In their new book, Beyond “Teaching to the Test”: Rethinking Accountability and Assessment for English Language Learners, literacy specialists Betsy Gilliland and
Shannon Pella explore ways teachers can provide a more equitable education for
English language learners.
Using fewer—but high-quality—texts can work better than using many texts, say Pella
and Gilliland. The benefits are varied:
Rather than having to struggle to keep up with the basic idea of many texts, ELLs only need to master the content of a few texts or even a single text before working on understanding the language structure and other textual elements.
“If you have one really good text, first they figure out what it means, but then they can access and start thinking about how it is constructed,” says Gilliland.
“Kids become experts on specific texts. They can tell you not just what it was about,
but how it was made and why it was made that way.”
Grammar can be taught in terms of its functionality within the text being studied,
says Gilliland, as opposed to saying, ” ‘here’s a rule, memorize it and then we
hope it transfers into your writing.’ ”
“Teachers might be surprised how much farther you can go with a single text in
teaching a variety of different things,” says Pella, who taught secondary school
English for 15 years. “That was one of my biggest ‘a-has’ as a high school and
middle school teacher.”
The pace of teaching slows when students go back again and again to just a handful of
texts, “taking time to really unpack and analyze them,” Pella says.
She believes this makes the learning experience “much more thoughtful, with more
depth,” than what occurs when teachers use rigid pacing guides.
And when ELLs develop awareness of text features, they can access the same grade-
level material their mainstream peers are using, Pella and Gilliland point out—which
Literacy specialists Betsy Gilliland and Shannon Pella offer a variety of insights on how teachers can provide a more equitable education for English language learners in Beyond “Teaching to the Test”: Rethinking Accountability and Assessment for English Language Learners, their new book from NCTE.
The progress ELLs make can go unrecognized in the face of low standardized test scores, so Pella and Gilliland recommend bringing these achievements to the attention of administrators and others within the school system, as well as to parents and community members.
“What I’m hoping is that teachers see themselves as the agents of accountability,” says Pella.
“When we take accountability into our own hands, we’re collecting and analyzing a variety of types of classroom assessment data in order to track and understand how well our English learners are growing.”
These data can help teachers explain to parents and the school community how well English learners are progressing, she says, which is “a totally different narrative than what the school may be able to show in one isolated test score.”
Some of the ways teachers can spread news about ELL student progress to parents and the community include:
Keeping parents updated through websites and monthly newsletters, translated if needed;
Calling parents, using an interpreter if needed (but not the child, in case there are matters you want to discuss confidentially);
Inviting the families to bilingual family nights, where parents, siblings and other relatives can see what the students are doing and participate in activities that show off the child’s abilities, such as creating a bilingual book in English and the student’s home language; and
Encouraging the school to host online or in-person events open to the community to share student work and achievements.
by Cathy Fleischer, Series Editor for NCTE’s Principles in Practice Imprint
The medley of words and acronyms used to describe those students who speak and write in languages other than English can be confusing to ELA teachers—especially for teachers who are not immersed in current research and practice surrounding the topic.
What is ESL? Is that different from ELL? And what do we mean by Generation 1.5 or LEP?
Why are these terms important? And why do they keep changing?
In a new strand of NCTE’s Principles in Practice Imprint, Teaching English Language Learners, the authors of the four books take the time to help those of us who feel a little confused.
They explain why they (mostly) use the term English language learner in these books and then share a collaboratively-written glossary of commonly used terms, carefully explaining what these terms mean, where the terms come from, and why how we name matters.
Read the full Statement of Terminology and Glossary below.
Cathy Fleischer’s note appeared in the September 2017 issue of The Council Chronicle as part of a focus on supporting English language learners. Read more in that issue.
Statement of Terminology and Glossary
Steven Alvarez, St. John’s University Betsy Gilliland, University of Hawai‘i Mānoa Christina Ortmeier-Hooper, University of New Hampshire Melinda J. McBee Orzulak, Bradley University Shannon Pella, California State University, Sacramento
As authors of the various books in the Teaching English Language Learners strand of the NCTE Principles in Practice (PIP) imprint, we have made a concerted effort to use consistent terminology in these volumes. All of us have thought long and hard about the ways in which we label and describe bilingual and ELL students and the programs that often provide these students with additional support. Even so, readers will notice some variation in terms used to describe students, classrooms, and teaching practices. The concern over terminology is part of a long-standing discussion and trends in the labeling of these students, as well as of the fields that conduct research on teachers and students working across languages to teach and learn English. Often the shifting among terms leads to confusion and contention for teachers, administrators, teacher educators, and policymakers.
To address this confusion and tension, we begin each book in this strand with a glossary of common terms and acronyms that are part of current discussions about meeting the needs of these students in English language arts classrooms and beyond. For many readers, the terms themselves and the ongoing shift to new terms can be alienating, the jargon dividing readers into insiders and outsiders. But often the shift in terms has a great deal to do with both policy and issues of identity for students. For example, up until the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001, most educational documents referred to these students as bilingual or ESL, both of which acknowledge that English is a second language and that a student has a first language as well.
The term English language learner was adopted with NCLB and brought into our schools and the larger public discourse. In fact, in 2002 the US Department of Education renamed the Office of Bilingual Education and Minority Languages Affairs. It became the Office of English Language Acquisition, Language Enhancement and Academic Achievement for Limited English Proficient Students, now identified simply as the Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA). The change indicated a shift away from acknowledging students’ home languages or bilingual abilities. Close to two decades later, the term English language learner remains prominent in educational policy and in many textbooks geared toward teachers and teacher educators. Its prominence and familiarity in the literature makes it an accessible way to talk about these students. Yet, as we have heard from many students through the years, the term English language learner can also be limiting. As one student asked, “When do I stop being an English language learner and get to just be an English language user?” The term also works against efforts to acknowledge the competencies and linguistically sophisticated talents these students have as translators, bilingual speakers, and cross-cultural negotiators.
In these PIP volumes, we use the term English language learner as a way to reach out to readers who see and hear this term regularly used in their schools, in their hallways, and in other helpful books in the field. However, some of us also use the terms multilingual or bilingual in order to encourage a discussion of these young people not simply as novice English learners but as individuals with linguistic and academic competencies they have gained from bilingual/multilingual experiences and literacies.
Bilingual, multilingual, or plurilingual: These terms refer to the ability to use (i.e., speak, write, and/or read) multiple languages. For many ELL-designated students in US schools, English is actually the third or fourth language they have learned, making bilingual not necessarily an accurate term.
Emergent bilingual: This term has been proposed as a more appropriate term than LEP or ELL, because it points to possibilities of developing bilingualism rather than focusing on language limits or deficiencies (García, 2009).
English as a foreign language (EFL): Refers to non-native English-speaking students who are learning English in a country where English is not the primary language.
English as an international language (EIL) or English as a lingua franca (ELF): These are terms used to refer to global conceptions of English, or English used for communication between members of various nations.
English as a second language (ESL): Readers may be most familiar with this term because it has been used as an overarching term for students, programs, and/or a field of study. Currently the term usually refers to programs of instruction (i.e., study of English in an English-speaking country); however, ESL was used in the past to refer to English language learning students.
English language learner (ELL): In keeping with the terminology used in the NCTE Position Paper on the Role of English Teachers in Educating English Language Learners (ELLs), this PIP strand employs the term ELL, which is commonly used in secondary schools as the short form of English language learner. The term refers to a complex, heterogeneous range of students who are in the process of learning English.
English learner (EL): This is the preferred term of the California Department of Education (and, increasingly, other states). California is the state with the largest number and percentage of emergent bilingual students enrolled in public schools. Over the past twenty years, California has moved from LEP to ELL and, most recently, from ELL to EL.
First language (L1) and second language (L2):L1 has been used to refer to students’ “mother tongue” or “home language” as they learn additional languages (referred to as L2).
Generation 1.5: This term, originally used in higher education, often refers to students who have been long-term residents in the United States but who were born abroad (although the term is sometimes also used to refer to US-born children of recent immigrants). The designation of 1.5 describes their feelings of being culturally between first- and second-generation immigrants; they are often fluent in spoken English but may still be working to command aspects of written English, especially academic writing. As long-term residents, these students may reject ESL as a term that has been used to refer to recent immigrants to the United States.
Limited English proficiency (LEP): This abbreviation may be used in some educational contexts to refer to a designation used by the US Department of Education. Many scholars see this as a deficit term because of its focus on subtractive language (language that implies a deficiency) under a monolingual assumption of proficiency.
Long-term English language learner (LTELL): Currently in use in some states, this term refers to K–12 students who have been enrolled in US schools for many years and continue to be stuck with the ELL designation long past the time it should take for redesignation. Like Generation 1.5 students, LTELLs may have spent most if not all of their education in US schools. For a variety of reasons, including family mobility, inconsistent educational programs, and personal reasons, they have not had opportunities to learn academic language sufficiently to pass English language proficiency tests and other measures of proficiency for redesignation (Olsen, 2010).
Mainstream: This term is increasingly antiquated due to shifting demographics in the United States. In practice, it often refers to nonremedial, nonhonors, nonsheltered classes and programs. Sometimes it is used to refer to native or monolingual English speakers as a norm; changing demographics, however, mean that schools increasingly have a majority of culturally and linguistically diverse students, so it’s been argued that a linguistically diverse classroom is the “New Mainstream” (Enright, 2011).
Monolingual: This term is used to refer to people who speak only one language, although often this label masks speakers’ fluent use of multiple dialects, or variations, of English—an issue of particular concern when working with culturally diverse students who use other varieties of English (such as Hawai‘i Pidgin or African American Vernacular) in their lives outside of school. The monolingual English label can mask these diverse students’ need to learn academic English just as much as their immigrant classmates do. Much of what this PIP strand discusses is relevant to students who utilize multiple varieties of English; teachers can support these students by acknowledging their multilingualism and helping them learn to use English for academic and other purposes.
Native or non-native English speakers (NES, NNES): Some materials contrast native English speakers (NES) with non-native English speakers (NNES). As with monolingual, the term native speaker is increasingly unclear, given how many long-term ELLs speak English fluently without a “foreign” accent and yet technically have another world language as their home or first language.
Newcomer: Some school districts have separate one-year programs for “newcomers,” or students who are newly arrived in the United States, in which students learn not just “survival” English, but also how school works in the United States. As the position statement discusses, it’s sometimes argued that newcomer programs benefit “low-level literacy immigrant students” and/or students with interrupted formal education who may have limited literacy in their first language (L1). Other newcomers may be fully literate in L1, especially by high school, and may or may not benefit from being isolated from the mainstream curriculum. For older students, the challenge is to move away from “low-level” ideas of literacy assessment that may discount the literacies of these students.
US resident or local bilingual, multilingual, or plurilingual: These terms are sometimes used to refer to students who reside in the United States (in contrast to those who are on student visas). Resident students may or may not be US citizens, others may not have permanent resident status, while still others may not have immigration documentation at all.
Enright, K. A. (2011). Language and literacy for a new mainstream. American Educational Research Journal, 48(1), 80–118. doi:10.3102/0002831210368989
García, O. (2009). Emergent bilinguals and TESOL: What’s in a name? TESOL Quarterly, 43(2), 322–26. doi:10.1002/j.1545-7249.2009.tb00172.x
Olsen, L. (2010). Reparable harm: Fulfilling the unkept promise of educational opportunity for California’s long term English learners. Long Beach, CA: Californians Together.
The members of NCTE’s Standing Committee Against Racism and Bias have felt an urgency since we each joined the committee to stand against racism and bias. We have been working on ways to encourage each member of NCTE to speak out against the systemic and individual acts of racism that disenfranchise our students in and out of the classroom.
We know that racism exists in our classrooms and in our communities. We feel that silence on these issues is complicity in the systemic racism that has marred our educational system. We see no place for neutrality and urge each member of NCTE to educate as many people as possible about the ways that systemic racism affects all of us in negative ways.
There is no apolitical classroom. English language arts teachers must examine the ways that racism has personally shaped their beliefs and must examine existing biases that feed systems of oppression. In light of the horrific events in this country that continue to unfold, and the latest terrorism in Charlottesville, Virginia, we would like to share resources that we hope will encourage all NCTE members to speak out against the racism and bias that have been a part of our nation’s fabric since the first immigrants disembarked from European ships.
Our Action Subcommittee has been working this year on creating classroom resources for teachers to use as statements of love and support. Printable classroom posters and bookmarks for NCTE members will be available at the 2017 Annual Convention, as well as available for download after Convention. Until then, we offer this incomplete resource to help continue the daily work that is antiracism. Please share other resources in the comment box below.
“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
Raising Race Conscious Children
“A resource to support adults who are trying to talk about race with young children. The goals of these conversations are to dismantle the color-blind framework and prepare young people to work toward racial justice.”
