February is full of interesting Social Studies topics, from presidential lore to Black History Month — not to mention current headlines about the possibility of immigration reform. Our newsletter has lots of resources for addressing content learning with English language learners in Social Studies and other subject areas. We cover a variety of topics, including non-fiction reading, navigating textbooks, and making history come alive through books and websites.
We'd love to hear how your school is addressing Social Studies and other content-area instruction with your ELLs, especially in the era of the Common Core. Feel free to add comments to our articles, drop us a note, or share your thoughts on our Facebook group!
The Colorín Colorado Team
The Pura Belpré Award, established in 1996, is presented annually to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth. It is co-sponsored by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) and REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking. The 2013 award winners include:
- Author Award: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
- Author Honor Award: The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano, by Sonia Manzano (better known as "Maria" on Sesame Street!)
- Illustrator Award: Martín de Porres: The Rose in the Desert, illustrated by David Diaz and written by Gary Schmidt (February Book of the Month)
For more information about Pura Belpré, the first Puerto Rican librarian to be hired by the New York Public Library system, and the award named in her honor, take a look at our Pura Belpré resource section and videos!
Informational Text and ELLs
In order for ELLs to succeed academically, they must be able to use informational text and textbooks effectively. These articles offer a number of tips for helping students develop their non-fiction reading skills, from discussing the lay-out of a content-area textbook to modeling what good readers do as they work their way through a piece of informational text.
- Teaching ELLs to Navigate Textbooks
- Increasing ELL Student Reading Comprehension with Non-fiction Text
- Teaching Informational Text to ELLs with the Common Core
To see some of these strategies in action, take a look at our related video playlist!
New on Colorín Colorado
Black History Month
In celebration of Black History Month, Colorín Colorado is proud to present two new booklists, as well as some recommended resources.
- Black History Classroom Resources (K-12): Reading Rockets and AdLit.org have compiled a wide range of booklists, author interviews, and activities for studying Civil Rights and U.S. Black History that can be used throughout the year and across the curriculum.
- Stories from Africa Booklist: The books in this collection highlight traditional folk tales, stories about historical events through the eyes of young children, and contemporary portraits of kids exploring their world. Featured countries include Eritrea, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Zambia, and Somalia.
- Black History in the Latin America and the Caribbean: This booklist shines a spotlight on Black immigrants, national heroes, and historic figures who hail from Latin America or the Caribbean. Many of the stories address the prejudices that celebrated figures such as Martín de Porres, Roberto Clemente, and Celia Cruz had to overcome throughout their lifetime. Others depict special traditions that immigrants in the U.S. remember and pass on to younger generations. Story settings include Trinidad, Puerto Rico, Peru, Brazil, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and the U.S.
For more background information on this complex and interesting topic, take a look at Black in Latin America, a four-part PBS series on the influence of African descent on Latin America hosted by renowned Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
U.S. presidents are on our minds and an immigration overhaul is high on President Obama's second-term agenda: perfect timing for a citizenship-themed edition of Larry Ferlazzo's monthly collection of lesson ideas from The New York Times. Take a look at these multimedia resources for some great ideas!
Research & Reports
The Pew Hispanic Center has just released A Nation of Immigrants, a new report that examines the current immigrant population in the U.S. The report includes extensive statistical data on both authorized and unauthorized immigrants, as well as information on public attitudes about immigration and immigration reform. Of particular interest is the statistical portrait of the nation's immigrants, which provides detailed characteristics (e.g., age, country of origin, language proficiency, schooling, poverty, etc.) of the U.S. immigrant population, based on the Census Bureau's 2011 American Community Survey.
In the Classroom
When learning new material, ELLs have the double challenge of learning content as well as the necessary academic language to access that content. In classes such as Social Studies, that challenge is even more complex because mastery of the content relies heavily on background knowledge and a historical or cultural context. This point is underscored by Kristina Robertson's anecdote about an ELL who eagerly followed instructions on re-enacting a Revolutionary War battle and then asked his teacher at the end of the class, "But who won?"
In this Bright Ideas article, Kristina explores a number of strategies that can be used to support ELL comprehension and mastery of Social Studies material. For more information on ELL content instruction, take a look at teaching ELLs in the content areas.
A great way for young children to develop an interest in history is through books! Here are some ideas for getting started. While the tips are geared towards parents, they can be applied in classrooms too. This article is also available in Spanish.
ELLs can benefit from field trips that enhance classroom learning, particularly when it comes to Social Studies and science concepts. While it can be overwhelming for a teacher to organize such a trip, some preparation beforehand and a few extra steps can make a big difference. This article offers some ideas for planning a successful trip for ELLs and providing students with a meaningful academic experience, as well as ways to encourage ELL parents to sign up as chaperones.
You can also introduce your students to a lot of wonderful places through technology! Whether it's the Smithsonian, National Geographic, or a nearby landmark, you can often find videos, activities, and lesson plans for classrooms that are engaging for ELLs. Here's a list of "virtual field trips" from teacher Sharon Eghigian of Utica, NY to get you started.
Books and Authors
Martin and his sister grew up in a Lima, Peru barrio, children of an African slave and a Spanish nobleman. Martin was apprenticed to a surgeon, would join a Dominican monastery, and later become sought after as a healer. Jewel-like illustrations complement the accessible telling to reveal a man of faith and courage, who, despite the prejudices he confronted, became the first black saint of the Americas. Pura Belpré Award Winner for Illustration.