Connecting Diverse Students with Diverse Collections

This month’s One-Question Survey revisited a question we asked back in 2011: “How much of your resource budget is spent on materials in languages other than English?” In analyzing the latest results, Dr. Maria Cahill sees positive developments and the nuances of collection development.

We hope you use these surveys to help you reflect on your own practices.  Subscribers can view our archive of past surveys here or check out the complete May issue, “We Read Diverse Books: Connecting Our Diverse Collections to Our Instruction,” here.

How Much of Your Resource Budget Is Spent on Materials in Languages Other than English?

 

 

In the write-up for the August 2011 One-Question Survey Gail Dickinson wrote, “We want our collections to reflect the faces of our students and the faces of our world. We want to present information and ideas to our students in packages that describe their world and the world beyond them. The last bastion of acceptance may be examining the collection to see if it fits the most basic definition, i.e. are the materials in the languages that our students speak?”

At that time, Gail concluded that school library collections did not reflect the diversity of the students, but she also acknowledged that it was possible, though not probable, that the 1QS participants might be serving “in schools where there are no speakers of other languages.” Coming back to this question nearly six years later, our results paint a much more positive picture, but they also point to the nuances of collection development. Continue reading “Connecting Diverse Students with Diverse Collections”

Shaping a Collection: Graphic Novels and the Needs of English Language Learners

Is your school a “melting pot” of diversity? Does your collection reflect the make-up of your student body? In this article from our April online issue,  Alicia Abdul and Kristen Majkut discuss the importance of having a diverse collection and why you should include graphic novels.

Subscribers can check out our May issue to find more articles about diversity in your library.

Librarians should focus on building collections that reflect their communities. For our school in Albany, New York, that community is a hub for incoming refugees from all over the world, chiefly because of the presence of an U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) field office. USCRI helps displaced families make the transition to the United States by providing a wide range of services, including language classes, housing assistance, employment opportunities, and immigration services. As librarians, we can support students’ English language acquisition and literacy development through purposeful collection development and library services, including, as we have found, providing and sharing graphic novels.

Needs of ENL Students

English as a New Language (ENL) students have unique circumstances physically, emotionally, and academically. Our students from warmer climates arrive wearing sandals and without winter coats, unprepared for Northeast winters. In addition to language barriers, there are cultural differences regarding eye contact, shaking hands, greetings, clothing, gestures, religion, and even food traditions. This makes it crucial for educators to provide opportunities for personal engagement.

Academically, some incoming students have not learned to read in their native languages and are now encountering a new alphabet with new letters, words, and sounds for the first time. Some students read their native language from right to left. Some are coming from areas of conflict and their education has been interrupted for several years. Some school-age children have never attended any type of formal schooling. This influx of students has required that our district consider different measures to support these students and their families as they transition to life in the United States. Continue reading “Shaping a Collection: Graphic Novels and the Needs of English Language Learners”

We Read Diverse Books: Connecting Our Diverse Collections to Our Instruction (May 2017 Issue)

Subscribers: Do you love diverse books? Check out our May issue in which we look at connecting these books with your instruction and practice. Find tips and advice for getting these books into the hands of your students.


Subscribers can click on the article titles below to read more.

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Serving Rainbow Families in School Libraries by Jamie Campbell Naidoo

Let the Dodo Bird Speak!: A Rejoinder on Diversity in Children’s Books by Kafi Kumasi

Whose History Is It?: Diversity in Historical Fiction for Young Adults by April M. Dawkins

One-Question Survey. Connecting Diverse Students with Diverse Collections by Maria Cahill

Continue reading “We Read Diverse Books: Connecting Our Diverse Collections to Our Instruction (May 2017 Issue)”

Getting Second-Language Parents Involved…Here’s How!

School Library Connection is pleased to collaborate with ALA President Julie Todaro and her school library group Task Force to provide access to a selection of key professional development articles aligned with essential professional competencies for school librarians. We’ll be posting at least one article every work day between now and April 15. These articles were hand selected from our archives by an expert panel of librarians chaired by Susan Ballard, Dorcas Hand, and Sara Kelly Johns.

Competency 8: Meaningful Engagement of Families and Community

“Getting Second-Language Parents Involved…Here’s How!” by Lee Ayoub, Greg D’Addario, Anne Malleck, and Sandra Sterne. School Library Connectin, September 2015.

It’s 7:00 on an October evening at Long Branch Elementary School in Arlington, VA and the library is buzzing with the sound of many languages. Families are arriving for the monthly Reach for Reading family literacy program. The Reach for Reading team, which includes ELL teachers, the family resource liaison, librarian, classroom teachers and administrators, greet the families in costumes from Mother Goose for this evening’s program. Children become quickly involved with the beginning activity of coloring a Mother Goose character with their parents. All the while, conversation flows amongst families and students. Everyone is excited to be there.

Our first program introduces parents and children to formal reading instruction. This year we’ve decided to use Mother Goose. First, families gather and receive personal nursery rhyme readers from Mother Goose herself. Each reader is a teacher-made booklet with the five rhymes that are featured in the evening program. As children and parents rotate through each nursery rhyme station, they will repeatedly read the rhyme written on chart paper and in their booklet, help point to the text, act it out, and finally, identify it with the appropriate sticker in the booklet. ELL students benefit from exposure to nursery rhymes, which are a foundation for building beginning literacy skills, such as voice to print matching, rhyming, chanting, and dramatizing. ELL parents become acquainted with nursery rhymes and acquire valuable techniques used to teach beginning readers. The heart of the program lies in making connections with parents and encouraging them to become partners with the school in their child’s education. Continue reading “Getting Second-Language Parents Involved…Here’s How!”

Exploring Your School Continent by Continent: An Approach to Multicultural Sharing

School Library Connection is pleased to collaborate with ALA President Julie Todaro and her school library group Task Force to provide access to a selection of key professional development articles aligned with essential professional competencies for school librarians. We’ll be posting at least one article a day between now and April 15. These articles were hand selected from our archives by an expert panel of librarians chaired by Susan Ballard, Dorcas Hand, and Sara Kelly Johns.

Competency 3: Equity and Cultural and Linguistic Responsiveness

“Exploring Your School Continent by Continent: An Approach to Multicultural Sharing” by Judi Paradis. School Library Connection, January 2016.

Who’s In Our Schools?

More and more the answer is “everyone from everywhere.” Plympton School in Waltham, Massachusetts, is typical of many urban districts with students from around the world. Almost half our students are English Language Learners (ELL), and while most of these students are Hispanic, we have substantial numbers of students from Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, and the Middle East. As Bernie Trilling and Charles Fadel point out:

Diverse work teams, scattered around the globe and connected by technology, are becoming the norm for 21st century work . . . Understanding and accommodating cultural and social differences to come up with even more creative ideas and solutions to problems will be increasingly important throughout our century. (Fadel and Trilling 2012)

The library can play a role in giving students the understanding and skills to be comfortable and adept in this multicultural world. We also serve as a strong welcoming point for families, with an ability to engage and provide outreach. The Plympton Library has become a key player in the school’s Multicultural Committee, which seeks “to promote, in a caring and enthusiastic way, the value of diversity in a community that is child-centered.” Continue reading “Exploring Your School Continent by Continent: An Approach to Multicultural Sharing”

Facts & Myths

What do you think you know about the English language learners in your school? What do you know about teaching English as a second language? Sylvia Vardell, our reVIEWS+ collections editor, debunks four common myths about learning English as a new language.

Subscribers can find a new editorial by Sylvia every month as well as our archive of reviews and other content at reVIEWS+

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ESL students learning English as a second language are the fastest growing group in U.S. schools today. These learners come from a multitude of countries and backgrounds with many born right here. They speak many languages, and their reading levels range from preschool to high school. These students can experience great cognitive and emotional demands as they are asked to quickly learn both language and content in order to participate fully in the school curriculum and in classroom life.

As we as librarians and educators think about our students who are learning English as a new language, as we select appropriate books for our libraries and plan meaningful programs and instruction, it can be helpful to consider some of our questions and preconceptions about language learning. What do you know about what it’s like to learn a new language? What can you do in the library to support students learning English as a new language?

MYTH #1: Most students learning English as a new language are born outside of the United States. Continue reading “Facts & Myths”

ICYMI: Sylvia Vardell on Lit for ELL Readers

Vardell circle

In case you missed it, check out Sylvia Vardell’s recent editorial from reVIEWS+ for our issue on English language learners.

Did you know?

  • It is estimated that there are 4.4 million public school students in the United States who are English language learners (ELL).
  • English language learners represent approximately 10.3 percent of the total public school student enrollment in the U.S.
  • Twenty-one percent (21%) of all urban public school students across the U.S. are English language learners.
  • The English language learning population is the fastest-growing population of public school students in the U.S.
  • An increasing number of English language learners are newcomers to U.S. schools, having just recently immigrated to the United States.
  • There are 400 languages spoken by English language learners across the U.S.

The great majority of students learning English claim Spanish as their native language (79%), followed by Vietnamese (2%), Hmong (1.6 %), Chinese, Cantonese (1%), Korean (1%), and other (15.4%).
If you work in public schools in the U.S., particularly in cities, you have certainly encountered students who are learning English as a new language. They may have recently emigrated from other countries or have grown up in families within the U.S. who don’t speak English fluently. Many years ago, that was ME! My parents were born and raised in Germany and immigrated to the U.S. shortly after I was born. Continue reading “ICYMI: Sylvia Vardell on Lit for ELL Readers”