EEIS News, Volume 26:2 (November 2004)

by User Not Found | 11/03/2011
In This Issue...
  • Articles
    • Effective Teaching Behaviors: The Basic Ten
    • EFL Pen Pal Projects: Trial and Error
    • A Trip to Japan
    • A Pilot Service Learning Project at the University of Central Florida
    • Another Perspective: Schooling in Tanzania
  • Leadership Updates
    • Message From the Chair
  • Convention Updates
    • 2005 Academic Session
    • 2005 Spotlight Author Session
  • Announcements and Information
    • Memories of Home: A Special Project on Culture
  • About This Member Community
    • TESOL's ESOL in Elementary Education Interest Section (EEIS)
Articles Effective Teaching Behaviors: The Basic Ten

By Linda New Levine,

At the beginning of each school year, teachers and students alike arrive at the classroom door with the hope that this year things will be different. Teachers aspire to spending time on planning lessons geared specifically to the needs of the children in their classes, time on learning each child individually, time on developing relationships that motivate children to achieve academically, socially, and emotionally. Children are eager to learn more about the teacher who will inspire them to higher achievement levels. They anticipate a new beginning in which they will be successful learners with a teacher who will help make that dream come true.

Will this be the year that these hopes will be realistically achieved in your classroom? Perhaps so. But to ensure success, teachers need to constantly develop skills and attitudes that will help them to achieve these dreams for all of the children who come through our doors. The baseline behaviors needed to be an effective teacher have been well defined. How many of these behaviors are in your teaching repertoire on a consistent basis?

The following 10 teaching behaviors and practices have been found to correlate with student learning and achievement gains (Beach & Reinhartz, 2002). These core behaviors provide areas for teachers to learn and develop professionally. They are arenas for experimentation within our classrooms and topics for collegial discussion among colleagues who are interested in helping each other improve. Perhaps you and a few like-minded colleagues will start a study group in your school this year. If so, these core behaviors will be a good starting point for your discussions.

10 Teaching Behaviors

1. Activate prior or present knowledge. Before introducing a new topic of study, the teacher attempts to prepare pupils for the new learning by using activities that encourage students to attend to and recall what they already know about the topic. Examples include the KWL (What I Know, What I Want to Know, What I Learned) chart, the 5W (Who, What, When, Where Why) chart, paired verbal interviews, and picture previewing of both fiction and nonfiction texts.

Students from other cultures have opportunities to contribute diverse information at this point in the lesson, information that may be unknown to other learners. My Guatemalan students, for example, contributed a great deal to the class's knowledge of that country while we read The Most Beautiful Place in the World (Cameron, 1988) and studied the animals and plants of the tropical rain forests.

2. State instructional objectives. Before each lesson, the teacher communicates (orally or in writing) what it is students must know or be able to do by the end of the lesson as well as the learning behaviors expected of them. This communication is fairly specific. For instance, the teacher may use examples of good and poor essay writing to teach the structure of a five-paragraph essay, stipulate and model the attributes of a poster presentation for students, or model the game-playing rules and indicate and rehearse the language needed to play the game.

Children of all ages are eager to succeed at school tasks. Too often, we as teachers are not specific about what it takes to achieve at a high level. What does that skilled behavior or excellent product look like?

In my own teaching, I began to use rubrics to help my students know exactly what was required of them. Rubrics are sets of criteria determined by the teacher and used to assess students. Rubrics are usually expressed as a scale indicating varying levels of performance. A group of teachers I worked with delighted their students when they indicated that everyone in the class would get an A on the upcoming project work in their social studies unit. The children quickly learned that the A-scale included Awful, Average, and Awesome.

3. Model skills. Visual and behavioral modeling is very helpful with students who have limited English skills. Explaining a skill to these students is not as effective as showing them how to perform the skill or demonstrating the new concept.

One teacher I worked with created a simple lever to demonstrate the concept of simple machines to her students. She also used the lever to identify and label the new vocabulary. Students had opportunities to create the simple machines as they had seen her do and then draw and label the parts of the machine.

