BAP086 Natalia Heckman on Sentence Level Writing with ELs

When it comes to scaffolding output, Natalia Heckman asks herself “What else can I do, besides giving my students time in my classroom to write… to make it productive?” 

Natalia is my guest on this episode.  She is a former high school teacher and one of Seidlitz Education’s top educational consultants.  She has an incredible track record for supporting older ELs on the writing portion of state assessments but as Natalia explains, the goal is more than that.  Her real goal is to grow students’ literacy and ability to express themselves through writing.

The show notes below link to several free opportunities to learn from Natalia!  The podcast is inspiring because you can hear her passion for supporting teachers in the many ways we can do to support ELs with writing.  You can listen to the show if your favorite app or right here:

Listen to “BAP086 Natalia Heckman on Sentence Level Writing with ELs” on Spreaker.

I asked Natalia to come on the show to talk about this great blog post she recently wrote for Seidlitz Education.  It’s entitled Building Better Sentences: Rigorous Syntax for English Learners

In that post, Natalia explains what research says about how students benefit from rigorous syntax instruction.  She not only demystifies the concept of syntax but also offers a practical step-by-step approach to teaching syntactic elements or sentence patterns.

In her discussion with me on the show, Natalia explains the need ELs have for learning the structure of their new language.  She tells us that “Language is a system.  A well-organized system of symbols and sequences.”  She explains that when students learn vocabulary, for the most part, they are learning symbolic representations of words.  But when they put those together, they need to know how to form appropriate sequences.  This is what syntax is! When we are teaching syntax, we are teaching the ability to arrange words and phrases to create sentences.

And let’s remember that Natalia’s area of specialization is with high school ELs!

Be sure to check out that blog post for more on how Natalia explains this and her tips for a practical application in class.

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” – Pablo Picasso

I love all the opportunities Natalia has for us coming up this spring!  As promised, here are links to the great webinars Natalia has presented for Seidlitz Education as well as links to her upcoming workshops:

The following two opportunities are available for FREE and On-Demand

Video🔗: Writing with Paragraph Frames Free Webinar

In this webinar, Natalia outlines a blueprint of a writing lesson for English Learners using paragraph frames. She explores online resources to create compelling assignments for English Learners of all levels. She offers her ppt slides here. 

VIDEO🔗: Supporting Literacy at Home: 7 Steps for Parents

This is a webinar filled with tips for parents. Jordan Greer, a language coach from Frisco ISD, joined Natalia in a conversation about ways to support literacy at home.  Slides are here.

Join Natalia Heckman for One of her Upcoming Workshops via ZOOM 💻!

MARCH 11, 2021

Moving ELs Forward on the STAAR/EOC Writing

Engaging Secondary ELs with Writing:

From Sentences to Paragraphs

March 25 & 26, 2021 from 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm CST


March 27, 2021 from 8:30 am – 11:30 am CST

One more big thanks to her for coming on the show to talk about the need for this type of explicit instruction.

Please reach out and let us know how things are going and if there is a specific topic you’d like to hear about.

Before you go, here are a few places you can connect with me in the near future:

FEBRUARY 17th Zoom Workshop: Peer to Peer Interaction for ELs With and Without Breakout Rooms

Find out more here.

Also, join me on Monday and Friday mornings LIVE on #HurleyintheMorning!  Stephen Hurley is putting some great content into the world each morning with his line up of Live education voices.  I’m honored to be included.  Check it all out at: and please call in at 647-812-5894 if you’re listening to me live. I’d love to have your voice on air with us!

Thanks to everyone listening, reading and interacting.  I’m certainly a better education professional because of you.

Sending you positive vibes!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *