Videos and Other Resources

Hey There Fellow ELL Advocate!

Thanks to everyone who has sent requests lately for specific videos and resources to support your students.   Most of the videos I use for trainings can be found at this link: VIDEOS.  The most requested video is the one below of Gerson:

This is the one that could help you motivate your ELLs or your teachers.  This is powerful because it helps us realize what is possible.  Gerson read an hour a day and did a lot of language practice. We don’t expect all of our students to gain this much fluency in 7 months, but they should know that their rate of learning their second language has a lot to do with how much they want to work at it.  If they read more, they will be able to read more.  If they speak more, they will be able to speak more. As teachers, we just need to provide the support for them to be able to do it.

If you like that one, you probably would love to see how he is doing now (2016/17 school year).  Here is a quick 20 second update clip.  Notice he tells us that things get MUCH easier after your first year in a new country.

This sparked a shared essay about what traits Gerson has that we have.  Then some of my students sent messages to Gerson (emails and quick videos) and so there was even more authentic English being produced around this.  So great!  Thank you, Gerson!

Teachers also requested the information about the Social Contract that I have in my room.  This comes from Capturing Kids’ Hearts.  What is recommended is that you allow your students to create the norms for the classroom.  Those norms are created through lots of discussion around their responses to these 4 questions:

Social Contract Questions

  1. How do you want to be treated by others?
  2. How do you think others want to be treated by you?
  3. How do you want to be treated by the Teacher
  4. How do you think the teacher (me) is treated

I  love this strategy by the Flipin Group.  The way we do this is that we only offer ONE of these questions at a time.  Students talk it through with a partner and then with a group and then they find someone else to share their thoughts.  We throw out a few of their ideas but ask them to be more specific about things like “respect” so we can all be on the same page.  Then they offer suggestions and I start to script the norms on the board.  If EVERYONE agrees on something it goes on the social  contract.  Here are a few from my class and Joseph Maurer & Natalia Mendoza’s Algebra classes:

Last but not least, I have promised to re-post the Kahoot Printable Template for planning a Kahoot.  This image will take you to Kahoot’s dropbox where you can download a PDF of the document.  If you run into any  problems email me at and I’ll email you a copy.

This planning page is fantastic for raising the cognitive level of thinking.   Any level of language learner can do this.  Sometimes their writing is in their first language, but we can fix that up pretty quickly with Google translate as a start.  I usually ask the students to do just one question and I compile them and make the Kahoot.  But your students may be at a level where they can get online and make a kahoot on their own.  Also! Kahoot has a LOT more resources for you on their PD website.  

I’m proud to be an ambassador for Kahoot.  It is an honor to share the ways my students inspire me to use the free resource.  In fact, if you are in Austin any time March 6-9, please come to the JW Marriott one of those days at 10:00am.  I will be with the rest of the K!rew modeling ways to use Kahoot to inspire language production.  SXSWEdu is going on at that time but the Kahoot Activity Space is free to everyone so come play!

Here are a few other posts I have done on ways we use Kahoot in my classroom:

First Kahoot of the Year and a Bonus Language Experience

Kahoot with News in Levels

Day of the Dead Kahoot -Use Any Time of Year

Holidays Traditions Selfie Kahoot (AMAZING OUTCOMES)

Kahoot with Bonus Activity

For newcomer teachers, here is a quick video of how I worked with newcomers to support their English practice the day they arrived.  Many new kiddos on this day but they were having fun and happy to try to read in unison as we reviewed the social contract for my class:

Please reach out if you have any requests or questions.  Or things to share!  We are all so much better together.

Have a great day, Teaching Rock Star!  I know you’re a rock star because you are on a site looking for ways to support your language learners.

Stay Awesome.


Desk Olympics

Need students in different desk arrangements for different types of activities?  You can train them to change the room arrangement in the least amount of time possible to preserve instructional minutes.  Watch this 3 minute video to see my students on their first day of practicing different room arrangements.

Room arrangement is a challenge for me this year because I am one of those teachers that does not have her own room.  I am very grateful to the other teachers who allow me to hold my classes in their rooms during their off periods.  But I am not comfortable asking them to change their preferred seating arrangement to suit me.  What’s more, I often want to change the seating for different types of activities.

My boss, John Seidlitz, suggested that I look into “Desk Olympics.”  I am so glad I did.  I was skeptical until I came across this video of Mr. Dimitrov’s 5th graders modeling their ability to transition to many different room arrangements.  I was convinced!

Now, my high schoolers protested that there was not enough room and that it might take a while to do it each day.  But once they saw the 5th graders on that video, that was all it took! (LOL!)  If elementary kiddos can do this, it would be no problem for us.  And it wasn’t.

I made sure to play the video of the first few attempts for the class on the active board.  We discussed what went wrong and they enjoyed trying to get faster.  Now we know just how quickly we can do this, so that is our standard… under 30 seconds.  Talk about preserving instructional minutes!

I have other configurations to introduce but we will be good for a while with these three that allow us to get into cooperative groups and also set up for station-rotation.

An added benefit to this was the team building aspect.  Both of these classes had students who arrived THAT DAY.  And it was obvious to them.. and to all of us…that they had landed in a class that knows how to work together.

I’m excited to see what more we are able to do now!

Thanks for dropping by!



Join me in Houston on March 1st!

We still have some spots available for your ESL teachers!  Your content teachers who work with under-schooled students or newcomers will also appreciate this practical training.

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Seidlitz Education – Giving kids the gift of academic language.

In addition to being a classroom teacher, I am a Seidlitz Educational Consultant.  Most of the success of the students on this blog can be traced back to principles of sheltered instruction.  These techniques are research-based and proven to be effective for all learners.  They are critical for our language learners.

We offer a variety of popular trainings that can be viewed at the Seidlitz Education website.  Teachers love the practical techniques provided to them through engaging professional development. Administrators appreciate the results that follow when teachers are empowered with strategies that enhance pedagogy and support all types of learners.

Please contact me to bring Seidlitz Education training, coaching or mentoring to your district.   or 832-788-9478


Update on Gerson Dec 2016 and How He is Inspiring ELLs

Do you remember Gerson Bermudes??  This student is inspiring my current Newcomers to go around me and use technology to motivate each other!

Perhaps you saw his inspiring video in one of our Seidlitz trainings or here on this blog.  If you haven’t seen it, take a few minutes to be inspired by this young man.  You’ll no doubt want to show that video to your students.  ELs and native speakers alike are motivated by how quickly a person can learn a new skill with focus, practice and a belief that it is possible to accelerate your learning.  (That first video is embedded below. )

So just before the December holiday break, I dropped by Spring Woods High School to meet with Gerson.  I know he had a successful first year in the US, but it was difficult for him as most of his family was not here with him.  He was living with relatives and trying to navigate our school system, high school academics, and a new environment.  I am so happy to report that Gerson is finding success as a Junior at Spring Woods HS here in Houston.  He struggles with Chemistry – but he tells me that is common among many 11th grade students. 🙂   I’m editing the video but I wanted to offer you this 2 min reflection from Gerson.  I think he says as few things here that are important for our beginners and our long-term ELLs to hear.

Thanks to everyone who asks about him.  I told him that he had quite a following of students and teachers.  He was astonished!

He was even more moved when I read him the questions from my high-school newcomers.  He answered them all in the video that we are editing.

To me, this is where it gets even more amazing.  One of my students, Sonbul, is in his 2nd year in the US after having to leave Sudan, Africa.  Sonbul is working hard and is very motivated by Gerson.   Sonbul took it upon himself to record a quick video for Gerson and send it to me.  He did it on his phone in my class when we were finishing an activity.  Sonbul really wanted Gerson to know about how much he appreciates his example and he obviously wanted to give something back to Gerson.  Gerson loved it!

Can you imagine how much fun that was for me to share with Gerson??  Later that week I got an equally inspiring email from another ELL who was moved by Gerson’s courage.  Wendhy is Intermediate to Advanced in her English but tells me that she struggles in academic classes because of language.  She wrote me an email about Gerson and it became a back-and-forth with Gerson getting to read her expressions of gratitude.

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I love this ripple effect because none of this was content-specific but these learners are obviously influencing each other to keep going and it is sure to have a tremendous impact on their motivation and their learning.

If you’d like to connect with any of these students, just reach out.  I’m sure they would be honored.

Happy 2017!


PS: Here is the original video that we did a few years ago… the one that started it all.  Gerson was only in US schools for 7  months but he took it upon himself to make sure he learned as much English as possible right away.  Just try not to be inspired!

Update Dec 2016