EEIS News, Volume 27:1 (March 2005)

by User Not Found | 11/03/2011
In This Issue...
Leadership Updates Letter From the Chair

By Janet Orr, e-mail:

As the New Year begins, our sympathy goes out to all the children and their families who have been affected by the tsunami in the Indian Ocean/Bay of Bengal. These events touch all of us because in our field we are likely to know someone from that region as we interact with international children in our schools every day. Many EEIS members have or have had students from India, Indonesia, or Sri Lanka in their classrooms, which gives an event like this so much more impact on our lives. TESOL has a list of organizations on its Web site that are aiding victims of the tsunami. Many of those organizations provide assistance worldwide and are worthy of your consideration.

TESOL 2005 Teaching Learning, Learning Teaching is fast approaching. It will be held in San Antonio, Texas, this year, which is ideal for K-12 educators. This is the third TESOL convention to be held in San Antonio; one was in 1968 and another in 1989. I attended the last convention there and found it to be a delightful city. Plenty to see, do, and eat from A to Z: the Alamo, Burritos, Chili . . . Mariachis, Museums . . .and a world-famous Zapateria (shoe store).

The best place to start is at the EEIS Booth in the Exhibit Hall where you will find the EEIS Convention Booklet, your guide to all the EEIS-sponsored sessions organized in an easy-to-read format. In addition, you can pick up a Literacy Button so that everyone at the convention knows you support literacy for young learners. You can also pick up your copy of Memories of Home, a special EEIS project that features art, poetry, and other writing by students of EEIS members. It will celebrate our students' memories of home and help their classmates and teachers share in their heritages. I'm sure this exhibit will lead us into many discussions as our colleagues gather to share their successes.

EEIS members will have at least 50 concurrent sessions, sponsored by EEIS, spread throughout the days plus a number of Pre- and Postconvention Institutes, Academic Sessions, InterSections, Discussion Groups, Hot Topic Panels, Energy Breaks, Board-Sponsored Sessions, Spotlight Sessions, and Plenary Speakers including the Teacher of the Year, an ESL middle school teacher (hurrah!).

At this year's convention, tours of local elementary programs will give you insight into three types of ESL programs common in the United States today:

  • a Spanish immersion program
  • an elementary dual-language program
  • a middle school sheltered-English program

An educational visit may guide you in the program improvement process at your school.

These convention activities aim at your needs for professional development. To ensure that your needs continue to be heard, please remember to vote and participate in TESOL organizational meetings.

And most important of all, I'd like to see you all at Wednesday's EEIS Open Business Meeting from 5 to 7 p.m., tentatively on the River Level of Convention Center Room 007B. TESOL usually tries to schedule many EEIS sessions in this room so keep this room in mind if you are looking for a session or an EEIS colleague.

Janet Orr is the director of TEAL Services. She is the 2004-2005 chair of EEIS and a coeditor of the forthcoming Case Studies in TESOL Practice: Teaching EFL in Primary School. Her interests focus on improving instruction for young learners.

Letter From the Chair-Elect

By Judith B. O'Loughlin, e-mail:

Dear EEIS Members:

A number of special events are planned for this year's TESOL convention in San Antonio. Our author session will feature Naomi Shihab Nye, a local author and poet whose multicultural themes encompass Arabic and Hispanic themes. Her book, Habibi, has been named ALA Best Book for Young Adults and ALA Notable Children's Book. Her session will be held on Friday, 9:30-11:15 a.m. Following her presentation is a book signing sponsored by a local bookstore,The Twig.

Our Academic Session will feature four panelists knowledgeable in the area of special education and English language learners. The session will be held on Friday from 2 to 4:45 p.m. This time has changed from previous years. The panelists will represent four areas of the country-Washington State, Illinois, Florida, and Virginia-and bring a wealth of knowledge related to pre-assessment interventions, assessment, and evaluation, as well as placement for bilingual special education students.

The EEIS is also involved in two InterSections on the topics of sharing your knowledge with mainstream teachers (EEIS and SSIS) and writing for the elementary market (MWIS and EEIS). Both presentations will be held on Wednesday at the convention.

Interested in joining your colleagues for dinner at the convention? Well, we've got a date and place set for a wonderful dinner. The dinner will begin after the EEIS Business Meeting, which will be held from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday. The restaurant is Boudro's on the Riverwalk and our reservation is for 7:30 p.m.

Please remember that the EEIS electronic mailing list is there for you to share and request information. The list address is Sonna and I welcome your ideas and questions.

Get ready for a week filled with attending excellent presentations, renewing old friendships and making new ones, and sharing with your EEIS colleagues.

A Message From Michelle De Cou-Landberg


Dear EEIS Members,

Three years have come and gone since I was designated chair-elect, and it is time to say an official good-bye. I have very much enjoyed my three-year assignment and meeting wonderful educators along the way, all dedicated to making our interest section vibrant and strong. My work with Janet Orr, the current chair, and Judy O'Loughlin, current chair-elect, has reinforced my belief that the Elementary Education Interest Section leaders will continue to speak out on behalf of EFL and ESOL educators. Thanks to the leadership and contributions of our members, our section has grown and become one of the largest and most vocal in TESOL. And from this substantial group, I hope that many of you will step forward and join the leadership ranks. I can attest to the fact that being of service to the EEIS has been an enriching experience.

I would like to thank all the past chairs for passing on the wisdom, particularly Keiko Abe-Ford, who steered me through the maze of guidelines and deadlines and other assorted tasks. To Esther Retish, who befriended me at the debriefing session in San Francisco and got me involved in EEIS, a huge thank you! To Judie Haynes, whose wise advice and assistance I could, and still can, always rely on: I owe you so much!

As multicultural education is one of my major areas of interest, I particularly appreciate this year's special project grant from TESOL, which will enable the EEIS teachers to share with those of you who are attending the TESOL convention the feelings, talents, and artistry of ESOL students as captured in theMemories of Home booklet.

I look forward to San Antonio and seeing many of you, old friends and new, with whom I may have communicated by e-mail over the years, and I hope that, in the future, many of us will stay in touch to share creative ideas in this wonderful field that is such a big part of our life.

Au revoir, mes amis!

Articles Memories of Home

By Carlyn Syvanen, e-mail:

Where do memories come from? As part of our EEIS Special Project, we had teachers ask their students for their memories of home. The resulting stories and artwork will be published in a booklet to share with our members in San Antonio at the TESOL Convention.

I have had the delightful experience of reading the stories. Our ESOL children have had the unique experience of living in two cultures, and their writings and pictures inform us of parts of their other world. Their memories come from trips to special places, earthquakes, and accidents. They share special foods and festivals. They inform us about their languages, history, and culture. Their pictures are clear and colorful, showing beautiful scenery, vibrant dress, and children engaged in a number of activities.

The teachers of these children need to be acknowledged for their extra effort. In these times when teachers are under constant pressure to put in more time on more worthless activities, the following teachers helped their students to participate in the project: Judith Skinner and Doreen Milot of Schuykill County, Pennsylvania; Maria J. Hernandez and Anne Laddin of Perth Amboy, New Jersey; Ms. Barone-Weiss of San Luis, Arizona; Judie Haynes of River Edge, New Jersey; Cynthia L. Shepard of Rogers, Arizona; and Dino Salin of Reston, Virginia.

Carlyn Syvanen is a retired teacher living in the far northwest corner of Washington State. She is a coeditor of Memories of Home.

Shadow Puppetry With the Overhead Projector

By Elizabeth Bigler, e-mail:

While visiting an authentic 18th-century one-room schoolhouse recently, I learned that along with reading, writing, and arithmetic, drama, in the form of readings and acting out of plays, was considered a staple of education.

As ESOL teachers, we have additional reasons to consider theater in our classes, not the least of which is that class productions are great cooperative learning experiences and linguistic goldmines.

But many teachers shy away from productions because of the expense and all the work. All those costumes! All that scenery! I am here to tell you that if you have an overhead projector, scissors, tape, some Sharpie® markers, and an old hat, you have almost everything you need to do amazing shadow puppet shows. Add a liberal dose of your imagination, and you and your students can make magic from light and shadows. Interested? Read on.

Methods: Opaque or Transparent?

Shadow puppetry with the overhead can be done several different ways. The first and simplest uses silhouette cutouts that are put on the surface of the machine and moved around. They can be made of old folders or cereal cartons or can even be precut die cuts (three animals and a hen for The Little Red Hen, for example). Thin (1 cm) strips of clear transparency can be attached to the puppets so that the puppeteers can manipulate them without their hands being seen. The cutouts must be small enough to fit and move around on the glass, and the projected image can be adjusted in size by moving the screen in relation to the projector.

