Monday, February 19, 2024

How to Create Appropriate Math Assessments for Multilingual Learners of English

You might think that creating math assessments is easier than creating other types of assessments because math is a universal language.  But although there are many math symbols and figures that mean the same thing across languages, the way math problems are solved and the way numbers are written is not always the same.  A blog post I wrote a few years ago explains some of the differences.  Today, I'd like to zero in (pun intended!) on how to design well-crafted math assessments that take into account the different language proficiency levels of Multilingual Learners of English. 
 
First, I'll take about 5 important factors (another pun, sorry!) to consider when creating your math assessments and explain why they're important.  Then, I'll offer some examples of math assessments for students at different levels of language proficiency.  At the end of this blog post, I'll include links to a couple math books that I found really helpful when I was providing math support to ELLs.

Title in black text at top on teal background, a light wooden table with various math-themed objects and manipulates on it is below.
Keep reading for tips on how to design good math assessments; graphic created by The ESL Nexus

Guidelines to Keep in Mind

1) Use Clear Language

Make sure that text in the directions and in the problems is easy to understand.  Differentiate the language based on the proficiency of the English Learners in your class.  You want to be assessing your students' knowledge of math, not English, and if they don't understand what they are asked to do, you won't be evaluating their math understanding.
 
So, use very simple language.  Don't use sentences with complicated grammar structures.  Be sure to include examples and models to students to help students' comprehension.  Using visuals as much as possible will help with this.

2) Use Real-Life Situations

Connect problems and examples to students' lives.  Doing that helps make the concepts easier to understand because they will be relevant to students' personal experiences. 
 
Think of examples that relate to students' daily lives.  That will help them see the practical applications of the concepts being assessed.

3) Use Multiple Ways to Show Concepts

Show math ideas in more than just one way.  This helps students who have different ways of learning.  It also helps them better comprehend what they're being asked to do because multiple representations make it more likely the concepts will resonate.
 
You can do this by including visuals, manipulatives, and pictures in your math assessments.  Also, allow students to give their answers in multiple ways because that makes it easier for them to express themselves.  Students can use drawings, tables, and graphs as well as sentences to explain what they mean.  For beginning proficiency learners, orally providing answers is also helpful.

4) Use Culturally Responsive Material

Incorporating culturally appropriate and diverse examples in math assessments helps students connect to the concepts being tested.  It also helps create an inclusive classroom atmosphere that makes English Learners more comfortable and supports their learning.
 
You can do this when using names of people in word problems – include names commonly used in your students' native countries.  When talking about places or buildings, reference other cultures' or countries' well-known locations.  If you're using food in word problems, instead of talking about meat and potatoes, for example, talk about rice and beans instead.

5) Use Focused Feedback

When giving feedback about test results, make sure it is constructive and is in language that students can understand.  Focus on the math aspects, not language errors; if the math is correct but the language is not, count the problem as correct.
 
Tailor your feedback to students' language proficiency levels.  Use visuals and/or give oral feedback to students with lower levels of English language proficiency.  Be sure to include comments about what was done correctly because that provides encouragement.

Examples of Differentiated Math Assessments

This section gives 4 examples of assessments that ask students to demonstrate their understanding of various math concepts that you have already taught.  Each example states the concept being assessed and then offers ideas of what to write to assess that concept.  The first 2 examples are for elementary students and the last 2 are for middle school students. For each concept, examples are given for ELLs at beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels of English language proficiency.

Elementary Concepts

1) Counting

Task: Look at a picture. Count the number of bananas in the picture.  Write how many bananas are in the picture.
Beginning: Show a picture of 3 bananas.  Answer is the number "3."
Intermediate
: Show a picture of 3 bananas.  Answer is the word "three."
Advanced
: Show a picture of 3 bananas and 2 oranges.  Answer is "3 bananas" or "three bananas."

2) Calculating the cost of something using multiplication

Task: When given the price of 1 item, calculate the total cost of 4 of those items when the price is the same for each one.
Beginning
: Show a picture of flip flops with the price under each one.
Intermediate
: Write a simple word problem, such as the following and include pictures of flip flops: Solve this problem. If one shoe costs $5.00, how much do 4 shoes cost
Advanced: Write a word problem with more complex language and ask students to show how they got their answers.  For example: You are going to the store to buy shoes.  You see flip flops that you like.  Each flip flop costs five dollars.  How much will 4 flip flops cost?

Middle School Concepts

1) Calculating area

Task: Determine the area of a vegetable garden that measures 8 feet by 25 feet.
Beginning
: Show a picture of a rectangular garden with the measurements on all sides.
Intermediate
: Write a word problem, such as: Mariama grows vegetables in a garden that measures 8 feet by 25 feet.  What is the area of her garden?
Advanced
: Mariama grows vegetables in a garden that measures 8 feet by 25 feet.  She wants to know how big her garden is.  Explain the steps that Mariama has to do to find the area of her garden.

2) Comparing fractions

Task: Put the fractions 1/2, 2/3, and 3/4 in the correct order.
Beginning
: On the assessment, show pictures of items that are cut into various pieces representing the fractions such as a pencil and a piece of fruit.  On the other side of the paper, write the three fractions.  In the directions, tell students to match the numbers with the correct pictures.
Intermediate
: Write a word problem that asks students to put the fractions in order from smallest to largest.  For example: Angela, Mehmet, and Guillermo are making food for their school's international night. Angela's recipe needs 1/2 a cup of rice, Mehmet's recipe needs 2/3 of a cup of yogurt, and Juan's recipe needs 3/4 of a cup of hot sauce. Which recipe uses the least food?  Which recipe uses the most food?  Put the fractions in order from smallest to largest.
Advanced
: In art class, students are drawing patterns after looking at pictures of mosaics from around the world. Sara used 3 1/2 tiles in a Moroccan design.  Sayeed used 2 3/4 tiles for his Turkish design. Rana used 1 2/5 tiles in her Indian design.  Write how many tiles each student used as a proper fraction, then put them in order from least to greatest.  Explain or show how you got your answer.

Useful Math Books

I used both of these books and found them very helpful.  They're not newly published but they offer good support.  I think they're especially helpful for teachers who don't have real strong math backgrounds, which may the case if you teach more than one content subject.
 
(The links for the books are affiliate links.  That means that I make a small commission if you purchase the books but it's at no additional cost to you.  Thank you for your support!)

1) Access Math by Great Source is aimed at teaching math to multilingual learners of English in Grades 6-8.  However, 5th graders might also benefit from using it if they are learning the concepts covered in the book.  There are 12 chapters.  Topics begin with Number Concepts, and then proceed to Introduction to Algebra, Decimals, Number Theory, and Fractions and Mixed Numbers.  That's followed by Ratios, Proportions, and Percents.  Other topics include Data and Statistics, Geometry, Area and Volume, Probability, Integers, and finally More Algebra.  Access Math incorporates lots of language learning in each chapter and the book is visually appealing with lots of color photos.

2) Strategies for Test-Taking Success: Math, published by Thomson Heinle, is not aimed specifically at MLEs but I used it with my ELLs in Grades 5 -8.  What I really like about it is that it teaches students how to solve math problems.  It presents strategies for doing different types of math problems, explains the meaning of the vocabulary used in the problems, gives examples, and then has students practice using the strategies by doing practice tests.  The first chapter of Strategies for Test-Taking Success: Math discusses various types of questions and test-taking strategies.  The remaining chapters cover these topics: Whole Numbers and Number Sense; Fractions, Decimals, and Percents; Algebra; Probability, Data, and Statistics; and Geometry.
 
I hope all this information helps you more easily create math assessments for all the Multilingual Students of English, regardless of their language proficiency level.  Earlier blog posts in this series about creating appropriate assessments for ELLs include How to Create Appropriate Classroom Assessments for Different Levels of Language Proficiency and How to Create Appropriate Social Studies Assessments for English Language Learners.

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Monday, January 8, 2024

How to Create Appropriate Social Studies Assessments for English Language Learners

Teaching Social Studies to English Language Learners (aka Multilingual Learners of English) who are in mainstream regular education classes can be challenging and designing ELL Social Studies assessments that appropriately evaluate what those students have learned may be even more difficult.  In this blog post, I’d like to share some ideas about best practices for ELL assessment in Social Studies classes.  Ideas are divided into grade spans, with examples for different language proficiency levels.

On a black chalkboard background, image of a globe in a stack of books and notebooks with pages facing the viewer and to the left is a wire mesh pencil holder filled with colored pencils and behind that is a white teacup and saucer, all on a brown wooden tabletop
Find useful Social Studies materials at The ESL Nexus; graphic created by The ESL Nexus

Upper Elementary ELL Social Studies Assessments

Types of Assessments

* Students use pictures and maps from magazines or found online, or draw their own pictures and maps, to describe a place or culture and include images that represent the place’s resources, people, and contributions or other features that you give them; assess the work according to the accuracy of the information provided.
* Students orally describe a place or culture and include target vocabulary words that you give them; assess students based on the accuracy of the content, not the accuracy of the language used (in other words, it’s fine if they make grammatical errors when talking, because it’s not a language test).
* Students match visuals with vocabulary words on a teacher-created page with images on one side and target vocabulary words on the other side; ways to do that are by having students draw lines from one side to the other, writing the vocab words next to the images, or if you’ve given letters to each word or image, writing the letter of the word next to the correct image; assess students by checking that the words and images are correctly paired.
* Students to write reports or give multimedia presentations; create rubrics that assess both content information and organizational features but focus on evaluating the content more than their use of English.

Examples of Assessments for Different Proficiency Levels

Below are some examples for creating ESL Social Studies tests about regions of the United States, a topic commonly taught in upper elementary grades.

For Beginning ELLs
* Give students a paper with a map of the United States on it and the names of regions on one side.  Depending on how you taught the info and whether you think you students are able to do the task, the map may be completely blank or it may have the regions outlined on it.  Tell students to label the regions and if using a blank map, tell them to draw the approximate borders of the regions first.
* Give students a list of some target vocabulary words or important concepts that you’ve taught.  Give them some time to look at the words or concepts – you may want to give the info to students the night before or allow 15-20 minutes in class so they can prepare – and then ask students one at a time to use those words to describe however many regions you want to know about.  You’ll want to be someplace in your classroom where the student being assessed won’t be distracted and where the other students can’t overhear what’s being said.  You can ask students to give as much detail as possible about one region they or you have selected or you can ask them to talk in more general terms about all the regions.

For Intermediate ELLs
* Have students create a travel brochure about either one region or all regions.  Give students a template to use that includes space for a title and lines for subtitles.  Also give students a word bank that includes the features to describe and vocabulary words to include.
* Tell students to compare and contrast 2 different regions and tell them to write about the similarities and differences between the climate, natural resources, geography, history, and culture of those regions.  Give students a Venn diagram of T-chart to use as a graphic organizer. 
(My TPT product, Compare and Contrast Writing in Two Formats, can help with this.)  Students at the lower end of intermediate proficiency would also benefit from having sentence starters or sentence frames to help them write.

For Advanced ELLs
* Tell students to research a region and then write a report about it. Provide information about how to do research and how to write a multi-paragraph report plus a bibliography.  To guide students in their research, give them a list of features and vocabulary words to include in their reports.
* Tell students to research a region and then create a poster about it.  Tell the students that their posters should include information based on research they do (and give them info on how to do research) and should include target vocabulary that you want them to demonstrate they understand.  You can have students orally present their posters to their class or small groups if you want to give them practice doing that but unless you’ve also taught them how to give effective oral presentations, they should not be graded on how well they orally describe their work.

Middle School ELL Social Studies Assessments

Types of Assessments

* Students create a poster about an ancient civilization or time period in U.S. American history and include features and target vocabulary words; assess the poster on the accuracy of the content info and use of vocab words.
* Students give multimedia presentations about an aspect of an ancient civilization or an event that occurred in the time period the class is covering; you can give students choices about what kind of presentation they can do, such as a short video, an online poster, an oral presentation with props, etc. and tell them to include certain info about particular features and vocab words.
* Students can create detailed timelines about important events in a historical period; assess the work on the accuracy of the chronology.
* Students can write biographies of important people in the time period the class covers, after you show them what kind of information to include and give them time to research the people; assess the biographies on both the accuracy of info and how well the reports conform to the format you taught your students.
* Students can compare and contrast two civilizations or historical events using graphic organizers that you provide (e.g. a Venn diagram, T-chart, mind map or web), being sure to include information they’ve learned about when they occurred, people involved, locations, and other important details; assess the work on how accurate and complete the information is and also on some language features if you’ve gone over them in class already.  (My TPT product, Compare and Contrast Writing in Two Formats, can help with this.)
* Students can create a 3-D model of something an ancient civilization or time period is famous for, such as a pyramid, helmet, or jewelry and, if you wish, they can also write a description about it using target vocab words; assess the object on how well it resembles the actual thing. A great source of ideas for these kinds of projects is the Step Into the Ancient World: The History Book Box, which includes books about 8 civilizations; I used ideas from these books when teaching Ancient History and World History classes to my students.  (This is an affiliate link.  That means that I make a small commission if you purchase the History Book Box but it's at no additional cost to you.  Thank you for your support!)

Examples of Assessments

Here’s how you can create a differentiated ESL Social Studies test about Ancient Greece.

For Beginning ELLs
* Have students create a poster using images found online or in magazines or which they draw themselves about 5 characteristics of Ancient Greece, such as city-states, famous people, styles of buildings, roles of women, rulers, natural resources/food, geography, religion, or wars and use target vocab words to caption their images; assess students on the accuracy of their work.
* Tell students to answer multiple-choice and true-false questions, and match vocabulary words with their definitions; include only 3 options for the multiple-choice questions, write the true-questions in simple English (so, no double negatives!), and include a word bank for the vocab section.

For Intermediate ELLs
* Give students 1-3 sentence-long descriptions in easy-to-understand language of events and tell them to put the events in the correct chronological order; you can list the events on one side of a page and put the years on the opposite side and have students draw lines to connect the correct years and events, or you can make task cards with the events and years on different cards and tell students to pair them up; assess students on whether they have correctly matched the events with the years.
* Tell students, after you’ve taught them how to do it, to research and write a report that is at least 1-page long about a famous historical figure, such as a ruler, playwright, philosopher, or scientist, and include at least 3 sources in a bibliography; assess the written work with a rubric you’ve shared with the class and which evaluates the quality of the content as well as language features that are used in biographies (such as writing events in chronological order).

For Advanced ELLs
* Tell students to research and then create a multimedia presentation about a particular feature of Ancient Greece which they present to the class such as architecture, religion, government, scientific achievements, or the arts; give students info about what to include in their presentation and how it will be graded when you explain what they have to do, then assess them according to those parameters.
* Tell students to compare and contrast the system of government in Ancient Greece with the type of government in another ancient civilization they have already learned about, and then write an essay describing the similarities and differences between the two, using sentence prompts or sentence starters to guide them; you could also tell students that after describing the two systems, they should write about which one they think is better and why; assess students with a rubric they’re familiar with that evaluates both content information and language used.  (My TPT product, Opinion, Persuasive, and Argumentative Writing Resources, can help with this.)

High School ELL Social Studies Assessments

I have never taught high school Social Studies classes so I’m not going to include how to assess students in Grades 9-12.  However, many of these Social Studies assessments for English Language Learners can also be used at the high school level.  Just tailor them to your curricula and make them more rigorous by asking students to analyze events and include more higher level critical thinking in written reports, essays, and presentations.  But you can evaluate the language aspects pretty much the same way for high schoolers as for elementary and middle school students at the various proficiency levels.

Conclusion

Although Social Studies requires students to read and understand a lot of material in English, it is definitely possible for you to assess English Language Learners who have different language proficiency levels in your classes.  I hope this blog post has given you some ideas on how you can do that.

To learn about creating assessments for ELLs in English Language Arts classes, this blog post offers lots of information.

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Monday, December 11, 2023

How Can You Celebrate December Holidays Appropriately? Here are Some Resources that Help!

I’ve recently seen a number of posts in teacher Facebook groups asking for ideas about decorating their classrooms or doors for Christmas. In response, I’d like to offer some info and links to resources about what is and is not allowed in public schools regarding December holidays because it’s an important issue, maybe even more so for teachers with English Learners in their classes who may not be Christian. (And, yes, I did respond to those Facebook posts.) 

Title in blue at top on snowy blue background, with lit candle in clear, round glass with snowmen on it and wrapped in red ribbon, set on a knitted brown background with green branches at the bottom right.
Find great resources about lots of holidays HERE

Celebrating Holidays Year Round

When I was a student, many of my classrooms had Christmas displays and we sang Christmas carols in music class. No other religion was represented. As someone who isn’t Christian, that always bothered me. I felt excluded and unseen, to use today’s terminology.

As a result, when I became a teacher, I made a point of acknowledging all major religions’ holidays in my classes. There’s a wonderful International Calendar put out by the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Madison, Wisconsin, that lists holidays – secular and religious – for pretty much every day of the year. I hung it at the front of my classroom and one year, my school’s Cultural Committee distributed it to every teacher in the building. It also makes a great gift in case you’re looking for something.

Resources about How to Celebrate December Holidays in Public Schools

I didn’t speak up when I was a kid but I did when I was teaching back in Massachusetts. A colleague I was very friendly with created a Christmas display in his classroom and I said something about it to him (but I don’t remember now exactly what). The upshot was that I gave him a dreidel and other Hanukkah-related items and every year after that, he also displayed those things. The Anti-Defamation League has an excellent online guide that explains how religious holidays can be acknowledged. It’s called The December Dilemma: December Holiday Guidelines for Public School. They also have a Q&A page that addresses specific questions educators often have. I shared these resources with teachers at my school.

Another resource I discovered some years ago is available through MiddleWeb. It’s a round up of links to several articles and resources for teaching about holidays, specifically December holidays. This resource round up is updated every year so you might want to bookmark it. 

Celebrating 6 Winter Holidays

Also, I just created a new word search and crossword puzzle resource about 6 winter holidays. My goal in making it was so students who aren’t Christian would know their religious and cultural traditions are recognized and appreciated, too, and Christian students would learn about other holidays besides Christmas. The holidays addressed in this resource represent African-American, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, and Pagan celebrations (winter solstice is the Pagan one). A Muslim holiday isn’t included, however, because there is no one holiday that usually occurs in December or November.  Please feel free to share the link.

Cover of Winter Holidays Puzzles TPT resource about 6 holidays
For more info & to purchase this resource, click HERE
I hope all these resources help you make more informed choices about celebrating December holidays in your classroom and school.

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Monday, November 13, 2023

8 Books that Teach ELLs about the Pilgrims, the Wampanoags, and Thanksgiving

English Language Learners, especially if they are immigrants, may not be familiar with the history and customs of celebrating this iconic American holiday.  What can a busy teacher do?  I have rounded up 8 books to help you out.  And I’m including a bonus book just for teachers at the end.
Collage image showing covers of 8 books, with text in center on a pale yellow background
Books for ELLs at high beginning to advanced proficiency levels; source: The ESL Nexus

This list of 8 informational texts includes books about the Pilgrims, the Mayflower, the Wampanoags, and life at Plimoth Plantation.  Some of them are probably familiar but others may be new.  I have classified the books by reading proficiency level, using the WIDA Performance Definitions as a guide (available as a download on this page).  I used all of these books when teaching American history to my Multilingual Learners of English.

(This post contains affiliate links. That means that I make a small commission if you purchase any of the books below but it's at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support!)

HIGH BEGINNING/LOW INTERMEDIATE; WIDA LEVEL 2

2 books related to Thanksgiving, for low-level ELLs | The ESL Connection
Lower proficiency level books; source: The ESL Nexus
Life at Plimoth by Norm Chang; paperback.
7 pages of text with illustrations that look like photographs on every page.  There are three comprehension questions and one writing task at the end of the book.  This book uses a large font size and has plenty of white space to make it easier for ELLs to comprehend the text.

Two Villages: Two Hundred Years Apart by Dorothy Kaufman (series consultant); paperback.
10 pages of text about Plimoth Plantation and the Wampanoag Homesite.  Written as if a modern-day girl is visiting these places, the book has photographs on every page.  Some pages also include diagrams or maps and vocabulary words glossed in text boxes that overlay the pictures.  The second half of the book is about Old Sturbridge Village.  There are vocabulary activities and a glossary at the end of the book.

INTERMEDIATE; WIDA LEVEL 3

The Wampanoags, a book for ELLs | The ESL Connection
Book about the Native Americans who lived in Massachusetts at the time of the Pilgrims; source: The ESL Nexus
The Wampanoags by Alice K. Flanagan; paperback.
40 pages of text about the beliefs, history, traditional culture, interaction with the Pilgrims, and life today of this Native American Massachusetts tribe.  There is a two-page spread about Wampanoag pottery.  The font used for the text is large but the sentence structures are more complex in this book than in the previous books mentioned.   Lots of photos are included, which all have informative captions.  Resources for more information, a glossary and an index are provided at the end of the book.  A newer edition of this book is available.

HIGH INTERMEDIATE; WIDA LEVEL 4

Book about the Mayflower suitable for intermediate ELLs | The ESL Connection
All about the Pilgrims' journey on the Mayflower and their life afterwards; source: The ESL Nexus
...If You Sailed on the Mayflower in 1620 by Ann McGovern; paperback.
81 pages of text plus a 2-page cutaway diagram of the Mayflower.  Written in question-and-answer format, information about life on the Mayflower comprises about half the book and the remainder is about how the Pilgrims lived in Plymouth.  There are illustrations on many pages but no accompanying activities for students nor glossary or index.

LOW ADVANCED; WIDA LEVEL 4-5

Book about Native American cuisine before 1500 suitable for ELLs | The ESL Connection
Appropriate for higher proficiency level ELLs; source: The ESL Nexus
American Indian Cooking before 1500 by Mary Gunderson; hardback.
24 pages of text about the culinary customs of Native Americans in eight regions of what is now the United States, plus a general introduction to Native American societies before Columbus and a page about Cahokia. Each region is described, with special emphasis on its food, and then a recipe typical of that region is provided.  Also includes two pages with customary and metric measurements, info about safety in the kitchen, and an illustration depicting numerous types of equipment used for cooking.  A glossary, resources for further information, and an index are at the end of the book.

ADVANCED; WIDA LEVEL 5

Three books for high proficiency level ELLs related to Thanksgiving | The ESL Connection
Books about daily life at Plimoth Plantation and the Wampanoag Homesite; source: The ESL Nexus
I classified these three books at this level because of the specialized content-language used throughout; however, because they have lots of photographs, ELLs at WIDA Level 4 may also be able to comprehend some of the text in them.  All three paperback books are written by Kate Waters and published by Scholastic.

