Students With Interrupted Formal Education: Bridging Where They Are and What They Need


Brenda K. Custodio & Judith B. O’Loughlin

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    Praise for Students With Interrupted Formal Education

    “Students with limited or interrupted formal education are a growing population in our schools and one that few of our teachers are prepared to serve well. Their social and educational needs are often quite different from those of the majority of culturally and linguistically diverse students and other English as an additional language learners. This book has many resources and suggestions for assistance with serving the needs of these students. Additionally I am glad to see the book addresses resiliency and culture shock, as these are two areas frequently overlooked in textbooks for teachers working with these challenging students.”

    —Catherine Collier, PhD, Director CrossCultural Developmental Education Services Ferndale, WA

    “With Students With Interrupted Formal Education: Bridging Where They Are and What They Need, Custodio and O’Loughlin have produced an important resource for teachers, school leaders, teacher educators, and community leaders. The authors show readers the many challenges that students with interrupted formal education (SIFE) face and provide critical background information on these English learners. Then the authors give specific strategies for supporting these students academically, socially, and culturally. They include checklists, application ideas, and bibliographies. This book is a must-read for all those working with SIFEs.”

    —Yvonne Freeman, Professor Emerita The University of Texas at Brownsville Brownsville, TX

    “In a much-needed new resource, Brenda Custodio and Judith O’Loughlin address a unique subgroup of English learners with empathy, aptitude, and critical insight. Students With Interrupted Formal Education: Bridging Where They Are and What They Need provides a comprehensive picture of the complex context and rich diversity among SIFEs, while it also offers field-tested, ready-to-use, specific suggestions on how to create a positive support system for SIFEs that lead to student success! I am excited to see the well-deserved attention the authors have given to this hard-to-reach and sometimes underserved group of students.”

    —Andrea Honigsfeld, PhD, Associate Dean and EdD, Program Director Molloy College Rockville Centre, NY

    “Custodio and O’Loughlin provide a thorough yet focused discussion of SIFE and what teachers can do to support them. Their text is recommended for those who work with these students and for those who prepare them to do so.”

    —Timothy A. Micek, DA, Associate and Director Ohio Dominican University and MATESOL Columbus, OH

    “Finally, we have an insightful and timely comprehensive resource for our schools that will be immensely helpful to serving the growing numbers of refugee and immigrant children in our classrooms today! So many of these children have fled severe persecution, war, and poverty, which means months or even years of missed schooling. With a deeply compassionate perspective based on their years of rich experience and research, Custodio and O’Loughlin cover it all in this book. Both vulnerable and resilient, these children have shown how successful they can be when classrooms are welcoming and build on their strengths. This practical book will provide educators—and all those who care about these children—with just the information and resources they need. Bravo to Custodio and O’Loughlin—they have produced the first book of its kind that will be critical to the success of these children and our increasingly global education system!”

    —Lyn Morland, MSW, MA, Research Fellow Bank Street College of Education, Center for Culturally Responsive Practice New York, NY

    “This seminal work is the fruit of extensive research and many years of classroom experience on the part of the authors, who truly represent the vanguard in working with students with interrupted formal education. With clarity and precision, it offers practical steps that teachers, other educational professionals, and districts at large can take to champion these students to academic and social success. Designed with great compassion for an increasingly significant student population, it is indispensable for both seasoned and younger educators alike. Especially in light of today’s political climate, it outlines extensive and highly innovative strategies that draw upon students’ previous knowledge and background to reveal what is essential for their education and acculturation.”

    —Bruce Williams, PhD, Graduate Director, Bilingual Education and ESL William Paterson University, Department of Languages and Cultures Wayne, NJ


    I dedicate this book to Columbus (OH) City Schools and The Ohio State University. Together they have shaped my professional and academic life.

    —Brenda Custodio

    I dedicate this book to my husband, Joseph, and my daughters, Jennifer Petraglia and Amy Morse, for all their support and encouragement in every endeavor I undertake.

    I also dedicate this book to my Aunt Carrie Testa (1923–2016) who reminded me often that life was an adventure, no matter what the obstacles, detours, and wrong turns I might take.

    —Judith O’Loughlin


    We know that many English learners struggle in U.S. elementary and secondary schools because they are expected to learn academic English and subject area curricula at the same time. As English learners they are not yet proficient in English, but they are held to the same standards and accountability benchmarks as native English speakers with only some modest accommodations regarding how soon and in what manner they must take high-stakes assessments, which in most states are offered solely in English. The burden this situation places on the students, their teachers, and their schools is unfair; and test results are not valid indicators of student knowledge, but it is today’s reality.