4. Provide instructional clarity. Students value the teacher who can explain things clearly so that they can understand. Clarity is a skill that all teachers can refine, but it is most essential when teaching language-learning children. Clarity involves the presentation of information and skills clearly and sequentially while providing context in the form of explanatory devices (e.g., charts, graphs, graphic organizers, pictures, demonstrations) and simpler or expanded language.

Teachers who use the blackboard to write new vocabulary, point to the vocabulary as they talk about it, draw pictures that represent simple concepts, create graphs to show change and charts to display information, use their bodies and faces to express emotions and simplify their language to eliminate hesitations and idioms are all using techniques that increase their clarity in presenting information to learners.

5. Check comprehension. To determine if our students are with us throughout instruction, it is important to consistently check on their comprehension. With language learning children, it is not sufficient to check at the end of the lesson. That may be too late. These children do not often raise their hands to ask the teacher questions either. In order to be sure that all children understand, teachers use a variety of techniques to determine students' level of comprehension: asking questions on the same topic of all students throughout the lesson, using wait time, asking for signal responses, and encouraging peer interaction. These activities take only a few minutes of class time but they pay off in the long run with increased comprehension on the part of all students.

Think-pair-share is one simple technique that I used often to check student comprehension. Students are asked questions at various points in the lesson and told to tell their partners, or buddies, the answers. While floating around the room, I was able to quickly determine the level of comprehension of my students. Sometimes I asked students, "tell me what your buddy said," as a way of eliciting these responses among the large group. This technique was a vast improvement over the traditional method of asking, "Do you understand?" or "Any questions?"

6. Offer feedback. Following the check for comprehension, it is important that teachers provide feedback to students on how they are mastering the new skill. Students need to know what they are doing well and what they need to improve. Teacher feedback can be used to clarify misunderstandings that emerge during the lesson as well. If the teacher has created a rubric for learning, she can refer to this when evaluating each student's performance. It is important that feedback be timely, on-the-spot information that can be used during, not after, the learning experience.

When students work in groups, they can be taught to help each other perform better through the use of a rubric. Self-assessment activities are another means of feedback that help students to be aware of their performance levels. Teachers can ask students to monitor their comprehension while listening and reading and rate their comprehension levels on a scale. Journals can be used to encourage students to self-assess their understanding of the new concepts and ask questions of the teacher. A teacher's response in a communication journal is another excellent way of providing feedback.

7. Provide guided and independent practice. The buddy team method is equally effective during the guided practice segment of the lesson. At this point, the teacher has activated, explained with clarity, demonstrated, and provided criteria for successful outcomes to learning. Now, the students are asked to practice the new skill or begin to apply the content information in a controlled way, under teacher direction and with the help of a learning partner. In mixed language classes, these buddy sharing opportunities encourage the use of the target skills and language while providing support for children who are less skilled than others. In the last phase of the lesson, the teacher will require students to work with the new skill or content independently, thus demonstrating mastery of their learning.

8. Maximize time on task. This tried and true teacher behavior challenges us to structure our lessons in ways that keep all students involved in a learning task throughout the lesson. Teachers know how challenging this can be, but when it occurs, we can be assured that our students are on the road to achievement. Maximizing time on task requires that we know our students well, have excellent behavior management in place, deliver challenging yet engaging lessons, and assure that all students can be successful in the learning task.

9. Develop classroom management and organization skills. Classroom management is most effective when outside observers are least aware that it is occurring. New teachers struggle to maintain behavior standards for their students and even long-time teachers are challenged occasionally when confronted with a group of students different from ones they have worked with in the past. Experienced teachers tell new members of the staff that they cannot start teaching until they have classroom behavior and organization under control. It is that important.

