Class newsletter teaches kids English language and journalism | PostIndependent.com
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Class newsletter teaches kids English language and journalism

Ivy Vogel

Before sitting down to write a story, journalists think about what they’re writing, how the story will be constructed, who needs to be interviewed and how to write the nut graf, or topic sentence, of the story.English language learners at Glenwood Springs Elementary are learning how to be journalists while honing their English reading and writing skills.In October, ELL teacher Kim Kappeli started a class newsletter called the ELL Times to encourage her students to practice reading and writing in English.”While most students learn to speak English very rapidly, learning to read and write in English takes much longer,” Kappeli wrote in the October newsletter. “Spanish-speaking students are used to reading and writing a language that has only five vowel sounds and a direct sound-letter correspondence for spelling.”Translation: The crazy way some English words, such as “stomach,” are spelled, is confusing to non-native English speakers.When students write in their Spanish journals, their entries are more fluent and longer than when they write in English, Kappeli said.When most of the students write in English, they don’t add as much detail as they would in Spanish because they’re concerned about spelling words correctly.”I try to encourage them to forget the spelling and just move forward,” Kappeli said.Kappeli believes that if her students are engaged in their topic, writing will be more natural, so she has each student pick their own topic.After reading a story about how people become U.S. citizens, Jesus Alfredo Carrillo, a fourth-grader, decided to write an article about what it means to be a citizen.Like most of Kappeli’s students, Carrillo verbally related the story to Kappeli before writing it on paper.”You can tell me a good story, but you can practice writing it on paper too,” Kappeli said.Following standards, Kappeli spends most of her class time helping students listen to and verbalize English.Familiarizing students with reading and spelling will hopefully improve scores on the Colorado Student Assessment Program, Kappeli said.The newsletter is distributed to every ELL parent and each classroom at Glenwood Springs Elementary.Contact Ivy Vogel: 945-8515, ext. 534ivogel@postindependent.com


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