    We also know that although English learners are often lumped together as one subgroup in the PK-12 school population, they have very diverse linguistic, cultural, and academic backgrounds. While over 70% of the English learners in our schools were born in the United States, others have come to our country as immigrants, refugees, and asylees. Many have come with family members and some have been unaccompanied. Some have had smooth journeys and others, traumatic ones. Some have left behind happy memories and others, turmoil and despair. Most however arrive with the hope for a better future. Among the new arrivals are the learners this book focuses on, Students with Interrupted Formal Education, or SIFE. They are a small subset of all the English learners but they are particularly vulnerable and their success in school is not guaranteed. They have the farthest to go to catch up to their English-speaking peers. And when they enter our schools and programs at middle and high school, they face significant social and academic challenges and a limited period of time to master all the content needed for graduation and become proficient in academic English.

    In some school districts these students enter specially designed newcomer programs that can ease their integration and build background knowledge for school courses, but in others they are placed in regular ESL or bilingual classrooms where the curricula may not be suited to their needs (DeCapua, Smathers & Tang, 2009; Short & Boyson, 2012). These students have not had schooling on par with their age-level peers. They may have missed a few years because of war, geography, or the inability to pay school fees, or they may have never attended school because they lived in a refugee camp. Some may have literacy in their native language, but many do not. Yet, the gaps in their education do not reflect a lack of intelligence or motivation to learn, just the lack of opportunity. In fact, these students by many reports are among the most eager to be studying in school.

    One of the guiding principles of effective English language teaching is for educators to know their students. To best educate students with interrupted formal education, we need to know their backgrounds and interests, and understand their needs. These needs go far beyond English literacy development and other academic goals.

    And that in a nutshell captures the value of this book. Besides discussing academic strategies and program supports, Custodio and O’Loughlin familiarize educators to the sociocultural and socioemotional needs of SIFE. They provide key background information on these students’ languages and cultures, and in some cases conflicts that have occurred in their home countries. They describe in rich detail some of the personal challenges (such as dealing with trauma experienced in their home country or getting along with a parent not seen in 10 years) and family challenges (such as finding housing and jobs) that these learners face. In addition, they suggest steps that teachers and other school staff can take to create a climate that welcomes the students and alleviates some of their concerns while also giving them resources to adjust socially and thrive academically.

    In Chapter 1, educators can learn about the diversity among SIFE and consider the type of information that schools should collect upon their enrollment to learn the students’ backgrounds, educational gaps, and knowledge they bring to school more fully. Chapter 2 describes important factors in immigrant youth’s home countries and educational systems that have bearing on their families’ expectations for schooling and life in the United States. The push and pull of immigration is discussed as are the uncertainties and limited opportunities some of the families confront in the United States. The focus of Chapter 3 is on refugees and the resettlement process. Particularly useful are the descriptions of some of the more frequently resettled groups, and what strengths they have that educators can develop further and what challenges they face that educators should prepare for.

    The second half of the book, Chapters 4 and 5, helps educators pull together what they have learned about their students to create programs that address their sociocultural, socioemotional, and academic needs. Practical tools are included here, such as strategies to strengthen student resiliency, checklists for guiding teacher behaviors in class and for establishing a positive school climate, lists of books and guidelines for selecting others that are appropriate for SIFE, a sample standards-based lesson plan, and a student observation form to help measure performance. Recommendations for programming are explained, from newcomer and expanded learning programs to sheltered instruction classes and assistance with postsecondary options. Nonacademic supports, such as wraparound services for families and connections to the community networks, are also explored.

    This book, Students With Interrupted Formal Education: Bridging Where They Are and What They Need, offers a “whole child” approach to serving this at-risk student population. English learners, and SIFE especially, are often defined by what they lack, be it English proficiency, subject area knowledge, or cultural competence. The compassion that Custodio and O’Loughlin feel for these students, the commitment they have to educating them well, and the comprehension they have of the assets these learners bring to the classroom is evident in the writing, tools, and vignettes they share.

    As Gándara (2015) has noted, strengths of English learners include knowledge of the native language (they are emerging bilinguals), resiliency, problem-solving skills, collaborative learning styles, the ability to consider different perspectives, and motivation. This book acknowledges these qualities and will help educators build on them. Use the book to generate productive conversations in professional learning communities and study groups to better understand your students and give them the best educational, socioemotional, and sociocultural supports possible. Help ensure the promise of a better future for them.

    —Deborah Short


    This book has been several years in creation. As we, the authors, have worked with the educators of English learners across the country, we continue to see a rise in the number of students who are entering our classrooms with significant gaps in their academic knowledge. For many of these students, the main cause of these gaps is the limited formal education they experienced in their home country. We will examine the situations that created this interrupted education and give suggestions for helping students find internal and external supports that will help bridge those gaps and lead to academic success.

    Before you begin reading, we want to state up front that we are basing this book on certain critical underlying assumptions. The first and foremost of these assumptions is that these students can learn and progress, often at an alarming speed. But they will need time, attention, and a specific focus. They have unique needs that may not be met in the typical ESL or bilingual classroom, and certainly cannot be met in the typical mainstream classroom without intensive support when they first arrive. Those supports can be tapered off as the student begins to close in on his or her peers, but they cannot be ignored.

