Category Archives: classroom

Promoting Differentiated Instruction & Inclusiveness using Interactive Technology and Bilingual Audio Books

differentiated instruction and inclusiveness in the classroomIf a classroom were a puzzle, the students in it would be its pieces. Each piece would have its own shape, or learning style; its own size, or level of readiness. Teachers are trying to reach every student in an effective way with a finite amount of resources. More educators are looking to differentiated instruction and inclusiveness to help them achieve these goals. New technology, like the PENpal Audio Recorder Pen, along with interactive bilingual literacy sets, are helping teachers customize content specifically to their students’ needs.

What is Differentiated Instruction?

The concept of differentiated instruction has its roots in old-fashioned, one-room schoolhouses, where students of all ages were taught in a single classroom. Individualized, guided support and instructions are provided to children with different ability levels.  Differentiated instruction can help teachers:
  • meet rigorous standards
  • focus on essential skills in different content areas
  • incorporate assessment into instruction
  • provide students with multiple avenues to learning
  • respond to individual student needs

What is Inclusion?

Inclusion means that all learners have access to learning, so there are no barriers due to inequality, inferiority or discrimination. It promotes a sense of belonging on the part of each student in the classroom. Inclusion means that everyone is accepted, despite their differences.

Using Technology to Promote Differentiated Instruction and Inclusiveness

Teachers must cover a wide range of subjects in a short amount of time, so they can’t afford to teach content at a slower pace. The use of appropriate technology can simultaneously provide support to students who need scaffolding, and enrichment to students in need of extra challenges. The result: students who are more engaged in the classroom.
Bilingual literacy sets, available in many languages, along with the PENpal Audio Recorder Pen, can help teachers develop and assess oral language development, build fluency and improve phonemic awareness, and support parental involvement. Teachers can customize content specifically to their students’ needs with both English and home-language resources. For example, a classroom with Spanish and Russian speaking students could include English-Spanish Audio Books and English-Russian Audio Books that students can use with the PENpal, either in class or at home.

PENpal resources can help teachers achieve differentiated instruction and inclusiveness in their classrooms in many ways:

  • Provide step-­by-­step instructions for Learning Centers.
  • Students record the telling of a story, add sound effects, narrate a character’s thoughts or imagined conversation between characters.
  • Provide narration in different languages and record support for homework.
  • Record messages or questions for parents, who can record their responses in English or their home language.
  • Use the PENpal as a multi­-sensory spelling tool by having students record the word they are spelling, and the phonemes or graphemes that make up the word.
  • Use as an assessment tool by keeping all recordings as evidence of a student’s progress.
  • Narrate storyboards in preparation for storytelling/story writing/drama exercises.  Record dialogue between characters and document additional information, such as length of scene, props, or characters.
  • Create interactive wall displays.
  • Audio­-enhance flashcards.

Don’t forget to check out our comprehensive and informative collection of videos for even more ideas on how the PENpal can foster English language learner (ELL) language development in the classroom and at home.

 

 “Niños de Tilcara saliendo del cole” by (M) via Flickr is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/2SqBe3

Educational Resources for Student Immigrants, Refugees

bilingual resources for student immigrants, refugeesThe number of immigrant and refugee children has increased over the past decade, and is now the fastest-growing segment in the US youth population. These students face many challenges when adapting to a new life in the US: culture shock, making friends, and learning a new language, just to name a few.  All too often, schools lack the resources to research the best ways to help these students, and miss out on methods developed by other districts that have faced similar issues. Below are some online resources that can help educators trying to accommodate an increasingly diverse student population.

Refugee or Immigrant?

An immigrant is “someone who chooses to resettle to another country.” For example, a foreign national who is issued a visa to live and work permanently in the US via a legal process to attain citizenship.

A refugee is “someone who has been forced to flee his or her home country.” Refugees apply for asylum in the US, and must prove that they will be injured if they return to their home country due to their race, religion, nationality, social group or political opinion.

How to Prepare Your Classroom

New York’s Bureau of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance offers a straightforward guide with tips to prepare your classroom for new immigrant and refugee students. The tips include discussing the advantages of having students from around the world in the classroom, showing on a map where the students are from, and how far they have traveled, and the importance of watching out for signals that newcomers are being bullied, since many refugee students won’t voluntary speak up about these issues.

The US Department of Education has a website dedicated to “Educational Resources for Immigrants, Refugees, Asylees and other New Americans.” There, you can find the latest news and guides that focus on the importance of integrating newcomers into the classroom community. You can also find resources like a toolkit for school districts serving English language learners, and services for unaccompanied children.

Welcome & Orient Newcomers

To help smooth the transition for newcomers arriving at a new school, create a welcome process for teachers, administrators and students. Include a school ambassador program, where newcomers are paired with a “buddy” who is a trained peer, and try to integrate information about the new student’s culture and country into your classroom routines. Or, find appropriate activities to keep the new student engaged in learning while their English skills are still developing.

Reach out to Parents

The Center for Health and Health Care in Schools offers a detailed guide that focuses on the importance of successfully engaging the parents of immigrant and refugee students. It gives many ways to partner with those families, and reminds us that “refugee parents resettled here for their children. They are fully invested in their children’s future.” Some tips include having regular meetings with families that include bilingual support, food and childcare.

All children go through a transition period when first entering school. Immigrant and refugee children, in particular, need clear and dedicated support from their schools. By doing this right from the beginning, the year is sure to progress more smoothly and comfortably for everyone in the classroom.

 

“I <3 2 read” by Kate Ter Haar via Flickr licensed under CC BY 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/dRpekF

This blog post is linked with the monthly iTeachBilinguals linkup. Be sure to check out other bloggers’ tips, teaching strategies, and resources!

PENpal Audio Recorder Pen: Tap & Listen to Bilingual Books & Recordable Labels

PENpal Audio Voice Recorder Pen Bilingual Childrens Books and LabelsLanguage Lizard is proud to announce the PENpal Audio Recorder Pen The pen that’s bringing sound to paper!

What is PENpal?

An award-winning digital audio “pen” that promotes reading, speaking and listening for a diverse student population.  PENpal supports dIfferentiated instruction and inclusiveness.

  • Listen to content in many languages by simply touching the pen to interactive books, charts, labels and other learning resources.  
  • Record your own narrative, music or sound effects with Recordable Labels.

What can you do with PENpal and Recordable Labels?

  • Download hundreds of pre-recorded sound files (for free) to turn many of our bilingual picture books into “talking books.”  
  • Animate any object with sound.
  • Allow students to record, save, and playback their own recordings.
  • Customize resources for children with special needs.
  • Record instructions for students, role play, story tell.
  • Send home with parents to support home literacy partnerships.
  • The possibilities are endless!

Who is it for?

The PENpal Audio Recorder Pen, along with our multilingual resources, supports reading, writing, speaking and listening for:

  • English Language Learners
  • New arrivals from foreign countries
  • Foreign language learners
  • Learners with special needs
  • Any student in need of an inclusive resource that develops literacy skills

PENpal is interactive, enjoyable and effective!

Record your own voice with Recordable Labels

  • Animate any object with sound
  • Record language, music, messages or sound effects
  • Change recordings any time
  • Record instructions for students, role play, story tell
  • Allow students to record, save, and playback their own recordings

PENpal Interactive Literacy Sets

Exclusive PENpal Interactive Literacy Sets in many languages are an amazing way to support Dual Language Learners! Language Lizard offers an extensive selection of literacy sets that include the PENpal Audio Recorder Pen along with our award-winning bilingual “talking books”.
PENpal Interactive Literacy Sets are available in Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, French, Haitian-Creole, Hindi, Lithuanian, Panjabi, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Turkish, Urdu, Vietnamese and more! Books with sound files are available in about 40 languages.

STARTER SETS in your choice of language

  • PENpal Audio Recorder Pen
  • 4 bilingual books in your choice of language
  • A sample set of Recordable Stickers
  • A beautifully illustrated picture dictionary (optional)
  • USB charger, 4GB SD card and rechargeable batteries

ENHANCED SETS with 10 bilingual books and everything included in the starter sets!

SUPER SETS with 20 bilingual books! (available in limited languages)

Other Great PENpal Products

  • Special Literacy & Phonics Sets
  • Dictionary & PENpal Sets
  • Multilingual Key Phrases Chart
  • Various Charts & Posters to Support Language Acquisition
  • Phonetic Magnets
  • Student & Teacher Recordable Labels
  • Oral Progress Reading Charts for Student Assessment

See our full range of PENpal products and exclusive sets

Get comprehensive PENpal FAQs, videos and support

10 Ways Mainstream Teachers Can Accommodate English Language Learners (ELLs) in the Classroom

Bilingual ELL students in mainstream classroomTeachers and parents of bilingual children face many challenges. Whether it’s creating a sense of community in a diverse classroom, or finding creative ways to use multicultural resources, helping a student learn a new language requires a multi-faceted approach.

Because of a nationwide shortage of bilingual teachers, many ELL students are placed in mainstream classrooms with limited bilingual assistance. Those students can be successful when given the necessary support. The 10 tips and strategies below can help mainstream teachers meet the needs of their diverse classrooms.

Classroom Instruction

ELL students have more difficulty processing spoken language, so present information in a variety of ways: through pictures, videos or manipulatives. 

Simplify the language, not the content. Avoid using idioms, slang, and sarcasm. Speak slowly, clearly, and use gestures.

Pair ELL students with a buddy, and build in more group work to increase student engagement and promote peer interaction.

Give ELL students preferential seating close to the front of the classroom, with other students who are inviting and like to participate.

Classroom & Homework Assignments

Use ESL materials, or allow ESL students to have a bilingual dictionary. Multilingual resources can enhance and support core standards.

Allow students to bring multilingual and multicultural books home. It promotes literacy at home and enhances parental involvement, both of which improve school success.

Stress the importance of finding the key words in assignments by highlighting or bolding them.

Testing

Minimize the number of answer choices on tests and quizzes. Don’t give any true/false questions or trick questions.

Allow students to answer questions orally, in writing, or with a picture where appropriate.

When possible, grade responses based on content, not spelling or grammar.

With a little patience, kindness and determination, you can help your ELL students successfully integrate into your classroom and support their language development.

 

 “Back to School” by Phil Roeder via Flickr is licensed under CC BY 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/agLDmm


15+ Games to Engage Kids in Language Learning

15+ Games to Engage Kids in Language LearningThis article by Breeana D. from takelessons.com is full of fun games that will get kids excited about learning a new language. Although it focuses on Spanish, these ideas can easily be adapted to any language!

Learning Spanish can be difficult, especially for kids. From complex grammar rules to difficult vocabulary words, there are a lot of tough concepts kids must learn.

While difficult, learning Spanish is well worth the time and effort. After all, learning a second language greatly increases a child’s cognitive abilities, improves his or her memory, and broadens his or her horizons. So how can you help your child stay motivated while learning Spanish? It’s easy; make learning fun by incorporating exciting games into their practice routine.

At TakeLessons, we’ve come up with 15+ fun and educational Spanish games specifically for kids. These games will help your child learn important concepts, while keeping him or her fully engaged throughout the learning process.

Diego Dice

This game is the Spanish-version of the popular children’s game, Simon Says. Choose a student to take on the role of “Diego” and have him or her issue commands to the group in Spanish. For example, “Diego dice, toca la cabeza.” (Diego says, touch your head).  Players are eliminated from the game by either failing to follow an instruction or following an instruction that doesn’t include the phrase “Diego dice.” This is a great game for teaching kids common commands in Spanish.

Charades

This game is the Spanish-version of another favorite game, Charades. First, take a set of index cards and write down different Spanish verbs; for example, bailar (to dance), correr (to run), and comer (to eat). Then, have a child choose a card from the pile and act it out in front of the group. The group will try their best to guess the Spanish verb the child is acting out. This game is a win-win for everyone, as it helps the “actor” and the “viewers” memorize common verbs.

Who Am I?

A fan favorite, Who Am I? is a great game for learning conversational speak. First, write out a list of famous individuals on a set of index cards; for example, Taylor Swift, David Beckham, Pablo Picasso, etc. Have the child choose a card from the pile and tape it onto his or her back. Then, have the child take turns asking questions in Spanish about who she or he is; for example, “Am I male or female?” “Am I old or young?” After generating enough clues, the child will guess who he or she is.

For the full list of 15+ Spanish games, click here.

Using games to reinforce important language concepts is a great way to keep kids engaged. Next time it’s time to practice, try playing any one of these games with your child.

This article originally appeared on TakeLessons.com, an online marketplace that connects thousands of teachers and students for local and live online language lessons. 

Holidays & Food: Celebrate with a Discount on Bilingual Children’s Books

bilingual childrens books food themed discount holidays

Think of any holiday celebrated in any part of the world, and there is sure to be at least one traditional dish associated with it. Thanksgiving turkey, curry on Boxing Day, or rice cakes for Chinese New Year… Food is the cornerstone of any celebration.

In an article that explores the relationship between food and culture, writer Amy S. Choi says, “Food feeds the soul. To the extent that we all eat food, and we all have souls, food is the single great unifier across cultures.” She says that to understand a culture’s food is to know the story of their identity, survival, status, pleasure and community.

Another article on parents.com delves into the oftentimes surprising history behind many traditional holiday dishes, like Christmas fruit cake and Hanukkah latkes. Did you know sweets are eaten during Diwali to symbolize the defeat of evil and the triumph of goodness and light?

To get your classroom and family talking about their favorite holiday dishes, Language Lizard is offering a 10% discount on these fun, food-themed bilingual children’s books:

Yum Let's Eat! Bilingual children's bookYum! Let’s Eat! – Meet children from around the world and explore their foods and eating traditions. This story explores the rich diversity of children’s lives and develops a worldwide perspective.

Grandma's Saturday Soup - bilingual children's bookGrandma’s Saturday Soup – Every day something reminds Mimi of Grandma’s special Saturday Soup and the tales her grandma tells. Delightful descriptions of Jamaica, accompanied by vivid illustrations, will make us all wish that we had a grandma like this!

Buri and the Morrow - bilingual children's bookBuri and the Marrow – In this famous Bengali story, an old woman travels through the forest to meet her daughter. On her way she meets a fox, a tiger and a lion, and she must come up with a plan to outwit them.

Alice and Marek's Christmas - bilingual children's bookAlice & Marek’s Christmas – It’s Christmas Eve and everyone is getting ready. This story explores the different ways people celebrate  around the world. There are recipes and activities in this beautifully illustrated book that takes us to the heart of Christmas in Poland.

Deepak's Diwali - bilingual children's bookDeepak’s Diwali –  This warm contemporary story is interwoven with beautifully illustrated images from Hindu mythology. The book is packed with recipes and activities for the whole family to enjoy.

Samira's Eid - bilingual children's bookSamira’s Eid – The first sighting of the new moon starts a day of celebration for Samira and her family. The Ramadan fast is over and now it is time for prayers and presents. A surprise visitor brings a mysterious present and has an unusual story to tell. Great for teaching children about Islamic holidays and culture.

Li's Chinese New Year - bilingual children's bookLi’s Chinese New Year – It’s nearly the New Year and Li can’t figure out what animal he’s going to be in the special school assembly. Will he be a fierce tiger or a strong ox? Find each of the 12 zodiac animals on your way through the story, and discover facts and activities relating to the festival at the back of the book.

The Giant Turnip - bilingual children's bookThe Giant Turnip – This traditional story is set in an inner-city school where the children have grown an enormous turnip! How can they pull it out? They all try together but the turnip will not budge. Who will save the day?

limasredhotchilliLima’s Red Hot Chilli – Take one hungry little girl, six different tempting foods and one shiny, delicious red hot chilli. One big bite results in a spectacular display of fireworks. Mom, Dad, Aunt and Grandad all come to help, but Lima’s mouth is still too hot. Who can rescue her?

Just enter code FOOD15 during checkout to receive 10% off these fun, holiday food-themed titles, now through December 31, 2015.

5 Ways to a Bilingual/ Multicultural Holiday Season

diwali multicultural bilingual holiday

If you feel like the school year is speeding by, you’re right: the holiday season is already upon us. There’s still plenty of time to work on that Christmas list. You may already be planning your big meal for Thanksgiving Day. Or, you may find yourself wondering how to get through another stressful holiday season with your sanity intact.

If you find this year’s holiday spirit is more ho-hum than ho-ho-ho, try adding a multicultural and bilingual twist to your classroom and family festivities. It will liven things up and refresh that holiday spirit.

Highlight the Spirit of Giving Thanks

hands holding words give thanks

The holidays are all about spending time with family and friends, which makes this is the perfect time of year to focus on gratitude, appreciation and thankfulness, both at home and in the classroom. In bilingual classrooms, the topic of thankfulness can involve language learning (learning to say “thanks” in many languages) and also cultural sharing (how different cultures show their appreciation).

Learn About a New Holiday

Ramadan decorations multicultural bilingual

When you learn about holidays from other cultures, you’re learning about new religions, customs and languages.  Kids also gain an appreciation for diversity when they see how other holidays are different and similar to the ones they celebrate.

Language Lizard offers a free, standards-based lesson plan that explores traditions from many different religions and cultures, including Christianity, Hindu, Islam, Judaism, and Sikhism. Kids will also love stories about children celebrating Diwali, also known as the “Festival of Lights,” and Chinese New Year.

Arts & Crafts from Around the World

mid-autumn festival lantern cultural diversity

Bring cultural diversity and international flavor to your holidays with these five easy kid crafts. The best part? They can all be made with materials you probably already have. Plus, they involve minimal mess, and are simple enough for most kids to complete on their own.

Celebrate with Holiday Foods from Other Cultures

International diversity foods pizza heart shape

Your little ones are home for winter break, perhaps stuck inside because of bad weather. Or you have out-of-town guests visiting, and many meals to plan. Don’t let holiday stress get you down! Take a culinary journey by trying out these winter holiday dishes from all around the world. Use it as a creative potluck theme, and everyone can join in the fun!

Engaging Bilingual Students

kid reading bilingual book

It’s easier to get kids to engage in conversation when they are inspired and excited about the topic. This is particularly true for bilingual students, especially if they are still mastering the English language. What better time to get your bilingual students talking with you and one another? Students’ minds are full of happy memories from holidays past, and they will want to share how their families celebrate at home. Check out our tips to help your students direct their holiday excitement into fun language opportunities.

 

“Diwali” by siddhu2020 via Flickr is licensed under CC BY 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/5LYfYm

Language Lizard’s Biggest Giveaway Ever! $300 in Bilingual Children’s Books

bilingual children's books and language lizardOctober is full of bilingual reading fun! In honor of two exciting events – Celebrating the Bilingual Child Month AND Language Lizard’s 10th Anniversary – we are proud to announce our biggest giveaway ever!

Enter to Win $300 in Bilingual Books from Language Lizard!

Language Lizard will send one lucky winner a $300 Language Lizard gift certificate that can be used to purchase any of the bilingual / multilingual products available on the Language Lizard website.

Books are available in English with Albanian, Arabic, Bengali, Bulgarian, Burmese, Chinese, Dari, Croatian, Czech, Dutch, English-only, Farsi, French, German, Greek, Gujarati, Haitian-Creole, Hebrew, Hindi, Hmong, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Karen (Sgaw), Korean, Kurdish, Latvian, Lithuanian, Malay, Malayalam, Nepali, Norwegian, Panjabi, Pashto, Patois, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Scottish Gaelic, Shona, Slovakian, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Tagalog, Tamil, Thai, Tigrinya, Turkish, Twi, Urdu, Vietnamese, Welsh, and Yoruba.

How to Enter – Bilingual Book Giveaway

To enter the contest, simply fill out and submit the Language Lizard Giveaway Entry Form before October 31, 2015.  Every entry form submission counts as one entry “point.”  Individuals can receive additional entry points by taking the following actions (one point per action taken):

The maximum number of entry points one can receive is 5 (one for the form submission and one each for the actions above). 

Enter the giveaway, and find the full terms and conditions, here.
Browse all the language learning materials the winner can choose from by visiting www.LanguageLizard.com.

October is Celebrating the Bilingual Child Month

children reading bilingual bookCelebrating the Bilingual Child Month was established in 2006 to recognize the many children that speak two or more languages and understand multiple cultures. This is a time to recognize their achievements, encourage continued language learning, and explore the differences and similarities of diverse languages and cultures with all students. These efforts will help connect our communities and improve global relations.

For more information about Celebrating the Bilingual Child Month and tips on how you can celebrate this special month in your classroom, check out our blog post.

Good luck and happy reading!

Back-to-School Discounts – Bring Dual Language Books to Your Students!

 

children's bilingual dual language booksWe hope your school year is off to a great start! To help you bring dual language books to your classroom and home, Language Lizard is offering a special Back-to-School Discount!

Until September 30, 2015, choose from one of the following:

Get $10 off your order of $100! Just use coupon code BackToSchool2015 during checkout.

Or choose 5% off our popular bilingual book sets! Always a great value, our bilingual book sets are offered in 30 languages and include many of our most popular titles. Use coupon code BookSet2015 during checkout.

Happy reading!

Creating Community in Your Classroom

Teamwork and team spirit - Hands piled on top of one another .It’s the start of a new school year, and your classroom fills with a brand new kaleidoscope of personalities. You may find yourself wondering how to help an eclectic group of kids connect with each other. How do you bring your class together as a community, and jump start the conversation and collaboration? You want to create a safe, secure and nurturing learning environment for all children – an especially challenging task when they come from diverse backgrounds.

Celebrate Individuality

individuality purple flower in white flower field

Although it may sound a bit counter-intuitive, one of the best ways to create a sense of community is by celebrating individuality. Kids love to see themselves reflected in the classroom.  As discussed in our recent post about understanding and appreciating cultural differences in the classroom, when kids contrast and compare family holidays and traditions without judgment, respect and acceptance begins. Reading world folk tales and fables is a great way to explore new traditions from various cultures.

The Concept of Community

classroom community hands together teamwork multicultural bilingual language

You may want to begin by exploring the concept of a community with your class. Yes, it’s a group of people who share something in common, but there are so many less obvious aspects, particularly in a classroom setting. Language Lizard offers a free standards-based lesson plan that teaches students all about the concept of community: What is it, why is it important to have one, and what makes a community stronger?

Sarah Brown Wessling, 2010 National Teacher of the Year and the Teacher Laureate for Teaching Channel, talks about the importance of creating “classroom chemistry” in a blog article, which she describes as the moment when a “certain group of students auspiciously find each other in a classroom.” She discusses 14 ways to create it with your students, and the important role that good chemistry plays in keeping students engaged in the classroom. For another in-depth look at the importance of building a classroom community, check out The Center for the Collaborative Classroom’s Child Development Project, which offers more activity ideas and supporting research.

Predictable, Nurturing Classroom Environment

A classroom that is not just functional, but also comfortable and comforting, encourages learning. Things like lighting, temperature, desk spacing, and a comfy reading corner are physically comforting. A predictable daily routine is emotionally comforting, as are clearly defined rules for classroom behavior. This article from Edutopia discusses how the use of daily trust-building activities can create a support system in your classroom.

What are some ways you create an outstanding community in your classroom? Comment below and share your experiences!

“Teamwork and team spirit” by 드림포유 via Flickr is licensed under CC BY ND 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/o4ZHuD

“Individuality” by Joey Gannon via Flickr is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/HGRhB

“Team.” by Dawn (Willis) Manser via Flickr is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/6oaunE