With this type of puppetry, the scenery can be cutouts of mountains, trees, a house, and so on, taped to the screen to make a frame. There may also be cutouts that can be manipulated from scene to scene (Jack and the Beanstalk might have a long beanstalk that “grows” by appearing from the bottom of the screen and getting taller; the Princess and the Pea show might have a large bed). Alternately, background scenery can be drawn on sheets of transparency with permanent markers (such as Sharpies) and changed from scene to scene. The puppets can play right on top of this transparency.

Sharpies come in a rainbow of colors these days and can be erased from transparencies very easily with a bit of common rubbing alcohol (add that to the list!). Apply it with a cotton swab for precise erasing. The box of blank transparencies might be your one significant expense for shadow shows, but if you use them efficiently, a box will last you through many a show.

Puppets themselves can be made from the transparencies, too. Children can draw them freehand or trace from a book (what better tracing paper than perfectly clear sheets?). If this latter option is taken, details can be added to the figures. In other words, not only the shadow of the shape is projected, but also the drawing itself, which can therefore be colorful and detailed. When these puppets are cut out, “tails” can be left on them to allow the children to manipulate them on the glass surface. Transparency strips can also be taped on with regular cellophane tape. Interestingly, “magic” or satin tape appears as a black mark when projected, but clear cellophane tape is relatively invisible. Thus, clear cellophane tape should be used to attach manipulating strips and to repair anything on shadow puppets.

If students want to make very detailed drawings for scenery or puppets, they can draw them with paper and pencil first. The finished drawings can be adjusted in size, if necessary (in case students have produced main characters that are very different in size, for example), by using the reduce/enlarge function on a copy machine.

Once the paper drawings are all the right size, they can be copied onto a sheet of transparency. You need to make sure the transparency sheets are the kind intended for plain-paper copiers. Don’t ask me how I know this, but if you use the wrong kind, it will melt and make a big mess inside the copier, and no one will be pleased with your puppet venture. Finally, you can cut out the pictures and even let the kids color them in with Sharpies, and there are your puppets and scenery!

Projection Screen

For the projection screen, if you do your projections from the front, you can use just a simple classroom screen, a whiteboard, or even a large sheet of paper taped onto the wall. But if you project from the front, your actors will be on the same side as the audience. If you don’t plan to have an audience, this is just fine, but if you do plan to invite other classes or even parents, you will find that it is much more theatrical for your actors to be on the other side of the screen, hidden, as it were.

For this to happen, your screen must be translucent. I have used various materials for screens, depending on where and how big the screen needed to be. Most any thin, white, unpatterned material will work. I have used a bed sheet, plastic white tablecloths (these can be taped together to build a screen as wide as you want or need), and even plain white paper. You can easily tell if a material is suitable by holding it up to a light or the sky and putting your hand between it and the light. Can you see the shadow of your hand clearly? If so, it is sufficiently translucent. You can suspend it any way that works. I find that big binder clips come in handy when rigging up a screen. If possible, you want the material to be somewhat taut, or at least the wrinkles kept to a minimum, as wrinkles distort the images.

My most recent screen is the sliding screen door from my neighbor’s trash. After he assured me that he didn’t need it anymore, I took it home and cut the screen part out, leaving just the metal rectangular frame. I took white paper from a roll and hot glued it to one side of the frame. Then, I cut off the excess paper with a box cutter, added scalloped borders (from the bulletin board box) to cover up the metal, and even added a pulled-back curtain effect (on the audience side) with a bit of fabric. I prop the screen up on a chair at either end and steady it with desks. The audience goes on one side and the projector on the other. I have also hung a white sheet from a pole suspended horizontally from the ceiling. It was a pretty standard fixture in my old classroom, and I just flipped it up on itself when we weren’t using it. You can also take a large piece of cardboard or a big box, cut a rectangle out, and cover the open holewith paper or transparent fabric, attaching it to the side away from the audience.


As for the scripts, I usually adapt a folktale or a story we have read, using language I know my kids can handle. If I have very new arrivals who really can’t handle much speaking, I make sure to give them plenty of action during the show, in the form of puppet manipulation, scene changes (on the screen), sound effects, or sound operation (recorded music before and after the show is very theatrical and sets the mood). You can also let the kids come up with their own script, perhaps a twist on a story they have read or their original creation.

Memorizing the script has its merits, but depending on students’ level of English and their maturity, it can be a lot to ask. Keep in mind that the characters’ voices don’t have to be done by the students who are manipulating the puppet. In other words, the students providing the voices can sit with the scripts and another set of kids can do the puppets. This doesn’t give everyone a chance to speak, though.

If you do plan to have everyone memorize his or her lines, make sure the lines are pretty well memorized before you introduce the puppets and projector. It’s too much to incorporate everything at once.


Another option is to pre-record the soundtrack. In this scenario, students are very familiar with their parts but haven’t memorized them. We record the script (on a cheap karaoke machine, in my case, stopping and backing up the tape as necessary) and then rehearse the puppetry with the tape, lip-synching, as it were. During the performance, we start the tape and do the puppetry live. Because this tape recording can be put near the audience and turned up or down, this also alleviates the problem of getting the kids to speak audibly when they are both behind a screen and typically facing away from the audience as they manipulate the puppets.

Puppet Manipulation

The basic thing the kids need to know about moving their puppet is that when a character is speaking, it should move slightly (just a little jiggle up and down, or back and forth). When a character is not speaking, it should not move at all. If the puppeteers can follow these two rules, the audience will be able to follow which character is speaking and all will be well.


You should be aware that switching your overhead on and off while it is hot will cause the (expensive!) bulb inside to burn out. Make sure your students know this. If you need to do scene changes on screen during your show, black things out not by switching off the projector, but by blocking the reflector and lens. You can do this by taping a little flap of cardboard or fabric to the arm that holds the lens and flip it up and down, or just let the kids throw an old hat over the arm that holds the lens and reflector.

The more you experiment with this medium, the more you and your students will see ways to put it to good use in your classroom! I wish you success, and would love to share ideas or answer any questions you might have. Please feel free to e-mail me.

Liz Bigler is an ESOL teacher at Seigakuin Atlanta International School in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. She was a theater technician in her “former life.”

Video Resolutions

By Jake Kimball, e-mail:

New Year’s resolutions. Many people make them. Few people keep them, including me. Regardless, I still take pleasure in making an annual wish list. Earlier this year I paused to contemplate my New Year’s resolutions for the classroom. At the time I happened to be watching a video I had filmed of our Christmas event. The event was a modest success, involving a caroling contest, a skit about bullying with Rudolph taking center stage, a visit from Santa, and a parent–teacher conference. The students had a great time, which was understandable considering the time, energy, and creativity they put into preparing for the performance. I decided that making better use of my video camera would make for a productive 2005, for myself and my students.

In establishing goals, I wanted to designate three potential areas for development:

  • my own self-development as a teacher
  • teacher-training projects with other teachers and staff
  • student projects

The following are some of the ideas I intend to implement throughout the year. As I’ve already done most of the activities without video recording, they shouldn’t be too difficult to implement. They are not in any particular order of priority, but are organized by area of development.