Sarah Morton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl by Kate Waters; paperback.
30 pages of text.  Through photographs, Sarah Morton describes how she spends a typical day at Plimoth Plantation, from morning to night.  The text may be difficult for ELLs because her manner of speaking echoes that of the 17th century Pilgrims and uses a lot of vocabulary that is not common today.  There is a glossary at the end of the book, along with an explanation of what Plimoth Plantation is and short biographies of the real Sarah Morton and the girl who portrayed her for this book.

Samuel Eaton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Boy by Kate Waters; paperback.
38 pages of text.  A companion to Sarah Morton’s Day, this book tells the story of Samuel Eaton by describing his life at Plimoth Plantation from the time he gets up in the morning to when he goes to bed at night.  Written as if Samuel himself were talking, the book may be hard for ELLs to comprehend due to the language used but there are plenty of photographs that accompany the text, which should help.  At the end of the book, lyrics to a song that was referred to in the text are included as is some info about harvesting rye, the clothes men wore, and the Wampanoag Indians, along with a glossary and biographies of the real Samuel Eaton and the boy who portrayed him for this book.

Tapenum’s Day: A Wampanoag Indian Boy in Pilgrim Times by Kate Waters; hardback.
35 pages of text.  This book complements the two books about Pilgrim children mentioned above.  Many of the numerous photos are full-page spreads.  This book might be easier for ELLs to understand because the boy uses contemporary language to describe his life.  Although there are lots of specialized words as well as Wampanoag words included, the glossary at the end of the book defines the terms and offers a pronunciation guide to the Native American words.  Also at the end of the book is a map of Wampanoag lands in the 1600s and a short description of the Wampanoag, plus a brief bio of the boy who played Tapenum for this book.

BONUS BOOK FOR TEACHERS

Book for teachers about Thanksgiving | The ESL Connection
For teachers -- it's more than a cookbook; source: The ESL Nexus

Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving Recipes and History, from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie, by Kathleen Curtin, Sandra L. Oliver, and Plimoth Plantation; hardback.
192 pages in length, this book details how Thanksgiving was probably celebrated by the Pilgrims and then proceeds to describe how it has been celebrated throughout the United States from then til now.  Filled with background information, recipes, photos, primary source info about Thanksgiving, and a two-page bibliography plus an index, you will never think of Thanksgiving the same way again.  I bought this book at Plimoth Plantation in 2014 and made the Boiled “Sallet” of Spinach (a warm spinach salad), which is a recipe from 1623, when I celebrated Thanksgiving some years ago.  I've also made one of the pumpkin pie recipes.

Top left shows photo of a turkey dinner and top right shows a photo of a Native meal of the "three sisters," title text is underneath on a pale yellow background, and the bottom half shows a view of a river near Plymouth, MA
Not everyone celebrates Thanksgiving; source: The ESL Nexus

Although I celebrate Thanksgiving with my family, I know that other families choose not to observe the holiday.  Americans’ ideas about the origin of Thanksgiving have changed as more scholarship has been done and Indigenous opinions have become more visible.  

The articles and websites listed below offer a perspective about Thanksgiving that is different from the one many people of a certain age grew up with.  Even now, teaching students about Thanksgiving from the Native American viewpoint or in a culturally respectful manner is not the norm in all schools.  But all students should be exposed to Native voices about how the arrival of the Pilgrims affected the Indigenous people in what is now the United States.  The first 2 links are articles and the last links is a website and all will help provide that perspective:

* The Wampanoag Side of the First Thanksgiving Story.  The Wampanoags were the people who met the English settlers in the 17th century and this article offers their perspective about Thanksgiving. 

* Do American Indians celebrate Thanksgiving?  This article discusses what happened in 1621 from a Native perspective and how many Native people do or do not celebrate Thanksgiving nowadays.

* Decolonizing Thanksgiving: A Toolkit for Combatting Racism in Schools.  This website includes letters you can send home to parents, links to resources, and books about Native American cultures that you and your students can read.

(This post was originally published on November 2, 2015; it has been revised and part of another post originally published on November 18, 2019 has been added to it.)

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