VirtuEL Web Meetups – Join Us!

Our next live VirtuEL meetup is March 24, 2020 at 7:00pm CT.  Please join us whether you participated in VirtuEL or not. Our goal is to raise awareness of the free, online conference for teachers of ELs and also to gather virtually as a reboot of the past conferences. (Many of us NEED a way to socially gather right now.)

Our most recent meetup happened on 3/17/20. This is a casual gathering where we are reflecting on the learning. Nancy Motley (her keynote was the topic of the discussion)popped in!  You can watch that video right here:

We were discussing the 2017 Keynote and conference.

To join the next web meeting, visit to check out the 2018 keynote. Then log into the zoom with us (link at the VirtuEL website) to hear Tan Huynh and  Dr. Irina McGrath discuss that year’s keynote by Jana Echevarria, PhD.  Most of us will be typing in the chat so come join us!  This is from my personal zoom account so we have a 100 person maximum on the meeting.  But the video will be available in replay.

Also join the slow chat this week at #VirtuEL.  The great Irina McGrath, PhD is hosting that conversation around the 2018 sessions.

Hope to see you this week!



BAP069 We Can Do This.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, this episode may help. You can listen to it right here or in your favorite podcast app:

Listen to “BAP069 We Can Do This” on Spreaker.

There are so many challenges right now. We are being called upon to step up as educators, as parents and as human beings.  It seems like too much to ask, I know.  But I would offer you that you are so much stronger than you know.  You many not realize how strong you are.  But it is times like these that we find out.

Ideas that come up a few times:

  1. Flood yourself with things that help you feel productive (with family, work & yourself)
  2. Be informed but don’t spend all your time on the negative aspects of the news.
  3. Focus on what you CAN control.
  4. Look at the long game.  Realize that there will be some positive outcomes.  Some we can already see. Some we can’t even imagine.
  5. Appreciate the perspective of our refugee and immigrant students who have gone through difficult times and have earned perspective, patience, grit and more. *We are building some of that right now.
  6. You’re growing new skills with tech.  Like it or not, you’re growing.

Gathering Virtually

The great news is that we are all SO MUCH stronger together.  Many of us are feeling isolated right now, but we can take steps to mitigate that feeling.  Your community is still out there.  We are so fortunate to have ways to connect and I would encourage you to plug in to groups of like minded, positive people.  At the very least, please balance what you see in the news, with positive messages and things that make you feel productive

Links to a few things I mention in this show

Duncan YMCA Exercise Channel – free workout videos should be published week of March 23, 2020

The Free Boosting Achievement Book Study with supplemental materials – great stuff at this link for what we are dealing with right now.

Webinar with Laura Gardner – March 27, 2020 @ 10:30am.  Supporting Immigrants and Refugees Families During Remote Learning.

FOLLOW LAURA GARDNER @lauragardner79 RIGHT NOW if you can’t wait until Friday. She is sharing a lot of resources like this. 

Leading ELLs Facebook Group and Pam Broussard – My top tip for finding resources or support right now if you teach newcomers. You can search the group,  ask a question or add some advice for others.  SO much is being shared for teachers of newcomers. Pam teaches new arrival students and founded the group.

Talking Points – recommended by teachers who don’t speak the language of their students or only have a phone number.

Snapchat Friendmoji

Diane Stahr Fenner’s company, Support Ed just gave a great webinar on supporting ELs with online learning.  You can access her past webinars here:

I mentioned these two new ESL-focused podcasts that have just joined the VoicEd Radio family.  I’m excited because I love both of these shows and I’ve been fortunate to be a guest on both of them as well.  Check them out!

Thank you for stopping by this podcast post.

I know this is really difficult.  And that it is mentally exhausting.  But I also know that we will get through it so much better if we keep our eyes on the future, do what we can and look for the hope.  The hope is there. If you keep yourself in a productive mindset, focus on what you CAN control, and realize that you are able to step up when you need to, you’ll have more strength and perseverance.  You can do hard things.  You are an educator. YOU are the hope.

Stay safe.


BAP068 Jordan Mayer, Phonics and Finding The Right Starting Point for ELs

I hope this podcast and blog post finds you well.  Jordan Mayer recorded this episode with me in February, prior to the current state we are in with the Coronavirus.    Instead of holding off on publishing this show, I found it a very healthy thing to do for my mindset.  I always feel centered when I am working on something productive.  I offer you that idea in case you are feeling isolated or anxious.  Blogging, journaling or reflecting in other ways might help you as it helps me. Here are the show notes:

Jordan Mayer is a former 1st grade teacher and now teaches high school in British Columbia.  He is a fantastic PLN member who shares great stuff.  You can follow him on Twitter here and you can also subscribe to his blog.

You can listen to our conversation wherever you get your podcasts or right here.

Listen to “BAP068 Jordan Mayer and The Right Starting Point for ELs” on Spreaker.

I mentioned to Jordan that I had recently read a blog post about supporting each other as teachers.  That blog post has a powerful message about support over judgement.  I recommend you check it out!

In that post he describes his years as a new 1st grade teacher.  This primary grade experience gives him a great perspective for foundations of literacy.  Jordan came on the show as a result of this blog post he wrote in February.  Jordan noticed a reading issue in one of his English Learners.  He and his team spent time working with the girl and because of Jordan’s background, they identified that the girl was unable to sound out words.

