Archive for December, 2009

Love and Disdain for the Community

I was born and raised in a certain Southern California urban city where I still continue to live and work. I attended preschool, elementary school, high school and the university in this city and when I grew up I choose to serve the community by working in the same school district which I attended in my youth.  I love the city with all my heart and in my eyes I see nothing but a city full of beauty, rich history, and diversity. I am so proud of the city and I will never leave.

Not everyone feels the same about this city, however. When I was a teacher working in one of the most poverty stricken schools in the city, other teachers would talk about how horrible the city was and classified it as the “armpit of California”. At the time I never used to say anything because I was young and embarrassed to speak up, but it always hurt me that the same people who make tons of money working in this city’s school district could have such a poor image of the city. I always itched to say, “Why don’t you just get the hell out of here and go back to wherever you came from?”

Whenever I shop, eat or run errands throughout the city, I often run into former students or parents while I am out and about, yet I never have run into another teacher or administrator who works in the district. In fact, I have visited friends in a city about thirty miles east of my city and I have seen more people who work in the district over there than here in the city. I have stood in lines in the Barnes and Noble in another close city and have heard people talk about how they work in my city and they roll their eyes in disgust and sympathize with one another about the horrible, poverty stricken, gang infested city.

People often comment to me that the city is very interesting in that it has pockets here and there of “decent neighborhoods” while the rest of the city is in shambles. Hogwash, I say. In my eyes I see the city as a beautiful place with pockets of bad neighborhoods. People lament about the overly aggressive and ghettoized parents. Where are these parents, I ask, because I work directly with the public on an every day basis and rarely come across an aggressive parent. People make excuses that they can’t provide opportunities for parent involvement because the neighborhood is sooooo bad and they can’t “risk” being there after dark. If the neighborhood is so bad, then why did my boss and I stand on the corner in front of one of the “worst” schools last night for an hour without any problems, or why have I never had any problems at my house which is one block away?

I’ve come to the conclusion that I am fed up with this nonsense and I am not going to tolerate it any more. It’s my theory that to everyone else the kids and families in this city don’t count because they are poor, black and latino. People drive in to teach in a city that they hate (and make a hefty salary at that) and they don’t even bother to drive around the block from the school and learn a little about the community. How can they truly love and care about the kids if they are so openly disdainful of the city and the people who live in the community?

Honestly, what use are they to this city if they don’t give back anything to this community? Many people don’t shop here, don’t eat dinner or lunch here and do nothing but complain about how horrible this place is. How passionate can they be about changing the lives of the children who live in this community if they are afraid to even get out of their car at the local convenience store or gas station before they get back onto the freeway and drive as far away from here as they can?

The next time that I hear someone whine and complain about this wonderful place, I am going to give them the following suggestion: If you hate this place so much, maybe you should work elsewhere. The kids deserve better.

About the Author: Melanie McGrath is a bilingual education fanatic. She passionately thinks, lives and dreams about multilingual education every waking and sleeping moment of her life. Seriously. Melanie is an administrator of bilingual education programs, and considers herself to be an advocate for students, parents, teachers, and others in the struggle for quality bilingual education programs.  As founder of Multilingual Mania, she’s doing all that she can to help create a multilingual and non-racist society one day at a time.

Categories: Uncategorized

Video: Cómo El Grinch Robó la Navidad

The other day I was talking about the Grinch and I just found the video of the Grinch in Spanish on youtube! It is broken up into three different pieces and although all of the songs are still in English, the rest of it is translated into Spanish. I LOVE this video!!

I’ve always loved the Grinch, as I mentioned in my other post. I just bought the book in Spanish on Amazon, and I noticed that the Spanish translator is someone who I met a while back who follows me on facebook! How cool is that?

Purchase the video in French and English on Amazon.

Purchase Cómo El Grinch Robó la Navidad from Amazon.

Categories: Uncategorized

The Spirit of Giving-Let’s Make This World a Better Place

I’ve been dragging my heels with regard to the holiday spirit, for reasons that I elaborated in yesterday’s Grinch inspired post. Once I actually published my aversion to the holiday spirit and explained my reasons, I suddenly felt better. Ah, the power of therapeutic writing! I’ve decided that this year I am going to start my very own traditions by continuing to ignore everyone in my dysfunctional family while giving to and serving the neediest people who are lacking what so many many of us take for granted every day.

Over the past year in California, there have been enormous cuts to education and other services. School districts have been forced to have to do more with less resources and it has been hard on all of us. In my particular instance, we re-organized and I am now overseeing an additional department that was previously overseen by another manager in addition to my previous responsibilities. Every once in a while I admit that I have been victim to the “I’m now being expected to do more with less money and less people” type of thoughts in my head.

Then I remember that I still have a job. More responsibilities as well as increased stress, but a fulfilling job nonetheless. I have a roof over my head, food on my table and all of my basic needs are met. In fact, the only thing that I have worried about all weekend is how my central heat and air is broken during the cold season. Yet I am still fortunate enough to go to the store and buy a floor heater and electrical blankets while at the same time picking up a few Christmas presents for some of my friends.