Good management is similar to good teaching. We need to clearly specify our behavior expectations, teach the expected behaviors, and use techniques to prevent, redirect, or stop inappropriate behavior. These are three separate arenas of teaching, and each of them requires differing techniques and activities. Specifying behavioral outcomes requires clarity and a clear description of performance levels. Teaching the expected behaviors requires specificity of instruction, clarity, modeling, and demonstration and practice. Techniques to prevent or redirect inappropriate behavior include wait time, proximity, "I" messages, pre-alerts, eye contact, and others too numerous to mention here. It is well worth your time to research and develop these attention-getting skills. (See Saphier and Gower, 1997, for a clear explication of more than 30 attention getting and keeping skills.) When teachers are said to have "eyes in the back of their head" it is because they have developed skill in keeping all students attending to instruction.

10. Vary instruction. All students respond to novelty and become disinterested with a daily routine that never varies. Within the structure of a well-organized class, it is helpful to use varying strategies, materials, and instructional tools to provide variety in instruction and to match the age, achievement levels, interests, and learning styles of the pupils. It is the unique teacher and the unique classroom that tailors instruction specifically to all students in all of these ways. But our goal in teaching is to match our instruction to the needs of our students. In order to do that, we must be sure to develop skill in delivering instruction in differing modalities, at various learning levels, and with a diverse group of instructional tools.

Teachers who are visual learners tend to teach through the visual modality. Teachers who are analytic learners favor independent, paper-and-pencil tasks. Extroverted, musical teachers turn lessons into songs. While using your strengths to enhance your instruction, keep in mind that children have varying modalities for learning. Their diverse cultures will inform their instructional preferences as well. Learning as much as we can about variations in instruction and the interests of our students will help us to vary our instruction.


With the beginning of the new school year, think about the 10 core teaching behaviors that lead to effective instruction. Refresh your thinking about these behaviors and share your skills with colleagues who will share with you. This school year may be the most effective teaching year of your career.


Beach, D. M., & Reinhartz, J. (2002). Supervisory leadership: Focus on instruction. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Saphier, J., & Gower, R. (1997). The skillful teacher: Building your teaching skills (5th ed.). Carlisle, MA: Research for Better Teaching.

EFL Pen Pal Projects: Trial and Error

By Jake Kimball,

The following is a summary of a pen pal project between L2 learners at a private language institute in Daegu, South Korea, and a third-grade class of L1 students in Santa Rosa, California, in the United States.

It all began with the third-grade class at Sonoma Country Day School (all L1 students) reading Yoon (Recorvits, 2003) a story about a Korean immigrant to the United States who resists writing her name in English because it does not look like or "mean" the same to her as in her native language. Other related books, I am told, were also read in anticipation of an upcoming World Cultures Celebration. The third-grade class at Sonoma Country Day School in Santa Rosa, California, wanted to expand their knowledge of their chosen country of study--Korea. Ms. Zimmerman, an assistant teacher, posted a message on a popular ESL discussion board requesting a cultural exchange with Korean elementary school students. The request was not for an e-mail exchange, but a traditional pen pal exchange. I answered her message and a project was born.

The logistics of the project were set out in the beginning: 22 students, boys and girls, would each be paired with a partner. We had originally outlined an agenda of suitable themes but the students' enthusiasm quickly directed the topic choice. Students worked on projects that were collected by the teacher and mailed to the partner school, in this case, my private language institute in Daegu, Korea. Students responded to their pen pals, worked on a new project, and answered old questions. Fat parcels then crisscrossed the globe in about 7 days. This ritual went on from November of 2003 until May of 2004.

Initially, I was excited by the prospect of old-fashioned snail mail. Three years prior, I had tried in vain to begin a key pal exchange with students in the United States for my middle and high school students. Those projects quickly folded as students on both sides of the Pacific lost interest and stopped writing within a week or two. Traditional packages sent through the mail would make it seem like Christmas year round. This assumption was borne out as time went by. Students did not lose interest. In fact, some of the students involved in the project still correspond with each other by e-mail or regular post. However, the devil was in the details. The project lost some steam in the spring when the project became difficult to manage. The students in my own classes were keeping up their end of the bargain, but the few students in other classes were unable to keep up, thereby delaying my trips to the post office much longer than was necessary.

