Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thankful for Literacy

With it being Thanksgiving this week, I thought it would be appropriate to share a letter I received from an individual I met when visiting an adult literacy site last year. The words capture gratitude for something I feel passionate about that I think we often, as literate individuals, take for granted: literacy. Following is a major portion of the letter as I received it:

Thank you Reading Horizons

In 2006, at the age of 55, I started the Adult Education program at Holland College to continue my education and get my GED’s. I was only able to attend for a few months before I had to return to work. My experience was a good one but very hard. As a child I didn’t have a very good beginning when I attended the smaller grades in the regular school system, so when it came down to the crunch, I got used to faking it. It became a way of life, so automatic.

Friday, November 21, 2008

What Does Research Say about Phonics for ESL/ELL/ESOL?

In another blog post entitled, "Why Phonics for ELLs/ESOL Students?", I shared quotes that provide an impetus for teaching phonics in ELL/ESOL contexts. But what does the research say about teaching phonics to ELLs/ESOL students?

We know that the National Reading Panel (NRP) asserts that instruction in explicit, systematic phonics assists native English-speaking students in the development of literacy skills.

The NRP states that "overwhelming evidence strongly supports the concept that explicitly and systematically teaching phonics in the classroom significantly improves students' reading and spelling skills."

The NRP also reports that "surveys conducted on early reading have repeatedly concluded that word recognition is best learned when it is taught according to three principles..." Word instruction should be: 1) explicitly taught by the teacher; 2) systematically planned and organized; and 3) sequenced in a fashion that moves from simple to complex. So what about phonics for ELLs?
Some may dispute that because these findings are specific to native English-speaking students, they do not apply to ESOL students.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Literacy Resources- The International Public Library

A colleague shared a website with me this week called The International Public Library that serves as a great resource and provides a wealth of information. You can click on listed topics to access several links on the topic. There is also a section for kids called KidSpace that provides information on high interest topics appropriate for their reading level.
This website could be shared with students to use as a resource for obtaining information for in-class assignments. In addition, student use of this website could be adapted for use as a research activity to develop reading skills.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Web-based Tool for Vocabulary Development

In a previous post, I mentioned a couple of online tools that I am using in some curriculum projects I'm currently working on. This week as I was using the vocabulary profiler link mentioned in my previous post, I visited the home page of which this link is part, and I found several additional links to a variety of other vocabulary tools relating to morphology, spelling, and high frequency words (to name a few). This web tool, developed by Tom Cobb at the University of Québec in Montréal, extracts detailed information about vocabulary used in text. Not only did I enjoy entering text from some of the curriculum I'm developing to see what interesting information I could extract, but exploring the links on this site also prompted some ideas regarding how these concepts might be adapted in the classroom to promote ESOL vocabulary.