Language comes more quickly when we are compelled to use it. Are there people in your community with stories that mirror those of your students? Help your English learners (all students) realize how important they are with people who want to meet them and can inspire them.
I am always on the lookout for people who can connect with my students to open their minds to the world of possibilities that are available to them.
Our latest visitor is George Bamfo who works in sales for LESCO Architectural lighting. My friend, Kristi Warren, mentioned to me that her coworker was from Ghana (many of my students are also from Africa). George has an inspiring story that includes receiving a college scholarship for playing football. Like everyone I have ever asked, he agreed to come speak to my students. Check out this 2 min video of George Bamfo’s visit to our classroom:
To make the most of our visitor experience, I stick to a 4 step process we call DDCR or DISCUSS, DISCOVER, CONNECT, REFLECT. These are the steps I follow:
- DISCUSS: Tell your students that a special person is coming to speak to them. Show your students pictures and give an overview of the guest, their profession, why they should be a good visitor.
- Teach key vocabulary so students have comprehension and allow them to speak in their native language to negotiate meaning. (I use Kahoot to teach vocabulary with visuals)
- Solicit questions from your students! Have students enter these into a shared Google Slides presentation (fixing up English spelling or grammar errors for them). Practice their pronunciation of their authentic questions.
3. CONNECT: Connect virtually and/or in person. Before meeting, share the presentation with your visitor virtually and ask that they provide you answers to be typed into the presentation. Any pictures you can find together will be helpful to your ELs.
- Create a Selfie Kahoot that incorporates questions about the visitor and also questions about your class.
- On the day of the visit, allow your guest to co-present with your class. They can help read slides, choral read and come up with new questions.
- Play the Kahoot with your guest after their presentation.
4. REFLECT: After the visit, debrief with students orally and then in writing to cement lessons learned about perseverance, growth mindset, teamwork, etc..
This method of DISCUSS, DISCOVER, CONNECT, REFLECT has been serving me quite well for authentic learning opportunities. I strive to help my students grow in a connected world. I’m able to bring in others in person or virtually who can help guide my students in learning and in life.
Our #EduPartners give us hope, pride and many times their journeys are full of lessons they can share and messages that our immigrant students need to hear.
Wondering if people will come? Over the past few years we have had visits from ESL teacher Emily Francis, Champion’s Game authors Saul Ramirez and John Seidlitz, Doctoral Student and teacher Katie DiGregorio, Equine Archaeologist Dr. Carolyn Willikes, President of the Council of Texas Archeologists Dr Jon Lohse, historian and authorDr. Paul Spellman, the founders of Pledgecents, Bryan McAuley of the Texas Historical Commission and others.
Next week we will welcome Benjamin Yagan who was my nurse in the hospital and is originally from Kenya.
We have had more connections virtually, these are the ones who have physically come to our classroom. It’s worth mentioning that I have paid nothing to any of these visitors.
One lasts thing is that I always make sure my students know that one day I will be calling on them to come back and tell their success stories to newcomers.
We have SO many people out there who are eager to help us educate and inspire our students. I appreciate the visitors and also want to be sure to thank Ms. Paula Gomez who has been coming once a week to volunteer and also Georgia Henkel, a student aide that helps during 6th period in my room. If you’d like volunteers, check out this post that includes a 5 minute video you can share with your community: BRING ON THE VOLUNTEERS
PS: Would you like more support? I’d love to come work with you and your staff! Simply reach out to me or Kathy Belanger: firstname.lastname@example.org
In the near future I will be presenting at the NABE conference, as well as the ISTE conference and I’m a proud spotlight speaker at the Abydos writing conference.
I’m attending SXSW as well so please reach out if you’ll be at any of these!
You can also join me for two upcoming workshops in Texas. The information for those is below. We’d love to see you!