Tuesday, April 6, 2010

When I Grow Up

When I grow up: a young person's guide to interesting & unusual occupations, by Jessica Loy is an excellent book for students learning about professions. It has all the features I look for in a book for students whose language skills are limited. The reasons why I highly recommend this book for instruction are:

1. The vocabulary is rich, explicit and clear. Clear being the key word here because the pictures and the order of ideas and images makes perfect sense. You can read just the pictures captions and learn a new word.

2. Each profession is portrayed in a way that we can see what are the skills you may want to have to do that job. Each person/persons featured give little hints or advice about the kinds of skills they must have in order to do their job well. This particular aspect of the book is useful for ELL students because it facilitates the discussion of skills and what they are important. This book is a great tool to explain how if you like building things like the set designer featured in the book for example, you may find that skill will be the key to your success as a professional just as he did.

3. Every time you turn the page, you find a person featured as his/her profession. There is a brief mini-biography. The main body of the text consists of a succinct explanations of the tasks and responsibilities this particular job entails. These two pieces are clear and concise, yet full of rich language that weaves the students as they read hooking them directly to the new terms pertaining to the specific job.

4. Pictures, pictures, pictures! The pictures are wonderful!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Meet My Neighbor the Artist

This is a wonderful book for ELL students. It belongs to a series authored by Marc Crabtree. The simplicity of the language and the telling about this neighbor is particularly valuable, mostly for Beginner and Intermediate level students. The pictures are wonderful and to the point.

Additionally to the simplicity of the language and the great pictures, you have a succint vocabulary list that is clearly depicted both in the pictures and in the story. Words like palette, painting (both as a noun and a verb), mixing (colors), as one of the things artists do, for example.

The book lends itself not only as a visual example but also as an introduction to several subjects, like being a visual artist, mixing colors, and introducing people. The title itself is a great example of how you introduce someone formally. This is the kind of book that I recently discovered it and I've used it for all the purposes mentioned. The children like it and have learned from it. My biggest vote of confidence to the success of this text was when last week, one of my students wanted a different shade of green than the ones in his 12 color pencil box. Another student encouraged him "to mix" the colors like Daniel Scott - the artist featured in this book.
Click on the title to view this book.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen

Click on the title to see the book.
Library Lion By Michelle Knudsen, Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes Miss Merriweather, the head librarian, is very particular about rules in the library. No running allowed. And you must be quiet. But when a lion comes to the library one day, no one is sure what to do. There aren't any rules about lions in the library. It turns out, though, that the lion seems very well suited for the library. His big feet are quiet on the library floor. He makes a comfy backrest for the children at story hour. And he never roars in the library - at least not anymore. But when something terrible happens, the lion helps in the only way he knows how. Could there ever be a good reason to break the rules? Even in the library?

The reason why I love this book is because for many of the ELL students that I have worked with, Libraries are a brand new concept. there is a You Tube comment by Kevin Hawkes the illustrator just to contrast the differences between his experience as a child who finds the Library a constant in his life. Many of my ELL students have never been to a library until they come to our school. This book is such a wonderful way to discuss about much more than just behavior in the library. I love this book for ELL because it's a great platform to talk about rules and consequences when they aren't followed. Weather you can read this to Intermediate level students, or you can just do a picture walk and mimic and mimic good behavior in the classroom with Beginner or Newcomer students. I also love the way the author uses words like "scowled", "stern" and "twitched". These words are so clearly illustrated not only in the pictures, but in the context. It also lends itself to talk about things like voluntarism, as well as the job of a librarian. The concept I particularly love is the circulation desk. The way it is portrayed and explained is just wonderful. It never fails to amaze me how after reading this story, many students start saying "circulation desk", instead of "check out place"

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Did You Say Pears?

Here's the first book: Did You Say Pears? By Arlene Alda. I highly recommend it. It is about homonyms. The photographs are very well taken, showing each object clearly. I don't know about you but, many times that is the problem with good books of this sort. The pictures are not to the point. I mean to say that they don't show the one item they are portraying. In this particular book the pictures are clear, simple and beautiful, I think.

Her website is: http://www.arlenealda.com/.


I work as an ELL teacher in an Elementary School in Portland Oregon. I teach English as a Second Language and love every minute of it. Over the years I have found wonderful books that are extremely useful to introduce subjects on grammar or that clearly illustrate and explain ideas. I hope to share my books with you in hopes that they will help you too. I also hope you all will share your favorite books to teach ELL students with me. I can't wait to hear from you.