C.O.D. Library ESL/ABE/GED Faculty Newsletter

January 21, 2011

The Newsletter has moved!

Filed under: General — Jenn @ 10:09 am

The C.O.D. Library ESL/ABE/GED Faculty Newsletter has moved to our Research Guides. Now all the information you need from the Library is in one place. Visit http://codlrc.org/abe or http://codlrc.org/esl and click For Faculty in the menu.
I will continue to maintain this site as an archive of earlier newsletters, though it will not be updated.
As always, I will continue to send the newsletter as a PDF via email along with a link to the new location of the online version. If you have any questions about the newsletter, library services for you or your students, or just want to say hi, email me at kelleyj@cod.edu.
Thanks for supporting the C.O.D. Library ESL/ABE/GED Faculty Newsletter!


March 1, 2010

March 2010 Newsletter

Filed under: General — Jenn @ 10:52 am

C.O.D. Library ESL/ABE/GED Faculty Newsletter

March 2010

What Can We Do?

I was trying to track down a series of graded readers in the Library Catalog recently– they are books that I know we have on the shelves, books popular with our English language learners and new readers.  What I found in my search was just how challenging it can be to find what you’re looking for.

The books, all part of the Oxford Bookworms collection, are categorized in our catalog into many different, smaller series.  For example, The Age of Innocence is part of the Oxford Bookworms Library, Stage 5, Classics series while Chemical Secret can be found in the Oxford Bookworms Library Stage 3, Thriller & Adventure Series.  Which category each book falls into depends on the information supplied the publisher– some books only have a stage, but no genre.

These series assignments could be used by students to find books at a certain level or to learn titles of books that are similar to ones they have already read.  But are they used?  Subject headings like “Readers for New Literates” are likely not useful to students looking for books they think of as “graded readers”– even I have to take a moment to remember the exact wording of that awkward phrase supplied by the Library of Congress.

While subject headings and series titles are provided to us by outside entities, the librarians who catalog our Readers for New Literates and High Interest Low Vocabulary books, have the ability to add other descriptors to the book’s electronic record.

What can we do to make the materials that students want and need easier to find?  What are your students looking for and what are the terms that you use in class to describe these materials?  Do you have suggestions for other ways we can make library resources more accessible to your students?  Send your thoughts my way– we’re always looking for ways to help your students.

Graded Reader Series in the Library

Resource of the Month


Scholastic Online

Anyone who read as a child or reads to children is familiar with Scholastic, the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books.  Like any successful 21st Century company, Scholastic has a strong web-presence that is more than simply a showcase for their print products.I’d like to highlight two areas of Scholastic.com:  Student Activities and Teaching Resources.  The Student Activities portion of the site hosts interactive features designed for school children from Pre-K through 12th grade.  Despite the marketing toward youth, however, there is much in this content for the ESL, ABE or GED student.  Topics in all grade groups include Language, Math, Science and Social Studies, with a wide variety of  games, interactive activities, video and audio content.  For example a Pre-K social studies entry called “Community Helpers:  See What they Do”  is image-based with clicking activity.  Grade 9-12 social studies includes the great-looking Research Starters:  tips, topics and resources for research projects on topics ranging from the Olympics and World War II to Extreme Weather and Dinosaurs.

Additional student activities include Scholastic News (currently featuring the crisis in Haiti); Computer Lab Favorites; Write and Publish, a series of online writing “workshops”; and Reading Response, a book review writing and reading page.

The Teaching Resources content is equally chock-full of transferable projects, ideas, lesson plans, and more.  As in the Student area, Teaching resources are organized by grade-level with content in Reading, Language, Social Studies, Science and Math.  A unit plan, like Literacy for Life provides pertinent information about the subjects covered, the appropriate grade levels and how long the unit will take to cover in its entirety.  Along with links to purchase Scholastic materials, the site provides links for “Reproducibles”, free PDF handouts and worksheets.  All unit content can be printed out or emailed for easy access.

Naturally, some content on Scholastic.com requires purchase or subscription, but there are enough idea-generators and free interactive tools to make exploring this site worthwhile and interesting.  Check it out now and tell me what you think!