A second hurdle was the fact that several of my original participants dropped out of the program over time. This was a bitter disappointment for some students at Sonoma. My school is an after-school language institute, not a public school where classes (for the most part) stay together for the year. I had expected that some students would drop from the rolls for a variety of reasons. I was surprised to learn that a majority of those who had left the institute did so because they were moving. Demographics are rapidly changing in South Korea. Ten years ago, even three or four years ago, this would have been uncommon. Back then, extended families stayed together or kept in close proximity. These days, with economic uncertainties and new, high-speed trains shrinking the Korean peninsula, mobility is quite common. In this case, two families uprooted to the United States or Canada, and two or three others headed to another area of Daegu, or another city. This impacted pen pal dynamics. Even though new pen pals were substituted, no bonds developed between these "strangers." In the hearts and minds of third graders, a lost pen pal can be a bitter disappointment, just like rejection.

Do not get the impression that the project failed. Far from it. The pen pal project was a stunning success for both groups, especially my own students. They were able to test their abilities with other L1 learners. And to their credit and my amazement, they pulled their own weight, sometimes (in my opinion!) out-writing some of their L1 partners. Pen pal days meant that we switched from a communicative language teaching approach to activity-based learning. With this change came improved classroom discourse and cooperation, not to mention greater attention to detail. The timing was also a happy coincidence. At that time, I changed our curriculum from a common EFL program to an ESL program using content-based instruction (inasmuch as that can be done in an EFL context) as a core approach.

Children are very eager to learn about life in other parts of the world. The Sonoma students had perplexing questions from day one: Are last names passed through the mother's or father's line? Should we address our letters last name first? Should we use both Korean and English names? How did they (L2 students) choose their English names? What is the meaning of the hyphenated first names? Do you celebrate Halloween?

My students were all too eager to please. They spent hours and hours planning what to write and how to write it. They surfed the Internet at home to find answers to their pen pals' questions. In the process, they learned about their own family history from their parents and grandparents. They found out facts about their own city and country that they did not know. Every time packages arrived, it was Christmas all over again. Their interest and enthusiasm was genuine. I could tell from their eyes and voices as they shared letters. Unexpectedly, recipients of unusually long letters or a pile of pictures stirred bouts of jealousy among classmates. But that was short-lived.

One of the biggest lessons I learned through this project is that Vygotsky's social constructivist theories are a possibility in practice, even in EFL environments. I had read about the zone of proximal development (ZPD) before. And a few times I may have recognized it in my classes--I think. Vygotsky's ZPD, in a nutshell, refers to the difference between what a child can accomplish with help or guidance from parents, teachers, or maybe even more capable peers, and what a child can do independently. And once problem-solving models have been internalized by the child, future activities can then be tackled independently. With this pen pal project, Vygotsky became less lip service and more of a reality. Around Thanksgiving and Christmas, I was modeling, giving hints and tips on how to write something they could not communicate, and explaining cultural oddities. By Valentine's Day I was the class outcast. Students were learning from each other, offering classmates ideas and suggestions and checking each other's letters for mistakes. To my chagrin, they even critiqued each other's less-than-Van Gogh-like artwork--and they did it in English. Often, they did not want me to help them. No modeling was necessary. They preferred to create their own cards and pictures and letters by themselves, leaving me to take on the role of proverbial back seat driver!

Now that the project is over, I am looking forward to another one. Next time, though, will be different. I have had time to reflect on the good, the bad, and the ugly. Pedagogically, I was pleased with the outcome. Administratively? More planning will need to be done to ensure continuity over the course of the next project. In the meantime, I will be trying to continue where we left off by introducing an ESL approach throughout the year, not just during pen pal projects. And the next time I return to the United States, I will stock up on some of the literature that my sister school in Sonoma found so captivating.


Recorvits, Yoon. My Name is Yoon. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003.

