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Today is Thanksgiving Day in Canada. I do wonder how our new immigrant and refugee learners interpret the typical visual representations of that holiday. What understandings do our new learners take away from that event? What efforts did you make to help learners understand and relate to this extra ‘sleep in’ day?

Giving thanks and considering for what you are grateful would certainly be one aspect to which everyone can relate and that is indeed a common practice in classrooms these days. One example of this approach was posted recently on a Kindergarten Teacher Blog – http://theselfregulatedteacher.com – and illustrates well how even very young learners can access ‘big ideas’ such as gratitude and thankfulness.

With my ELL Specialist hat on, the book list provided on that blog sent me searching for yet one more story – one that provided an alternate vision of this holiday, one that helped the learner see themselves as a participant rather than an outsider. Bridging that cultural gap is one of the most challenging parts of our mandate as ELL teachers but a challenge we must rise to on a daily basis.

In this instance, I found Duck for Turkey Day by Jacqueline Jules. Much of the book is available online, and serves to help the newcomers in our classrooms not feel ‘different’ or excluded from what is taken as common understandings about Thanksgiving Day – turkey, pumking pie, cranberries, etc.

The rest of this story: Tuyet is worried about how to share her weekend but it turns out she is not the only child in the classroom for whom the turkey is not the centrepoint of their meal but being with family and celebrating together is.

A recent TED Talk by a [additional language] teacher in New York City further extends this conversation about building bridges with our learners. What will you do today to build bridges with your learners?