English language learners across Iowa now have a new tool to learn English in schools. Three of the popular Iowa Ag Today publications have been translated into Spanish and, when paired with the English versions, can help ensure comprehension for native Spanish speakers.
Iowa Ag Today is a student magazine targeted to fourth-grade readers. The publication can be used to support classroom curriculum by teaching science, social studies and language arts in the context of agriculture. Each issue features nonfiction stories, discussion topics and new vocabulary for students. The publication is paired with a teacher guide, a student worksheet and a student assessment.
“We aligned the publications to Iowa Core standards, so teachers can easily implement them into their classroom activities,” says Will Fett, executive director of the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation. “We want students to have fun reading them, but more importantly to walk away with a better understanding of where their food, fiber and energy comes from.”
Publication in English, Spanish
According to the 2012 Iowa Condition of Education Report, the number of English as a Second Language (ESL) students, also known as English Language Learners (ELL), is increasing in schools. Iowa has experienced a doubling of ELL student enrollment over the past decade and continues to experience steady growth on an annual basis. ELL student enrollment statewide has increased from 11,248 in 2001 to 29,410 in 2018.
Of students enrolled in grades pre-kindergarten through 12th in Iowa schools, 6.1% of the students are designated as limited English proficient. School districts in Iowa experience very different impacts, with as many as 53% of students in some school districts designated as limited English proficient. As of 2013, the report shows 16,171 Iowa students speak Spanish as their primary language, while the remaining are very linguistically diverse in terms of native language.
STUDENTS LEARN: A new ag publication teaches young students about their state and provides real-life connections to science, math and social studies.
The Iowa Ag Today publications focus on important topics for Iowans like food, health, agriculture and environment; plants and animals; and how agriculture affects culture, society and economy. This translated version is designed with ELL students in mind and will provide a needed tool for teachers to use as they work with these students. While designed as a language arts tool, the publications are aligned with social studies, science and 21st-century skills standards that make them versatile.
Grant supports student literacy
Iowa Ag Literacy Foundation was a recipient of a grant from Tyson Foods that helped underwrite this project. This investment will help serve the needs of the Storm Lake community where it was recently debuted at a presentation to fourth-grade classrooms.
“By engaging with students, we hope to show them how important agriculture is in their home state of Iowa,” Fett says. “We want to help ensure they have the tools they need to succeed in learning a language or progressing to future career options.”
“This project is important to us because we want to see the Storm Lake community continue to thrive,” says Lynn Schable, financial manager at Tyson Foods. “Communication is essential in business, and we want to help set these students up to succeed in life.”
For more information about the Iowa Ag Today publication, contact the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org. Digital versions of the publication can be found at iowaagliteracy.org.
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