Resources for Teaching in These Times On June 14, 2016, in response to the Orlando shootings, NCTE began collecting teaching resources from its members that continue to build in relevance given the ongoing struggles and critical conversations taking place across the country.
White Fragility, Anti-Racist Pedagogy, and the Weight of History From Black Perspectives by Justin Gomer and Christopher Petrella, July 27, 2017
“One cannot begin to comprehend the relationship between race and racism without historical investigation. A historically-grounded anti-racist pedagogy, rather than a psychologically-oriented one, allows us to see US society ‘in the act of inventing race.’”
This resource was contributed by Kristin Beers Online PLC: Read Aloud as an Anti-Bigotry Tool Suggestions for using read aloud as an anti- bigotry tool with our youngest learners. This resource provides questions to prompt conversation, as well as a list of categorized titles that support this work.
Resources for Understanding White Supremacy
Southern Poverty Law Center “The SPLC is dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society. Using litigation, education, and other forms of advocacy, the SPLC works toward the day when the ideals of equal justice and equal opportunity will be a reality.”
Ten Ways to Fight Hate “Ten Ways to Fight Hate, which has been updated for 2017, sets out 10 principles for taking action, including how to respond to a hate rally that has targeted your town. It urges people not to engage white supremacists at their rallies. Instead, it offers tips for creating alternative rallies to promote peace, inclusion and justice.”
Oath and Opposition: Education under the Third Reich
“The Museum has developed . . . materials . . . to help today’s educators explore the pressures teachers felt under the Nazi regime, the range of decisions individuals made in the face of those pressures, and the relevance of this history now.” (This rich resource includes a number of case studies you could use with your classes.)
Anti-Defamation League (ADL) “Founded in 1913, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is our nation’s premier civil rights/human relations organization. We have a distinguished history of reminding the world just how tenuous civil rights are and we mobilize people to engage in reasonable discourse as together we find solutions to serve our diverse society.” See their website’s extensive Education & Resources section as well as their definition and historical explanation of anti-Semitism.
Antisemitism and the Bystander Effect
“Students will watch testimonies from survivors of and witnesses to historical and contemporary antisemitism who describe the consequences of the bystander effect in their own lives. Students will construct a social media message for the #BeginsWithMe campaign that describes their own plan to counter bystander behavior.”
100 Days to Inspire Respect “At a time of heightened political uncertainty and polarization, middle and high school teachers are in need of easy-to-use resources that encourage their students to grapple with some of the most difficult but important topics: hate, racism, intolerance and xenophobia. ‘100 Days to Inspire Respect’ provides educators with 100 thought-provoking resources that tackle these challenging topics and more.”
The following book was recommended by Jenny Cameron Paulsen Hitler Youth by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
“By the time Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in 1933, 3.5 million children belonged to the Hitler Youth. It would become the largest youth group in history. Susan Campbell Bartoletti explores how Hitler gained the loyalty, trust, and passion of so many of Germany’s young people. Her research includes telling interviews with surviving Hitler Youth members.”
The Charlottesville Syllabus “The Charlottesville Syllabus is a resource created by the Graduate Student Coalition for Liberation to be used to educate readers about the long history of white supremacy in Charlottesville, Virginia. With resources selected and summaries written by UVa graduate students, this abridged version of the Syllabus is organized into six sections that offer contemporary and archival primary and secondary sources (articles, books, responses, a documentary, databases) and a list of important terms for discussing white supremacy.”
7 Ways Teachers Can Respond to the Evil of Charlottesville, Starting Now By Xian Franzinger Barrett, AlterNet “As teachers, our job is not solely to pour mathematics, science, language arts or any other knowledge into the heads of our students. It is our duty to our profession, to our society and to the students to lovingly teach them to learn and grow as complete humans.”
The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond (PISAB) “The People’s Institute believes that racism is the primary barrier preventing communities from building effective coalitions and overcoming institutionalized oppression and inequities. Through Undoing Racism®/Community Organizing Workshops, technical assistance and consultations, The People’s Institute helps individuals, communities, organizations and institutions move beyond addressing the symptoms of racism to undoing the causes of racism so as to create a more just and equitable society.”
Don’t Be a Sucker – 1947
“In this anti-fascist film produced by [the] US Military in the wake of WWII, the producers deconstruct the politically motivated social engineering of Germany by the Nazi regime.”
Teaching Tolerance Social Justice Standards “The Social Justice Standards are a road map for anti-bias education at every stage of K–12 instruction. Comprised of anchor standards and age-appropriate learning outcomes, the Standards provide a common language and organizational structure educators can use to guide curriculum development and make schools more just and equitable.”
The following resources were contributed by Susi Long on behalf of the Early Childhood Education Assembly
Anti-Racism Educational Consultants Network
“The ECEA is honored to present a network of some of the country’s most respected professionals. They are experts in helping educators examine issues of race and racism in schools, childcare settings, and teacher education programs as they consider new possibilities for practice and policy. They consult widely, each with extensive experience in classrooms and with teachers, administrators, and preservice teachers.”
Resources for Educators Focusing on Anti-Racist Learning and Teaching “Our intent is to continue building and expanding this collection but we offer it now as a beginning, in support of educators working to (a) deepen understandings about institutional and interpersonal racism and its manifestations in early childhood settings, (b) understand the depth and breadth of histories often left out of or misrepresented in our teaching, and (c) apply new awareness to transforming practice and policy.”
Articles and Other Readings
“These [three] special themed issues [of NCTE journals] explore and demonstrate not only the physical violence that Black and Brown children and youth and young Black girls encounter on a daily basis but also the symbolic and linguistic violence and the spirit-murder that are inflicted upon the lives and humanity of our children and youth of Color. In addition, all of these special issues provide the field with practical lessons and pedagogies for teaching in our current racialized and gendered context.” – Lamar Johnson and April Bell
From Racial Violence to Racial Justice: Praxis and Implications for English (Teacher) Education (a special issue of English Journal) Edited by April Baker-Bell, Tamara Butler,
and Lamar Johnson
“We come to this project bearing soul wounds and heavy hearts, anxiety and anger, tears and fire. We sifted through a series of events and melded our wounds into a project that could heal us, our families, our communities, and Black, Brown, and other marginalized youth affected by racial violence.”
“Beyond the Dream”: Black Textual Expressivities Between the World and Me (a special issue of English Journal) Edited by David Kirkland
“In the most basic sense, this issue is about acknowledging how Black textualities, like vulnerable Black bodies, are contested in American classrooms, complicated by competing interests that wrestle daily for an ethical place in the consciousness of English language arts. It is in English language arts classrooms, as this issue suggests, that Black textualities have the power to move our assumptions past beliefs that strip away the humanity of others.
Black Girls’ Literacies (a special issue of English Education) Edited by Marcelle Haddix, Sherell McArthur, Gholnecsar Muhammad, Detra Price-Dennis, and Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz
“We now must be urgent in interrogating hegemonic systems, English education practices, and educational policy to ask how we can experience a shift in the way we teach, talk about, and represent Black girls in school and society. In this way, English education becomes a site of possibility and disruption—a space to begin to ask these questions and respond.” – Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz
How Two Teenagers Created a Textbook for Racial Literacy From Facing History and Ourselves by Stacey Perlman
“Winona Guo and Priya Vulchi started the student-run organization, CHOOSE, to overcome racism and inspire harmony through exposure, education, and empowerment. This led them to collaborate with Princeton University on The Classroom Index, a textbook devoted to racial literacy.”
How America Is Failing Native American Students From The Nation by Rebecca Clarren
“When the United States signed its treaties with the Indian tribes, stripping them of their land, it promised to provide public services—including education—to tribal members in perpetuity. ‘For too long, the federal leadership has failed to honor that sacred pledge, leaving generations of Native children behind,’ said Washington State Senator John McCoy, a citizen of the Tulalip tribe and a national leader in Native education reform. ‘Institutionalized assimilation and racism remain embedded within our public schools.’”
The lessons were created by 10 excellent teachers, and designed to work in all kinds of classes with all kinds of students. These teachers are themselves people of different races, ethnicities, and religions, and they teach IB and AP, special needs, honors, and “regular” students in urban and suburban (mostly public) high schools in or near Washington, DC. These resources are also the product of CrossTalk, a yearlong community engagement project led by the Folger Shakespeare Library and funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities as part of their Humanities in the Public Square initiative. More info here
This resource was contributed by Emily Salinas Drop the I-Word Campaign
“Race Forward’s Drop the I-Word campaign to eliminate use of the word “illegal” was launched in September 2010 as anti-immigrant sentiment and hate crimes against communities of color had increased. Although the Associated Press, USA Today, LA Times, and many other news outlets and journalist associations have dropped the i-word, this racial slur in still being used in the media and everyday language.”