    Second, we believe that culture counts with all students, and that a certain level of knowledge of the history and background of each student is important. It helps us as adults build empathy for the experiences and perspective of the students in our classrooms. We do not have to be experts on each language and culture, but we do need a basic understanding of the political, religious, and cultural backgrounds of our students.

    We also strongly believe that we teach a whole child and that education is not limited to academic knowledge alone. We must meet the physical, emotional, and social needs of our students in order for them to be “ready to learn.” A child who is sick, afraid, angry, or hungry is not going to be able to concentrate. It is our responsibility as human beings to take care of all our children.


    Writing this book has been a wonderful and collaborative experience for both of us, from the first time we sat down with Dan Alpert, Corwin Acquisitions Editor, at the TESOL Convention in Toronto and described our ideas for a book about students with interrupted formal education (SIFE). Dan listened, made suggestions, encouraged us, and helped us to believe that we could and should write this book. Dan made it obvious from the beginning that he believed in us and in the importance of this topic. In addition to Dan, we would also like to thank the Corwin team, especially Katie Crilley for her editorial suggestions and help through the production process, Maura Sullivan for her creative approach to cover design, and Lana Arndt and Amy Schroller for their tireless editing.

    There are others we would like to thank who have helped us as we wrote. We’d like to thank Barbara Page, who worked in the Saturday Newcomer Academy in Beaverton, and Mary Lou McCloskey with the Global Village Project for sharing information on amazing programs that support English learners outside the typical school day. Thanks to Luis F. Macias, Sonia Colon, and Jose Luis Morales Crispin who shared their perspective on Latino education issues. Thank you to the lawyers at Advocates for Basic Legal Equality for their tireless efforts to support unaccompanied minors.

    We want to express a very special thank you to all the resettlement workers in the United States and Canada who give of their time and talents to ease the transition for our refugee families. Additionally, we would like to thank Lehrhaus Judaica, San Francisco, ( for providing education programs to inform the public and encourage community members to help refugees in their community. We admire Jewish Family and Community Services, East Bay (, for their work encouraging volunteers to perform a variety of services for families, or to start and continue collection drives for resources needed by refugee families, as well a working toward finding safe homes for refugees in the Bay Area of San Francisco.

    We want to acknowledge all the participants in our various sessions across the country who have told us their stories and shared their experiences with us. They inspired us to continue writing and advocating for newcomers and students with interrupted education.

    Both of us would like to acknowledge the role that TESOL, Inc. has played in both of our professional lives, including the affiliates, NJTESOL-NJBE, CATESOL (California), and Ohio TESOL, in which we have been active as members and taken on leadership roles. We thank and admire John Segota, TESOL Associate Executive Director for Public Policy and Professional Relations, because he has taught us how to advocate for English learners at the local, state, and national levels. We have been inspired to advocate for SIFE English learners through the annual TESOL Advocacy and Policy sessions and speakers.

    We especially want to thank Dr. Deborah Short for the role she has played in shining a spotlight on newcomers across the country, as well as for her willingness to write the foreword for this book.

    We also want to acknowledge those educators listed below who took their valuable time to read and review this book. They helped shape and validate our work.

    Finally, I (Judith O’Loughlin) would like to thank and acknowledge Dr. Keumsil Kim Yoon and Dr. Bruce Williams at William Paterson University, Languages and Cultures Department for providing me with a Title VII Teacher Training Grant, which was the start of my journey as a teacher and advocate for English learners, newcomers, but especially for SIFE students.

    Publisher’s Acknowledgments

    Corwin gratefully acknowledges the contributions of the following reviewers:

    • Suzanne M. Carey
    • Special Education Teacher
    • Perth Amboy High School
    • Amboy, NJ
    • Brian E. Fernandes
    • Reading Specialist/Literacy Coach and Mentor
    • Hampden Meadows School
    • Barrington, RI
    • Dr. Marian K. Hermie
    • Retired Superintendent and Adjunct Faculty
    • Grand Canyon University
    • Phoenix, AZ
    • Ken Klopack
    • Art and Gifted Education Consultant
    • Chicago Public Schools
    • Chicago, IL
    • Karen Kozy-Landress
    • Pre-K Support Specialist
    • Brevard Public Schools
    • Titusville, FL
    • James L. Morrison
    • Educator and Financial Analyst
    • University of Oklahoma, College of Liberal Studies
    • Norman, OK
    • Chantal Normil, Ed.D.
    • Director of ESOL
    • Clayton County Public Schools
    • Jonesboro, GA
    • Olivia Elizondo Zepeda
    • Associate Superintendent
    • Gadsden Elementary School District #32
    • San Luis, AZ

    About the Authors

    Brenda Custodio is retired from Columbus City Schools (Ohio) where she served as a middle and high school ESL teacher, a district-level coach for secondary ESL teachers, and a building administrator of a newcomer secondary academy. She worked with the school district to help establish a newcomer program for middle and high school students with a large refugee population, most of whom had limited prior schooling. Dr. Custodio developed the program for use by Ohio State University to train alternative license candidates through a federal grant and served as a coach for several years for the teachers enrolled in the program. She has served as an educational consultant for several school districts in Ohio and has worked as a teacher trainer for the Ohio Department of Education on the topics of refugee education and unaccompanied minors. She has developed curriculum and programming for both high school and adult refugee students with limited home language literacy. Her professional responsibilities have included president and conference chair of Ohio TESOL, chair of the Secondary Schools Interest Section and the Refugee Concerns Interest Section of TESOL, Inc., and membership on the international Professional Development Committee. She has been awarded the Winston Churchill Traveling Fellowship Grant to visit Australia, the Moira McKenzie Literacy Grant to work with Dr. Gay Su Pennell, and is a five-time recipient of the Ameritech Impact II Grant. She received the Ohio TESOL Outstanding Achievement Award twice, and also the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award by the same organization. Dr. Custodio is currently preparing preservice and inservice teachers at the Ohio State University to work in second-language classrooms. As a frequent presenter at both the state and national level, she has presented on the topics of literacy development for adolescents, unique needs of refugee students, culturally diverse classrooms, newcomer programming, and students with interrupted formal education. Her first book on the topic of Newcomers has led to site visits in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, Florida, Minnesota, Washington, California, Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Toronto, Ontario.

    Judith B. O’Loughlin, an independent education consultant, has 25 years of experience as an English, ESL, and special education teacher. She has taught ESL at K–12, adult education, and graduate levels in university endorsement programs in New Jersey, Missouri, Massachusetts, Kansas, and Ohio. She is currently a bilingual/ESL eCoach for preservice candidates for The Ohio State University “Transition to Teaching” grant. While teaching in New Jersey, Judith worked as a consultant with the New Jersey Department of Education, Office of Bilingual/ESL Education on standards and assessment for English learners, developed a draft of ESL/ELA Standards, low-incidence ESL programming and instruction, and provided inservice sessions throughout the state about sheltered instruction for English learners in mainstream classrooms. As an independent consultant, Judith focuses on standards-based curriculum, instructional strategies, differentiated instruction, addressing the needs of newcomers, formative assessment, and collegial collaboration for ESL and mainstream co-teaching. Recently, Judith was an invited presenter at the 2014 TESOL Academy in Columbus Ohio, June 20–21, 2014, and Stockton University, New Jersey, on June 19–20, 2015. For the latter program, she worked with 25 visiting linguistic professors from Pakistan. Her topic focused on ELL Writing and Formative Assessment. She is a certified WIDA Consultant in Standards and Assessment, as well as a Pearson SIOP Certified Trainer. Ms. O’Loughlin previously served on the NJTESOL-NJBE Executive Board as president, and currently serves on both the CATESOL Board of Directors as Conference Services Coordinator and Advocacy, as well as the CATESOL Education Foundation vice president. She is also the 2015–2017 chair of the TESOL Standards Professional Council. Ms. O’Loughlin was the 2015 CATESOL Sadae Iwataki Service Award recipient and one of the TESOL “50 at 50” recognized leaders in the field, as nominated by her peers. She has previously received the 2003 Seton Hall University, Multicultural Education Teacher of the Year and the 2001 NJTESOL-NJBE Leadership Award.

  • Glossary

    Academic language:

    a learner’s oral and written language, including vocabulary, sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, and discourse style, used in school interactions.

    Academic vocabulary:

    the oral and written vocabulary used in classroom texts, discussions, and interactions related to academic content.


    a Spanish slang term used to describe a person who receives money for assisting immigrants attempting to cross the southern border from Mexico into the United States.

    Culture shock:

    a feeling of disorientation as a result of a change in environment, experiencing a new way of life, or a set of beliefs different from one’s own. English learners experiencing culture shock go through a series of phases before acculturation/adjustment to the new culture is achieved.


    the acronym for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. This “executive action” was issued by President Obama to aid children who came to the United States before their 16th birthday. These children are permitted to reside in the United States legally to work and/or attend post-secondary education. Details of the conditions for applying for DACA status can be found at

    Durable solution:

    the term used by the United Nations High Commission on Refugees to describe a long-term placement for a refugee, whether the refugee will eventually return to his or her home country, remain in the country of flight, or resettle in a third country.


    an acronym for English Language Development. This term in used specifically for the development of English-language skills in conjunction with the development of academic skills in programs for English learners.


    an acronym for English-language learner. It is a designation assigned to students for whom English is not their first language. Students may be placed in bilingual and/or English as a Second Language (ESL) programs to assist in the development of social and academic English skills. Note: Recently school districts across the United States have been using EL, or English learner, more frequently than ELL. The authors have chosen EL throughout the text as the preferred designation for English learners.


    an acronym for English as a Second Language, programs designed for English learners to build both social and academic language skills. (In some U.S. states, the term ESOL, English to speakers of other languages, is used in place of ESL.)