January 4, 2010

January Newsletter

Filed under: General — Jenn @ 1:49 pm

C.O.D. Library ESL/ABE/GED Faculty Newsletter

January 2010

Happy New Year, Happy New Semester

Welcome back– I hope everyone had a relaxing winter break.  I did, but my house is so cold during the day, I was almost looking forward to coming back to work!

Unfortunately, I only have a couple warm days in the Library to look forward to for the time being– as of January 7th, I will be taking a short leave of absence.  I’ll be back by mid-February, but in the meantime this leaves ESL, ABE and GED without a Library liaison.Although I will be checking my email periodically, I recommend that anyone requesting a Library orientation or Library instruction to contact Carol Eisinger (eisinger@cod.edu), the librarian who will be handling my instruction requests during my absence.   She will reserve class space in the Library for you and your students and if your class time falls before my return, she will schedule a librarian to provide a tour, exercise, orientation, or any other activity that you request.

I hope that my leave won’t cause much disruption, but if you have any concerns, please feel free to contact my Associate Dean, Ellen Sutton (suttone@cod.edu ext. 2659).

Please continue to send materials requests to me– I’m always looking for books, CDs, videos and other resources which the Library can purchase to support your instruction and your students’ learning.  Before the break, I purchased two series of high-interest, low-vocabulary books from Grass Roots Press— both at the Grade 1 level.   You can also expect a few more Oxford Bookworms Starter-level readers.  Also soon-to-be-added are beginner and intermediate copies of Let’s Chat ESL Dialogues and Pronunciation Pairs from New Readers Press.

Here’s a short list of some new titles that are available now:

Resource of the Month

The Learning Edge is an interactive literacy newspaper.  Although this Canadian resource has only twelve “issues”, users can still find something useful here.

Early editions of Learning Edge mimic a newspaper’s front page, with headlines, introductory paragraphs and illustrations.  Users click on an area of the page to select a story or feature, opening up a new window.  Depending on the selected content, the user may have options to read (and listen along to) a graded story or take a quiz on healthy life choices.  Read-along sections provide users the opportunity to review, rewind and follow up with learning activities.

Later issues  deal solely with workplace issues such as crafting a resume, setting goals, workplace safety, and finding internships.  Each section continues to offer read-along and interactive content.

While the Learning Edge is interactive, the options are fairly basic and limited– more computer savvy or younger students may get frustrated with the slow pace and basic animation.  On the other hand, the site does not require much more than basic computer skills such as mouse handling– a good match for students who might be overwhelmed by advanced sites with many options.

September 8, 2009

Library Card Instant Gratification

Filed under: General — Jenn @ 2:32 pm

Here’s some great news– just in time for Library Card Sign-up Month!

Teaching at Westmont, Bloomingdale or Naperville this semester?  Your students can get a Library card at the front desk of any of these C.O.D. Off Campus Centers.  That’s right– skip the whole application process and send your students directly to the front desk where they can get their Library cards right away.  Students simply need a driver’s license or other photo I.D. and proof of current enrollment.

Teaching at another off-campus location?  Just have your students fill out Library card applications then send them to me (or directly to Library Circulation) via campus mail along with a copy of your MyACCESS class roster.  When the cards have been created for your students, we’ll send them back to your mailbox for distribution.

May 15, 2009

ABE/GED Orientation Menu Now Being Served

Filed under: General — Jenn @ 3:02 pm

The ABE/GED version of library activities and orientations is now available at: http://codlibrary.org/ABE_GED_Orientations

Some handouts are still forthcoming, so check back soon.

February 26, 2009

A Great, Simple Introduction to Computer Hardware

Filed under: General — Tags: , , , — Jenn @ 2:40 pm

January 12, 2009

January Newsletter

Filed under: General — Jenn @ 7:00 am

C.O.D. Library ESL/ABE/GED Faculty Newsletter

January 2009

Graded Readers

As a librarian, I’m pretty passionate about reading (big surprise!)– any kind of reading.  I’m not a literature snob who turns my nose up at mass-market paperbacks, I don’t scorn genre fiction and I won’t judge you by the magazines to which you subscribe.  I have an MFA in English, but I’m just as likely to read a classic as I am to listen to the audiobook version of a young adult novel.  Reading of any sort is a valuable activity.

People like a good story.  Whether they’re drawn in by creatively constructed characters, true-life tales or the natural narrative arc of a scientific experiment, we like to be taken somewhere and reading transports us.  Without literacy skills, these “places” where individuals can go are quite limited.  Certainly films and television share something with books in their ability to inform, entertain and illustrate, but how often have we seen a movie and been told “If you like that, you should read the book!”

Graded readers can help open the doors of reading to English language learners of all ages and interests.  Readers, or language learner literature,

are a useful and easily accessible tool which can help students practice reading and gain reading fluency and turn hesitant readers into life-long learners and lovers of literature.

The Library has several graded reader series, offering a little something for all interest and skill levels.  For a list of our graded readers, visit the ESL or ABE/GED Research Guides and click FAQs.

While some students find graded readers on their own, many instructors require their students to select an appropriate-level reader of their choice.  Classroom assignments using the readers can include written book reports, oral presentations or quizzes on content or vocabulary.  Penguin Readers, a graded reader imprint, has made available a teachers’ guide to using graded readers in the classroom.  The guide includes information on how to use readers in the classroom,  templates for activities and assignments and more.  You can download a PDF of this guide at http://www.penguinreaders.com/downloads/PRTGUsingGradedReaders.pdf

If you are interested in creating an assignment using graded readers, or would like the readers introduced to your class, contact me and we can arrange a meeting or class visit.

Happy New Year and welcome back for the Spring semester!

Resource of the Month

BBC Learning English is a comprehensive language website offering almost a dozen interactive features for adult students of English.

Visitors to the site can learn business or news English through BBC stories, take quizzes based on current events and expand their vocabulary from a wide variety of topics including sports, Hollywood and holidays.

There are audio and video components to this site as well and, as can be expected, feature British English accents.  The speakers, however, have very clear “BBC English” accents.  Written English on the site can also pose problems when the occasional British English word varies greatly from American English or when slang appears.

Even if you don’t direct your students to this site, it can be a valuable resource for instruction, giving you ideas for in-class discussions or readings.

New Library Materials

Let’s Talk, volumes 1-3.  2nd edition
Author: Leo Jones
Call Number: PE1128 .J66 2008

50 Common Errors:  A Practical Guide for English Learners
Author:Bob Marsden
Call Number: PE1128 .M3426 2008

Oxford Picture Dictionary, 2nd edition
Author: Jayme Adelson-Goldstein and Norma Shapiro
Call Number: PE1629 .S52 2008

Slang Rules!:  A Practical Guide for English Learners
Author: Orin Hargraves
Call Number: PE2846 .H36 2008

December 4, 2008

December Newsletter

Filed under: General — Jenn @ 12:53 pm

C.O.D. Library ESL/ABE/GED Faculty Newsletter

December 2008

Assessment and Hands-On Learning

Sometimes I hear the word “assessment” and have a gut-reaction that’s not unlike one to hearing an offensive word.  Uggh, I think,  assessment… The words we use in the academic word can have conotations attached to them that color their impact on us.  My aversion to the world “assessment” keeps me from remembering what the word actually denotes.  After all, what’s wrong with using a tool that can determine whether or not our instruction actually has an impact on our students?

When ESL, ABE and GED students come into the library, many of them are visiting us for the first time– traditionally we give them a tour, tell them about library services and bring them to the area of the library where they can find resources best suited to their current academic needs.  At the end of the session they may have a new library card and some handouts– perhaps a newfound interest in the Library, but as I librarian I don’t have much to show for the experience.  What, if anything have the students learned?  What will they remember?  What really caught their interest?

Several of you have come to the Library with ready-made activities for your students– perhaps they have a mini-research project, or are required to find and check out a graded-reader.  I believe, and I am sure you and your students would agree, that listening to the Librarian talk for an hour straight can be pretty dull.  Assessment activities not only give us an idea of what the students have learned, but give the students something to do– a much needed opportunity to get some hands-on experience with the resources about which they have just learned.

Do you have a library-related activity that you give your students?  Would you like your students to complete an in-library assignment during their visit?  Are you interested in working with me to create an assignment that incorporates using curriculum-related library resources?

Share your thoughts in the comment section of the Newsletter blog.

Resource of the Month

Babbel is an interesting new website that combines language learning with social networking features.

Users register with a free account, select the language they wish to study and have options to quiz themselves on vocabulary, practice writing using translation exercises or have conversations with other members of the Babbel community on a discussion board or in chat rooms.  Tutorial options often feature sound to aid pronunciation.

Many of the images that appear on Babbel are uploaded by users– part of the fun of the site is rating how well images correspond to the concepts to which they have been assigned.  Does the picture of the guinea pig wedged between cereal boxes convey the idea of “pets”?  You decide with a thumbs-up or down.

Currently, Babbel has tools for learners of French, Italian, Spanish, English and German.

Assessment Resources 

Assessment and ESL:  On the Yellow Big Road to the Withered of Oz

Author: Barbara Law, Mary Eckes
Call Number: PE1128.A2 L35 2007

Revisiting outcomes assessment in higher education
Author: edited by Peter Hernon, Robert E. Dugan and Candy Schwartz
Call Number: LB2331.63 .R48 2006

Assessment clear and simple : a practical guide for institutions, departments, and general education
Author: Barbara E. Walvoord
Call Number: LB2822.75 .W35 2004

Evaluating teacher effectiveness in ESL/EFL contexts
Author: edited by Christine Coombe
Call Number: PE1128.A2 E828 2007

October 16, 2008

How do we learn?

Filed under: General — Tags: — Jenn @ 12:17 pm

A couple years ago, I participated in a 4-day long intensive instruction workshop. While most of the focus was on strategies for improving our teaching, we did spend a fair amount of time discussing learning.  To kick off our learning session, all the participants took a learning style inventory that assessed our favored methods of acquiring knowledge and processing information.

I am a hands-on learner– I like to jump in and start doing as soon as possible.  If I’m in a workshop, I don’t always keep pace with the instructor but move ahead, skip around and explore on my own.  In this session, however, I learned one of the pitfalls of learning styles– they frequently influence our teaching styles.

We all know that not everyone learns the same– there are the hands-on learners like myself, there are those who prefer to watch and listen, those who make connections later on, those who need to take copious notes for further review.  Accommodating all these different learning styles is a challenge, especially when they don’t synch up with our own personal learning styles.

When I teach information literacy skills such as locating resources in the Library’s catalog or citing sources using NoodleBib, I naturally give students an opportunity to play around with the tools while I demonstrate.  This works for the hands-on learners, but for all the other students it may be a waste of time or a confusing process.  In the spirit of providing useful information to all of our students, the ESL and ABE/GED research guides have tools for other learning styles:  step-by-step online instructions and handouts [1, 2] that can be printed and saved.

I hope you’ll take a look at some of these handouts– feel free to print them out, copy them and distribute them to your students.  If you can’t bring your students in to the Library the handouts are a great way to introduce them to some of the skills they will need to find ESL and ABE/GED materials in the Library.  For students who have come in for an orientation, the handouts can serve as a handy reminder of all the things they learned (and maybe already forgot!) during their visit.

I’m in the process of bringing a lot of the handouts up-to-date, but as our website changes and resources come and go, there may be some discrepancies.  Please let me know if you find any confusing or incorrect information on these handouts so I can update them for you and your students.  Thanks in advance for your help!

ESL Handouts

ABE/GED Handouts

October 9, 2008

Assessing the Reading Level of a Textbook

Filed under: General — Tags: , — Jenn @ 2:54 pm

Debra Smith, former librarian to the ABE/GED/ESL divisions recently sent around the following helpful instructions for using Microsoft Word to determine Flesch-Kincaid reading levels of academic materials.

If you are having a difficult time discerning the readability levels of your textbooks, and publishers are not getting back to you in a timely manner, you may wish to consider using the Flesch-Kincaid Grade level feature built into our Microsoft Word program. It would offer some justification (if required).

Here, I’ve reproduced her screenshots and instructions for this simple process:

  • The way to do a Flesch-Kincaid grade level is to put a few representative paragraphs from a text into Word (at least 200 words).
  • From the Tools menu, select Options

  • Click the Spelling & Grammar tab.
  • Make sure the box for Show readability statistics is checked.

I haven’t tried this out yet, but it looks pretty straightforward.

Another option I found is a free, downloadable application called Flesh.  Flesh is a document readability calculator that provides both the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level and the Flesch Reading Ease Score.  It’s available for Mac, PC and Linux.

Let us know with a comment if you’ve used other resources for determining readability.

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