I hope this finds you healthy and with hope for positive outcomes this week.
If you know ANY Newcomer teachers, please share the following podcast episode with them. I always get TONS of thanks like this when I share these lessons for the Newcomer classroom. They are ideal for January – February. They focus on Kindness & History but the main goal is to engage our students and accelerate their language acquisition and build their self-esteem as learners.
Motivation is everything. If we don’t have engagement, what do we really have? We might have fake readers & students who are doing the bare minimum. But how would their learning change if they were engaged and intrinsically motivated to learn even when they are not with you?
I’m working around the US and Canada training, coaching, and modeling. I’m seeing some amazing things for new arrival students. This podcast is in response to feedback I’m getting from newcomer teachers I support. MANY are telling me:
“I’m struggling with engagement.”
Well, we have solutions! You listen to this show right here or in your favorite podcast app:
Larry has shared this in more than one article. Check out more of his articles, books, and posts here. In the podcast, I mention the good news and the bad news about motivation. The bad news is that we can’t MAKE students be motivated. The great news is, just as Sir Ken Robinson tells us, we can create conditions where things should grow.
And we know what we need in our “garden” for optimal motivation conditions.
In the show, I talk about each of these things and how we can foster them for multilingual learners. While this applies to all students, I am always specifically speaking to the teacher of SLIFE (Students with Limited or Interrupted Formal Education). Here are some of the things I mentioned for each:
Relationships! Does my teacher respect me? Do the other students respect me? How do we get along? How do I feel as a person? Is my culture appreciated?
Also, don’t underestimate how volunteers can support a sense of relatedness. Don’t have volunteers, ask your principal or PTA to send out this video to the community:
Ask yourself if students understand WHY you’re asking them to do _______. Whatever you want them to do, do they see the relevance for them and their lives? As an example, I want students’ eyes to go across text when things are read aloud to them. I need to explain to them why that is. For example:
If I am reading aloud to emergent readers, I want them to track the print with their fingers when they are first gaining the language. I want them to understand that if they track the print with their eyes 👀, they will see high-frequency words over and over again. This will support their decoding skills in a powerful way. They need to understand that 1/2 of all print is high-frequency words and gaining them will impact their language and literacy development dramatically. They need to read WITH me. We can absolutely chunk the text and help them negotiate meaning and be analytical about the text. But as emergent readers, they need to track the print to get more high-frequency words. This is the WHY.
I love how Kim is teaching grade-level concepts (claims/evidence/reasoning) but also helping her students understand how quickly they can begin to decode text as they gain these high-frequency words.
If I have a sense of competence, it means that I feel myself getting better at this activity. Before we think our kids lack grit and give up too easily, let’s remember that these same students will fail over and over again at video games. Why? Perhaps because they’ve had a little win at that level. They feel that they can figure out the level.. that they can master it. They don’t have mastery YET, but they are improving.
We can also think about ourselves and something we are trying to learn to do. Perhaps you want to bake your grandmother’s cookie recipe. The first time t
hey don’t look very good but they taste pretty close. So you try again. You try again because the small successes in your attempts give you a sense of competence. You feel that you can master it because you had some small wins.
When we think of our students who are not engaged or motivated… let’s think back to the last time they had an academic win.
There are many ways to give SLIFE little wins. Examples include:
Showing them growth every time we speak to them. Using any book and asking them to identify words or sounds of letters and pointing out any growth. I tried to do this every time I had them in a small group.
Autonomy means choice. We have seen many teachers sharing choice boards lately and as you can imagine, this leads to more engagement from learners. All of us want some choice in what we do. So perhaps we offer choices in how they participate in a task. ie: with a buddy, on their own, with the teacher:
We can also offer choice in how they reflect on what they read:
But one of the most important places they need autonomy is in WHAT they read during free voluntary reading time. We only had a few minutes a day to read for pleasure. But I was always emphasizing that they needed to read on their own whenever they could. For this to happen, they need LOTS of things to choose from. If you chose to read something, because it is of interest to YOU, you’re less likely to fake read or abandon the text. Stephen Krashen tells us that free voluntary reading is key to language acquisition. And YES, our SLIFE can read… with support!
What can SLIFE, who have low to no literacy in their first language read? A lot!
There are many things they can choose from. Examples include:
Re-reading things we wrote in class together for fluency. Explain why this will boost their ability to decode text.
A book they chose from the library or your classroom. We can show them how to negotiate meaning from any piece of text with technology (Google Images, Google Translate, Chrome Read Aloud Extensions)
Ergo-Hi-Lo EbooksThese are high-interest, easy-to-read books that you can print or have e-versions.
If you have the budget, get a library of Saddleback Hi-Lo readers! Saddleback books are my favorite Hi-Low readers if you have the budget for materials.