  1. Filming my class. In my case, I need a tripod and a safe place to set up the camera. If you are lucky you may already have a more sophisticated, Orwellian setup with a video monitoring system built into your classroom. There are two ways to evaluate your video. First, in a more open-ended approach, you watch everything that goes on in class. The general idea is to become more conscious and aware of what goes on. A second more narrow—and potentially more valuable (Richards & Lockhart, 1996)—approach is to watch your video with a more specific focus; for example, concentrate on interaction patterns, error correction, the amount of teacher and student talk time, how you give directions, or the kinds of questions (open-closed) you ask. Self-observation checklists in Richards (1990) and Brown (1994) are chock-full of narrowly focused ideas.
  2. Practice using the camera and its features for producing better videos. Read the owner’s manual. It’s essential if you want to film better videos and get more out of your camera. Then make videos until you’re more comfortable with filming and have a steady hand. Knowing your video camera is also important if you later allow students to do the filming because you will need to teach them about some of the functions.
Teacher Training
  1. Introducing and modeling activities. Record specific tasks and activities to share with other teachers. Don’t discriminate between a master craftsman in the classroom and a new teacher. Both environments can be equally telling. You can introduce a new game or demonstrate classroom management skills or group and pair work.
  2. Problem–Solution format. Negotiate video content with your peers. Are there any problems or difficulties that you or your colleagues are experiencing? Work together to solve problems by sharing. As the old saying goes, two heads are better than one.
Student Projects
  1. Oral presentations and book reports. Record students’ oral presentations and book reports. Play back the video for the whole class. Though some students may soak up the limelight, others may not be so willing. It’s best to respect our students’ wishes. When viewing the video, teachers can focus on pronunciation, body language, content and delivery, interlanguage errors, and so on.
  2. Record native speaking models. Many textbooks, often the structural or notional–functional kind, use dialogues for examples that fit nicely in the second stage of a PPP (Presentation, Practice, and Production model) approach. Unfortunately, many of the dialogues seem stilted and uncharacteristic of spoken language. By modeling native speakers in action, students can see and hear how native speakers use fillers, formulaic expressions, and hesitations and make adjustments. Also worth pointing out are the ways native speakers take and hold turns and manage topics (Bygate, 1987).
  3. Advertisements . This particular project works well with my students. I work in an EFL environment where TV commercials are all in L1. Small groups of students transcribe and translate their favorite commercials. They can either memorize verbatim or just paraphrase the script and then act out the commercial. Students can use realia (ramen noodles, toys, or a cell phone) or artistically create their own via an arts and crafts project.
  4. Student tour guide. Videotape a tour of your school so that newcomers can adjust a bit more quickly. Interesting places to go include the library, cafeteria, and playground. This activity is limited only by the needs of your students, which can be quite extensive.
  5. Skits . Student-produced and teacher-facilitated skits or plays provide motivating ways to combine reading, writing, speaking, and listening. The authenticity lies not so much in the acting but in the directing, producing, giving orders and assignments, and so on. I like adapting literature used in class. Try recreating a scene from a book, changing the setting or plot, adding new characters, or changing characters’ personalities.
  6. News desk. Current events as told by your students in the format of the nightly news. Weird, wacky, and untrue stories should also be welcomed.
  7. Movie magic. Everyone can be a movie critic. Movies provide authentic emotional responses from viewers. Reflection promotes critical thinking skills. This task can be enhanced and supported with the use of graphic organizers and a checklist of topics to cover.
  8. Enlarging the issue. Some public school teachers with large class sizes complain that flash cards are too small and that students in the back of class can’t see and thus get off-task. If you have a large TV as a monitor in class, you can zoom in on flashcards and magazine pictures so that everyone can see.

There you have it: 12 ideas for in-class video projects. Try out some of the activities and make them a regular habit. As for me, out of fear that my wish list doesn’t haunt me as a Ghost of Christmas Past, I’ve already inked many of the tasks on my ‘Things to Do’ calendar. In fact, 1, 2, 4, and 7 are done—and it’s only the end of February.


Brown, H. D. (1994) Teaching by principles: An interactive approach to language pedagogy. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall Regents.

Bygate, M. (1987). Speaking. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

Richards, J (1990). The language teaching matrix. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Richards, J., & Lockhart, C. (1996). Reflective teaching in second language classrooms. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Jake Kimball has been happily living and working in Daegu, South Korea, for nine years where he now operates a private language school. He is actively involved in Korea TESOL, an affiliate of TESOL.

Announcements and Information Dinner Together

Join Us for The Annual EEIS Dinner

The tradition continues: dinner together immediately after the Business Meeting Wednesday night, this year at Boudro's Restaurant in the Riverwalk area. Boudro's is located between Crockett and East Commerce Streets, next to The Original and diagonally across the river from The Hyatt. People who have eaten there said the food was very good. We have reservations for 20 in a room that can accommodate up to 25 people. Reservations are for 7:30 p.m., right after the Business Meeting. For more information e-mail Judith B. O'Loughlin at, or come to the Business Meeting.

Curriculum Contributions Request

By Judy Sharkey, PhD, Assistant Professor of Education, University of New Hampshire, e-mail:

I am coediting volume 4 of the TESOL Curriculum Development Series (Kathleen Graves, series editor) and would love to have some contributions from EEIS members.

I'll be at the TESOL Publications Booth in San Antonio on Wednesday, March 30, from 2 to 2:30 p.m. EEIS members are encouraged to stop by and get more details and give encouragement! If you are not at the conference or miss me there, please e-mail me.

About This Member Community About the ESOL in Elementary Education Interest Section

ESOL in Elementary Education fosters recognition of ESOL as an academic discipline in elementary education, increasing awareness of elementary ESOL educators' needs in TESOL and in our field, and developing new professional resources for teachers and their students.

EEIS Community Leaders, 2004-2005

Chair: Janet Orr,
Chair-Elect: Judith B. O'Loughlin,
Newsletter Co-Editor: Esther Retish,
Newsletter Co-Editor: Carlyn Syvanen,

Web sites: and

Discussion E-List: Visit to sign up for EEIS-L, the discussion list for members of this community, or visit if already subscribed.