A question they get often is “Should we make time for students to read independently every day?” These literacy and EL specialists say yes. In the show they explain why it is critical for our ELs and all of of our learners. We talk about this and other Balanced Literacy components.
During our time together, Valentina and Melinda offer insight and sound advice for teachers who are feeling overwhelmed. You can join Valentina and Melinda during a few upcoming events around their new book. One free PD event happens on Oct 28th! Check out the links at the bottom of this post.
We learn more about their new #ReadingWritingELs resource and how user friendly it is for any K-5 educator who wants to capitalize on the best practices for the Reader and Writer Workshop framework. This new book is specifically written to support you in working with English Learners but you’ll find that it will help you implement Balanced Literacy so that all of your students benefit.
I’m particularly impressed with the layout of the book. It is very easy to use and even includes an appendix for remote learning considerations.
I remember being a 4th grade teacher and feeling like the workshop model was a mystery. This book will be such a welcomed guide for any teachers feeling this way or any teacher wanting to better support language learners. The book offers explanations of each component of Balanced Literacy, lessons, research, step-by-step implementation guides, scenarios and FAQ’s. They have also included guides for working with students at different proficiency levels.
It will be a great time with lots of celebration and give-aways!
As soon as the book is available, I will update this page with that link as well as the link to their Reading & Writing with English Learners conference that will take place in December.
Keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming round of #ELLchat_BkClub on Twitter. Valentina mentions that she & Dr. Katie Toppel are planning the dates now! Those slow chats are a great way to self-direct your learning with other professionals on your own time. At the very least, follow the hashtag #ReadingWritingELs and be sure to follow Valentina Gonzalez and Dr. Melinda Miller on Twitter to catch all the resources they are putting out into the field.
Many thanks to Valentina and Melinda for sharing with us.
And thanks to YOU for tuning in and stopping by this blog.
Take good care,
PS: Join me on Nov 12th at our FREE SLIFE conference
Michelle and Drew are ESL instructional coaches from Louisville, KY. We get to hear about how they are supporting teachers and I do my best to convince them to start their own podcast. (It would be great!)
A good part of this show is about how they went about teaching summer school this year. You’ll hear their lessons learned and great tips for connecting with ELs even when they face challenges like tech issues and serving students who hold jobs. You’ll be inspired and will likely have some tangible take aways to implement tomorrow after you listen! Find the show on your favorite podcast app or listen right here:
In this episode, Drew & Michelle emphasize how well they together. I’m grateful for their example and it makes me reflect on the opportunities we have to collaborate with others not only in our physical spaces but also in our PLN. In fact, that is how I met these two. We follow each other on twitter and we’d love to connect with you. You can find us here: @MichelleShory,@MrCourtney_ESL & @MsSalvaC
During the show, I mentioned this post by Drew as something I use in my workshops:
I was so inspired by the vulnerability Drew and Michelle showed as they engaged the students with projects, conversations and even a guest speaker to address racism and events happening in Louisville. They also studied and had a Google Meet with Emily Francis who I mention often on this show. We talked about the authentic connection the students had with Emily after they listened to her new podcast.
The show is packed with more insight and you can also get a great deal more from Michelle if you check out her ELL2.0 website. She and & Dr. Irina McGrath offer so much support there:
Also check out their VirtuEL session that offers tons of practical advice for working with ELs in distance learning.
I’m so excited that Drew and Michelle are considering starting a podcast. If you do follow them, be sure to ask them about it. 🙂
Thank you for taking time to check out these notes and I hope you had a chance to listen to the show. I appreciate Michelle and Drew so much. And as always, I appreciate YOU for stopping by.
Take good care,
PS: Reach out if I can support you with ESL training. I’m excited to be working with districts and school boards across the US and Canada to offer innovative ways to deliver professional learning. Flexible hours after school, on weekends and through book studies are some examples of how we can support you.
Michelle is the ELL Program Consultant in the Burnaby School District in British Columbia, Canada. She has 20 years of teaching experience and is a fierce member of my PLN! You may recognize her from our Saturday morning LIVE #BELIEVE_Cafe shows on VoicEdRadio. In this show, Michelle helps us see that while we are all feeling vulnerable in a new reality of online teaching, we can reap benefits from the risks we are taking.
You’ll hear us refer to the VirtuEL Conference in this episode. Michelle was a presenter and that conference happened a few weeks back in July. You can still ‘attend” all the sessions as they are all free and have a focus on supporting ELs in Distance Learning. Find those here:
You’ll hear us talk about Michelle’s VirtuEL Session “Raising Their Voices.” Here is a direct link to that session.
I’m so glad Michelle agreed to be a speaker at VirtuEL. We are so grateful to all of our presenters and I’m extra inspired that Michelle took a risk to do her session LIVE. In this podcast we talk about how her technology failed and she had to re-record her session. As you can see, her session is still right in the lineup with all the other sessions. It has had so many views that I cant even imagine how many students are benefitting from the fact that she shared some ideas.
That thread runs through this show. So many of us are having to be brave and vulnerable right now with technology. It is not comfortable, but there can be many benefits to us when we lean in to the learning that comes with risk taking.
Michelle and I both wanted to mention Dorina Sackman Ebuwa and her #BELIEVE_Cafe series. Michelle was surprisingly calm on the day of the conference and she attributes that to the growth she has experienced thanks to Dorina’s free YouTube series on Transformative Emotional Intelligence.
I can’t recommend it enough in these difficult times. Her playlist begins with this video:
As we discuss these “technology fails” (that ended up being big wins), I told Michelle about this VirtuEL session by Bret Gosselin. Bret was a great presenter on our first VirtuEL conference but his sound didn’t work. He felt pretty defeated back then but just like Michelle, he re-recorded and now this video has almost 700 views. Imagine the impact!
or what about the effect of this #MADPD session by Jennifer Hunter Dillon? It has almost 200 views and Jennifer recently wrote about the experience for a book we are publishing soon. Jennifer talked about how scared she was leading up to this virtual conference, and how disappointed she was when her technology didn’t work. But just like the other stories above, Jennifer simply re-recorded and now there are so many teachers and students who are benefitting from this session. Jennifer also reports that she grew her network and her own pedagogy because of the experience.
When we are teaching students, we may not be able to just re-record a lesson. BUT! We can still model vulnerability the way these educators did. We can be honest with our students and let them know that we are all learning. We can look beyond needing a perfect activity and focus on helping students, and ourselves, grow as learners. The right mindset and the belief that we can all improve.
Many parts of the world are going back to school. It will be a challenging school year but teachers will still want to cultivate a positive classroom culture. In this episode I offer ideas for starting the school year whether we are online or in person.
Here are 3 ways to get this content. You can read the following post which is reprinted with permission from the Seidlitz Education blog.
I also have this 17 minute video and an audio podcast below if you prefer that.
Cultivating a positive classroom climate, setting our norms, and getting off to the right start has an impact on how students interact throughout the year (Wong, 2005). The need for structure and a welcoming environment does not change as we shift to being physically distant or online. This is critically important to keep in mind as we enter a school year like no other. This year comes with unique challenges at every turn. While each school’s reality may be different, we have some common truths that remain important as we strive to cultivate an environment where all students have the best shot at learning.
To that end, I have five non-negotiables for my first days of school, and this blog will outline how you can do them in a digital or physically distanced classroom:
Low Stress Introductions
Instead of IDK Poster
Create a Social Contract
Tech with ELs, Even in the Face-to-Face Classroom
Many teachers will begin the school year online, but even those who are going back to their classrooms this fall will be doing their best to physically distance our kids for everyone’s safety.
There are many tech options that can help, but I am only going to focus on Kahoot and Flipgrid. These two platforms are easy to use for the educator and the student. Please don’t feel inadequate if you don’t have a fancy virtual classroom with clickable links. That’s not what’s important. What is important is connecting with your students and helping them feel valued in your learning space.
Kahoot and Flipgrid can help us create a positive classroom environment, leveraging technology that many teachers already use (or that is simple to learn). These platforms should be valuable throughout the school year, as they have so many possibilities for comprehensible input, low-stress opportunities for output, higher order thinking, and building community.
