Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Exploring Halloween and Día de los Muertos

SkeletonWith Halloween and Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) next week, these resources provide thematic activities that include support for English language learners. For additional thematic resources, visit the ReadWriteThink calendar entry on Halloween.

The ReadWriteThink lesson Collaborating on a Class Book: Exploring Before-During-After Sequences (E) explores collaborative writing with examples that focus on carving pumpkins. The activities include the kinds of guided instruction and collaborative learning outlined in “Teaching and Learning in English: What Works,” the sample chapter from NCTE's Language Learners in the English Classroom.

The Voices from the Middle article “I Am the Immigrant in My Classroom?” (M-S-C) outlines a Día de los Muertos observance that culminates in students sharing biographical sketches of deceased family members or friends. The activities draw on students’ personal experiences, family traditions, and cultural backgrounds, all aspects that benefit students by recognizing their specific heritage.

The English Journal article “Scaring Up Some Unity: Bilingual Group Halloween Stories in the ESL Classroom” (M-S-C) uses parallel stories as models for multilingual storybooks on the Halloween theme. The collaborative learning activity included guided instruction through mini-lessons, which are keyed to the specific needs of student writers. The multilingual product that students create foregrounds the value of students’ home languages and encourages students compare the features in one language closely to those in another as they increase their knowledge of how the language they know and are learning work.

The ReadWriteThink lesson Teaching the Epic through Ghost Stories (M-S-C) connects our oral tradition of telling ghost stories with the oral tradition of the ancient epic narrators by inviting students to share their own oral tales of ghosts and goblins and monsters. The lesson includes guided instruction and scaffolding to support English language learners. The lesson includes suggestions for using a bilingual picture book of a Mexican ghost story to provide a model and extend the discussion to cultural differences in the genre.


Lynn Abbott-McCloud said...

While the two holidays share similar timing, I hope that teachers recognize that these are two ENTIRELY different holidays. Halloween, as celebrated in the US, is one filled w/scary images and spooky ghost stories. However, Dia de los Muertos is not frightening at all. It is a celebration and remembrance of the dead. I just want to remind teachers not to clump the two together as being the same. In fact, it would be interesting for students to compare the two holidays and the cultural attitudes of death.

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