It is important to know that this student could read and could speak in English fairly well.  So this disconnect prompted Jordan to investigate further.  In the show, he discusses resources like the nonsense word test  that he shared in this post about the issue.

In our discussion, we unpack a lot of things about how we each feel about phonics instruction.  We both feel that there is a need for explicit phonics instruction but we have different approaches to how we deliver that instruction.  What we agree on is that you need to get to know your kids and make sure you are not wasting time doing lessons on sounds or blends that your students may already have or may be gaining quickly.

We mention this show by Larry Ferlazzo. In it, Larry and his guests Casey Schultz, Mandy Ellis, Dr. Carolyn Brown, Dr. Jerry Zimmerman, Kelly Wickham Hurst, and the late Dr. Kay MacPhee, who contributed a response prior to her death, discuss the role of phonics in reading instruction.

I encourage you to check out the post by Larry and the ones by Jordan.

People like Jordan, Larry and his guests are helping us with more ideas of how we might meet the needs of our unique students each year.  I’m grateful to them and I am grateful to you.

Thank you for stopping by this blog,



Many folks are disappointed in light of the recent cancellations of EL conferences.  Tan Huynh and I want to remind you that you have three years of EL Conference greatness available on YouTube.  Please join us for a reboot webinar on Tuesday March 17 at 6:30pm CT.

We are creating new content around the existing conferences for the next 3 weeks.  And this is all  leading up to the 2020 conference announcements.  Feel free to check out and share all the sessions. You can find them here.

PSS: The 1.5 hour Success for SLIFE webinar is now available in replay.  You do need to sign in to the NAELPA website to watch it, but that is a free registration.

SLIFE Webinar

This SLIFE webinar took place yesterday.  Sorry if you got a notification again.  I am still learning about mailchimp!

Here is the link to see it in replay:  If you sign in to the NAELPA website (which is free, just create a free log in) you will be able to find it in the dropdown menu.

If you serve ANY English Learners, you’ll love the information I share in this free PD for the National Association of English Learner Program Administrators.  The focus is Success for SLIFE (Students with Limited or Interrupted Formal Education). Bring questions for the chat!

While NAELPA supports state and local EL program leadership (be sure to forward this to your administrators, principals, directors, coordinators…), we want to be clear that EVERYONE is welcome.  Teachers, specialists, community members and any stakeholders are welcome to join us as we collaborate to support the program leaders that support language learners.

We can’t always get to a conference or a workshop so I’m honored to share in this format that is available to everyone, on demand. Once the video is available in replay, you will want to share it out to support anyone who serves new arrival students.

Hope you enjoy the content!


BAP067 Webinar on SLIFE, Resources from NAELPA and NABE

The Success for SLIFE webinar is almost here! This podcast offers more information on that as well as the resources I used at NABE2020 and a message for teachers who are feeling overwhelmed or underprepared for the ELs they are receiving.

You can listen to the show in your favorite podcast app or right here

Listen to “BAP067 Resources from NAELPA and NABE” on Spreaker.

Register for the Free Success for SLIFE webinar right here.  It is brought to you by NAELPA,  the National Association of English Learner Program Administrators.  If you are not a member, you can still attend but we’d love to have you join us!   The association is a non-profit with a mission of supporting EL program administrators.  It is one of the most powerful ways we can support teachers and ELs… support their leaders!

An Educators’s Personal Playlist

If you’re a regular listener of the show, you have likely heard of Noa Daniel. She was my guest last week and that is a show NOT to be missed!  I got lots of great feedback on that show but we only scratched the surface on what we can learn from Noa.  In fact, I failed to share the P3 I did with Noa on her show.  If you enjoyed our conversation, you might want to check out this episode of her great podcast. where she asked me to explain MY personal playlist.  I was honored to be her guest.  Her show, which now has over 100 guests and their P3’s, will pull at your heart strings and can inspire many ideas of how to do this with your students, your colleagues, your family… Gotta love Noa!

In this show I also promise you the two padlets I used in my NABE2020 sessions last week so here they are.  We didn’t get to all of this, but they are resources I wanted the participants to have.

“Bringing History to Life Through Life Histories”

The first one is for the session I did with the great Tina Beene.  She is our Social Studies expert at Seidlitz Education.  We start by opening a space for students to share their stories to each other and even to the faculty (IF they want to share with anyone).  I started following Larry Ferlazzo’s example (his resources including video are in the padlet) of having students offer PD with me and we never looked back.  It is a game changer for everyone involved.

“SLIFE at Grade Level”

The second session I delivered was on supporting SLIFE in content area classes.  Here are the resources I wanted those folks to have and I’m glad you have them too!


Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss the next episode of this podcast when it comes out soon!  I am excited to have a show together with Jordan Mayer of Surrey Schools where he gives us insight into how we might discover what is happening with students who are not gaining literacy.  Lots of phonics talk in that one!

Thanks to folks connected with me at NABE and NAELPA.  You’re all amazing and YOU are amazing for stopping by this blog.



PS: I’m excited to be at several conferences this year.  Check them out here: