Voices Vol 41 No 1

Judie Haynes

President's Message

By Judie Haynes

Every day I read online educational blogs and newsletters. Of course I am interested in articles about ESL/bilingual issues but I do read extensively in the field of general education because I believe many of these issues will affect our students. A few colleagues have asked me to share what I read.  The following are a few examples

One of my favorite people is Corey Heller and her Multilingual Living Magazine.  In December’s issue, Multilingual Living features Dr. Fred Genesee’s article, 5 Concerns About Children Becoming Bilingual.  In this article, Dr. Genesee discusses how children become bilingual and what this means for their language development.   Because many elementary school educators, parents and early childhood specialists lack information about bilingualism, they view childhood bilingualism as a negative.  According to Dr. Genesee, this is especially true in school districts where most of the students are monolingual.   Our job as ESL and bilingual educators is to inform our colleagues and administrators of the latest research on bilingualism in young children.   We do not want our schools to teach students English to the detriment of their first language.
During the last week of December, eSchool News, a technology online blog, features the 10 Top Stories in Education for 2011.  One of the articles on this list that caught my attention, Five characteristics of an effective 21st-century educator, gives us the results of a survey eSchool conducted among their readers.  High on the list is the quality of being a life-long learner.  Although their attributes involve technology, I think their definition is important in all areas of teaching: An effective 21st-century educator is a flexible, life-long learner, willing to accept and embrace change, willing to make a mistake and be wrong.   This is definitely something we want to teach our students.  Before we can teach this, we need to do it ourselves.

Another online publication that I read regularly is Scoop_it. which is curated by James Lerman. I love the layout of this publication, which consists of a page of top stories with their pictures and a short paragraph.  If you click on one of the titles, you get the full article.  One of my favorite recent issues is on creativity.  Scroll down to the issue to Twelve Things You Were Not Taught in School about Creative Thinking.  Because teachers of ELLs are currently being  pushed to help students improve their  standardized test scores, creativity can be lost in our classrooms.  This issue of Scoop it reminds us of its importance.

Teachers College Record recently featured an article on Assessing English Language Learners’ Opportunity to Learn Mathematics.   I was amazed to see that there was a study to tell us that ELLs  had a lower level of  Opportunity to Learn (OTL) than non-ELLs.   The conclusion of this study is that this difference in OTL  in ELLs contributes to the  performance gap between ELLs and non-ELLs.  I’m happy that the research is catching up with what we in the field of bilingual and ESL education have known for nearly thirty years.

I’d like to wish NJTESOL-NJBE members a Happy New Year 2012!