BAP018 Diana Delaney, Elementary ESOL Students at Grade Level

Every teacher of ELLs can benefit from the positivity and growth mindset of Diana Delaney.

She is my guest on the podcast this week and I’m inspired by how much she believes in her students.

Diana is an ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) teacher in Atlanta, Georgia. She is constantly sharing great content from her twitter account, so be sure to follow her at @DelaneyELDiana.

You can listen to the show right here.

Diana and I talk about the ESOL Conference in Atlanta Georgia in a few weeks. I am indebted to her for telling me about it.  I am presenting at the conference with Emily Francis who is also from our PLN and a very inspiring ESL teacher.  We all look forward to learning together in Georgia.

Diana and I discuss her journey and how she became an ESOL teacher that supports students across her campus.  Diana herself is from Venezuela and her career path has taken shape from her love of culture and diversity.

Diana and I discuss the pros and cons of supporting students through a pull-out model vs. a push-in model.   In her school, the only option is to pull out and Diana explains how she has this schedule structured so that it is a positive opportunity to reinforce content learning.  She has  a lot of success pre-teaching concepts ahead of the general education teachers.  I shared the success of my newcomer student Uri, who was essentially doing this same thing for himself last year.  I mention this video where Uri explains how reviewing and pre-teaching himself vocabulary accelerated his reading, his English language and his content learning.

Diana and I talk about our awesome online book club that was started by Tan Huyhn and Katie Toppel.  You can jump in any time on Twitter with the hashtag #Ellchat_bkclub.  This round we are working through Nancy Motley’s Talk, Read, Talk, Write.  I love having Diana in my PLN because she shares great insight in the book club and in general.

Diana told us that she used Emily Francis’ blog post about her journey as a newcomer with one of her students and it had a big impact.  I have also shared Emily’s story with my English learners and it has always had a big impact.

During the podcast, I mentioned Gerson Bermudez.  This student inspired so many of my high school students including Uri that I mention above.  I would encourage you to  follow this link if you have not seen Gerson’s video.

She also gave high praise for John Gordon (author  of The Energy Bus) who encouraged her to get on Twitter.

We talked about giving your ESL students the opportunity to do The Hour of Code. 

I want to again thank Diana for coming on the podcast.  Her attitude about all of her learners is exactly what we need for our future bilingual students. She has a firm belief that they can be successful.  Imagine being an English learner at her school.  How do you think Diana makes them feel?  It makes me so happy to think about it!

Thanks for listening to the show!

Do you want more support?  I’d love to work with you and your staff.  Reach out at

Also! Please join me in Houston for a great Tech for ELLs conference in March.  John Seidlitz and I are excited to present this popular conference on March 21st.

Anna Matis and I are also thrilled to be presenting the Boosting Achievement training in Dallas on March 27th.  The registration forms are below. Hope to see you there!

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Martin Luther King Jr. Lesson for ESL

As always, my newcomers are responding positively to lessons that explain Martin Luther King, Jr. and his role in American history.  I’ll be doing more of them throughout the coming weeks.

These lessons come at a time when our recent immigrants need them most. We have an opportunity to discuss civil liberties and why Dr. King was so passionate about equality and justice.

I initially use the following objectives:

Content Objective: I will identify Martin Luther King, Jr. and be able to explain his role in American History.

Language Objective: I will explain my learning to my partner by completing the following sentence frame:  “Martin Luther King, Jr. was important to American history because _____________________________”

I use these materials over several days so my content objectives change to cover verb tenses, social studies vocabulary, idioms as well as author’s purpose and details.

My goal is to give my language learners enough of the basic facts to elicit rich conversations about social justice and equality.  A larger goal I have is to make sure each of my immigrant students understands the sacrifices made by Dr. King and other civil rights leaders.  I want them to know that they are vitally important to the fabric of our nation.  I want them to know that there are so many people then and now that are willing to fight for their inclusion. And that this great man showed us how to fight with love.  These are messages that should not be lost on our English language learners.

Our students need to understand the basic facts about Dr. King’s life.  To help them understand his biography, I have adapted a piece of text that they use in groups to answer the knowledge level questions in a Kahoot.  The questions are at the basic, comprehension level which can still be a struggle for my first year students.  I scaffold by pre-teaching vocabulary and offering shared reading for my beginners/emergent readers.  More advanced students work in pairs. 

My students understand that if they are not the “reader” they should be tracking print to advance their decoding skills.  The listener also has the task of listening for the answers to the questions that will be on the Kahoot.  I give those to the students in this printed document.

Here is the link to play the Kahoot:

I have to give credit to Kahoot Hero NekyaHB.  She created a great Kahoot 2 years ago which I duplicated and adapted for my language learners.

I love the engagement I have with the students because they know there will be a Kahoot over the material.  But I don’t want to waste this engagement at the knowledge level of these facts.  I make sure to use visuals in the Kahoot so I can ask students what they notice.  We stop between many of the questions to discuss their thinking and their questions.  I facilitate structured conversations with the #QSSSA questioning strategy to hold students accountable for their conversations.  If you’re unfamiliar with this great technique, it will change your life!  John Seidlitz developed a great acronym for using several sheltered strategies together called Question/Signal/Stem/Share/Assess.  Valentina Gonzalez wrote a great post about it here.

With my second year students, the reading was less scaffolded.  I used Nancy Motely’s Talk, Read, Talk, Write approach so that the students were doing more of the reading.  If you are not familiar with this great approach, you can watch her VirtuEL keynote video that explains it here. This is how I used it:

Talk #1:  “Treat others the way you want to be treated.”  This is what is known as the “Golden Rule.” What does this mean to you?  (Use QSSSA for Talk #1)

We do some extra talking here as I ask students to popcorn out what they know about Dr. Martin Luther King and what they want to know.  (KWL Chart)

Read: Shared reading or partner reading of this text.  Students work to answer questions that will also be in a Kahoot at the end of class.

Talk #2: This happens during the Kahoot.  I use QSSSA after several questions to have students discussing their connections and thoughts about the work of Dr. King.  We also generate more questions during this time.  Native language is allowed but we use frames for English speaking in unison.

Write: After the Kahoot we have a quick write to summarize our thoughts about Dr. King.  I do this as a shared writing with my newcomers (their ideas, I scribe the brainstorm and the quick write in English).  My intermediate/2nd year students do this more independently.  They still offer ideas for the brainstorm and I scribe them, but they compose their paragraphs independently.

Thanks to Larry Ferlazzo, I will also be using these videos and other great resources from his blog: New videos for teaching about Martin Luther King

Also adding a Flipgrid opportunity for my students.  Thanks to Jess Bell, who sent me this flipgrid example.  She has her students recording what their dream is.  The intro video should get the students off to a great start.  

 There is quite a bit we can teach when we couple Kahoot, videos, adapted text and Flipgrids with our language and learning targets.  Especially when we are using great sheltered strategies techniques.

I hope you found this helpful.  I can’t think of a better time to be using the teaching of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr in our classrooms.

Thanks for reading!


PS:  Please reach out if you are interested in consulting or training. I continue to be inspired by the educators in every district where I work.  We all want the same thing.  We want to help students be successful.  It’s my honor to share strategies that support those goals!  You can reach Kathy Belanger of Seidlitz Education to book me at  Or contact me directly at


BAP017 Gerson Bermudez

This is  the video that started all the other videos.  In this week’s podcast, I share the audio and also reflect on why Gerson’s words are so meaningful to my students.

** 2019 UPDATE**  Scroll to the bottom of this post to see updated pics and info on what he is doing now.

Listen to “BAP017 Gerson Bermudez, He Will Inspire You and Your Students!” on Spreaker.

This video gets requested more than the others and never fails to have an impact on my classes or on a room full of teachers, for that matter.

Gerson Bermudez is an intrinsically motivated, driven student who helps us all see what is possible in language acquisition.

In the podcast I talk about how I’m careful to share with my students that they need not put this much effort to be successful.  But  I do want them to see that our ability to learn another language (or to learn most things) is up to the learner. The learner is the one that decides how quickly we will pick up a new skill.  It is often about time on task.

We have a mantra in my class:  The more you read, the more you can read.

Of course, as educators, it is our responsibility to shelter instruction so our English learners are able to comprehend our lessons and acquire the English with as much ease as possible.  But students must realize what is possible depends on how much they engage with the learning.  This is the piece I was missing as a young, struggling learner.  I had plenty of teachers telling me that I was smart and that I had potential.  But I didn’t really believe that.  I didn’t realize how quickly I could improve my reading level.  I spent all my time frustrated with grade level text that was frustrational.  If I had realized that reading more of any text, would improve my decoding skills dramatically, I would have engaged with that sooner.  And there is nothing like seeing someone who has done it.  Someone about your own age.

In the podcast I describe how we use Gerson’s video.  We do a compare/contrast about us and him.  We refer back to that all year long.  It helps a great deal.  In fact, this student decided to record a quick thank you to Gerson:

I’m always thrilled at how the video affects the students.  They see Gerson as a hero.

He is so well liked that I caught up with him last year to get an update.  Here is that quick clip:

If you go to the videos page of my blog you will see many more videos of students who have had success and most will tell you that this boy really encouraged them to do more.

I hope this podcast and these videos are helpful to you, your colleagues and your students.  There is way too much conversation about what our language learners can’t do right now.  I’m proud of all the teachers who write me about what ELLs CAN DO.  And I’m happy to contribute some video to back that up.

Have a great week and a great 2018!



Congratulations on your graduation, Gerson!  Thank you for inspiring so many students and their teachers!


PS:  Reach out if you are interested in consulting services.  You can reach me at

ALSO!  Check out Upcoming Events!  I’d love to meet you IRL!