    Green card:

    is the government identity card used to indicate and identify that a person has permission to live and work in the United States.


    describes a person who speaks Spanish as a native or first language, or whose heritage is based in a country or culture in which Spanish is the primary language.


    the government document a refugee receives indicating he or she has been officially accepted into the United States. This document is used for approximately 1 year until a “green card” is received.


    a person who leaves his or her native country to live in another country, usually with the intention of remaining and often applying for legal status and/or citizenship.


    a linguistics term identifying a variation of pitch or tone in speaking used for expression of attitude or emotion and used when asking a question, issuing a command, persuading, or expressing an opinion.


    identifies a person who speaks a language based on the Latin language, specifically Spanish, French, and Portuguese in the Western hemisphere.


    an acronym for limited English proficiency. This term was used for a number of years by educators and the U.S. Department of Education to describe students who were not yet proficient enough in English to be able to access classroom instruction without some level of support. The term has gone out of favor at all levels because of its emphasis on student limitations rather than student abilities.


    items such as buttons, markers, tiles, dice, plastic letters, sentence strips, picture sequences, students can move and utilize to assist when learning academic concepts and using academic language.

    McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Improvement Act:

    the law that oversees the federal assistance of homeless people throughout the United States. McKinney-Vento provides support for homeless children with access to education and other services to ensure that homeless children have the same opportunities as other students to achieve academic standards. (See

    Migration narrative:

    a story based on a person’s move from one location to another. It is used as a strategy to help English learners validate their experiences, overcome culture shock, and acculturate to their new location.

    Newcomer program:

    a set of classes or a curriculum designed to help new arrivals to the country orient to the present school and make the cultural and academic adjustment.


    students who have just arrived from their birth country or another country, many with little or no apparent second-language skills, and frequently with limited native-language academic skills.


    identifies the Office of Refugee Resettlement, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services. This division oversees the resettlement of refugees brought to the country through the State Department. (See

    Picture books:

    books in which illustrations are an integral part of the narrative. Picture books are often shorter in length, with a specific fictional or factual theme or focus; the picture book genre may include themes and topics from literature, social studies, and science.

    Plyler v. Doe:

    the Supreme Court case, decided in 1982, that prevents all P–12 schools from denying enrollment of children based on immigration status. (See

    Political asylum:

    defines a refugee’s request to be able to stay in a country outside one’s native land, based on a claim of danger. (See

    Readers’ Theater:

    an instructional use of dramatic reading, usually involving a text written in play format, in which students read aloud individual assigned passages with fluency and expression. Readers’ Theater scripts have four to six roles and are read in a classroom setting without the inclusion of sets, props, or costumes.


    artifacts that can be touched and handled by students to provide concrete examples of objects, such as foods, menus, clothing, and other objects used for a variety of tasks and occupations. Realia, or real objects, facilitate oral language production between students and between students and teacher.


    from the French, is a term that refers to the danger a refugee may face upon returning to his or her home country if the situation that caused the departure has not been resolved.


    a person who, owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is living outside the country of his or her nationality. The United Nations High Commission on Refugees determines the conditions that designate who is a refugee.


    the act of returning, voluntarily, to one’s home country, usually after being declared a refugee.


    the ability to recover from or adjust to change. For students who have experienced culture shock, trauma, tragedy, and/or significant stress, such as serious health problems or deaths of loved ones, as with immigrants, refugees, and/or students with interrupted formal education, it is the ability and the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties from past experiences. With the help of trained school personnel recovery can be accomplished.

    Resiliency wheel:

    provides the key elements of resiliency building to address the needs of learners in a school setting. A resiliency wheel provides teachers with six key elements to help create a positive learning environment. The resiliency wheel is based on a body of resilience research. (See N. Henderson. in Havens of Resilience, at

    Section 504:

    a part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. It is a civil rights statute that prohibits discrimination, exclusion from participation in any school activity or program, based on a temporary or permanent disabling condition. These conditions substantially limit student participation when the student is measured against a non-disabled peer. This includes students with chronic illnesses, low vision, impaired hearing, movement disorders, conduct disorders, behavioral disorders, and/or disorders which temporarily disable a child. Both modifications and accommodations are determined to help students successfully participate in academic and social school activities. (See for a sample list of accommodations.)

    Sentence frames:

    scaffolds that provide the basic structure of a sentence, with strategically placed blanks into which a student adds a key vocabulary word, a key concept, or use compare/contrast or persuasive language to complete a prompt. Sentence frames assist English learners in formulating a complete thought.

    Sentence starters:

    similar to sentence frames. With sentence starters, only the beginning of the sentence is provided to help students express a key concept, supporting idea, or define a vocabulary term.


    an acronym for students with interrupted formal education. SIFE learners have experienced interruptions in first-language education in their home country due to a number of circumstances, such as war, terrorism, lack of financial resources, religious or racial persecution, or family circumstances. (SLIFE, a more recently used acronym for students with limited or interrupted formal education, adds a focus on students who also have limited literacy in their home language.)

    Story frames:

    provide the basic outline of a story, with key introductory words or phrases so that students can use inference skills, prior knowledge, or learning to sequentially complete the frames to develop a narrative.


    an acronym for Settlement Workers in Schools, a Canadian government program that places case workers in the schools with large numbers of refugee children. The workers serve as liaisons between the school and the families of the children. (See

    Toxic questions:

    questions that permit and may even encourage learner passivity. Toxic questions require no more than a single word response, a nod, raised shoulders, and discourage extended discourse needed to practice oral academic language. (See Multilingual Educator [2016], at


    an acronym for total physical response. It is a language-teaching method developed by James Asher (1969) that combines learning vocabulary with commands, movement, and activity.


    an acronym for Temporary Protective Status. It is an immigration status granted to eligible nationals of countries with citizens designated as in need of this protection. Holders of this status are permitted to stay and to work for a certain period of time because conditions in the home country make it dangerous or inadvisable for nationals to return, including natural disasters, political uprisings, and so on. (See


    a physical or emotional deeply disturbing experience, possibly leading to long-term cognitive, physical, and/or emotional difficulties.


    in education, it refers to creating student groups consisting of three members. Students may be grouped homogeneously by first/native lingual, language development, academic ability, or heterogeneously.

    Unaccompanied minors:

    the general term for the children who cross the border without the protection of a parent or guardian. The term usually refers to children who cross the southern border with Mexico, but it can also refer to other minors who enter the United States alone. (The term UAC or Unaccompanied Alien Child is the government term for such children.)


    the United Nations High Commission on Refugees, the division of the United Nations that oversees the safety and possible resettlement of refugees. (See


    an acronym for Volunteer Agency, which refers to the nine national agencies that resettle refugees in the United States. (See


    an acronym for World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment. It represents a consortium of 39 states whose departments of education have banded together to develop English proficiency standards and assessments that are used across the Consortium. (See

    Picture Book Resources for 5E Science Lesson on Water Conservation

    Butzow, J., & Butzow, C. (2000). Science through children’s literature: An integrated approach. Portsmouth, NH: Teacher Ideas Press.

    Ganeri, A. (2005). Down the drain: Conserving water (you can save the planet). Chicago, IL: Heinemann.

    Green, J. (2005). Why should I save water? Hauppauge, NY: Barrons Educational Services.

    Hooper, M., & Coady, C. (2015). The drop in my drink: The story of water on our planet. London, UK: Frances Lincoln Children’s Books.

    Kaye, C. B., & Cousteau, P. (2012). Make a splash! A kid’s guide to protecting our oceans, lakes, rivers, and wetlands. Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit Publishing.

    Kerley, B. (2006). A cool drink of water. National Geographic Children’s Books.

    Locker, T. (1997). Water dance. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

    McKinney, B. (1998). A drop around the world. Nevada City, CA: Dawn Publications.

    Miyares, D. (2015). Float. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers.

    Paul, M. (2015). Water is water: A book about the water cycle. New York, NY: Roaring Book Press.

    Rajinsky, N. M., & John, M. (2003). Water up, down, and all around. North Mankato, MN: Capstone Publishers.

    Strauss, R. (2007). One well: The story of water on earth (CitizenKid). Toronto, Canada: Kids Can Press.

    Wick, W. (1997). A drop of water. New York, NY: Scholastic Press.

    List of Recommended Picture Books for Use With SIFE

    Adjustment to School/Learning English/Value of Education

    Anzaldua, G. (1997). Friends from the other side/Amigos del otro lado. San Francisco, CA: Children’s Book Press. (In English and Spanish.)

    Aliki. (1998). Mariantha’s story: Painted words and spoken memories. New York, NY: Greenwillow Books.

    Bunting, E. (2001). Dreaming of America: An Ellis Island story. Mahwah, NJ: Troll Communications.

    Bunting, E. (2006). One green apple. New York, NY: Clarion Books.

    Choi, Y. (2003). The name jar. New York, NY: Dragonfly Books.

    Elya, S. M. (2006). Home at last. New York, NY: Lee and Low Books.

    Garland, S. (1997). The lotus seed. Boston, MA: HMH Books for Young Readers.