With Kahoot you can create games online. Many teachers create multiple choice games to review content, but we can do so much more with it! This webinar gives examples of the many ideas for distance learning.
Flipgrid uses video and voice for social learning. The platform is easy to use, and they are rolling out even more features like an immersive reader for students that need directions read aloud.
Five Tips for a Strong Start — Then and Now
You’ll likely find that my five keys to a strong start can be valuable in any classroom. I have written extensively about this, but in this post I just want to remind you that these two platforms can help us do many of our tried and true back to school rituals with technology for keeping our kids at a safe distance.
The tables show how we did each activity “then” (before the pandemic began) and how we can do them now. Use the sliders to see images of the “then” and “now” versions of each activity!
1. Low-Stress Introductions
We introduced ourselves with rehearsed phrases.
We shared about our heritage languages and our names using sentence starters.
We made name tents and walked around the class to find a partner for practice.
We still introduced ourselves with rehearsed phrases.
We still shared about our heritage languages and our names using sentence starters.
Different: Our introductions can start on the class Flipgrid or in a breakout room after students have an opportunity to practice.
2. Teacher #SelfieKahoot
I created a Kahoot about myself, and we played it as a guessing game.
We played it more than once to establish routines for oral language practice and tracking print
We shared about our heritage languages and our names using sentence starters.
It happened in class.
I can still create a Kahoot about myself
We can still play it more than once to establish routines for oral language practice and tracking print
We can still shared about our heritage languages and our names using sentence starters.
Different: This can happen over ZOOM, We can add guesses to the chat. We can send it home now.
3. Create a Class #SelfieKahoot & Play It
Students used paper templates to offer one trivia question about themselves.
I created a few Kahoot games with trivia about the students to honor them
We played to practice choral reading and tracking print.
It happened in class.
Students can still use paper to draw and write their trivia question.
Different:We might let students share about themselves on the class Flipgrid.
I can still create the Kahoot games about the students.
We can still play it practice choral reading and tracking print.
DIfferent:We can play it online and I can also send it home now (great preview for using it with content)
4. Instead of “I Don’t Know” Poster
We created an “Instead of IDK” poster together.
Newcomer students and more proficient students alike were expected to use one of the sentences instead of saying “I Don’t Know” when called upon.
We discussed the value in this.
We can still created an “Instead of IDK” poster together.
All students can still practice these responses.
We can still directly teach and discuss the value in this.
Different:I will make sure they have it in a digital format and that I display it often in my Zoom meetings
Class discussions happened in small groups with large group share-outs.
The contract was developed on the board after consensus, and we signed the contract.
We can still use sentence starters to help students answer questions about how they want to be treated and how they should treat each other.
Norms can still be developed and agreed upon by the class.
Different: Students will add their thoughts on the Flipgrid for initial input. The contract will be developed digitally in a synchronous meeting (in-person or online) from student Flipgrid input to reach consensus. Use another round of Flipgrid responses to document everyone’s agreement.
Our situation this year is not ideal. It may even be chaotic and frustrating. That is all the more reason to keep your tech simple for your own sanity and to keep a focus on how everyone feels and functions in our learning spaces. I hope these ideas have helped you think of ways to connect with your students and give them voice this year. How they feel.. and how YOU feel, should superceed everything as we start the school year. It always has.
Teaching and learning scenarios are still not clear for the fall and beyond, but the challenges that will face us are the same:
How can we best support English Language Learners who are in our classes?
How can we best support English Language Learners when they are in other classes?
How we can best support English Language Learners and their families when they are at home?
How can we best support and maximize the assets brought by English Language Learners so their presence can improve school wide teaching and learning?
Though the challenges are the same, their degree of difficulty will rise as the definitions of what “classes” and “school” change, and, though “home” as always been important, its connection evolves into an even closer one. Given these massive changes, how do teachers of English Language Learners respond?
Larry’s keynote kicks off a day of great sessions and opportunities to interact.
VirtuEL is the brainchild of my colleague, Tan Huynh. I’m incredibly grateful to Tan and every presenter. Here is more about how it works:
It is an invaluable resource that is highly recommended across our field. On the show, Larry describes the format of the book as being a collection of tried and true strategies. Each has a description, why they like it, technology connections and what could go wrong. I can vouch for this and how much I appreciate their advice for readers in the circumstance where things may go wrong. The practical book comes with manyhandouts and downloads, several of which are free for anyone to use. Larry was on this show a few years ago talking about that resource.
And NOW! Larry and co-author Katie Hull Sypnieski have gathered content experts to write the following content resources written in the same format.
They explain that these content resources include instructional strategies and modifications for working with English Learners and some have separate chapters for working with ELLs.
The books are edited by Larry & Katie and the authors shared how the two guided their work to produce these resources in the same popular format as their original.
Scroll down to get a gist of how inspiring this conversation became! Regardless of what you teach, this episode is sure to offer you great insight on how we can find some solid footing for serving all of our students in this ever changing, uncertain time.
Contact information and websites for each of the books:
In this show we discuss things like the need we all have to have a focus on what makes kids WANT to show up and put in the work now. These practical resources are sorely needed right now and so it is a great help to the field that hundreds of the handouts are available for free. I also found incredible value in just listening to these educators, who are still in the classroom, discuss things like social emotional learning in a math classroom, culturally responsive teaching and building relationships with our students.
Big Takeaways for ME:
You’ll love hearing Bobson Wong talk about his perspective on math anxiety and the critical need to help all students be comfortable about learning math.
Tara Dale shares how the science field is moving toward skills based approach to learning and their focus on growing intentional scholars.
Evelyn Ramos and Elisabeth Johnson share about capitalizing on the relevancy of our current situation for students.
Of note is that feedback from readers of all three books confirms that many if not all of the strategies are applicable to distance learning and in the physical classroom. These activities, strategies and handouts are not exclusive to the physical classroom and they are not “parachute in” tech connections. If you have the ELL Teacher’s Toolbox you know that the format includes intentional technology connections to meet the high expectations these authors have for every learner.
I have to say that I particularly appreciate how they explained the way they use their own resources on a daily basis. And how they explained their feelings of being overwhelmed when our pandemic hit…but the resources helped them find that solid ground and think through the types of things that still work. I think we can all relate to being overwhelmed at times right now. How comforting to hear this from folks at the top of their field. And to hear how they are getting through!
Please follow them at the links above.
And look what’s right around the corner! This month, #ELLChat_BkClub book study is launching book studies with the Science and the Math books this summer with the Social Studies book not too far behind.
Thanks again to the authors and THANK YOU for listening and/or reading!
Please take care,
PS: If you are able to join me on July 20th, I’d love to have you in our Rapid Literacy Online Workshop. Click the image for more details and reach out with any questions.
Dorina continues to help us grow our emotional intelligence in this, a time when we need it most. This week we opened the show talking about the fight for social justice and how we are all looking to grow around the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
I made some points about how important it is right now to use our emotional intelligence and that I am grateful for the #BELIEVE_Cafe work many of us have been doing. You can jump into Dorina’s free YouTube videos right here:
Among other insightful comments, Dorina shared that she is making a conscious effort to do more reflecting vs. reacting and she is looking to follow more individuals who are doing the work of reflection.
This week we opened the show sharing tweets from Dr. Jose Medina and Dr. Cristina Rhodes. Here they are:
Anti-black ideologies son parte de mi cultura. I’m a mess. I’m working on it. So can you. Also, remember that our silencio says mucho. pic.twitter.com/cu9P7udqZU
I am a white-presenting Latina. I benefit from this. It means that I have to commit myself to doing anti-racist work on the daily. Some days I fail. But I keep learning & trying. I keep going. It is my responsibility to use my privilege in this way. Fellow white Latinxs–y tú?
Here is the tweet by Michelle. I encourage you to read some of the great responses she got to this tweet. We discussed some of them but people in our PLN continue to add to the conversation:
Question that I’m pondering: are inclusive and culturally responsive practices teaching anti-racism? Does anti-racism have to be taught explicitly? I’m interested in people’s thoughts and opinions. #ell#bcedchatpic.twitter.com/fAPzMYYwdb
Dawn Harris was listening and tweeted this important insight about black teachers and white students. We were so grateful that Dawn called in to expand on her experience with this:
On the flip side, can we also talk about black teachers teaching white kids?? The struggle is real. It’s tough. ♥️ Sometimes our voices are ineffective due to years of negative cultural constructs. We are not always viewed as credible. #BoostingAchievement#BELIEVE_Cafe
Thank you again to everyone who contributed to this rich conversation. I also mentioned on the show that Aprile Giordano Williams of YOMEI (who was on episode 74) is offering a 15% discount for listeners of this podcast if you’d like to take her Yoga for Mindful Emotional Intelligence (YOMEI) workshop. Use the code BoostingAchievement at checkout here https://www.yomei.org/
One more big thanks to people on this show and a big thanks to YOU for following along. You are truly helping my learning.
PS: If you want to join me for a full day Boosting Achievement workshop, I’m thrilled that they are going so well. Come for a day of learning about students who are new to English and leave with that and so much more. We spend a day experiencing sheltered techniques that work Online, Facee-to-Face or in a Hybrid learning environment. Register right here.
These are my TOP TIPS for how I’d set up and deliver instruction this coming year. These are for online, face-to-face or a hybrid situation. I’ve done SEVERAL webinars since we went on lockdown and they are all different. Below are all the webinars with a bit of info about each.
You can hear me talk about this on the latest episode of Boosting Achievement ESL Podcast right here or just scroll down to find the webinar that is most helpful to you. I hope you do get a chance to listen because I recorded highlights and thoughts for you.
Kahoot! EDU Summit – Get the most out of Kahoot! New features and more! (57 min)
This one is not EL specific but rather an explanation of ways to get the most out of the new features of Kahoot. Further down in this post is another Kahoot webinar for working with ELs. This session was part of the Kahoot EduSummit so I am adding it.
Supporting SLIFE & Newcomers in Distance Learning with Authentic Experiences (34 min)
This is the backbone of my school year. Because newcomer curriculum is about basic English, you can teach it through thematic units.
As an added bonus, I teach a lot of this content through Kahoot. My goal was to show you the DDCR routine. It was a foundational routine I did all year long when I was able to see my students daily or only able to see my students every other day. Here is a blogpost I wrote about it in 2018.
Engaging English Learners from a Distance with Kahoot (60min)
I can’t tell you how MUCH I used Kahoot in my classroom. I used it
to introduce vocabulary
to build background
to honor culture
to get to know students with Selfie Kahoots
to raise rigor by having students create Kahoots
and so much more.
Check out my ALL THINGS KAHOOT page to see more. And be sure to watch this webinar I just did for Kahoot that shows you how to apply all of this in a remote learning environment.
This 5 min video is handy for your students if they have a chromebook only:
And if they only have a cellphone, watch the webinar for ideas on how to engage them with asynchronous opportunities and even some non-tech Kahoot opportunities.
Engaging Language Learners with Choice Projects During Distance Learning #MADPD (17 min)
That #MADPD webinar is only 17 minutes but it is PACKED with high impact ideas for your remote learning classroom. I cover some foundations of motivating English Learners
This latest webinar was for TransACT. They asked me to cover Success for SLIFE and I was honored to give this talk with a focus on how we can support literacy development for SLIFE in remote learning. To view this webinar, you’ll just need to sign in to the TransACT website (it is free to do so).
This padlet includes links to the slide deck and many other resources I mention in the webinar. It has links to many that I could not get to!
This webinar is important because we are explicitly showing you how to offer PD to educators in a distance learning space. The three of us have been doing synchronous and asynchronous book studies for a few years. I’ve learned a ton from the two of them and I’m honored to share how I use it with my clients and their staff. Slides are at bit.ly/BKCLUBSLIDES
Supporting ELs with Interruptions in Education (60min)
I’ve done a few other webinars that may be of interest. This one for Saddleback was the first one I did when we all went to remote learning. You’ll see some of what I covered in the other webinars as this one is a general overview of how to support SLIFE and why they should be able to succeed. Check out other Saddleback webinars. they have a great series going on to support teachers of ELs.
Serving English Learners in a Distance Learning Environment (2 parts, 2 hours)
This webinar was specifically for NAESPA and it’s membership but anyone is welcome to view the 2 hour event. NAESPA is an organization made up of State ESEA Program Administrators, and their staff from each of the states and territories, charged with managing their state federal education program. The webinar was in 2 parts. Part I covered the legal requirements related to providing services to ELs, in Title I, Title III, and Civil Rights that may be challenging to implement in a distance learning environment. I was in Part II, a facilitated panel discussion. Each panelist received one question for response related to best practices for supporting bilingual/multilingual/dual language education and educators in a distance learning environment. I was honored to represent NAELPA (the National Assn of English Learner Program Administrators)
Lasts but not least, I’m back at work and offering this for-a-fee opportunity. You can join me for this 5 hour online Boosting Achievement workshop for June 12th. Think 5 hours is too long?? Think again! I have a full day of interactive, online and offline activities. You’ll leave with tools for how to support SLIFE (Students with Interrupted or Limited Education) but you know me…the techniques should boost learning for ALL your students. AND... you’ll experience techniques that work for teaching in a face-to-face or remote learning classrooms.
This opportunity has a fee of $125 and I’m limiting this day to just 30 participants. We only scheduled it and it is already filling up! So please register if this is of interest to you.
I’m planning a day that should help you feel more prepared if you teach online or a blend of on and offline. We need to have tools for any circumstance. So let’s spend a day considering how to help these learners… in a way that will help ALL learners. You can sign up on Event Bright or by printing & faxing the form with your P.O.
If you are unable to join us on June 12, the information in this post and around my blog is quite a lot of support but also, please stay connected on Facebook or Twitter. Consider checking out the many videos on my Video page or read through the Boosting Achievement Book Study posts. They are extra content for the book!
THANK YOU for all your interest in the resources and for how you support your students.
They need you and I’m grateful you’re there for them.
In this show, Dorina Sackman Ebua, AKA, Ms. Dorito, joined me again to take calls LIVE on VoicEdRadio. We have a great conversation with several listeners and we mention Dorina’s BELIEVE_Cafe series on Youtube several times. I can’t recommend it enough. We are so fortunate that Dorna is helping us now for THIRTY LESSONS on YouTube! You can start her series aany time and many of our callers are grateful for how she is helping us to think constructively and behave wisely. But this doesn’t happen overnight. Her series began to make a difference in my outlook immediately but I really started to benefit as I spent each week day morning working through the exercises in her playlist. Dorina is also giving free webinars like this one. Reach out to her to find out about others.
We were so grateful to hear from Jody Nolf,Michelle Van Balkom and Dawn Harris. Each called in and brought great insight for us to consider. Each question, comment or connection helped steer the conversation towards what educators are really facing right now.
This was a powerful hour for me. Like many of you, I’ve been experiencing ups and downs as think about the future and how things might look moving forward. Although I’ve been in a funk lately, #BELIEVE_Cafe has been saving me. As Dorina eloquently puts it on the show, stress is inevitable, how you handle it is optional. She and Aprile give us such great advice on how to handle the emotions we might be feeling.
April points out that we don’t need to feel badly about our emotions and the stress we feel. She leads us in a 16 second breathing exercise that has been helping me ever since. She and Dorina are experts in the area of growing your emotional intelligence and I’m so glad that they both have a focus on supporting educators.
Stephen and Tina co-wrote an amazing resource, Teaching Science to English Learners that is creating a buzz in the field because, just as Tina’s first book in this series, it focuses on low-prep, high yield strategies. Is it any wonder that their books are among our best sellers?
I’m so happy to share more free content from these two! Don’t miss this article Stephen wrote for the Seidlitz blog:
I am so happy to have a few more Carol & Tina shows for you. I also feel so fortunate that Tina partnered with me to deliver this VirtuEL presentation on Effective Questioning in Social Studies. Check it out for a deep dive in QSSSA in Social Studies:
This is a link to the first time she was on this show. I listen to this one often – it was foundational to units of study that propelled the learning in my newcomer class:
One more big thanks to these EduHeroes in the field! I’m so proud to work with them.
Here is a workshop they are doing on November2nd if you want to go ahead and register and mark your calendar for this:
As promised, here are links to some recent videos I’ve done for newcomer teachers: