Links From My Latest Keynote

Hello EduHero!

Today I am addressing educators at the Texas Association for Bilingual Education conference in the closing session. I’m often asked to deliver a message that supports educators to stay in, or adopt, the mindset that helps us serve Newcomers or SLIFE.  If you scroll through the podcast episodes or the All Things Kahoot page, you’ll see that I approach this work with an attitude of joy and gratitude.  As teachers of Language Learners, we are some of the luckiest educators in the field.   Here are some of the resources I use to illustrate what is possible when we send a message of “All are Welcome” and focus on the gifts every child brings to our community.

Special thanks to Lynmara Colon of Prince William County Schools in Virginia & Natalie Wales in London, Ontario.  Today I used examples of how they welcome newcomers.

We began with these real statistics:

While these numbers are true, we have to look at what is possible for the children we teach, regardless of where they are coming from.   It starts with feeling welcome.  This book by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman was shared with me by Lynmara in PWCS this year.  We used the video of the read aloud as part of my session to kick off their school year. The “All are Welcome” message has been having a big effect!  Yes, they are experiencing unprecedented numbers of new arrival students, but teachers are focusing on how those kids feel, first.  We are layering in as many sheltered strategies and we can.  But feeling welcome is what so many teachers say is making the difference for their students.

As we work with ELs to gain literacy and language, we want to make sure they know how they can accelerate this process. We use a lot of co-created text and reading aloud and reminders of how they get sight words.  This post is a deeper dive into classroom routines and choral reading. 

Here is a recent post that takes a deeper dive into Balanced Literacy (what it is and how we can hack it). Once we have these two focus areas, we can work with grade level content and co-created text on any subject.

Don’t have many EL/SLIFE success stories?  Here you go!  We use examples like Francisco Jimenez and Emily Francis.  Their stories and more stories of success are on this padlet. We can hit many grade level standards as we read and write about these people. And one of my biggest goals is to help develop their MINDSET.  So these texts, or excerpts from them, are perfect!

I will also challenge participants to find the success stories that are in our own community.  Below is a picture of our One World Club.  We discussed how the students themselves are an amazing resource for each other.  Neighborhood students and immigrant students can work together to deepen the learning of everyone in the club.  Check out this video to learn how to start your own One World Club.

Not only do our SLIFE students need to feel welcomed, they also need to be honored for the perspective they bring.

How curious is today’s youth?

As a group, we watch this video and come up with questions we have.  It’s a challenging task for some as we are trained not to question or wonder anything anymore.  We can just ask Siri or Alexa!  But this is a great opportunity to illustrate that anyone can contribute to the wondering, and at the same time, I want them all talking about people who are overcoming challenges.  We want these kids more curious than we found them!  Natalee in Thames Valley uses it to foster curiosity with their SLIFE.

My hope for all of us is that we continue to challenge our beliefs.  We know that lack of a target language, and even lack of literacy, are not cognitive issues.  When we are working with students who are new to our country or new to formal education, we must remind ourselves of this.

Students with Limited or Interrupted Education are dealing with issues of OPPORTUNITY.

Let’s keep that in mind and continue to offer ALL of our students opportunities to wonder, create, question and contribute.

As usual, I went over #QSSSA as a strategy that levels the playing field.

I also offered W.I.T. Questions to help up rigor when questioning students.

A practical technique I shared was annotating your objectives.  I learned this from Dr. Escalante’s new book: Motivating ELLs  

Here is a great post with Molly Lange from Kentucky.  She was in one of my trainings and began annotating her objectives the next day. She says the kids love it and they are learning a ton:

I hope these links offer you some inspiration and ideas for how to serve students with limited education.  We have SLIFE students, who have gone through some very difficult things, graduating this year.  We can all take a lesson from their attitude.  One recently told educators in Houston, “We are not looking backwards, we are looking toward our future.  We can learn anything you teach us.”

BIG HUGE THANKS for everything you are doing to support ALL students.  Some of those kiddos are really wanting you to give up on them.  DON’T!  We don’t give up on kids and that is what makes you the amazing educator that you are.  That child might just need you in their memory some day.



PS:Will you be in one of these cities?

British Columbia Oct 24 & 25

Kansas City, Kansas on Nov 4th:

Full day of Boosting Achievement in Orlando, FL on Nov 6th:

Featured speaker at ColoradoTESOL Nov 8 & 9th

Nov 19 in Edmonton Canada for 7 Steps Training

Nov 22nd keynote at the Long Island Teachers’ Institute!

Full day of Using Technology with ELLs in St. Louis, MO Dec 2nd:

Dec 5th, full day of Boosting Achievement in Springfield, MO









Hope to see you soon!

No Prep Lesson That Will Take Learning Deep with Halloween & Day of the Dead!

One of my FAVORITE things to do is help kids compare, contrast and analyze things that are relevant to them.  I used to get overwhelmed by everyone’s different cultures but then I realized that when we let kids speak, and share from our own cultures, everyone is honored and everyone walks away enriched. One idea is to start with this Day of the Dead Kahoot.

Games lower stress and are an easy place to do some choral reading and tracking print while I read aloud. They can spark conversation, build community, and they often have us forgetting that we are learning a language.

You can play this Kahoot (created by Kahoot)  “blind” as an anticipation guide and then play it again to see what your students remember.  (This is usually when I help newcomers cheat.  Hey, it’s just for fun and to practice oral language.)

So in my room, we are doing this for language acquisition and I am telling students that we are practicing choral reading with Kahoot. 

If that is new to you, check out this video for an example:

As we play the Day of the Dead Kahoot with choral reading, we are also getting a peek into a cultural celebration.   This sets the stage for students sharing about their favorite holidays with Kahoot.  (Remember that we will take all of this into content later and it is VERY high on blooms for students to create assessments…this is a great start!)

After the Kahoot, we play a youtube clip of The Great Pumpkin and talk about these two different holidays.  They are completely new for some of my students.

Then it’s time for a QSSSA to get students talking!  “One key difference between Day of the Dead and Halloween is…”  “One similarity is…”

And from there we do a shared writing!  A refresher on that is here.

I recommend ESL teachers do as much shared writing and choral reading as possible. Soon your walls are dripping with print everyone can read.  Check out this post on what to have on your walls if you’re perplexed on how newcomers will engage in this.  

AND WOO HOO, Larry Ferlazzo just posted more Day of the Dead and Halloween resources!

The Best Websites For Learning About Halloween & Day Of The Dead

For more ideas on using Kahoot for ESL students, check out this page.

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Have fun, friends!


PS:  Check out the upcoming events page for more places we can connect IRL!

NCTE18 Resources for My Connected Learners Session

Downloads of paragraph frames, planning pages, links, and all the resources for my NCTE18 session are here for you!

This year’s theme is Raising Student Voice.  Yes! I’m all over that!

When I taught middle school we discovered the power of using students’ authentic curiosity and questions to propel language and literacy.  We often Skyped with archeologists to ask questions about the heritage and history of the world around us.  We also created videos with questions for students from surrounding schools who were learning about history.They gladly created answer videos for us. This can now be done more easily with Flipgrid and other free technology.  For my students who were gaining literacy and language, their authentic interest in the subject matter enhanced their engagement.  Watch this 3 minute video where Emmanuel gains speaking and reading practice in preparation for a class visitor:


I was recently teaching high school and for the past two years, I had invited our newcomer students to share their migration stories.  We first begin by sharing migration stories of people like Emily Francis who have overcome challenges to find success in this country. Her story is inspiring and compelling for immigrant students who may not realize what is possible with persistence and a growth mindset.

We begin the year working with sentence frames that scaffold up to paragraph frames. This google folder has several documents that will lead students through steps to writing about the similarities and differences in their country and the USA.

We then offer students the option to present on this topic or another topic of their choosing.  Many chose to share their migration stories. The planning pages for those projects are below.

These presentations are shared with classmates but in 2017, one of our World History teachers had the idea of bringing his class to hear the stories.  They also brought food and we allowed time for socializing.  After the presentations, there was time for Q&A. Some of the native-born students were visibly moved. Their comments and questions revealed the deep impact these stories had on the native-born students.

Many of our students are compelled to explain the hardships they have endured to find a safe place to live and the luxury of a free education. It is a time to build empathy but also appreciation and respect among students who may never meet otherwise.

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Other choice projects include “What’s in a Name” and the “Personal Playlist.”  Both of these projects were adapted from Noa Daniel’s Building Outside the Blocks approach to project-based learning that offer voice and choice for students.  These documents are the paragraph frames and planning pages we use to support our English learners in planning what they’d like to share.

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Our migration stories are also being shared with a classroom in Laos so as to add to global funds of knowledge.  We are grateful to Olwen, an educator in Laos, who invited us to share out thoughts in a collaborative google slides presentation about migration.  My students were eager to share.


I will also share how my students create Kahoots (online multiple choice games) about their cultural holiday traditions. PLAY OUR KAHOOT

These quizzes are shared with other classrooms via Twitter and Facebook. This is a picture of Katie DiGregorio’s class in Long Island playing our Kahoot.  We connected with her class and Emily Francis’ class after these Kahoots.  Katie’s class of newcomers made a Kahoot about Long Island for us and we were compelled to write Emily’s class after they sent us questions.

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The students are honored with the questions but it also serves as a way to begin creating assessments with content. Sharing the quizzes offers another way to connect our classrooms with learners around the world.

Finally, we will explain the power of Mystery Skype. We can instantly create dialog and promote higher-order thinking with a Mystery Skype.  Through Skype, we connect to another classroom somewhere in the world and play “20 Questions” to determine their location.

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Those questions are from Scholastic and they have a great step-by-step post here if you want to know more about Mystery Skype.  But honestly, you can just go out on Twitter and type in #MysterySkype to find another class that would like to play.  It’s VERY student centered!  In fact, all of these activities are student-centered, honor our students and are the catalyst for discussion, further research, and reflective writing.

I will also show some writing samples of a first year newcomer here:

And also of a 3rd year student who is new to literacy in any language.  This video is the spirit of the mindset we are trying to get our students to own.

I hope you’ve found this helpful!

Reach out and let me know how you use them or if you’d like any help.  Coming to work with districts is my passion!


Carol Salva

Not at WIDA2018? Here Are All the Resources!

Want to attend my “Hacking Literacy for SLIFE” session at WIDA 2018?

No worries, I have all the resources for you right here.  Not everyone can get to these amazing conferences and I feel that it is important to make sure EVERY teacher of ELs has a way to find practical techniques that they can use immediately.  Your work is just too important.  (SLIFE: Students with Limited or Interrupted Formal Education)

Also! This is a great guide to offering this session at your campus or at a different conference. Spread the love!

Know what else?? Angela Goetz helped me record the session to Facebook LIVE.  Here it is:

So I only have about an hour and 15 min with the good folks in Detroit this Wednesday but I will make it worth their while to come to my session.  I’m going to squeeze in as many practical techniques as I can.  And my goal is for the majority of them to be things we can do in ANY classroom.  I want to model those strategies that are critical for our ELs but actually boost the learning of everyone.  When you offer PD, do your best to allow the participants to experience these things and have them reflect now and again on how they affect THEIR learning.   We could all use reminders!

I am going to start by acknowledging the challenges of SLIFE. The ones on this slide are the big issues I hear most often and they are valid.  But I’ll also remind teachers that we have a solution for each of these issues.  We just need some practical techniques that work for all kids and also build literacy for our SIFE.


First I’m going to post my objectives.  POST the objectives… not just show them on a slide.  I will need to pack some chart paper but this is worth it because those objectives are a visual for students.  There are plenty of reasons for doing this and I want to use just a few minutes to explain why and what I’m doing.

When I review the Content and Language Objectives on the wall, I will draw everyone’s attention to each word by pointing to it as I read.  I’ll use some gestures of pointing to my chest and my ear while I say “Listen to me first. This is what it sounds like…” Our first Turn & Talk will be about how I opened the session/lesson.  I’ll ask participants to consider if they use Exit Tickets and why they would do that.  What I’m trying to get to here is that there are several things we can do to build literacy and language in the first few minutes of every class no matter what you teach.  And those actions are important for all the students in the class.  Here is a great powerpoint by Burleson ISD that explains why you would want to frame your lesson.  It’s about helping all students filter information and have a clear learning target for the class.  It isn’t hurting anyone that I’m pointing to the words and modeling the pronunciation.  In fact, most participants agree that they would benefit from hearing new vocabulary like “Circumference of Circles” or “Homolugus Pairs” before they are expected to use those words in class.


Before we get started and put on our “student” hats, I will ask participants to think about the student(s) they support.  It can be one student or some characteristics of the demographic they are most concerned about.  If they are in a session supporting SLIFE, they might think about the students who are struggling in mainstream classes. Or they might think about the teachers who teach Newcomer English Development.  We need to focus on a specific group for moments of reflection so that we can take reminders or new learning and apply it to our own specific reality.

More on differentiation below.


Questioning Techniques I’ll be Using

At this point, I will have already modeled one or two QSSSA questions.  (You’ll see me do it again at the end of the session) . Seidlitz Education consultants ALWAYS model this questioning strategy.  Honestly, I can’t see it modeled too much.  As a teacher, I want to internalize this technique and see as many different examples as possible.  So the one I will have used for this group might sound something like:

Question:  Why would a teacher model the reading of the objectives?

Signal:  Show me a thumbs up when you can complete this sentence frame.

Stem: A teacher would model the reading of the objectives because…

Share:  Turn to your elbow partner and speak in a complete sentence and the word “model”

Assess: I’ll roll a pair of dice to call on someone.

There are several sheltered strategies wrapped up in the way I am questioning them.  I will show this slide and ask them to reflect on them.  Am I holding everyone accountable for conversations?  Am I offering a low-stress way to produce language?  Am I offering wait time with a signal to indicate readiness?  Is my question worth asking?  If you’d like more learning about this questioning technique, check out this #VirtuEL18 video by me & Tina Beene.  We break it down for a social studies classroom but it works in all classrooms.

Later in the session, QSSSA will be a norm and I will try to remember to also use W.I.T. on someone to model how we can up the rigor of our questioning for any particular student.  I want to give teachers a way to differentiate in the moment.  So at some point, a participant will be called on with the QSSSA technique.  They will answer the question and at that point I might ask one of the following:

Why do you think that?

Is there another way to say that?

Tell me more about that.

This usually catches folks off guard and that is okay.  We always have a way to get support.  I’ll have the “What to Say Instead of IDK” poster somewhere in the room as well.

Instead of IDK Poster

Posters like these are important for every classroom.  We could do a whole PD on why that is.  But I like to have one up for these short sessions as a visual and also a support to participants.  It’s just another opportunity to model how our ELs & SLIFE can find success in any classroom with the same supports that are available and important for all students.  This one, however, is one that builds survival English right away.  These are some of the first sentences we learn in the ESL classroom.

I love to make this poster with my students so that we can discuss how to use it and why.  It also allows me to start with just a few questions and later add more complex responses such as “I don’t know the answer to that question but something I do know is…”

“Elevate the dialog all year!” – John Seidlitz

Ice Breaker

Some folks might skip an ice-breaker in a short session but having students feel comfortable working in your classroom is SO EXTREMELY important that I want to be sure to take a few minutes to do a ‘get to know you’ activity and have participants reflect on it.  The sooner your students feel comfortable, the sooner real learning can occur.  Look into Stephen Krashen’s Affective Filter Hypothesis for more on that.  This is also an opportunity to again think about their own specific demographic of students and how they feel in their classrooms.

Fundamentals of Balanced Literacy

In order to “hack” literacy, we need a basic understanding of Balanced Literacy, in my opinion.  That training is something many upper elementary and secondary teachers just don’t receive. Or we get training but the techniques used with 5 year olds just don’t make sense for my middle or high school classroom. 

I do an entire day of “Rapid Literacy” training where we go deep into it and also lots of examples of how we can align most of our activities to the principles of Balanced Literacy.  In this session, my goal is to give an over-arching idea to participants about best practice (or remind those who have Balanced Lit training) and then help them reflect on everything I’m doing (including the things mentioned above) and how they support literacy development.  Decoding skills, specifically.

If we are going to hack this, the STUDENTS also need a clear understanding of Balanced Literacy and why we roll out instruction this way.  Like our secondary teachers, they don’t need all the details (morphemes, phonemes, phonological vs. phonemic awareness…).  But they WILL benefit from understanding what we are doing and why we are doing it.  I want to capitalize on the fact that SLIFE are older learners.  That means they have more capacity for metacognitive awareness.  That is huge when learning to read or learning anything.  This is where it is critical that we train our students to understand how a person gains sight words and how a person gains phonological awareness.

Sight Words and Phonemic Awareness

Sight words…they need these!  The more sight words they get, the easier it is to decode text.  They also need to start to internalize the sounds of our letters and the blends, and the crazy English patterns of spelling.  What seems to work well in Kindergarten, spending time with the alphabet and lists of  Dolch Sight words, isn’t engaging for older learners.  Also, those sounds and words are very confusing for second language learners.  But they are incredibly important to build so we will learn them in context!  They will learn so many words and sounds of English letters same way they learned the word “McDonalds” or the word “iphone.”  They got it with multiple exposures, in context.  They start to realize that the “m” makes the /m/ sound because they recognize it from that other word or when they see their friend Maria’s name in print many times.

Please remember that these kids know more English EVERY DAY.  So the difficulty of all of this is lessened the more we do it.

Co-Creating Text

I will model Language Experience Approach or at least a few sentences so participants can see how I create a piece of mentor text with my class.  If you want more on that, check out this post and video where I am doing it with my classroom and also modeling QSSSA.  It’s a great video because there is some bad teaching in there that I point out.  (Super important to reflect with our specific goals for students in mind.)

Back to Differentiation

One of my main forms of differentiation in my classroom is the reflection piece for students. Each of my learners are at a different place in their learning for content, language and background. I am constantly reminding students of their role in the acquisition of language and literacy.

If they JUST arrived, their main focus should be on getting the ‘gist’ and staying attentive when we are speaking in English. They should know that their will be stops & checks for understanding with native language if need be, but their main goal is to attend to print and listening for phonemic awareness (sounds of the letters) and sight word recognition (building more automaticity with high-frequency words).  If they just stay attentive, they will start to internalize all of it with multiple exposures in context that allow them time to think and have conversations about their learning.

The long-term language learner should realize that their role is to continue to build sight words and phonemic awareness but they are also to analyze the structures of the language and to be on the look out for elevated dialog.  I will use words & phrases such as “significant” and “in a similar fashion” in my language objectives and in my co-created text.  I will quickly point out their meaning but the walls are my co-teacher for much of the year.

This is very important.  It is critical that the students realize their role and also for our content teachers to be aware of all of this.  That way the math/science/social studies teachers can do simple things like reading the objectives aloud and pointing to the words.  The student knows why they are doing it and the teacher can feel good about moving literacy forward.

Tracking Print

I am excited to use Tan Huynh’s forward to model tracking print and also an activity where I read aloud and stop for students to say the next word.  It is a compelling piece of writing and you have it here on the handout.  I will model a few other ways teachers can have students tracking print during this session.  Using Kahoot, News In Levels, My cellphone to record myself reading aloud… there are many ways to read WITH students that don’t seem “baby-ish”

Many of those techniques are on this website.  In fact, here are the notes from last year’s WIDA conference.

Here is the handout.

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My hope is to open the session with this video.  I think it is the perfect example of what is possible when you partner with your SLIFE students and with other EL teachers. (thank you Emily Francis!)

I’ll also be sharing some books by Saddleback Educational Publishing.  They are like GOLD!  They’re at booth 218 if you are at the conference. Otherwise find them at

If you are going to do a session with your faculty, I would also suggest this video by Valentina Gonzales.  In 4 minutes, Valentina Gonzalez shows the power of Comprehensible Input.

Thanks to everyone who shares information with me like what you see above.  If you have any questions or input, please just reach out. I’d love to hear from you!



PS:  What are the needs of your teachers?  We can come to your district and help you inspire your learners and your teachers.  Just reach out for a free consultation.  I’m at  or on Twitter at @MsSalvaC.

BAP034 – Part I of Activities for the Newcomer Classroom with Kenzie Twitchell

So what do we do in the Newcomer classroom after the first days of school?

Kenzie Twitchell is here to help us work through some standard routines that will have your students speaking, reading, comprehending and writing in English as quickly as possible.

You can listen to the show on Soundcloud, ITunes or right here:
Listen to “BAP034 Part I of Activities for the Newcomer Classroom with Kenzie Twitchell” on Spreaker.

Kenzie is going to be the person in charge of the ESL program at her campus.  She has experience working with language learners in general education classes but this year she will have an entire class of Level 1, Beginners.  Kudos to Kenzie for reaching out and trying to find the best practices for her new class!

Kenzie and another new teacher, Brianna Christine both watched a Beginning of the Year video I released on Youtube.

If you are new to teaching emergent English learners, you’ll love that video because it includes the five things I recommend to get your year off to a great start.  I highly recommend you watch that video if you have not already seen it.

Both ladies had the same question.  “So then what??”

So Kenzie and I set out to discuss what I believe to be the best practices for engaging and inspiring ELs to use the target language while building literacy as well.  Of course, you should be following the curriculum for your class.  But there are ways to deliver the content that honor what your students bring and align with Balanced Literacy.

For the last several years I have had students with low levels of literacy in their target language.  Kenzie also has had some experience with SLIFE (Students with Limited or Interrupted Formal Education).  So our discussion was one that takes those students in mind and also differentiates for the learner that has high levels of literacy.

In this show we discuss free voluntary reading (FVR) and how critical it is for our ELs (all students) to read for pleasure and read as much as possible.  The issue is that our students may not be able to read independently yet.  So we can use Language Experience Approach to help students gain literacy.  This approach is a way to engage students in reading and writing in English and offers a great opportunity for oral language practice.

Brianna was somewhat familiar with LEA but had more questions. Here is a video of me doing LEA.  This video actually offers a non-example and an example lesson:

The goals for English Language Development students are

  1. Get as many sight words as you can
  2. Get as much phonemic awareness as possible.

The goals for me are to

  1. Make my content comprehensible (grade level content)
  2. Develop their academic language
  3. Support grade level learning with opportunities for higher order thinking.

The text we read together needs to be somewhat comprehensible and we can do that by stopping and negotiating meaning in their native language or using other comprehensible input strategies such as visuals and gestures.  In these ways, we can help make text understandable to the student.  But we also need them to track the print so that they can start acquiring sight words and phonemic awareness as they acquire more English.

We can do a lot of grade level debriefing with language experience approach.  Those shared writing texts should remain available to the students for other purposes.

Above all, the students need to understand that it is critical that they read, read, read.  They should understand how many sight words they can gain by tracking print and how much those sight words pay off.  To get buy-in from the students, I show them the graphic above from Samson’s Classroom.  They need to see how much of the typical text is sight words or little high frequency words.  This video shows how my students work together to use our walls to gain English literacy and language.  Like all classes, they are awkward at first about working collaboratively, but you can see how engaged and empowered they become.

If they understand the techniques that build literacy… and they are gaining English comprehension every day… they start to be able to read and speak sooner verses later.

We also discuss the value of the following:

Following Twitter hashtags such as #Ellchat, #Ellchat_BkClub and #BoostingAchievement

Following Larry Ferlazzo on Twitter and also subscribing to his blog.

Finding anything that you can on his book, The ELL Teachers Toolbox .  Get the book or follow Larry for a ton of free resources.  The #ELLTeachersToolbox hashtag is also a great follow.

Follow Valentina Gonzalez, Tan Huynh, Carlota Holder and Emily Francis.  They are all masters at sharing research based, best practices for teachers of English learners!

I mention my training with the Gomez & Gomez Dual Language Model

I mentioned Stephen Krashen and this video by Valentina Gonzalez:

After all of this, Kenzie and I KEEP TALKING for another hour!  So we have a Part II of this topic coming out tomorrow.  In that episode, we talk about where you can take your students now that they are beginning to read and write in English.  We want to make the most of our time with the to support content area learning but also continuing to build their literacy and decoding skills.

Stay tuned for Part II!

I hope this has been helpful.  Thank you again, McKenzie Twitchell and Brianna Christine.

See you in Part II!


PS: Please reach out if you’d like to bring Seidlitz Education training to your district. We have thousands of happy teachers who can tell you that our trainings make a huge impact on their practice.  I’d love to tell you more about the different offerings.  My email is

Also! I’ll be in Houston, South Carolina and Kansas City in the next few months!  Hope to see you at one of these functions.

Join us in Houston, Texas on Oct 4th for Rapid Literacy.

Join me in South Carolina on Sept 12 & 13 for Boosting Achievement with Carolina TESOL

Join me at MidTESOL18 on Sept 28 & 29th.


BAP033 Sarah Williams and a Strong Start

If you’re teaching an ESL or Newcomer class… you’ll love this show!

I speak to Sarah Williams in this episode and I’m so glad we connected. She reached out because she is going to be a first year teacher and wanted to find people who do what she is doing.  I took this opportunity to share what works well for me at the beginning of the school year. You can listen to our conversation as a podcast right here.
Listen to “BAP033 Sarah Williams and a Strong Start to the School Year” on Spreaker.

I wrote a blog post about this last year so I’m reprinting that below.  I’m also including a youtube video on my top tips for starting the school year.  This video is 30 min long and goes through my top tips in more detail.

Sarah had already read the blogpost below when we spoke so we are going over the things in that video and also some of her ideas for classroom management.  In our conversation I learn about the PAX Good Behavior Game program for classroom management and self regulation. It’s great hear her passion for this program and her strong sense of how to partner with students to create classroom norms.

THANK YOU, Sarah for your willingness to come on the show.  I love your heart for English learners and I’m excited for you and the kids this year!

Newcomer Teachers’ Guide to a Strong Start

 I’m always scared at the beginning of the year! I worry that I won’t be able to meet all the needs of my new students.  I know this is silly because faith in them and high expectations are the two things they need the most. And we have that covered!

Image result for languagesAlso, many newcomer teachers agree that we have the most grateful students in the building. That is worth remembering if you are feeling nervous.

So no need to be scared!  But still, I like to be sure I am setting up a classroom culture that honors each child and maximizes every instructional minute.  Here are my non-negotiables for the beginning of the year… and oh! We do these with a lot of native language support to ensure comprehension and allow the students to reflect freely about these important topics:

Social Contract Created by the Students

It’s critical that none of the norms are created by me. But I usually have to ask them to be more specific than “respect.”  I might offer examples and non-examples such as tossing books at each other or laughing at someone who is taking a risk.  These are the questions we use which were told to me by someone who attended a Flippen Group training, Capturing Kids Hearts.

  • How do you want to be treated by your peers?
  • How do you think your peers want to be treated by you?
  • How do you want to be treated by your teacher?
  • How do you think your teacher wants to be treated by you?


Also, Dana Baker Larrick offered me these ppt slides that I used with my 2nd year students. Worked great!

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Dana Baker Larrick @ELLTeacherDBL

Create a “Banish IDK” Poster with the Students

I start with three questions that will allow any student to participate as soon as they are ready.  Questions like these support our English learners in other classes and in their daily life.

Instead of IDK

May I ask a friend for help?

Would you please repeat the question?

May I have some time to think?


Selfie Kahoots

We play a Kahoot I’ve made about myself on Day 1. They then get planning pages (download here)  to bring in one question about themselves so we can make a class #SelfieKahoot.


There are many more ideas for Back-to-School Kahoots here.  I also have many Kahoot ideas on this site and you can find ESL Kahoot ideas in these blogs on Kahoot’s website.

At least One Structured Conversation with A New Classmate.

This quick video shows one of my newcomer classes on the very first day this week.  We practiced the frame and all were willing to read this frame from their name tent.  “My name_____. My family is from _______ and I speak ______.”  It is a little awkward as it is Day 1 but we are setting the norm of finding and working with different partners in the room.

This is not too bad for the first day! By the end of the year, everyone is very comfortable with one another.  In fact, I get a lot of buy-in from the students by showing them videos of our students the year before. 

They see that everyone is following the Social Contract and they are all collaborating.  When I didn’t have recent video of my own students, I used this video of Gerson Bermudez.  

Your students can analyze the behavior and progress of the students in my class. I have many here.

Through all of this, and throughout the year, I am explaining the brain friendliness of the activities, and also stressing metacognitive strategies so they begin thinking about their thinking. They need to know that it will be easy to speak and understand English in the Newcomer class. And that the more they engage, the faster their progress will be.

I had so many things planned for my first week and we only got to a fraction of them.  No matter. My main goal was to make sure students knew that I was happy to have them in my class. That goal was met.

Have a great back to school season!





BAP026 Language Experience Approach, QSSSA and Filming

This week I have a video of my teaching. At first I thought I had pulled off a great lesson.  Later I realized it was a non-example!

If you’d just like audio, the podcast version is here & in iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts:
Listen to “BAP026 Language Experience Approach and QSSSA (complete with non-example)” on Spreaker.

There is always room for improvement so we might as well embrace the fact that lessons will not go as planned. The video I embed for this podcast has a teaching “fail” in it.  That makes me cringe but reflecting on the way we teach is what will help us improve.  So instead of beating myself up, I tried the lesson again with strategies that I know offer the students more opportunities to speak.  This show is primarily about Language Experience Approach and also the QSSSA questioning strategy that John Seidlitz put together for us.

To read more about Language Experience Approach, check out this article from the Center for Adult English Language  Acquisition on the website:

In the show I mention Abydos International several times.  I recommend their training to everyone who teaches writing.  You can’t go wrong bringing them to your campus for the summer institutes.

I have a trainer’s certification that I like to keep current because the program is so never let it lapse.

So on to Language Experience Approach (Co-Creating Text) and QSSSA:

I used to be uncomfortable with watching myself teach, but I started doing it so frequently, that the benefit outweighed any negative feelings I have about the errors that I see when I review the footage. ** Be sure to get the proper permissions for any filming you may do in class.

So yes, I’ve gotten quite comfortable with the fact that no lesson will ever be 100% perfect.  That’s just impossible because we are human beings.

There will always be room for improvement. So why not embrace that? Why not challenge ourselves the way we challenge our students every day? “Put yourself out there.” We tell them.  But how are they supposed to believe us when we say that failure and errors are part of improving?  That they are opportunities to learn and get better?

I feel strongly that if we want our students to develop a growth mindset about their learning, we need to model that ourselves in our own craft.

This all happened in a super busy semester so I’d been periodically filming myself teaching but hadn’t had as much time as I would like to review the films.    That changed when I made a conscious effort to do a Language Experience Approach lesson so that I could show it to another teacher. I was so happy with how the lesson went until I watched the film.  Now I’m actually using it as a non-example! Ha!

I got some great advice from a former instructional coach, Curtis George.  It was something like “When you watch the film, don’t rip it apart for everything. You will see many errors because you are your own worst critic. Hone in on one thing and keep filming & tweaking your instruction to do your best to improve that one thing. Don’t show the film to anyone until you think you can’t  improve any further on your own.”  That was very freeing advice and has served me well.

After watching my Language Experience Approach lesson, my “one thing” is obvious to me. I needed to give the students more opportunities to speak.

And I live and breathe this stuff!!

The point is, I know I’m decent at sheltered instruction.  For example,  I know the benefit of students speaking and I value the 10-2 strategy where I don’t speak for more than 10 minutes before I allow them to speak for 2 minutes. But sometimes even that is just too long! I’m an ESL teacher for goodness sakes.  I saw a few missed opportunities for them to practice the language or talk about what they think. I saw many opportunities where I could have stopped sooner.

What I realized was that it’s important for me to watch myself teaching more frequently. Seeing myself on film is always going to give me a different perspective. That perspective is valuable and I would highly encourage everyone to give it a try.

The great news is that of course, I started putting things in place so that I gave my students even more opportunities to own their learning. And if you watch the video, you’ll see that it really did pay off.  The student that fell asleep is super engaged when I repeated the lesson with more student talk.

I used QSSSA and it never fails.  Watch the video to get an idea of how that technique goes. Essentially, you provide a sentence starter for answering the question.  But you first offer wait time with a signal.  Then you offer a low stress opportunity to talk/share before you randomly call on someone or have students write something (formative assessment).  QSSSA is widely used and extremely popular among content and ESL educators at every grade level.

QSSSA was definitely the answer for engagement and it was KEY to making this lesson more meaningful.  Newcomers, SLIFE or any EL will improve their decoding skills with more reading.  Their fluency improves as they gain more language and have more exposure to text.  But if they are bored, they are often fake-reading.  But when we co-create text, they are engaged because as a class THEY are the authors.  We just need to be sure they all had a chance to talk about it before we write about it.

Hope this was helpful.

Thanks for reading!


Four Steps to Boosting Achievement with Visitors (in real life or virtual)

Language comes more quickly when we are compelled to use it.  Are there people in  your community with stories that mirror those of your students? Help your English learners (all students) realize how important they are with people who want to meet them and can inspire them.

Business professionals, restaurant owners, managers in your local stores, college students? They will likely come speak to your class and are usually flattered to be asked.

I am always on the lookout for  people who can connect with my students to open their minds to the world of possibilities that are available to them.

 Over the past two years, we’ve hosted many!

Our latest visitor is George Bamfo who works in sales for LESCO Architectural lighting.  My friend, Kristi Warren, mentioned to me that her coworker was from Ghana (many of my students are also from Africa).  George has an inspiring story that includes receiving a college scholarship for playing football.  Like everyone I have ever asked, he agreed to come speak to my students.  Check out this 2 min video of George Bamfo’s visit to our classroom:

To make the most of our visitor experience, I stick to a 4 step process we call DDCR or DISCUSS, DISCOVER, CONNECT, REFLECT.  These are the steps I follow:

  1. DISCUSS:  Tell your students that a special person is coming to speak to them.  Show your students pictures and give an overview of the guest, their profession, why they should be a good visitor.

2. DISCOVER:  Learn what your students know and also have students research the visitor’s profession or life. (We found out one of our students from Mexico was a champion chess player!)

  • Teach key vocabulary so students have comprehension and allow them to speak in their native language  to negotiate meaning.  (I  use Kahoot to teach vocabulary with visuals)
  • Solicit questions from your students!  Have students enter these into a shared Google Slides presentation (fixing up English spelling or grammar errors for them).  Practice their pronunciation of their authentic questions.

3. CONNECT: Connect virtually and/or in person.  Before meeting, share the presentation with your visitor virtually and ask that they provide you answers to be typed into the presentation.  Any pictures you can find together will be helpful to your ELs.

  • Create a Selfie Kahoot that incorporates questions about the visitor and also questions about your class.
  • On the day of the visit, allow your guest  to co-present with your class.  They can help read slides, choral read and come up with new questions.
  • Play the Kahoot with your guest after their presentation.

4. REFLECT:  After the visit, debrief with students orally and then in writing to cement lessons learned about perseverance,  growth mindset, teamwork, etc..

This method of DISCUSS, DISCOVER, CONNECT, REFLECT has been serving me quite well for authentic learning opportunities. I strive to help my students grow in a connected world.  I’m able to bring in others in person or virtually who can help guide my students in learning and in life.

Our #EduPartners give us hope, pride and many times their journeys are full of lessons they can share and messages that our immigrant students need to hear.

Wondering if people will come? Over the past few years we have had visits from ESL teacher Emily Francis, Champion’s Game authors Saul Ramirez and John Seidlitz, Doctoral Student and teacher Katie DiGregorio, Equine Archaeologist Dr. Carolyn Willikes, President of the Council of Texas Archeologists Dr Jon Lohse, historian  and authorDr. Paul Spellman, the founders of Pledgecents, Bryan McAuley of the Texas Historical Commission and  others.

Next week we will welcome Benjamin Yagan who was my nurse in the hospital and is originally from Kenya.

We have had more connections virtually, these are the ones who have physically come to our classroom.  It’s worth mentioning that I have paid nothing to any of these visitors.

One lasts thing is that I always make sure my students know that one day I will be calling on them to come back and tell their success stories to newcomers.

Just  as we say in this card, we appreciate George Bamfo and all the visitors who have taken the time to come meet our students.  

We have SO many people out there who are eager to help us educate and inspire our students.  I appreciate the visitors and also want to be sure to thank Ms. Paula Gomez who has been coming once a week to volunteer and also Georgia Henkel, a student aide that helps during 6th period in my room.  If you’d like volunteers, check out this post that includes a 5 minute video you can share with your community:  BRING ON THE VOLUNTEERS

One more huge thanks to the scholars for being amazing as always!  I’m super proud  of all of you! – Ms. Salva

PS: Would you like more support?  I’d love to come work with you and your staff! Simply reach out to me or Kathy Belanger:

PSS: Are you presenting at #MADPD?? Check out this request for presenters and know that your proposal WILL get accepted.  We should all be presenting at this “Make A Difference PD” online conference in May.  Stay tuned for a show all about this in a few weeks.

In the near future I will be presenting at the NABE conference,  as well as the ISTE conference and I’m a proud spotlight speaker at the Abydos writing conference. 
I’m attending SXSW as well so please reach out if you’ll be at any of these!

You can also join me for two upcoming workshops in Texas.  The information for those is below.  We’d love to see you!

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You Don’t Need to Buy More Resources or kill yourself making them.

Do you teach an ESL class?  Do you teach a content class with newcomers? You don’t have to spend endless hours creating materials for your Newcomer ESL classes.

Take a look at this 4 min video. It is an overview of what my NELD (Newcomer English Language Development) high school class looked like last year.

What do you notice?  Many things jump out to me. Authentic opportunities to use English. Collaborating with peers. Reflecting on their learning. Co-created, high interest text and more.  Support for decoding while we also support critical thinking.

It’s no wonder they are highly engaged and making great progress.

For content teachers, the highest priority needs to be your subject and grade-level learning.  But we also need to move language in content classes.  If you haven’t seen this video with Ms. Stokes of Spring Forest Middle School, please check it out.  These 3 minutes underscore one technique for teaching SIFE students in state assessed classes.  And they actually help teach the others!


Are you at a loss for how to structure a class like this? Are you or your teachers frantically creating worksheets because there isn’t enough out there?  That used to be me but let’s reconsider what our students really need:

They need opportunities to listen, speak, read and write in the target language

They need to be involved at grade level.

They need to be engaged and participating.

They need to collaborate with others outside of our classrooms.

They need to feel important.

This blog has many ideas to help you achieve these things for your students.  Check our the videos page to see more examples of how this can look.  Nowadays I am constantly challenging myself to find ways to have my students connecting with others and then reflecting on their thinking.  I also want to create opportunities for cross curricular learning. Our upcoming field trip is an example.  This blogpost outlines the steps I’m taking. 


I hope these videos and step by step outlines add to your ideas for how to move away from formulaic curriculum materials and more toward authentic learning.  Reach out if you have any questions!



PS:  Sometimes we need someone to come look at our situations and help develop a plan.  We need to look at our scope and sequence (or develop one) and then see practical ways to help students engage with the plan. We need examples of these activities and how they can boost grade level learning without exhausting the teacher.

I am now working with districts to show teachers how to do these thing.  I can work with you to structure the newcomer class. Or help with inclusion for newcomers or SIFE in content classes.   If you are interested in consulting, just reach out or send this blogpost to your director or ESL support team.

You can email me at

If you have read this far, I know you are doing great things for your students or your teachers. You are the type of person that goes the extra mile to find more resources to support them.  My purpose with this participar offering is just to make your life easier in that endeavor!


Teaching Holidays and Week 2 of the Book Study

It is about to be Thanksgiving in The USA.  I offer you these ideas with Thanksgiving as the example but you could adapt them to any holiday coming up in your part of the world.  ** The Week 2 Book Study Questions are at the bottom of this post.  Please look at the links for more resources for week 2!

Holidays are a great opportunity to help students build background for history and culture of their new countries.


I found great Thanksgiving resources where I always find good resources.  I look to Larry Ferlazzo because I know he will have a “Best of” list going. Sure enough, here it is !

One of my goals for this lesson was to help students understand why we celebrate with a feast.  I also wanted them to be familiar with what modern day traditions are, and I also wanted to give them some background for US history in terms of how and why our country was founded.

Like some folks, I am conflicted about how we teach this history.  I appreciate that Larry offers resources for the uncricital version but offers many resources that help us teach the perspective of the Native Americans at this link: Larry Ferlazzo,

So from the resources, I took information to create a Kahoot:

We watched the video below first.  Also, when I play the Kahoot, I am teaching and explaining through the Kahoot.  Then we play again quickly to see what they remember.  It was very successful and allowed us to do some great shared writing I show below.

My reading class is more advanced with English and most have been here through one Thanksgiving.  We used the following video and this Kahoot for the Intermediate class:

We also discussed some of the idioms and phrases in the video.  Mostly, I wanted to be sure they knew about this youtube channel and how to use it for self study.  I love the closed-captioning and the scrolling vocabulary and pictures.

Larry’s list pointed me to which I know I will use to help preteach other social studies concepts.  I printed the writing page but offered the students some English sentence frames.

During the Kahoot, my students had questions about how Squanto spoke English. (If your students don’t ask, you can lead them to consider this interesting fact)  This is a great lead-in to the next part of this lesson where we discuss the Native Americans’ perspective. We use this worksheet from which helps me explain how Squanto speaks English and his life as a slave:  

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There are several more links and ideas for teaching this perspective at Larry Ferlazzo’s blog post of resources.

My intermediate students did a roving paragraph at the end of class.  This is a picture of what a SIFE student who only spoke Arabic last year created quickly during the roving paragraph activity. Of course, there was a lot of oral language practice as they changed partners multiple times.Here is a great blogpost by Kirsten Foti on Roving Paragraph!

I hope you and your students have a wonderful holiday break!  Thanks for reading and please reach out with any feedback! Also, feel free to join us for the book study below.  You can jump in any time!

Stay awesome,



Twitter Slow Chat Book Study on Boosting Achievement:

I’m a day late, but below are the questions! If this is your first time doing this study, and you want more, please check out all the resources on the WEEK 2 page from our original study. The videos there are in alignment to our focus this week about “Who Are SIFE?”


(Answer some of these, all of these or none of these. We welcome all ideas, reflections & insight!)

  • 2Q1)  p. 12 “…not all refugee students are SIFE.” Do you think this is a common misconception? How can we help change that perception?
  • 2Q2)  p. 13 “…teachers need to be prepared to teach language, in addition to content, to maximize English language development.”  What is your best advice for content teachers who are new to SIFE?   
  • 2Q3)  p. 15 Every Student Has a Story: These are just some examples of a newcomer backgrounds. Are your students’ backgrounds similar or different than these?
  • 2Q4)  p. 16-p.18 What are additional ideas for making students feel instantly welcome? Or why do you like some that are mentioned here?
  • 2Q5)  Use the QR Code on p. 18 or visit to analyze the 2-minute video of Carol’s newcomer classes. There are brand-new classmates, SIFE and also students with special needs in these classes.  That said, it took only 15 minutes for the class to be able to rearrange desks in under 30 seconds.   Why is this video important? (ie: implications for cooperative learning, classroom culture, expectations for diverse learners, or anything that is significant to you.)
  • 2Q6) p. 19-21 only scratch the surface of Culturally Responsive Teaching, a very hot topic in education right now. What would you add to this? Or what part resonated with you and why?
  • 2Q7) p. 22-23 Osama is a refugee in his 1st year in US schools. He was not SIFE but he appeared delayed in math, initially scoring at a 7th grade level in placement tests. Update: His math teachers used sheltered instruction, he finished the year passing Pre-Calculus, graduating, and he received scholarships to attend college this fall.    How can you use Osama’s story? Could it guide you in your role as you work with ELs, other professionals or any type of learner?
  • 2Q8) p. 25 – 31 offer examples of different methods a district, a school or a teacher might use to gather information about newcomers and learners who are SIFE. Are any of these realistic in your role?  If not, what other means can you share?

Have you posted to the flipgrid yet?  Posts again!  We’d love to see you there every week!  We can always use that grid to reflect on questions or any thoughts we have about the book or our students.  I love how many of us are participating this way.  It can seem a little scary but it helps me model exactly what I am asking of my newcomers:  Take a risk… it will help your learning! 

C J had a great Flipgrid reflection about the different labels and how we need to understand them and then get to know the students!

Here is that video:

And he reminded me that we all liked this video on different labels shared by @RCOeducate:

So glad to be sharing with you guys this week!

Also! This is where you can find me in the next few months:

See you at the Nov 14 th chat!  here is a sneak peek at the questions:

#TxTESOL4 ChatQuestion Sneak Peek by Carol Salva
Happy Reading and Reflecting!