A Trip to Japan

By Cindy Rogers,

I teach ESOL to primary students at a private school in Greenville, South Carolina, in the United States. Many of my students are Japanese, the children of employees of Japanese companies in our area.

This fall I have been offered the opportunity to participate in the Fulbright Memorial Fund Teacher Program. I will travel to Japan for 3 weeks as the guest of the Government of Japan.

The Fulbright Memorial Fund Teacher Program was established by the Government of Japan to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Fulbright Program. Because many Japanese have benefited from the U.S.-sponsored Fulbright Program, Japan established the Fulbright Memorial Fund Teacher Program to show their appreciation to the United States. Three times each year, two K-12 teachers are chosen from each state to travel to Japan for a 3-week visit to learn about the people and the culture of Japan, so that they can become ambassadors to promote understanding between Japan and the United States.

As part of the program, each teacher must develop a project to promote understanding between Japan and the United States. My project is to establish a Web site for my ESOL class that prospective families in Japan or other countries can access to see what it will be like for their children to be ESOL students in the United States. The Web site can be viewed at

Teachers who are interested in the Fulbright program can go to for information. I am so excited about my trip that I have practically got my bags packed already, in August!

Cindy Rogers is an ESOL teacher at the Christ Church Episcopal Lower School, in Greenville, South Carolina, USA.

A Pilot Service Learning Project at the University of Central Florida

By Kerry Purmensky,

The University of Central Florida (UCF) Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures is going to pilot a new service learning component for preservice teachers this Fall semester. Elementary Education, Exceptional Education, Early Childhood Education, and English Language Arts Education (6-12) majors at UCF must complete certain requirements to qualify for ESOL Endorsement in Florida. For years, the state of Florida has been requiring in-service teachers to take 300 hours of in-service ESOL training or 15 semester hours covering five required topics: a) Methods of Teaching ESOL, b) ESOL Curriculum and Materials Development, c) Cross-Cultural Communication, d) Understanding Applied Linguistics, and e) Testing and Evaluation of ESOL. The state now has a graduation requirement with the same content for preservice teachers. However, instead of having five stand-alone courses to meet the requirement, UCF has a state-approved infusion model that includes two stand-alone courses, TSL 4080, Theory and Practice of Teaching ESOL Students in Schools, and TSL 4141, Issues in Second Language Acquisition, the one course delivered through the Foreign Language Department. The model also infuses the 25 Florida ESOL performance standards throughout the curriculum, including field experiences.

Prior to this semester, students in TSL 4141 completed a field experience during the course, the design of which was to expose the students to L2 speakers and their cultural and language background, and which required a final paper on their experiences. Meeting with ESOL speakers for approximately 6 hours, the students had conversations with the interviewees, who discussed their cultural and language background, their experiences with EFL and ESL, their current linguistic competence in the areas of phonology and morphology, and their experience in learning English. It was an experience that students were resistant to at first, often because of the logistics of meeting and spending time with someone during the course of the semester, but usually related that it turned out to be an excellent experience in the end.

While this field experience was an extremely valuable component of the TSL 4141 course, the instructors faced a challenge in monitoring and tracking the quality of this experience. Some students would spend real quality time with their interviewee and submitted quality papers that reflected a true learning experience. At times it was clear, though, that too many students had just barely met the minimum of required components, seeming to just go through the motions of completing the assignment. Further, although the students enjoyed the experience, many questioned the applicability of what they were doing when their greatest concern was, "What will I do when I have an ESOL student in my classroom?"

Even though it was a good experience for students, we felt that we could transform this field experience into a more dynamic and focused project. The university is strongly supporting service learning at this juncture, and we felt this field experience had many components that could easily be met through a service learning experience. We tapped into an already-successful reading program in Orange County called Read2Succeed, a program that pairs a volunteer from the community to targeted students in Orange County elementary schools to foster a love of reading and exploration through the written word. In our class, students will be paired with ESOL students who are experiencing reading difficulties, and will be released from class time once a week to meet and read with the ESOL students. This pilot program has all the components that we want our preservice teachers to experience. We want them to:

  • develop relationships with ESOL speakers
  • understand cultural and linguistic differences
  • relate to the challenges that ESOL students may have in public schools
  • practice their knowledge of linguistics from our course content with actual students
  • grow in confidence using ESOL methodology with students
  • enjoy and be excited about working with ESOL students, not intimidated by differences
  • see this experience as a vital component to their growth as a teacher, not just a requirement to be fulfilled for a course

We are very excited about this pilot project and monitoring its effectiveness for the overall program. We are expecting many challenges that go along with starting any new program, particularly a service learning program, but we are hopeful it will become a model for all of our classes and a vital experience for preservice teachers.

Kerry Purmensky is a TESOL assistant professor for the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at the University of Central Florida, in Orlando, in the United States.

Another Perspective: Schooling in Tanzania

By Janet Orr,

Although it is not summer here in Tanzania, schools have been on break. During this break, an unusual on-the-road English tutors' workshop traveled incredible distances across Tanzania to five teacher training colleges. Myrtis Mixon and Lydia Stack, both from San Francisco, California, joined me and a number of Tanzanian and Zanzibari English teaching specialists on a quest to provide professional development for the English tutors (lecturers) at the primary and secondary teacher training colleges. The theme of each weeklong workshop was "Strategies for Improving Teacher Training." A few of the topics touched upon were language acquisition and learning strategies; teaching reading, writing, literature, vocabulary, structure, and oral skills; active learning and the communicative approach; syllabus analysis; assessment of large classes; classroom management; and teaching children with special needs. It seemed like we covered a bit of everything that one needs to know to teach English, but we felt we needed to cram as much as possible into each week-long workshop because many of the English tutors had not had any professional development opportunities in the past 5 years. For most, the communicative approach was new as was the use of strategies for effective classroom instruction.

During the 5 weeks, more than 120 trainers of primary school teachers, 80 trainers of secondary school teachers, and a mixture of school inspectors from all levels and from close to 50 teacher training colleges traveled to five centrally located teachers colleges to attend the workshops. The skills of these teacher trainers will multiply, as they will impact the quality of future English teachers and the quality of instruction available to school age children in Tanzania. In the past few years, the window of opportunity has opened for many Tanzanian children. In 2001, school fees were eliminated for primary (elementary) school children. Ideally, this was wonderful news, but in many towns, class sizes for Grades 1-3 suddenly grew to over 100 students per class. I know it sounds unbelievable, but just last week, I visited a Grade 1 class with 110 students squeezed onto little benches with no desks in front of them to write on. Just as schools in the United States are trying to lower the class size in Grade 1 to assure quality instruction, Tanzania is increasing it. I am sure they would lower it if they could, but there are just not enough teachers or classrooms to accommodate all these children in schools presently.

In January 2005, when the new school year begins in Tanzania, the secondary schools will also experience tremendous growth. With World Bank funding, Tanzania will increase its acceptance of students from Grade 7 (elementary school) into Form 1 (the first year of secondary education or the equivalent of junior high in the United States) from 7% of the graduates to 25% of the students who passed Grade 7. As a consequence, teacher training has been shortened from 2 years to 1 and high school graduates are receiving a short course to learn how to teach Form 1. This is an attempt to produce more teachers to staff those high schools quickly.

The Honorable Minister of Education Joseph Mungai emphasized Tanzania's commitment to quality language instruction when he stated, "Education is the key to better living" and "mastery of that (English) language of delivery leads to better learning and teaching of all subjects" (Speech given at the Morogoro Teachers College, Tanzania on June 7, 2004, upon the opening of the English Tutors Workshop).

This program was made possible through grants from the U.S. Embassy and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and the English Language Specialist Program, Office of English Language Programs, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C.


