A new program is aiming to provide paired nonfiction and fiction books that help newcomers learn about the many aspects of living in the U.S. and set them up for success in their new country. U.S. schools have seen a sharp increase in newcomers in the past two decades. As these students learn English and adapt to living in a new country, they must also learn to fit in socially and academically. Featuring around 14 topics that are critical to success in U.S. schools and communities, GO! Welcome Newcomers® is a new instructional solution for immigrants in upper elementary and middle school grades.
Recent immigrants come from all over the world, which means there is a great diversity of native languages in newcomer classrooms. Moreover, customs and social expectations vary widely.
This presents a challenge, as teachers of newcomers may not know how to communicate with students in their native languages. In addition, they may be unaware of the disconnect between students’ understanding of social norms and U.S. customs. Isolation and confusion can be areas of concern.
The need to help newcomers adjust to their new schools and communities drives the topics covered in the GO! Welcome Newcomers library. Topics vary from the most basic information about schools and U.S. currency to overviews of U.S. culture, weather, and grooming habits. Ultimately, the goal of the program is to provide paired nonfiction and fiction books that help newcomers learn about the many aspects of living in the U.S. and set them up for success in their new country.
Reflecting the diversity of immigrants, the books feature main characters from different countries of origin. A variety of family structures and educational backgrounds are also reflected. Each nonfiction book uses photographs and simple, straightforward text to explore a topic and give essential tips for navigating an area of American life. Each fiction book features an immigrant tween between the ages of ten and 14 who is experiencing the topic in a realistic way. Newcomers easily relate to these main characters and make personal connections and observations.
Because most newcomers are learning English, special emphasis is placed on building vocabulary. Research into best practices for English language learners shows that gaps in vocabulary make reading comprehension even more difficult for these students. Full-color photos on every page of the books and vocabulary cards help bridge these gaps and allow students to visually comprehend the text while improving their reading skills.
To further support comprehension and fluency, audio of all 28 titles is also available. Engaging male and female narrators read the texts word for word.
One of several libraries developed by Saddleback Educational Publishing for today’s newcomers and English language learners, GO! Welcome Newcomers provides culturally relevant books and lessons for upper elementary and middle school classrooms. The boxed set includes 84 books (three each of 28 titles) in nonfiction/fiction pairs, survival vocabulary cards, and a comprehensive teacher’s guide featuring lesson plans, reproducible student activities, and assessments. The readability range is 1.5 to 1.8, and the Lexile range is 70L to 200L. Electronic samples are available at www.sdlback.com/go-welcome-newcomers/.