If you are a personal friend or family member of mine who planned on buying me a holiday present, I would really prefer that you give a donation instead to, a nonprofit organization dedicated to making this world a better place. For the cost of what you would spend on a present, your money could fund the education of a young girl for an entire year in another country or pay for supplies for enrichment programs in inner city schools here in the United States.

This is what I will be doing during this holiday season-giving and serving those most in need because when it all boils down to it I have everything I need and more. I challenge my readers to also donate to the organization-even something as small as ten dollars goes a long way towards making this world a better place for children and others in need. In addition to donations, you can also set up a “wish list/gift registry” for yourself which you can pass on to your friends and family so that they can donate to the project of your choice. Of course all donations are 100% tax-deductible!

Here are some things that you can do with your donations or your “wish list” that you can ask your friends and family to donate to:

Social inclusion for children in Argentina: $10 Keeps One Child Off the Street to Join a “Murga”

$10 Keeps high risk inner-city students in school in the United States

$10 provides theater to 2,500 in-need New York children

You can find many more projects based in the United States and throughout the world on the Global Giving network. I urge you to donate at least ten dollars to an organization of your choice, and maybe even more if you have the means to do so. You can read about all of the projects that are in need by clicking on the following button:


Additional Information: Gift Registries – Weddings, Birthdays, Or Just Because. Give the Gift of Giving Instant eCard Gift Certificate – Give the Gift of Changing the World – For As Little As $10

Just Call Me “Little Miss Grinch”

The mean ole Grinch is my long lost male twin. Ever since I was a child I always felt that I was drawn to that mean ole Christmas stealing little thief. I can still remember being a child and having my teacher read aloud “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” and I actually felt sympathetic for the meanie. It was always so strange to me that other students always were scared of the Grinch.

As a child I came from a divorced family and I was always shuffled back and forth between my fighting parents during the holidays. I became accustomed to upheaval and turmoil during the holidays from a very early age and used to loath having to split Christmas time between two houses. Every year my mother would go overboard trying to erase the fact that there was so much bitterness and turmoil, so she would accrue enormous amounts of credit card debt buying my brother and I tons and tons of gifts that we didn’t even want or need. Every Christmas I would have to open up all of the presents and force a huge display of excitement if I didn’t want my mother to break down in tears.

And don’t get me started about the preparations leading up to Christmas. While the rest of you were sitting around and celebrating your great family traditions, I was in the house with my mother and brother decorating the Christmas tree. “Don’t put that bulb there because there is already a bulb of the same color too close”. “You can’t put two of those kinds of ornaments too close to one another”. “Stand back and look at the tree. Get over there and move that ornament. Why didn’t you see that there is an empty space in the tree? Why aren’t you paying attention?”

I think I first grew a little Grinchie heart during the Christmas tree decoration time my mother was just yelling, cursing, screaming or beating the hell out of us because we made a tiny mistake in the decorations or we broke an ornament by accident. Or maybe my Grinch heart sprung up when she was yelling, screaming, cursing or doing other similar nonsense when she was cooking or we were eating our lovely Christmas meal that she worked so hard over for us, you know, supposedly unappreciative kids. Perhaps my inner Grinch appeared when I just started rebelling against my mother’s insane attempt to force us to try to have a “family holiday tradition” in the midst of dysfunction and abuse.

Honestly, when my teachers read aloud “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” every year, I felt like I was not the only person in the world who had a rather hard time with Christmas. One year in class I told my teacher that I “hated Christmas too” and she talked to me about my home problems and allowed me to write about it in my journal. It was the only sense of sanity that I had left in a school environment where my classmates all talked so lovingly about their holiday traditions.

If you are a classroom teacher, have you ever considered that you might have a little mini Grinch in one of your classrooms during the holidays?

Over the years I have tried to embrace the holiday spirit, but I think that any chance that I had at loving the holiday was immediately beat out of me as soon as I started working in retail during the holiday seasons during college. I would work long, late hours and had to deal with abusive behavior from customers for one reason or another. At midnight on Christmas while everyone was celebrating their family traditions, I would watch customers fighting and yelling at one another over a little toy.

Since then I have locked myself up and isolated myself from anything related to Christmas other than when I would talk about it with kids in my classroom. Their happiness, joy and excitement lit an itty bitty spark of love in my heart for the holiday. And now this year I am reading so many blogs online about the wonderful and loving traditions that so many people have during the holidays, and it gives me hope that maybe one day I too will be able to forget the past and start my own traditions when I have children.

It’s going to take a while for my cold little heart to thaw out a little, but in the meantime don’t expect me to give up my favorite holiday song any time soon:

Happy holidays-keep up your wonderful stories online. Maybe one of them will help me change my Grinchie ways.

Purchase “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” book on Amazon.

Purchase “Cómo El Grinch Robó Navidad” book on Amazon.

Purchase the “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” video on Amazon.

Categories: Culture

Books in Spanish About Diverse Holiday Celebrations

In addition to the goals of bilingualism and academic achievement, a third important goal in Dual Immersion and other bilingual education programs is multiculturalism and cross-cultural respect. The goal of cross-cultural awareness and appreciation is particularly important in Dual Immersion settings where students of mixed language backgrounds and cultural heritages are integrated in order to learn two languages. Students in Dual Immersion settings are not only learning a second language, but they are also learn how to navigate between multiple cultures in a world that is becoming increasingly diverse.

The holiday season is an excellent time to introduce children to diverse cultural practices and celebrations. The following resources can be used to teach children in Spanish/English bilingual programs about the diverse cultural celebrations that occur in the United States and throughout the world in the month of December:

La Navidad Alrededor del Mundo/Christmas Around the World: This book provides an overview in Spanish about how eight different countries celebrate the Christmas holiday.

Celebra Kwanzaa con Botitas y Sus Gatitos/Celebrate Kwanzaa with Boots and Her Kittens: This Spanish book is written by the well-known children authors Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy. The book tells the story of an African American family who is searching for their lost cat during Kwanzaa. Throughout the story, children will learn about the seven values celebrated during Kwanzaa.

Celebra Hanukkah con un Cuento de Bubbe/Celebrate Hanukkah with Bubbe’s Tales: This book is another book written by Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy, which tells a story of children during the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah. The book also includes an informative section about Hanukkah.

N de Navidad: This photo-packed book takes readers on a journey through the preparations for the Christmas holiday in Africa. A young boy introduces children to the African customs and food associated with Christmas.

You can purchase these four books as well as additional books about Christmas in Spanish in the Multilingual Mania store.

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Multicultural Connections: Jessie de la Cruz and the Female Perspective in the Farmworker’s Movement

Language and Literacy Resources: The “Tumblebook Library”

Materials in Spanish for Bilingual Programs

Categories: Culture

Language and Literacy Resources: The “Tumblebook Library”

Today I was looking through the internet at some of the various websites for public libraries. Many of the public libraries have excellent resources, free of charge! For example, one library had free online web-based tutoring, provided that it was accessed from the computers at the library. I’m sure that most people really aren’t familiar with all of the free resources that public libraries have to offer. Today was actually the first day that I have really looked over the events calendars at many of the local libraries in Southern California.

One of the newest technology resources that I have been highly entertained with this evening is the “Tumblebook Library”. The “Tumblebook Library” is an online collection of books that have been animated and digitalized. The library has animated version of stories in English, Spanish, French, Italian, Chinese, and Russian. There aren’t too many books in languages other than English, but it looks like the site is slowly growing and I bet that there will be additional books soon!

In addition to the animated books in multiple languages, there are also games, puzzles, quizzes and activities that can be integrated with many of the digital books. The site also includes some audio books that children can listen to online, as well as “Tumblereadables”, which is a book or text that is read aloud to children and the sentences or words that are read aloud to students are highlighted for kids to see.

At first I thought that some of the books would be really silly books, but they actually have some interesting and popular books. I even found my very own favorite fairy tale, “The Paper Bag Princess”. I personally enjoyed looking at some of the animation as well as listening to some of the narrators reading the books aloud!

You can access the “Tumblebook Library” by clicking here. Apparently the site is not free if you don’t access it from a library website, so you will need to click here and then click again on the blue flashing “Click here for Tumblebooks” button that is in the middle of the page. What a great deal-the libraries are paying for these resources for our communities!

In the meantime, visit the websites of your local libraries and check out what resources they are offering!

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Raise a Bilingual Child the Fun and Easy Way

Categories: Literacy

Giveaway: “Fun in Spanish” CD for Children

December 2, 2009 9 comments

Thanks to Carolina, founder of 1-2-3 Spanish Together and Fun for Spanish Teachers, we are hosting a giveaway of a cd with children’s songs in Spanish!! The cd is called “Fun in Spanish” and it has twenty-two tracks of fun, body wiggling songs full of children’s music. Carolina wrote the songs herself and being that she is from Colombia, you can definitely hear the South American influence and rhythm in many of the songs.

You can find more information about some of her other cds and videos that she has made on her websites 1-2-3 Spanish Together or Fun for Spanish Teachers!!

We are grateful to have the privilege of giving away the cd to FOUR lucky readers!! If you would like to enter into the giveaway, please leave a comment about your favorite children’s song in any language! Each time that you perform one of the following suggestions, your name will be entered into the drawing:

  • Leave a comment about your favorite song for children.
  • Visit the Fun for Spanish Teachers blog and become a follower. Leave a comment here that you are following the blog.
  • Become a fan of our Facebook page. Let us know in the comments that you joined!
  • Become a fan of the 1-2-3 Spanish Together facebook page. Let us know in the comments that you joined!
  • Tweet about the giveaway on twitter. Please leave your twitter name in our comments section to let us know that you tweeted about the giveaway.

This means that you will have up to five chances to enter your name for the giveaway! The giveaway ends next Thursday, December 10, 2009 at 8:00 Pacific Standard Time. Check back next Friday for the winner!

Categories: Uncategorized