Free Webinar on Advocacy for English Learners

Were you able to join us for this free National Council of State Title III Directors webinar on EL Advocacy? Below are all the resources I shared.

Please consider joining the NCSTIIID! You’ll get the archived video and you’ll be joining a group of passionate stakeholders who are supporting English learners in a variety of ways. We need you! Join here.

Grass Roots Advocacy

by Carol Salva

The effort I am spotlighting today is One World Club started by Hannah Keller of Spring Branch ISD in Houston, Texas.  More efforts and ideas are at the bottom of this post.

One World Club was not started by the faculty but by a student community member that saw a need and took action.

Shortly after meeting some of our immigrant students, Hannah began tutoring the new arrival students with her friends. She organized events with so the newcomers would be included in activities like football games, museum trips, and other outside of school activities.


She then approached us about creating a formal club.  She began making posters and recruiting her native-born friends as well as students new to the country.  Soon it became a club for anyone and everyone.  The club helps with tutoring and navigating the norms of school but above all, it is a place where authentic friendships grow.



An Advocacy Ripple Effect

The first picture below is of two newcomers from OWC who started a math club this year. It’s a club for students who love math and students who struggle with math. Their goal is to partner students to help each other with peer tutoring.

The second picture is our 2018 Trick or Treat meet up.  Two students who are not immigrants showed up because they want to be a part of the club. They saw posters about it, they signed up and heard about the gathering. They came to hang out and traded phone numbers with our new ELs and said they were excited about more gatherings.  Imagine the positive outcomes for ALL the young people in attendance.


Families Stepping Up

The club’s reach is well beyond the building. Hannah’s family has hosted social gatherings where community members, faculty and school board members are in attendance. I’ve also hosted events in my home.  The adult and student friendships that develop at these gatherings are what our newcomer families say they need the most.  They need friends to help them navigate all of the unknowns of their new surroundings.


Opportunities for ELs to Give Back

The One World Club also offers ALL members an opportunity to give back to our community.  These young people (newcomers and native-born) are passionate about serving others.  This offers every member a chance to feel pride, dignity and the authentic respect they deserve.  Photos here of visiting a nursing home as well as grounds beautification around the school:


Standing with ELs

An example of standing in solidarity with immigrants, the club organized a “Walk to School Day” when public threats to Muslims began circulating on social media with a date specified.  Many of our Muslim girls stayed home from school in fear but they were aware that the club was organized and walking together from different locations to support them. Walk to School day is set to be an annual tradition where we celebrate healthy habits and friendship.


The club is making an immeasurable impact on our English learners and their families.  The newcomers have gained English quickly and some of the students (including SLIFE and newcomers) spoke to our school board to explain what the club has meant to them in an effort to see a similar club in other schools.   Another high school in our district has already started their One World Club.


The students have presented as a panel at our Region IV TEA Service Center as well as our State TexTESOL Conference.  They explain how teachers can help students with simple sheltered strategies and allowing these clubs to be a part of their school and community.


As requested in the webinar: Here is the 1 hour Video PD with three of our students (including SLIFE)

It is no surprise that Hannah Keller was awarded the State of Texas Student Hero award for our area.  This prestigious award is only awarded to 15 students across the state each year. Donna Bahorich, chair of District 6 of the Texas State Board of Education told us that there were so many impressive students but Hannah’s actions stood out among them all.


The efforts of One World Club are magnified and supported by local community partners.  Our district has an immigrant counselor, Patricia Economides who supports the club many hours outside of her workday.  She and other district employees such as Tommy Knapik, Avery Hammond, Olivia Shirley, Sara Russo, and many others bring support and opportunities to our EL families.  We have many faculty heroes for the ELs in our community!


Another very noteworthy partner is Trina Morford, a community member who organizes the Daily Dose education program for our district and others. She brings missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to provide ESL classes and more to our parents and students.

Trina is a community member who does much more than this impressive program.  She helped organize Unity in the Community social gatherings and meetings to specifically respond to challenges that are faced by our new families.

Our local outreach center, Family Point Resources, is able to bring all of us together and is doing incredible work with our students and their families. Coach Brandon Stribling, Ms. Stephanie Hruzek and everyone at the center go above and beyond to advocate for our ELs.  In the words from their website: “FamilyPoint Resources engages our community in supportive relationships that build hope, meet needs, and transform lives.  We accomplish our mission by working toward mutual growth through listening, playing, and learning.”

I couldn’t agree more.  Examples of their work include a partnership with Harris Country Department of Education to provide many services from GED and ESL classes to grocery programs, sports programs and other ways to include and support all families in our area.  Check out their upcoming events here.

The United Way 2-1-1 hotline is a fantastic resource for ANY services our ELs need.  We can advocate locally by making sure that our community members know about this hotline that serves thousands of people across the United States and parts of Canada.  They need to know that they need only call 2-1-1 and that support is available in many different languages, 24 hours a day for free.

Thank you for wanting to advocate for your language learners and new families.  If you have any questions, please reach out!

For more free webinars by the National Council of State Title III Directors, visit their website here.

Carol Salva

Seidlitz Education Consultant

Proud Advisory Board Member for NCSTIIID. Join us!

Twitter: @MsSalvaC


BAP030 – Keep Moving Forward Part 1

“Don’t give up. And even if you GAVE up…doesn’t mean you’re done. Just get back up.” – Emily Francis
Listen to “BAP030 Part I Keep Moving Forward (guest Emily Francis)” on Spreaker.

You can listen to the show at that link, or on your favorite podcast app.

This episode is Part 1 in a 3 part series about graduating newcomers.  We had so many new arrival students graduate this past weekend (see pics of our graduation party here)!  Yay!

But the reality is that that many of our new arrival students did not pass some of their state assessments needed for graduation.  Of course, we can only graduate the students who have enough credits and meet the state’s requirements which include several standardized assessments. And the nature of working with new arrival students is that they may not be able to master the content and language to graduate on time with their peers.  But it doesn’t mean that they can’t and it doesn’t mean that they won’t.  

So then how do we help students in academics and also support them with what they need to be successful in life?  How do we help them stick with it so that they can eventually reach their dreams? What if there isn’t enough time??

I get this question a lot so I’m going to tackle it in a 3 part series.

In this episode I want to show you some of what I do for the mindset of all of my students. I talk a lot about grit but I start by mentioning my friend Andrea Honigsfeld’s work. She helped me keep social justice concerns in mind when we teach with grit narratives.  We need to be very careful not to put the responsibility on the students.  As a profession, WE are the ones who need to change to support the English learners in ways that are equitable.

In the next two episodes we will talk more about what we do specifically to support academics but we will always come back to mindset.  Without the right mindset, nothing else works.

We have recently received our scores for the state exams and many of our newcomers did not pass classes needed for graduation.  It’s important to know that I have been prepared for this all year long. I’ve been talking with my students about people who were not successful on state exams but eventually did  find success academically.  I’m one of those former students so I know how critical it is to believe that you’ll eventually succeed.  Nothing worked for me when I didn’t.

As part of our end of year wrap up, we were reflecting on what we had learned and our goals.  We were setting goals with a goal sheet and ideas from #ELLTeachersToolbox by Larry Ferlazzo & Katie Hull-Sypnieski.  (Many of those ideas are actually available in this blog post by Larry.)   This activity led the students into a discussion about Emily Francis and how she reached her goals.

If you don’t know about Emily Francis, go follow her right now.  I have used her story as part of my curriculum for 2 years now and it is one of the most powerful tools I have in my toolbelt.

I’m super grateful that Emily is out in the world telling about her journey.  My students see that she is a Fab 5 Teaching Channel teacher, arguably at the top of her game and a model for other teachers of ELLs.  But in reading about her journey, they also see that she came to the US with very similar circumstances to theirs.  Emily arrived in the US as a non-English speaker and was starting high school with a 6th grade education from Guatemala.

This podcast includes the audio of that skype session and some of my reflections of the amazing experience.  If you consider that we have studied and referred to her journey throughout the year, you can imagine how powerful this google hangout was for my students.

They brainstormed questions first. Some of the questions she answered were:

Why did you give up in high school when you didn’t pass your US History exam.  (Best question and great answer for students who many not be able to pass state assessments when they first come to a new country)

  • How did you feel when you were on the Ellen Show?
  • Why did you move to North Carolina
  • What part of Guatemala are you from? (led a great response about what her life was like there)
  • How do you feel about US history now?
  • How did your grandmother find you in NYC.
  • What was  your biggest challenge/obstacle and how did you overcome it?  (Amazing response about mindset from Emily)

It is worth noting that my students recently completed a final end of year reflection on their final exams and more than one of them wrote about Emily and this chat with her. They mentioned that they didn’t want to forget the messages Emily gave to them.

At the end of the show we hear a few words from Kamal. This student is learning to read in English even though he does not read in his native language.  He had a difficult experience in Egypt but he is here now and he has a mindset that he can do it.  I’m blown away that he remembers this quote.  Two and a half years ago, it was the first thing in English that he could read or say.  Now Kamal has passed his Algebra EOC!  

In Part 2, Emily and I will connect to debrief this conversation with my students and in Part 3 I will connect with Talisa Harris from Sulpher Spring, Texas.  She is asking about specific ways we can support students with academics and we will talk about what is working at my school.

But we always need to start and end with mindset.  Ours and that of the students.

Have  a great week!


PS: Hope I get to see you this summer or fall!  Will you be at any of these??

June 4-5: ESC7 Summer Conerence.  Kilgore, Texas (Breakout sessions)

June 19: ESC11 Boosting Achievement Full Day Workshop

June 24-25: ISTE in Chicago, Ill. (Breakout Tech Sessions)

June 29: Keynote at ESC10 BIL/ESL Conference

Summer & Fall 2018: Carolina TESOL Workshops

Oct 4: Rapid Literacy Conference – 1 day workshop in Houston, Texas

Sept 28 – 29: MidTESOL in Kansas City (Breakout Sessions)

NCTE18 in Houston, Texas  Nov 2018. Presenting breakouts with Emily Francis & Katie DiGregorio

AbydosCon19, Literacy Conference

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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They Can Absolutely Read That.

Picture a newcomer you know this year. Remember the beginning of school when we were all freaking out that these kids spoke NO English?  I was so worried about how in the world they would survive in a comprehensive high school. I am every year!  As always I had to remind myself that they can learn very, very quickly.

Well, we are so proud of those kiddos who are not only surviving, they are thriving!

In the first few weeks of school, I showed someone the “I Don’t Know” poster and explained that this is critical for new English learners and students with interrupted or minimal education.  I explained that teaching kids what to say instead of “IDK” is a great practice for all students in every content classroom.  This is Step 1 of Seidlitz Education‘s Seven Steps – a fantastic training on sheltered instruction.

This poster is helpful so our ELs have a way to participate immediately if they feel comfortable to do so.  Her response was “But they can’t read that!  Your kids don’t read any English.”

Okay. I get that.  On their own… on that day…. no, they couldn’t read a poster in English.  But even on that first day, they absolutely CAN read that poster with our help. Everyone can repeat and follow print and they can comprehend what the sentences mean if you offer some support. And EVERY DAY they gain more English with help from that poster.

“May I ask a friend for help?”
“Can you please repeat the question?”

With phrases like this (that are useful for all students), this environmental print is much more than a poster.  For ELs, it is the first step toward participation and eventual independence in any learning environment.

Even with brand new ELs, let’s remember that they understand more English every single day.  And with some sheltered strategies, that language can be acquired even more quickly.  Once my students began to gain confidence, their participation in English increased.  We do a great deal of speaking in unison, reading aloud in unison, tracking print and having conversations with classmates that may start scripted but lead to authentic exchanges.


I’m thrilled to have some of those students preparing for a presentation that they will do next week for 37 World History students who will be visiting our classroom.

The mainstream kiddos are interested in our migration stories! They will come for a class visit, hear a few presentations and share food that they are bringing for the occasion.   Can you imagine all of the positive affective, cultural and growth-mindset outcomes for both groups?  Not the least of which are the learning standards we are hitting with World Geography and World History in the curriculum.

Presenting to our community is great but it gets even better.  We are contributing our slides/stories to a project on migration stories that is happening in a classroom in Laos.

For this project, I have to give a big thanks to two colleagues whom I have never met.  These ladies are from my Twitter PLN!

Ms. Olwen Millgate is a 5th grade teacher at the Vientiane International School in Laos. Several months back, she reached out to me on Twitter and invited us to contribute to a Google Slides presentation on Migration Stories for her students.This opportunity to tell our stories and write for an authentic audience was like gold!  And what an amazing opportunity to learn about each other’s cultures, countries, push/pull factors, current events and more. So much learning happens in the cracks with this kind of global collaboration.  It is profound for both classes!

At first, I was not sure how to have my newcomers (some who are just gaining literacy in any language) participate with the limited amount of time we have in class or in a grading period.

Enter Noa Daniel and her fantastic idea of BOBs (Building Outside the Blocks)!  I first heard Noa on this episode of Derek Rhodenizer’s podcast. She was talking about the idea of having your class work outside the blocks of times that we are allowed in class.  WOW! Why had I not thought of this? This idea of flexibility paid off in so many ways.  Noa’s students are taking off in all different creative directions so her blog is worth checking out no matter what you teach!  For my students, the choice of projects and the choice of presentation

For my students, the choice of presentation dates, offered them a realistic way of preparing and sharing something in their new language. Noa also sent me a different project “What’s in a Name” that allowed the students a chance to research the origins of their name,  interview parents and analyze if this name suites them.  I was inspired by how many students chose to do this project even though they had already compiled enough information to present on other subjects.  This project was compelling to many of them.   
What I am seeing is that CHOICE + FLEXIBILITY = SUCCESS for my learners.  Wouldn’t this be motivating for any learner?

So now we are getting close to the end of the school year.  This time of year is so rewarding! As ESL teachers, we get to see all the growth our students have made and we are now communicating with more ease.  We start to relax as we see these learners using their skills to take ownership of their learning.

It creates a differentiation issue when we have new students arriving all the time.  My campus has received over a dozen newcomers in the past few weeks and my veteran newcomers are far beyond the beginner stage in several domains.

Thankfully, the poster is still there and the class helps the new students use it so they can start participating right away.

Thanks for your interest and for being an EL advocate!

We need more like you!


Videos and Other Resources

Hey There Fellow ELL Advocate!

Thanks to everyone who has sent requests lately for specific videos and resources to support your students.   Most of the videos I use for trainings can be found at this link: VIDEOS.  The most requested video is the one below of Gerson:

This is the one that could help you motivate your ELLs or your teachers.  This is powerful because it helps us realize what is possible.  Gerson read an hour a day and did a lot of language practice. We don’t expect all of our students to gain this much fluency in 7 months, but they should know that their rate of learning their second language has a lot to do with how much they want to work at it.  If they read more, they will be able to read more.  If they speak more, they will be able to speak more. As teachers, we just need to provide the support for them to be able to do it.

If you like that one, you probably would love to see how he is doing now (2016/17 school year).  Here is a quick 20 second update clip.  Notice he tells us that things get MUCH easier after your first year in a new country.

This sparked a shared essay about what traits Gerson has that we have.  Then some of my students sent messages to Gerson (emails and quick videos) and so there was even more authentic English being produced around this.  So great!  Thank you, Gerson!

Teachers also requested the information about the Social Contract that I have in my room.  This comes from Capturing Kids’ Hearts.  What is recommended is that you allow your students to create the norms for the classroom.  Those norms are created through lots of discussion around their responses to these 4 questions:

Social Contract Questions

  1. How do you want to be treated by others?
  2. How do you think others want to be treated by you?
  3. How do you want to be treated by the Teacher
  4. How do you think the teacher (me) is treated

I  love this strategy by the Flipin Group.  The way we do this is that we only offer ONE of these questions at a time.  Students talk it through with a partner and then with a group and then they find someone else to share their thoughts.  We throw out a few of their ideas but ask them to be more specific about things like “respect” so we can all be on the same page.  Then they offer suggestions and I start to script the norms on the board.  If EVERYONE agrees on something it goes on the social  contract.  Here are a few from my class and Joseph Maurer & Natalia Mendoza’s Algebra classes:

Last but not least, I have promised to re-post the Kahoot Printable Template for planning a Kahoot.  This image will take you to Kahoot’s dropbox where you can download a PDF of the document.  If you run into any  problems email me at and I’ll email you a copy.

This planning page is fantastic for raising the cognitive level of thinking.   Any level of language learner can do this.  Sometimes their writing is in their first language, but we can fix that up pretty quickly with Google translate as a start.  I usually ask the students to do just one question and I compile them and make the Kahoot.  But your students may be at a level where they can get online and make a kahoot on their own.  Also! Kahoot has a LOT more resources for you on their PD website.  

I’m proud to be an ambassador for Kahoot.  It is an honor to share the ways my students inspire me to use the free resource.  In fact, if you are in Austin any time March 6-9, please come to the JW Marriott one of those days at 10:00am.  I will be with the rest of the K!rew modeling ways to use Kahoot to inspire language production.  SXSWEdu is going on at that time but the Kahoot Activity Space is free to everyone so come play!

Here are a few other posts I have done on ways we use Kahoot in my classroom:

First Kahoot of the Year and a Bonus Language Experience

Kahoot with News in Levels

Day of the Dead Kahoot -Use Any Time of Year

Holidays Traditions Selfie Kahoot (AMAZING OUTCOMES)

Kahoot with Bonus Activity

For newcomer teachers, here is a quick video of how I worked with newcomers to support their English practice the day they arrived.  Many new kiddos on this day but they were having fun and happy to try to read in unison as we reviewed the social contract for my class:

Please reach out if you have any requests or questions.  Or things to share!  We are all so much better together.

Have a great day, Teaching Rock Star!  I know you’re a rock star because you are on a site looking for ways to support your language learners.

Stay Awesome.


Number Talks by Teaching Channel

I used to be so frustrated that I couldn’t do observations with other teachers as much as I’d like.  We always learn something.  The whole #ObserveMe movement is a fantastic idea, if you ask me.

So I’m thrilled when I get a chance to plug into the Teaching Channel and see a quick idea for ELLs in action.  Just like our language learners, I benefit from seeing an example!


I love this video from The Teaching Channel because these SECOND graders are speaking like scholars.  This is great for my high schoolers, for native kiddos, for everyone…for so many reasons!

Rock on Ms. Lacour!  We could apply this to any academic conversations.  I love the choral read – as she says in the video, it supports risk taking.  That’s the gold!


The global #CardboardChallenge was a huge success!  Ms. Shaver, Ms. McLaughlin & their Memorial High School scholars joined our Stratford High students and their siblings & friends.  We were inspired by the movie, Caine’s Arcade.  The movie became a movement & we see why!   We are sometimes working so hard to find academic achievement that we forget how important it is to work on creativity, problem-solving and   Self-directed learning.   Those are the things that leaders are made of! Bravo kids!!

We also got a high five from Caine! image image image image image image image image image image