This resource was contributed by Melanie Gustafson Click! The Ongoing Feminist Revolution
“We aim to bridge the gap between those two clicks by offering an exhibit that highlights the achievements of women from the 1940s to the present. This exhibit explores the power and complexity of gender consciousness in modern American life.”
These resources were contributed by Jodi Derkson
Choose Your Voice (middle school)
Free online teaching resources and tools, curriculum-based for grades 6, 7 and 8, to help students speak out against racism, antisemitism and intolerance.
Voices into Action (secondary school and college)
“Designed by curriculum experts, this program utilizes a wide variety of media to present compelling information on a history of human suffering, stemming from social injustice that is still a growing problem today. Explore thought-provoking issues with your students by accessing our lessons and resources on antisemitism, racism, discrimination and stereotyping.”
These resources were contributed by Nadia Kalman “For contemporary global literature from Mexico, Russia, and other countries currently in the political discourse, along with multimedia contextual materials and teaching tools, teachers might try Words Without Borders Campus. Here’s a link to a blog post on building inter-cultural empathy and understanding.”
Global Citizenship “is a way of living that recognises our world is an increasingly complex web of connections and interdependencies. One in which our choices and actions may have repercussion for people and communities locally, nationally or internationally” (Ideas for Global Citizenship).
This concept is of particular interest to us as we celebrate our nation’s independence on the Fourth of July. It allows us to ponder how our ancestors had managed to secure our freedom as a nation from the British, and how we had to wrestle with the contradictory content of our Constitution that celebrates the right to be free while still holding others in bondage.
Therefore, we should take this time to contemplate deeply what it means to be an American citizen, and who should be considered an American. As we reflect on this nationalistic notion of citizenship, we should also consider engaging in dialogues of what it means to be a global citizen, especially in a world where leaders are constantly rethinking physical boundaries in order to hold tight to their national identities, and the tension such nationalistic views might create. In so doing, they undermine major aspects of our collective humanity that allow us to cultivate a nurturing world for everyone. Many do not realize that what we do within our local communities can and does impact communities in other regions of the world, for we are interconnected in this way, even when we engage in charity work that touches many across the globe, or participate in political rallies to make democracy possible elsewhere.
Most of us on the path to global citizenship are still somewhere at the beginning of our journey. Our eyes have been opened and our consciousness raised. Instinctively, we feel a connection with others around the world yet we lack the adequate tools, resources, and support to act on our vision. Our ways of thinking and being are still colored by the trapping of old allegiances and ways of seeing things that no longer are as valid as they used to be. There is a longing to pull back the veil that keeps us from more clearly seeing the world as a whole and finding more sustainable ways of connecting with those who share our common humanity.
If fathoming how one can be an American citizen and yet be able to perceive oneself as a global citizen may seem challenging, perhaps we should start by examining how we serve our local communities on a regular basis.
Community Services: Local and Global Connections
Many educators are already engaged in practices that impact global communities and reflect their global citizenry even if they are not aware. At a spring 2017 professional development school conference in State College, PA, I attended a session where a teacher presented about a partnership with a school in Africa where they collect books and send them to students. This session was of particular interest to me because I know firsthand how difficult it is for schoolteachers in several public schools across the continent to find basic educational resources for their classrooms.
Also, having served as a member of the Children’s Africana Book Awards committee, I am also privy to book publication initiatives on topics such as The Water Project. One such publication is a picture book, Gizo-Gizo, on the Zongo Story Project that emerged from a partnership between Emily Williamson and John Schaidler from Minneapolis and the Hassaniyya Quranic School in Ghana. The back matter notes:
Working closely with local teachers, Emily Williamson carried out a series of educational workshops at [the school] to teach students about local water and environmental concerns. . . . Building on previous work at his children’s schools in Minneapolis and New York City, John [Schaidler] spent the summers . . . in the remote village of Humjibre in Ghana’s Western District.
For more on this, check out www.zongostoryproject.com. The water problem is local to that specific community, but the solution takes a collective effort that includes a global initiative involving communities from two continents. This is one way we connect at the human level.
Several picture books have documented these types of global partnerships.