Launches Free Comic E-book To Help Literacy, ELL Students Express Their Creativity


In its efforts to provide more writing tools for educators, has launched a free interactive digital comic book for students enrolled in literacy and English Language Learner programs.


The book, MakeBeliefsComix FILL-ins,  is found at and is a do-it-yourself comic book where students supply the words to complete the book. The comic e-book provides a place where students can give MakeBeliefsComix characters their own words and thoughts.  All students need to do is follow the writing prompts and fill in the blank talk and thought balloons to determine what characters say and think.


Some comic situations in the book:

.A girl is depicted with several blank thought balloons around her head with the caption: So many things on her mind.

.A character is shown singing a song with a blank balloon over her head, and the caption asks, Quick, give her some lyrics to sing.

.A character is shown with her father who has a blank talk balloon over his head, with the caption saying: The words she always wanted to hear.


The book’s interactive PDF format allows readers to write directly on their computer screens into the blank talk and thought balloons on the different pages.  When students are done typing, they can simply save the document until the next time they are inspired to make new entries or print out what they created.


In addition to MakeBeliefsComix FILL-ins, the online comic strip generator also has published another free e-book entitled Words I Wish Someone Had Said to Me  As a Kid. It offers encouraging words to boys and girls as they make their way in the world.  Says Bill Zimmerman, author of both digital books and creator of, ‘’I lost my father when I was young and missed hearing the words that a child need to hear from his or her parent.  A few years ago, right before Father’s Day, I longed for my dad very much, and to seek comfort I began writing a letter from him to me, saying some of the things which I wanted to hear – that he loved me and was proud of the person I had grown up to become.’’ Zimmerman kept writing more of these letters and they grew into this book to inspire children.  Space is also provided within the book for youngsters to also express their own thoughts and concerns.


‘’I hope young readers will turn to the book whenever they need a good word or when they are feeling lonely or unsure,’’ says Zimmerman.  ‘’Also, a parent or teacher may find new ideas for future personal messages to the young people in their lives, and they can also read and discuss the book’s thoughts with students.’’

The two new digital books are part of a series that also includes: Make Beliefs to Spark Your Writing; Hummingbird Joy: A Book of all the Things that Make You Happy, and Laptop Letters: Sending Wise & Loving Messages to Young People in Your Life.

In addition to the two new e-books, the web site also has added new characters in color and word art for students to use in creating their comic stories. A lesson plan for educators who use the site in working with students with autism has been added to the Lesson Plans section.


More than 225,000 educators and students from more than 180 countries visit each month to build their own comic strips and practice language, writing and reading skills.  The site was selected by Google as UNESCO as among the world’s most innovative sites to encourage literacy and writing.  And the American Library Association chose it as a Great Web Site for Kids.


A pioneer in developing interactive techniques to encourage writing, Zimmerman for many years edited the nationally syndicated Newsday Student Briefing Page, which was twice nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.


Sociocultural Factors in Second Language Acquisition


Quality of Words, Not Quantity, Is Crucial to Language Skills, Study Finds




Now, a growing body of research is challenging the notion that merely exposing poor children to more language is enough to overcome the deficits they face. The quality of the communication between children and their parents and caregivers, the researchers say, is of much greater importance than the number of words a child hears.

A study presented on Thursday at a White House conference on “bridging the word gap” found that among 2-year-olds from low-income families, quality interactions involving words — the use of shared symbols (“Look, a dog!”); rituals (“Want a bottle after your bath?”); and conversational fluency (“Yes, that is a bus!”) — were a far better predictor of language skills at age 3 than any other factor, including the quantity of words a child heard.


Kathryn Hirsh-Pasek is the lead author of a study that points to the importance of high-quality communication with young children.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

“It’s not just about shoving words in,” said Kathryn Hirsh-Pasek, a professor of psychology at Temple University and lead author of the study. “It’s about having these fluid conversations around shared rituals and objects, like pretending to have morning coffee together or using the banana as a phone. That is the stuff from which language is made.”



Co-Teaching Tips


Originally posted on My Educational Technology Blog: A Place of Resources and Tools for Educators:

Always good to revisit since good co-teaching does not just happen… link:

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17 Little ways to annoy a Scandinavian person


Funny list for all readers with issues that apply to most Europeans…

Lexical Distance Among the Languages of Europe



Lexical Distance Among the Languages of Europe

Originally posted on Etymologikon™:

Lexical Distance Network Among the Major Languages of Europe

This chart shows the lexical distance — that is, the degree of overall vocabulary divergence — among the major languages of Europe.

The size of each circle represents the number of speakers for that language. Circles of the same color belong to the same language group. All the groups except for Finno-Ugric (in yellow) are in turn members of the Indo-European language family.

English is a member of the Germanic group (blue) within the Indo-European family. But thanks to 1066, William of Normandy, and all that, about 75% of the modern English vocabulary comes from French and Latin (ie the Romance languages, in orange) rather than Germanic sources. As a result, English (a Germanic language) and French (a Romance language) are actually closer to each other in lexical terms than Romanian (a Romance language) and French.

So why is English still considered a Germanic language? Two reasons. First, the most frequently used 80%…

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For your Culturally Responsive School


such a neat idea:  Photos of Grandmas Around the World, With Their Signature Dishes


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