Monday, September 28, 2020

Columbus Day: To Celebrate or Not to Celebrate?

"In 1492 / Columbus sailed the ocean blue."
-- Popular rhyme

Well, yes, he did; that, at least, is correct.  But much of everything else that students learned about Christopher Columbus is not accurate.  In reality, and in my opinion, Columbus should not be honored with a holiday that was created to celebrate his “achievements.”  In this resource round up, you’ll find some resources that you can use with your students that present a more objective view of Christopher Columbus and his legacy, including a couple of my own TpT products.

7 Resources for ELLs about Columbus Day; source: The ESL Nexus

* From
A short description of the origins of the Columbus Day holiday.  After an introduction, there is a section about Christopher Columbus, then a section about how Columbus Day began in the U.S.  That is followed by some paragraphs explaining why the holiday is controversial and a description of Indigenous People’s Day as an alternative celebration. It ends with a section on when Columbus Day is celebrated in the U.S.
Can be used with high intermediate and advanced ELLs.

* From The Oatmeal:
An opinion piece that describes about how Columbus’ voyages negatively impacted the Native people he encountered.  It also contrasts Christopher Columbus with Bartolomé de la Casas, who eventually regretted his role in the slave trade.  The text is written in a large font and is accompanied by drawings that aid comprehension.  Some details are explicit so this resource may not suitable for younger students in 5th and possibly 6th grades.
For older ELLs at a high intermediate and advanced level of language proficiency.

* From Teaching Tolerance:
A lesson plan aimed at Grades 6 – 8 on why Columbus Day is still a holiday.  It’s called “Why Do We (Still) Celebrate Columbus Day?”  The website says that: In this lesson, students will address misconceptions they likely have about Christopher Columbus and the colonization of what is now the United States.
The lesson itself can be adapted for low intermediate ELLs but the resources linked in the lesson plan require a higher level of language proficiency so students will need support when using them.

* From National Geographic:
A very short video (less than 3 minutes long) about the voyages of Christopher Columbus, the origins of the Columbus Day holiday, and why some people now prefer to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day instead because of the negative impact Columbus had on the Native people he encountered in the Americas.  The video uses sentence captions to explain the images that students see on screen.  There is music but no audio narration so teachers (and students, if watching on their own) can stop the video whenever needed in order to better comprehend the text.
Can be used with low intermediate ELLs with teacher support.

* From Vox
A short video (less than 6 minutes long) about the Columbus Day holiday.  It includes video segments from decades past to illustrate how students used to be taught about Columbus and how ideas about the holiday have changed over the years.  It goes into detail about how the holiday began and why Italian-Americans supported it.  The final section of the video discusses why Indigenous People’s Day has replaced Columbus Day in some parts of the U.S.
The video has close-captions so it is suitable for intermediate and higher ELLs.  

From The ESL Nexus TpT store
* Columbus Day: Reading Passage & Vocabulary Task Boom Cards
* Columbus Day Word Search & Crossword Puzzles, Reading Passage
These 2 resources both include a reading passage and vocabulary activities and can be used when teaching remotely.  In the Boom Cards™ resource, the reading passage is also read aloud and the vocab task is to match definitions with words about Columbus Day.  In the other resource, both printable and Google Drive versions are included and instead of matching definitions to words, there are puzzles that use the same target vocabulary words as those in the Boom Cards product.
Both resources are aimed at low intermediate and higher ELLs in middle school but can also be used by native English speakers and older students as well.

Click HERE to find these & other Columbus Day resources; source: The ESL Nexus

FYI: I found The Oatmeal and video resources through Larry Ferlazzo’s The Best Online Resources About Christopher Columbus (& ‘Indigenous Peoples’ Day’) blog post.

Teaching about Christopher Columbus is no longer as easy as teaching a simple song and venerating a man of Italian heritage.  We owe it to students to offer them an unvarnished version of history, even if it contradicts what we ourselves were taught.  Besides, teaching multiple perspectives of history makes for a much richer, more inclusive learning experience and that is more likely to be more engaging for the majority of our students today.


Monday, September 14, 2020

Quick Announcement about an Extra TpT Bonus Sale

Whether your district is teaching fully online, teaching in person, or teaching with a hybrid model of learning, one thing for sure is that teaching this year will be different from past years.  I know that as a result, that’s made it hard to plan lessons since circumstances are evolving.

I am pleased to be associated with a company like TeachersPayTeachers because they recognize how challenging this school year is.  Usually their Back-to-School sales are in August but they are having another, additional Back-to-School sale tomorrow.  That is, on Tuesday, September 15, 2020, there will be a bonus one-day sale.

Take advantage of TpT's extra Back to School sale on Tuesday, September, 2020 to save 25% off on resources at The ESL Nexus!
Check out my resources at The ESL Nexus

As always, everything in my store will be 20% off.  The promo code to use for an additional 5% off when checking out is EXTRABONUS.  So you’ll get 25% off on all my resources.