Report on the English Teaching Workshops in Tanzania, June 7th to July 9th, 2004. (September 1, 2004) United States Embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. (Appendix A)

Janet Orr is Chair of the Elementary Education Interest Section and Director of TEAL Services in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Leadership Updates Message From the Chair

By Janet Orr,, EEIS Chair, 2004-2005

Summer seemed so fleeting this year--here it is, time for school to start again. The past few months have been very busy for those serving on committees in the Elementary Education Interest Section (EEIS) as this is the time when proposals are read, discussion groups scheduled, and hot topics defined. I want to thank all of you who have assisted in this process for your unstinting efforts on behalf of EEIS. Admittedly, it does take some of your valuable time, but the end result is that we will have a fabulous program at TESOL 2005 in San Antonio, Texas, with sessions on topics that you feel are important for professional growth.

Cheers to all of you. May you and your students have a successful school year!

Convention Updates 2005 Academic Session

By Judith O'Loughlin,, EEIS Chair-elect, 2004-2005

The 2005 Academic Session will be a panel presentation entitled "Learning Disability or Language Difference?" The panel participants will represent a wide range of backgrounds and regional representations on the topic. The panelists will include Catherine Collier, of the CrossCultural Development Education Services in Ferndale, Washington; Rosalia Gallo, from the Miami-Dade County Public Schools, in Miami, Florida; Berthica Rodriguez-McCleary, from the Fairfax County Public Schools, in Fairfax, Virginia and Else Hamayan, from the Illinois Resource Center, in Des Plaines, Illinois. As incoming chair, I will moderate the panel. The topics of discussion will include characteristics of English language-learning students who are at risk for learning disabilities, prereferral intervention models, case studies with reflection on assessments and interventions used, a look at dual-language assessment, and a wrap-up with an emphasis on effective advocacy strategies.

In addition to the Academic Session, EEIS will participate in the following two Intersections:

  1. Material Writers Interest Section and EEIS: Publishing Materials for the Elementary School Market.
  2. EEIS and Secondary Education Interest Section: Sharing ESOL Methods With Mainstream Teachers

2005 Spotlight Author Session

Friday, April 1, 2005

Each year at the TESOL annual convention, the EEIS sponsors its Spotlight Author Session. Members of the EEIS look forward to attending this special event each year to listen to a local children's author discuss his or her writing, read from his or her books, and sell and sign books.

For the 2005 TESOL convention, "Teaching Learning, Learning Teaching: A Nexus in Texas," we are thrilled to have Naomi Shihab Nye, from San Antonio, Texas. Shihab Nye is a poet, essayist, songwriter, and author of books for children and young adults. She has been awarded two Jane Addams Children's Book Awards. Her children's novel, Habibi (Simon and Schuster, Children's Publishing Division, 1997) has received several awards: ALA Best Book for Young Adults, ALA Notable Children's Book, New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age, and American Bookseller's "Pick of the Lists" award, as well as the Jane Addams Book Award. It has been translated into German and Hebrew.

Her other children's titles include:

  • The Flag of Childhood: Poems from the Middle East, Aladdin Paperbacks, 2002 [reprint]
  • Sitti's Secrets [Picture Book], illustrated by Nancy Carpenter, Simon and Schuster Children's, 1997.
  • Baby Radar [Picture Book], illustrated by Nancy Carpenter, HarperCollins Children's Books, 2003
  • 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East (A National Book Award Finalist), HarperCollins Publishers, 2002
  • The Tree is Older than You Are: Poems and Paintings from Mexico, Simon and Schuster Children's, 1998
  • A Maze Me: Poems for Girls, illustrated by Terre Maher HarperCollins Children's Books, to be published March 15, 2005

Naomi was born in St. Louis, Missouri. Her mother is American and her father is Palestinian. She published her first poem when she was only 7 years old. At age 14, she attended high school in Jerusalem. Later, her family moved to San Antonio, where she attended Trinity University and continues to live with her photographer husband, Michael Nye, and their son.

The cultures she has encountered have influenced her writing and point of view. She writes about the Arab American and Mexican American cultures and their influences on her life. Her poetry and fiction often explore the similarities and differences between cultures.

Habibi is the story of a young Arab-American girl, Liyana, living in the United States. Her father announces that the family will move from St. Louis to Palestine. Although her father grew up in Palestine, Liyana knows very little about her family's Arab heritage. Liyana's grandmother and her other relatives, living in the West Bank, are strangers to Liyana and speak a language she does not understand.

In the chapter "Remember Me," Liyana comments that the most difficult thing about moving overseas is that no one but your own family has a "memory of you" (p. 84). She felt that "it was like putting yourself back together with little pieces" (p. 84). How many of our students feel the same way about their own first days in America?

As noted on the back cover of the book, Habibi has received high marks from the following publications:

Publishers Weekly gave Habibi a starred review, describing it as "A soul-stirring novel."

The Houston Chronicle wrote: "This is the work of a poet, not a polemicist. The very title, an Arabic form of endearment that has been adopted into everyday Hebrew, bespeaks a vision of a gentler world in which kisses are more common than gunshots."

The School Library Journal commented: "Readers will be engaged by the character, the romance, the foreshadowed danger. Poetically imaged and leavened with humor, the story renders layered and complex history understandable through character and incident. Habibi succeeds in making the hope for peace, compelling, personal and concrete."

Bill Moyers interviewed Naomi Shihab Nye for his Language of Life poetry series in the 1990s and again for his weekly television program, NOW, in 2002. The interview and excerpts from her poetry appear on the Web site:

Announcements and Information Memories of Home: A Special Project on Culture

By Michelle De Cou-Landberg,

EEIS has received funding from TESOL for a Special Project on Culture. We feel very excited and hope that many of you will participate and invite participation from colleagues in the production of Memories of Home, a 40-page booklet featuring poetry, other writings, and illustrations by ESOL students. This booklet will be distributed at the 2005 TESOL convention in San Antonio, Texas, in the United States. Teachers will be able to share the booklet with their mainstream colleagues and students, not only at their school level, but also at district and state levels. All students whose work has been selected to appear in the booklet will receive an official certificate of appreciation.

A Celebration of Cultures

The intent of the Special Project is to provide a snapshot of a culture through a child's eyes, be it in the form of art, poetry, or other forms of writing. For students who wish to express their memories in their home or heritage language along with writings in English, we will strive to include those writings to recognize and honor the children's heritage languages as they learn English. Early childhood teachers can work with preschoolers to help them to express their thoughts of what they remember of home.

Every year that EEIS has displayed ESOL students' artwork at the TESOL convention, it has provided another opportunity to share cultures with educators. The selected artwork for Memories of Home will be displayed at the EEIS booth at TESOL.

A Celebration of Teachers

This Special Project is also an opportunity for elementary educators to be recognized for their creativity and professionalism and the important contributions they make to education. Elementary educators will convincingly demonstrate that drawing on ESOL students' backgrounds gives these students a chance to shine and, at the same time, furthers their academic competence.

Guidelines for the Memories of Home Booklet:

Deadline: November 29, 2004, is the deadline for the collection of all documents. All artwork should be matted and accompanied by a label, as described above, and sent to me (see contact information listed at the end of this article). Selected artwork will be displayed at the 39th Annual TESOL Convention in San Antonio, Texas, March 30-April 2, 2005, and will be returned to students afterwards. Because access to computers varies according to school districts, we are still in the process of determining which format to choose, but will let you know shortly how to submit written essays and poems.

To submit material or for additional information and questions about the Memories of Home booklet, please contact me at the following:

Michelle De Cou-Landberg
1686 Moorings Drive
Reston, VA 20190-4225
Tel: 703-471-4995

Michelle De Cou-Landberg is the Elementary Education Interest Section Immediate Past Chair and Special Project Coordinator.

About This Member Community TESOL's ESOL in Elementary Education Interest Section (EEIS)

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 Leaders, 2004-2005

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

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