Engagement is everything! This week, Blanca Huertas joins us to talk about some of her practices that have boosted the motivation of her 7th and 8th grade newcomers.
Listen to the show right here:
Blanca is an ESL teacher at McAdams Jr. High in Dickinson, ISD. She doesn’t work at a newcomer center. Her team serves about 40 newcomers in these two grades at her comprehensive school. Bravo to Blanca because she is trying some innovative ideas to have her students engaged and interacting in the target language in English.
Blanca & her colleague, Ms. Garcia, came to a session at our Region IV Education Service Center in December (Thank you Region IV for having us at your awesome Bil/ESL Conference!). At our session, Blanca met several of my students and was inspired by how empowered the students were to speak in front of hundreds of teachers. She used the story of Wendhy Maldonado Rodriguez with her students and she explains the effect it had on her class. It was published by Larry Ferlazzo and you can read it here.
We talk about how her students connected with the story written by a recent immigrant who had gone through a similar situation to theirs in coming to a new land.
I’m inspired by Blanca’s initiative and I love seeing the big impact it is having on the mindset and literacy of her students. I’m just as excited about the effect all of this is having on the mindset and literacy of MY students. I’m grateful for the benefits we are both realizing from an act of honoring our students.
Blanca shares that now several of her students are asking to tell their stories and connect with Wendhy. We both agree that we would never force a student to share their personal stories but we feel that it is important to create a space for them to do so.
Blanca honors her students in many ways. I am honored that she has tried my Kahoot for ESL ideas and just wrote me to say the students loved it and were able to create assessments easily with the tool. Great pics, Blanca!
Another example is one that she talked about on the show. She our idea of Flipgrid for newcomer oral language practice and built in scaffolds for her students to use so they could respond to text they are reading. My students have already joined hers in the flipgrid! If you listen to the podcast, you will hear an example of one of her students and one of mine.
I am stealing the idea of putting a paragraph/response frame right into the flipgrid like Blanca did here:
One very cool update on all of this is that Blanca has been recognized by her district for her innovation and was spotlighted on their facebook page. She was also asked to help give summer tech training on some of her wonderful practices that are honoring and engaging her ESL students! Check out that post that was forwarded to her by her principal! WOW! Congrats Blanca!
Blanca and her colleagues are doing so many wonderful things for their newcomers! She is a teacher who not only supports her students but also shares what is working in this article that she wrote last year. It is packed with great ideas on cultivating success for language learners.
Reading this article drives home the importance of seeking PD for teaching writing to our English learners. Blanca attended an Abydos writing institute and her students are benefiting from it. I highly recommend the institute for anyone teaching writing. The annual conference is next month and information about that is at the bottom of this post.
Speaking of Abydos, you will hear me mention a fellow Abydos trainer Brad Womak, in my reflections of the interview. Brad was one of the conference organizers of this year’s #TALE2018 conference for Texas Association for Literacy Educators. Brad said that my students inspired him to give his own recent immigrants an opportunity to be heard at the conference and that it was like magic for the students and the teachers.
I love the body language of the teachers in these pictures! They seem so interested! But of course! It is such an important learning opportunity for us when we listen to the students themselves. Thank you, Brad, for sharing these pictures and for everything you share with us. By the way, my students said they were amazing and impressed!
Educators like Brad and Blanca are always looking for ways to lift up their students and in the show, it is wonderful to hear Blanca say that she is seeing great progress in her newcomer classes this year.
I’m honored to be connected with her and I hope you will follow her as well. She and her students are a great example of what is possible!
Thanks again for sharing with us, Blanca!
Have a great week, everyone! Please connect with me on Twitter at @MsSalvaC. I’d love to follow your great ideas and share what I see working for us. You know that we are all better together!
PS: Reach out if I can help you with web-based or live training or consulting. I’d be honored to work with you!
PSS: Can you join me for one of these two upcoming workshops in Texas? The information for those is below. We’d love to see you!