A top tip is www.newsinlevels.com. I did a show about it here. That free website is so important once the students understand how to level up within the same article.
Two Examples of Highly Engaging Activities that Boost Literacy & Language Acquisition
🌟NEWS IN LEVELS🌟
News in Levels offers so much choice. This is not a little bit of choice… it is a TON of choice. It requires no login and they can choose from current or hundreds of prior articles. Here is how it relates to what we are talking about today:
Relatedness: I will conference with new students and show them how to use it. I have faith in them that they can quickly learn the skills to make this meaningful. They can do it with a buddy or me or as a whole class for the first few times. I want to know their interests so I ask about what they are choosing to read about… RELATIONSHIPS & HOW WE REGARD THEM.
Relevancy: The link I am giving you explains to you and to the students HOW to use it and WHY it works for older emergent readers. I even made a quick 5 min video to show students how to use the site. THIS OFFERS RELEVANCY for using this site and because they chose what they read about, and it is the actual news, it is by nature relevant to them.
Competence: If they follow my advice, they will go through all three levels of an article before they move on to a different new story. They should be able to master level 1 with support (it is read aloud to them from YouTube, it includes images, they can use Google images & Google translate as well… they can even get support from others). When they go to level 2 & level 3 it is just about exposure to more complex language. They feel themselves getting better with word recognition the more they do of this. It offers an opportunity to level up, small wins, A SENSE OF COMPETENCE.
Autonomy: As I mentioned above… this site offers a great deal of choice. The students need to have the autonomy to choose what they read and this site offers hundreds of articles.
Relatedness: I model a choice project presentation. Students learn about me and get the message that I want to learn about them. All students learn about each other and throughout the year we are learning about each other and reinforcing appreciation for our diversity. Choice projects offer voice. RELATIONSHIPS
Relevancy: Students choose what to present about. They are RELEVANT by nature.
Competence: They practice, practice, practice what they will say. They read & re-read & re-read their scripts for their presentation and what they turn in. We can point out their progress in identifying and recognizing English words and sounds. This leads to a SENSE OF COMPETENCE.
Autonomy: Students choose what they want to present about and they choose a day during the grading period that they want to present. There are many opportunities for autonomy.
This show should be relevant to all educators. The book “Journeys to Belonging” by Dr. Ilene Winokur is now out and available. This show includes research and practical ideas for supporting ALL students including marginalized learners.
Dr. Winokur has led a fascinating life and was on our show earlier this year. You can listen to that episode right here. She is someone I have followed for years. I appreciate all I learn from her and I’m grateful to have cited her in my doctoral research regarding what has an impact on the persistence of marginalized students.
Journey to Belonging
The hashtag is #Journeys2Belonging. Check that out to learn so much about Ilene’s book and her work. She joined me and Stephen Hurley of VoicEd radio for this live show in September and you can now get your copy of this book on Amazon or through Edumatch Publishing.
She discusses her own journey, the research behind a sense of belonging, and how important it is for educators to set the tone of safety in our learning spaces. You can learn so much by following Dr. Winokur on Twitter or on her website.
She also has her own great podcast and you can get links to all of that from the website.
I am always fascinated to here Ilene’s thoughts about how we can create a safe space where everyone feels welcome. We talk about what is practical and how we can support the emotional needs of our students and of our teachers.
I’m so grateful to Dr. Winokur for writing this book, for spending time with us, and for all she shares regularly.
Thank you so much for tuning in to this episode. You add so much to my journey!
If you are getting this blogpost update, you don’t need to be sold on self-directed learning. You’re doing it right now. So you may want to attend our #DIYpd4MLs book launch party on Nov 15th at 7:00pm ET to get a free chapter download and be eligible for prizes. And most importantly, just to hang out with the PLN!
The launch party begins at 7:00pm ET. Register right here and be sure to arrive early as seats are limited.
Whether you can make it to the launch party or not, you may want to join us for this round of #MLLChat_BkClub!
It begins on Nov 13 and you can find all the information right here. Dr. Katie Topppel does such an amazing job with the slow chat book study and this one is going to be EPIC! John Carlson of Kid-Inspired.com came on my podcast last month and he gave us a GREAT idea. Our book talks about LAYERING your PD opportunities and we are giving an opportunity to do just that! Check out the choice board challenge (thanks John!)
I’m honored to have written this book with Dr. Katie Toppel & Tan Huynh. Both of them are heroes to many of us and exemplify what is possible when we take charge of our own PD. And Larry Ferlazzo & Katie Hull Sypnieski wrote the forward! We are so incredibly honored by that because those authors have contributed so many opportunities for all of us to direct our own learning. One of the best things about this book is that it is a Seidlitz Education resource! Anna Matis & her team do such beautiful work!
If all of this isn’t enough, our book website will launch the week of Nov 15th so stay tuned for that. We will have extra resources available to go along with this book.
What a joy it is to highlight so many of our PLN members for the way they are directing their own learning and adding to ours. We hope you can come celebrate all of this with us! Seats are filling fast so register to join us on Monday, Nov 15 at 7pm ET.
Thank you for checking out this post!
Reach out with any questions or comments. I’d love to hear from you.
I follow Dr. Aisicovich because she challenges my thinking. While working on my own dissertation, I cited her research on teacher and administrator perceptions of multilingual learners. Her new book, 100 Ways to Kill a Teacher; Cautionary Tales about Public Education in Canada, shares pitfalls, heartbreaks, and limitations teachers can expect to face in the field. On the show, she shares about this raw take on the field and how she hopes it will add to the profession.
In the show, we talked about some of the realities outlined in the book. Many of us can empathize with the challenges teachers face. Margaret hopes her book will help jumpstart conversations and serve as a call to action that can support change.
I agree that we need to constantly examine how we are functioning systemically. I was particularly drawn to the chapter on professional development and some of the challenges she describes. On the podcast, we had a great conversation about the possible pitfalls and how they might be avoided.
As we mentioned on the show, this book can help educators feel that they are not alone. There are many situations that people do not expect when they enter the field. I appreciate Dr. Aisicovich for her candor and her passion.
Thank you Margaret and Stephen for the conversation and thank YOU for tuning in.
Take good care,
PS: Our DIYpd4MLs book is now on the shelves and you can join us for the launch party on November 15 at 4pm PT / 7PM ET. Register right here to attend. We are excited to offer a free chapter download to all attendees.
Welcome to Episode 100! In this show, you get to hear ideas and insight from John Carlson of Kid-Inspired Classroom. John joins us for a live show to share a practical tip that has had a huge effect in ESL classrooms. We end up in a deep conversation about the value of sharing content and ideas.
John is very active on social media where he shares free content and also lifts up others that are doing the same. We talk about this on the show.
He and I are both convinced that it is in our best interest to share what others are doing…even if that thing is in competition with what you’re doing for the field.
I respect John so much and I’m grateful to get to learn from him on a regular basis. A great example is that in this show, he shares a “Choice Board Challenge” that is a great twist on an old favorite. Tan Huynh,Dr. Katie Toppel, and I loved the idea so much that we will be using it for our Twitter book study on our new book. That book study will be happening in November (more to come on that).
A big thanks to John Carlson. I appreciate his willingness to do a live show with us on VoicEd.ca. And I also appreciate his willingness to support the field in so many ways.
And as always, I want to thank YOU. Your passion has you listening to education radio. I’m honored that this show is part of your journey.
Reach out and let me know what you think of this episode!
I was able to talk about the 2021-2o22 school year with Stephen Hurley on a LIVE Boosting Achievement episode and that show is a big chunk of this podcast episode. In the Fall of 2021, you can catch us on Friday mornings at 7am ET on VoicEd.ca
I explain WHY they are my non-negotiables in this podcast.
*** THIS ALL BEGINS WITH A WELCOMING TONE, SMILE, WELCOMING BODY LANGUAGE. My first goal is to be sure they each realize that I WANT THEM THERE.
Name Tents (and activities we do with them)
We play a Kahoot Quiz game about me (#SelfieKahoot)
We create Class #SelfieKahoots to play
We learn about the “Instead of IDK Poster”
We create a Social Contract.
Here is the video I promise you iin this show:
I also mentioned that I have done this same “Beginning of the Year” tips show in 2019 and 2020.
In 2019, because of politics it was a more challenging climate than we had been used to. (For serving immigrants, I mean) That show reiterated these tips but offered a way to look at what we were taking on that helped me be more productive. You may find that content helpful:
My hope is that you are teaching remotely *IF YOU WANT TO* and that you are not if you don’t want to. But just in case you ever need to do that again, know that you have that Covid edition video & blog to reflect on how you can do these things when you’re not in the same room with your students.
In this show, I dropped a lot of names! Each of the following people was mentioned because they have amazing content that they shared and they came to mind as I spoke to Stephen or reflected on my learning. Here is how you can follow them:
Last but not at all least, I will ALWAYS create a “What to say instead of IDK” poster. Google image that idea and you’ll see many examples. It is STEP 1 in Seidlitz 7 Steps to a Language-Rich, Interactive Classroom. This is always the FIRST thing we work on, no matter when a student shows up in my classroom.
Thank you for tuning in or reading this post.
I am sending you positive vibes and gratitude. Have a great school year!
This event is being brought to us by Seidlitz Education in partnership with Inlier Learning. The CEO of Inlier Learning is Orly Klapholz . I often mention her for her work in the area of SLIFE (Students with Limited or Interrupted Formal Education).
John explains that he became passionate about supporting this cause after different experiences with unaccompanied youth and also recently with some adults who had been unaccompanied minors earlier in life. Stephen Hurley, like many of our listeners, is not in an area of the world that is seeing large numbers of children crossing the border without adults. He asked John to explain more about who these children are and why they are unaccompanied.
John gave some common reasons. For example,
Poverty. Parents may have left their children with relatives while they come to the US to work in an attempt to escape extreme poverty. Children may come to the US in search of those parents
Danger. I had a student who was without their parents in the United States. His situation was that once he became a teenager, he was captured by gangs more than once. He decided to make the journey to the U.S. While it was dangerous to do so, it was less dangerous than his life had become in his home country
EMILY FRANCIS and one of her students. Her story is particularly meaningful to me as we were able to use her blogposts about her journey to inspire so many of my students.
ARI HONARVAR grew up in Shiraz, Iran where she was surrounded by Persian poetry and art. John points out that Ari’s story is different from what many of us envision when we think of unaccompanied youth. Ari is a journalist, author, and Iranian Musical Ambassador of Peace.
DR. JOSE LUIS ZELAYA grew up in San Pedro Sula in Honduras and came to the U.S. as a child with two bullet holes in his legs. He has since graduated with a PhD in Urban Education from Texas A&M University.
Educators like Larry Ferlazzo and Pamela Broussard regularly offer their students opportunities to share their stories. They have inspired many other teachers like me to do the same. It is always successful and powerful for the presenter and for those that get to listen.
I feel like that is my biggest takeaway. The power of stories. They can help us build empathy, they can inspire and they can help us understand how to support our students.
I hope to see you at the Amplifying the Voices of Unaccompanied Minors conference. Look for me in the chat and to be tweeting about it with the hashtag: #VoicesofUnaccompaniedMinors
Experiencing an interruption in education is not a cognitive issue. It is a lack of opportunity issue.
Dr. Margaret Aisicovich, a member of my professional learning network, agrees. But her research and experience, unfortunately, suggest that many educators still believe that SLIFE (Students with limited or interrupted formal education) are less capable than other students.
I was delighted to have Dr. Aisicovich join me for a live show with Stephen Hurley. You can listen to my reflections and some of our chat right here:
I am using her research in my own doctoral work. I am still early in my own process but my literature review and preliminary observations are in direct alignment with what Margaret shares on the show. Part of her research centers around how teachers view their ability to be effective with SLIFE. Her work was conducted in Manitoba, Canada, and in her area, students who missed foundational education are referred to as LAL (Literacy, Academics, and Language) students.
Dr. Aisicovich has a master’s and a PhD in Education. She has been a K-12 principal, has taught grades K–12, and has taught in higher education. While she was teaching, she taught English as an additional language to new Canadians and published two books with her students: How I Got My Name, Lost it and Found it Again and An Anthology of School Stories by EAL High School Students in English and Their Mother Tongue. You can learn more about her work at her website: www.maisicovich.com
Dr. Aisicovich was born in Poland and moved to Canada at the age of six. She talks about that experience on the show. Her perspective was so great for my reflection.
A big takeaway for me was how much we need to plan for our SLIFE. Namely:
Transitioning to mainstream classes
How they will get access to grade-level standards
How we will create spaces where they feel valued
Creating a system of equity
But a critical part of the equation is whether or not the teacher believes they can support the student.
I keep thinking about the teachers that would cry to Margaret because they did not feel prepared to support SLIFE/LAL learners. Many of us have felt this way.
This is one of the main reasons I do this show. It is helping me learn. The more I learn from colleagues like Dr. Aisicovich, the more prepared I feel to support LAL/SLIFE. All teachers deserve training to support their under-schooled students.
Thank you, once again, Margaret. We are excited for your book to come out in the fall of 2021. It is not about ESL or SLIFE/LAL students. It is a book with tales about the pitfalls, heartbreak, and challenges people face when they choose the profession of being an educator. Watch the newly released trailer here:
We are excited to have Margaret come back on the show to share more about the book closer to the release date. Stay up to date on the book by following Dr. Aisicovich on Twitter. She is at @MAisicovich
Thank you for stopping by the blog/show notes… for supporting my learning journey… and for all you do!
Here are the learning opportunities that can help educators support SLIFE
I realize that I sent you an email about the ML Summit but it is now just a few days away and I posted a podcast episode about it. So there need to be some shownotes for it. So please excuse the repetition or you can use this as a reminder that we start-up in just a few days! Even if you find this post after July 2021, all the sessions are still there…as are the ones from 2017 to 2020!
Here’s that quick show just raising awareness for folks who don’t know about the virtual free conference: