These Materials in Class

I often receive requests about ESL printables on the site for in-class use. I'd like to assure teachers that, as long as these materials are used for in-class purposes and not for publishing, it is absolutely OK to do so. This short introduction to ESL printables on the site will give you all the information you need on using ESL printables from this site in your class.

Quizzes are also extremely popular. You can find almost all of the interactive quizzes on the site in the ESL printables section for quizzes.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

High School Seeks To Boost Graduation Rate By Expanding Technical Programs

The St. Petersburg Times (5/12, Matus) reports that Dixie Hollins High School in Pinellas County, Florida, is increasing its "career and technical" class offerings to include subjects "like Web design and commercial arts." Said Principal Michael Bohnet, "I want programs that make kids say, 'I can't wait to wake up and get to school.'" In addition to expanding "its career and technical programs," Dixie is also boosting its AP offerings. "This year it offered 13," compared to five last year. And, "five more are being considered for the fall." The St. Petersburg Times adds that Dixie school will come "under more scrutiny" this fall by the Florida Department of Education because of its low literacy and graduation rates. The Education department will offer assistance focused improving instruction. It also will "bring $1.5 million over three years."

Elementary School In Michigan Ends Program After Field Trip Complaints

The AP (5/12) reports, "A program for African-American elementary students in Michigan has been disbanded after a field trip to meet a black rocket scientist that excluded children of other races. Ann Arbor Schools spokeswoman Liz Margolis tells that the 'Lunch Bunch' program at Dicken Elementary has ended." According to the AP, "Officials have said the field trip by 30 African-American students was intended to inspire them as part of a bigger push to close a persistent gap in test scores between black and white children," yet "when the students - mostly fifth-graders - returned, they were met with boos from some classmates who didn't go."