    Hest, A. (2003). When Jesse came across the sea. Somerville, MA: Candlewick.

    Hoffman, M. (2012). The color of home. London, UK: Francis Lincoln.

    Jimenez, F. (2000). La Mariposa. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin.

    Jules, J. (2007). No English. Ann Arbor, MI: Mitten Press.

    Levine, E. (1995). I hate English. New York, NY: Scholastic Paperbacks.

    Mobine-Uddin., A. (2005). My name is Bilal. Honesdale, PA: Boyds-Mill Press.

    Park, F. (2012). Where on earth is my bagel? New York, NY: Lee and Low Books.

    Perez, A. I. (2013). My diary from here to there. Mi diario de aqui hasta Alla. San Francisco, CA: Children’s Book Press. (In English and Spanish.)

    Recoorvitis, H. (2014). My name is Yoon. New York, NY: Square Fish.

    Rodriguez, L. J. (1998). America is her name. Evanston, IL: Curbstone Books.

    Say, A., (2008). Grandfather’s journey. Boston, MA: HMH Books for Young Readers.

    Stanek, M. (1989). I speak English for my mom. Park Ridge, IL: Albert Whitman & Co.

    Stojic, M. (2002) Hello world: Greetings in 43 languages around the world. New York, NY: Scholastic.

    Wells, R. (1989). Streets of gold. New York, NY: Dial Publishers.

    Wells, R. (2009). Yoko. Burbank, CA: Disney-Hyperion.

    Williams, K. (2009). My name is Sangoel. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers.

    Williams, K. L. (2016). Four feet, two sandals. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

    Basic Concept Books (Alphabet, Numbers, Colors and Shapes, Parts of the Body, Clothing, Senses, Seasons, Weather, School, Transportation, Family, etc.)

    Aliki. (1989). My five senses. New York: NY: Harper Trophy.

    Carle, E. (1994). The very hungry caterpillar. New York, NY: Philomel Books.

    Carle, E. (1996). Brown bear, brown bear. New York, NY: Henry Holt & Co.

    Carle, E. (2007). Slowly, slowly, said the sloth. London, UK: Puffin Books.

    Kovalski, M. (1987). The wheels on the bus. Boston, MA: Joy Street Books.

    Kubler, A. (2002). Head, shoulders, knees and toes. Child’s Play International.

    Morris, A. (1989). Bread, bread, bread. New York, NY: Scholastic.

    Morris, A. (2001). Houses and homes. New York, NY: Harper Collins.

    Toms, K. (2009). Old MacDonald had a farm. Berkhamsted, UK: Make Believe Books.

    Alphabet Books (Available On Practically Every Subject)

    Ada, A. F., & Silva, S. (2001). Gathering the sun. New York, NY: Rayo. (In Spanish.)

    Cooper, E. (2015). An animal alphabet. New York, NY: Orchard Books.

    Ehlert, L. (1989). Eating the alphabet: Fruits and vegetables from A to Z. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace.

    Herman, S. (2003). Mexico ABCs. Minneapolis, MN: Picture Window Books.

    Krebs, L. (2004). We all went on safari. Cambridge, MA: Barefoot Books.

    Onyefulu, I. (1997). A is for Africa. London, UK: Puffin Books.

    Schwartz, D. (2000). G is for Googol: A math alphabet book. New York, NY: Tricycle Press.

    Wildsmith, B. (2009). Brian Wildsmith’s amazing animal alphabet. Cambridge, MA: Star Bright Books.

    Counting Books

    Arena, J., & Gilpin, S. (2013). 100 snowmen. New York, NY: Lions Publishers.

    Falwell, C. (1995). Feast for 10. Boston, MA: HMH Books for Young Readers.

    Hutchins, P. (1989). The doorbell rang. New York, NY: Greenwillow Books.

    McGrath, B. (1994). The M & M’s counting book. New York, NY: Scholastic.

    Milbourne, A. (2008). How big is a million? London, UK: Usborne Publishers Limited.

    Ross, T. (2003). Centipede’s one hundred shoes. New York, NY: Henry Holt & Co.

    Shahan, S., & Barragan, P. (2005). Cool cats counting. Atlanta, GA: August House Publishers.

    Stiegemeyer, J. (2008). Gobble, gobble, crash: A barnyard counting bash. New York: NY: Dutton Children’s Books.

    Mathematics Concept Books

    Adler, D., & Miller, E. (2010). Fractions, decimals, and percents. New York, NY: Holiday House.

    Adler, D., & Miller, E. (2013). Perimeter, area, and volume: A monster book of dimensions. New York, NY: Holiday House.

    Adler, D., & Miller, E. (2000). Shape up! Fun with triangles and other polygons. New York, NY: Holiday House.

    Calvert, P. (2011). The multiplying menace divides. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge.

    Calvert, P. (2006). Multiplying menace: The revenge of Rumplestilskin. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge.

    Demi. (1997). One grain of rice. New York, NY: Scholastic.

    Dodds, D. A. (2005). The great divide: A mathematical marathon. Somerville, MA: Candlewick.

    Shaskan, T. S. (2008). If you were a fraction. Minneapolis, MN: Picture Window Books.

    Tang, G. (2004). The grapes of math. New York, NY: Scholastic Paperbacks.

    Colors and Shapes Books

    Bijsterbosch, A. (2015). Chameleon sees colors. New York, NY: Clavis.

    Chernesky, F. S. (2013). Pick a circle, gather squares: A fall harvest of shapes. Park Ridge, IL: Albert Whitman & Co.

    Khan, H. (2015). Golden domes and silver lanterns: A Muslim book of colors. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books.

    Loughrey, A. (2010). Circles (shapes around me). London, UK: QEB Publishing.

    Loughrey, A. (2010). Shapes around me: Squares. London, UK: QEB Publishing.

    Shahan, S. (2007). Spicy, hot colors. Atlanta, GA: August House.

    Wordless Books (Appropriate for Teaching Narration, Building Oral Literacy; Appropriate for Older Newcomers and Parent–Child Storytelling in Native Language)

    Banyai, I. (1998). Zoom (K–3). London, UK: Puffin Books.

    Becker, A. (2013). Journey (ages 4–8). Somerville, MA: Candlewick.

    Becker, A. (2014). Quest (ages 4–8). Somerville, MA: Candlewick.

    Becker, A. (2016). Return (ages 4–8). Somerville, MA: Candlewick.

    Boyd, L. (2014). Flashlight (ages 2–6). San Francisco, CA: New York, NY: Random House Books for Young Learners.

    dePaola, T. (1978). Pancakes for breakfast (ages 4–7). Boston, MA: HMH Books for Young Readers.

    Lehman, B. (2004). The red book (Pre-K–3/ages 4–7). Boston, MA: HMH Books for Young Readers.

    Lehman, B. (2006). Museum trip. Boston, MA: HMH Books for Young Readers.

    Miyares, D. (2015). Float. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

    Pinkney, J. (2009). The lion and the mouse. New York, NY: Little Brown Books for Young Learners.

    Schones, P. (2004). Breakfast for Jack. Honesdale, PA: Front Street.

    Tan, S. (2007). The arrival (ages 12–adult). New York, NY: Arthur A. Levine Books.

    Thomson, B. (2010). Chalk (ages 3–7). New York, NY: Two Lions.

    Weisner, D. (1991). Free fall. New York, NY: Harper Collins

    Weisner, D. (2006). Flotsam. Boston, MA: Clarion Books.

    Weisner, D. (2011). Tuesday. Boston, MA: HMH Books for Young Readers.

    Folk and Fairy Tales

    Brett, J. (1999). Gingerbread baby. New York, NY: Scholastic.

    Kimmel, E. (2000). The runaway tortilla. Cape Coral, FL: Winslow Press.

    Ward, J. (2007). There was a coyote who swallowed a fly. Lanham, MD: Rising Moon Books.

    Young, E. (1989). Lon Po Po: A Little Red Riding Hood story from China. New York, NY: Philomel Books.

    Social Studies: Community, History, and Biography

    Chesanow, N. (1995). Where Do I Live? Hauppauge, NY: Barrons.

    Guthrie, W., & Jakobsen, K. (1998). This land is your land. New York, NY: Scholastic.

    Knight, M. (2000). Africa is not a country. Minneapolis, MN: Millbrook Press.

    Maestro, B. (1996). Coming to America. New York, NY: Scholastic.

    Winter, J. (2005). Librarian of Basra. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.

    Winter, J. (2014). Malala/Iqbal. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.


    Bang, M., & Chisholm, P. (2009). Living sunlight: How plants bring the earth to life. New York, NY: Blue Sky Press.

    Carle, E. (2001). The tiny seed. New York, NY: Aladdin.

    Cherry, L. (1990). The great kapok tree. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace.

    Lawlor, L. (2012). Rachel Carson and her book that changed the world. New York, NY: Holiday House.

    Language Arts

    Bing, C. (2001). The midnight ride of Paul Revere. Brooklyn, NY: Handprint Books.

    Cronin, D. (2003). Diary of a worm. New York, NY: Harper Collins.

    Yamada, K. (2013). What do you do with an idea? Seattle, WA: Compendium.

    Cultures of the Students

    Cohn, D. (2009). Namaste! Great Barrington, MA: Steiner Books.

    King, D. (2010). I see the sun in Nepal. Hardwick, MA: Satya House Publications.

    Sockman, B. (2013). Nepal adventure. Lexington, KY: Building Peace Through Global Literacy.


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