Recently, at the request of a customer, I converted my printable Dar and the Spear-Thrower novel study into a completely online, Google Drive resource.  You can find the digital version HERE.  If there are any of my resources that aren’t already converted for Google Drive -- they'll say so on the cover -- please let me know and I’ll make that a priority. Otherwise, I’m continuing to work on creating Boom Cards resources and Zoom backgrounds resources (which can also be used on other platforms as well; scroll down past the first 3 resources listed to see them).

Happy shopping and I wish you all the best this school year!


Monday, August 31, 2020

Review of Antiracism Book and Free Anti-Racist Resources

  “The opposite of racist isn't 'not racist.' It is 'anti-racist.'"
-- Ibram X. Kendi 
(This post contains Amazon affiliate links.  As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  That means that I make a small commission if you purchase the book referred to below but it's at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support!)
Earlier this summer, I read How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi.  Since I read mostly fiction and history books, I was not familiar with this this book or the author until the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd.  I hoped the book would provide me with a deeper understanding of racism in the U.S. and what white allies can do to support people of color.  In that, I was not disappointed.

Read a review of Ibram X. Kendi's book How To Be An Antiracist & access other free anti-racist resources for educators
Click HERE to find this book on Amazon

What I most enjoyed was how Kendi uses his personal experiences to illustrate and explain the larger concepts he discusses, especially because the writing at times is dry and the rhetorical style repetitive.  Fortunately, each chapter is devoted to just one particular social construct so I could read the book at a deliberative pace.  Those bite-sized pieces make it easier to digest the ideas being discussed.  I also liked that each chapter starts off defining the words or phrases that Kendi focuses on.  He then offers historical background, references to contemporary culture, statistics, and personal experiences to support the points he wants to make.

As an educator, I was naturally drawn to Kendi’s anecdotes from his grade school years and his time in high school and college.  They underscored how the concepts he talks about play out in real life.  I was particularly struck by a story in Chapter 3, Biology, he told about when he was in 3rd grade and he stuck up for a little girl in his class who was ignored by their teacher.  
The amount of research Kendi must have done to write How to Be an Antiracist is impressive.  I came away with a much greater appreciation of how systemic racism permeates American society.  I highly recommend this book and think that all educators who have students of color in their classes should read it.  In fact, it would be a great choice for a book-study group.

Get a free lesson that helps children learn what they can do when they see racism occurring.
Click HERE to download this free resource
Last fall, I was honored to participate in and write a blog post for the #ItsTimeToTalkRacism campaign after the mass shooting of mostly Latinx people in El Paso, Texas, in August 2019.  Sadly, another victim, Memo Garcia, succumbed to his injuries in April, bringing the total number of people murdered to 23.  
Chrissy Beltran, who organized the blog post campaign, has written a follow-up blog post and created a lesson that addresses what children can do when they see racism occurring.  Her lesson can be used with students in a wide range of grades.
Finally, TeachersPayTeachers has organized free anti-racist and social webinars for educators.  It’s a series of 6 webinars; the first was with a group of Black TpT teacher-authors discussing their experiences as teachers and school administrators.  The other videos are with outside experts who discuss how educators can implement anti-racist teaching in their own practice. 
The first three have already been show but are available online.  The next one will be shown on September 3rd.  You can register for that and find links to all of the videos HERE.  (You may need to scroll halfway down the page to get to the info about the webinar series.)
 TpT just announced that you can now download certificates of participation after viewing each webinar.  You may be able to use them for professional development purposes but check with your school district since policies differ from place to place.
Watch 6 Teach for Justice webinars sponsored by TeachersPayTeachers
Click HERE to register for upcoming & view earlier webinars
I hope you find these resources helpful as the new school year gets underway.


Monday, August 17, 2020

How Would You Like a 1-Day Back To School Sale?

Quick Announcement: 

TeachersPayTeachers is having a 1-day sale tomorrow, Tuesday, August 18, 2020! 

Everything in my store will be 20% off, as usual. Use the promo code BTSBONUS20 for an additional 5% off at checkout for a total discount of 25%. Many other stores will also be on sale for up to 25% off.

Shop The ESL Nexus on Tuesday, 8/18/20, for 20% off on all resources.  Use promo code BTSBONUS20 at checkout for an additional 5% off for a total savings of 25%!  Go to to find great resources for the start of the school year!
Find great digital and print resources at The ESL Nexus on TpT!
I'm in the middle of uploading digital versions of one of my novel studies so if you're looking for a way to read a book with your class even when teaching virtually, click the Most Recent tab on my store's homepage to find them.  Below are first 2 resources in the series.

Click HERE for more info about these resources

Happy shopping!