Reading the Sun, Moon, and Stars: Intergenerational Literacy

Spencer Salas
Spencer Salas

Happy October from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte! This month, my Dad’s turning 90 and for this blog post I’d like to share one of the stories he’s told us about growing up on the island of Guam during World War II. This one is about my Uncle Juan learning when to plant corn. It goes like this:

Just a few months before the outbreak of the War in the Pacific, my grandfather died, leaving behind his widow and eight children. Juan, 13, suddenly became the man of the family. With the help of neighbors, Juan cleared a small piece of land to plant the crops that they would count on to feed the nine of them. Continue reading

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Literacy and New MLLs in U.S. Elementary Schools: Another Look

Judie Haynes
Judie Haynes

In my August blog post, I talked about the characteristics of multilingual learners (MLLs) who come from families and communities that are literacy oriented. I described a family whose daughter, Angela, made an excellent adjustment to U.S. elementary schools because of her literacy background in Costa Rico. In this blog, I discuss literacy in non-literacy-oriented families. Continue reading

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3 Ways to Clear the Clutter When Sharing Your Screen

Brent Warner
Brent Warner

Whether teaching in-person or online, we’ve all learned to count on projecting—on a real screen, or using screen share—resources from the internet to help make connections with our students. Some of us like to share videos, others like to bring up Google Docs to show composition ideas, and still others just want to share articles in the news. Regardless of what you’re projecting, you’ve likely come across the same problem I always do: lots of clutter that distracts students from what you’re actually trying to focus on. This may come in the form of recommended ads (“if you like this, you’ll love…” suggested links) or just a ton of downloads on your desktop.

If all the external content frustrates you as much as it does me, I have some good news: Wherever the tech distracts, it can also help us stay on focus. Let’s take a look at some easy ways to clear the clutter when you’re sharing your screen. Continue reading

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7 Back-to-School Tips for the STEM Teacher

Darlyne de Haan
Darlyne de Haan

Well, it is that time of the year again when students and teachers return to school for another year of learning, explorations, excitement, and, for some, the unknown: the unknown of a new culture, new friends, new curriculum, and new language. Today’s blog post is about how to create a welcoming environment in your STEM classroom that will help the multilingual learner (MLL) who is new to the country—or just to your context—adjust to a new way of learning. Continue reading

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Affecting Language Policy: Start With Your Language Orientation

Naashia Mohamed
Naashia Mohamed

Many people equate policy with law and politics—something that brings to mind lawmakers and politicians rather than educators. However, teachers are central to policy implementation in a number of ways:

  • Classrooms can turn educational policy into action.
  • Teachers are key actors who enact language policies in education.
  • Teachers make decisions about which languages to use during instruction, which languages to encourage among learners, and which languages or varieties are not accepted in the classroom.

These decisions about language are shaped by teachers’ language orientations. Continue reading

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Writing Activities to Make the Most of Being Back in the Classroom

Betsy Gilliland
Betsy Gilliland

As a new academic year starts, I’m excited to be back to teaching in-person classes without the restrictions of social distancing. While the last 2 years have been fruitful in pushing me to think of how to engage my students over Zoom in creative and interactive ways, some of my favorite aspects of teaching are much more enjoyable when students are all in the same room and can move around freely.

Scholars have argued for the value of movement in the classroom, as it has been shown to increase focus and memory while also facilitating learning of new concepts. Even in a skill like writing that would seem to be more appropriate to sedentary, individual work, students can practice their skills through physical activity as well. In this post, I share some of my favorite movement-oriented activities for teaching second language writing. Many of these activities can be adapted for learners of different proficiency levels and for varying class sizes. Continue reading

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Literacy and New MLLs in U.S. Elementary Schools

Judie Haynes
Judie Haynes

Teachers of multilingual learners (MLLs) in the United States will be meeting new students from many countries this fall. Recently arrived students from Ukraine, Haiti, Russia, Afghanistan, and Central and South America, to name a few, will be welcomed to our schools by educators of MLLs. Literacy is a key component of how MLLs adapt to schools in the United States, and it is important for teachers to realize that not all newcomers come to us with the same background, especially when it comes to literacy.

Newcomers differ in their level of literacy and their comfort with reading and writing in both their home language and in English. In the United States, about two-thirds of MLLs come from nonliteracy-oriented homes (See Zacarian and Haynes’s book about beginning English learners). In this blog, we’ll look at literacy skills, which include oral reading fluency, reading comprehension, writing, spelling, and speaking. It is important for teachers of MLLs to visit or interview families so that they can discover what role literacy plays in the homes of their newcomers. The programs designed for MLLs from nonliteracy-oriented homes will need to be quite different from those for students from literacy-oriented homes. Continue reading

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Reading With Purpose This School Year

Spencer Salas
Spencer Salas

Hello again from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte! In July, I kicked off this teaching reading blog with some thoughts about the categories of “reading” and “literacy” and why they matter for a new school year. For this month’s entry, I’m writing about purpose. Continue reading

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