BAP117 Co-Creating Text to Support Grade-Level Content Learning

Want to support grade-level content learning for newcomers?  I’ve got you!  The school year may be winding down or over in many places but this is a great time to reflect on how you might use co-created text next year with your emergent bilingual students.  Or use it as part of an effective summer school routine.

This show follows Episode 115, where I explained how to use co-created text to teach literacy and accelerate language acquisition.  In that show, I promised to do a show about how to use it to support content area learning.  You can listen to this show in your favorite podcast app or right here:

Listen to “BAP117 CoCreating Text for Grade-Level Content Learning” on Spreaker.

What is LEA?

I often share about a practice called Language Experience Approach. I try to be clear that I don’t do it exactly as it was/is intended.  I am not an LEA purist because I adapt this technique based on the kids in front of me and the reason we are doing it.  But here is more on what LEA is:

Steps to Language Experience Approach (See photo for more detailed explanation)

  1. Students have a shared experience. (ex: we are looking at a poster with the water cycle)
  2. Students have a discussion about the experience. (ex: “I notice…”)
  3. Teacher writes key words and phrases on the board.
  4. Teacher writes sentences from the key words
  5. Teacher reads the constructed writing aloud.
  6. Students use the text in various ways.

The LEA [Language Experience Approach] is as diverse in practice as its practitioners. Nonetheless, some characteristics remain consistent (Hall, 1970): Materials are learner-generated. –All communication skills–reading, writing, listening, and speaking–are integrated. –Difficulty of vocabulary and grammar are determined by the learner’s own language use. –Learning and teaching are personalized, communicative, and creative.  – Can be found at

I have written about this strategy in Ep 26 and Ep 115.  Again, I don’t carry out this technique exactly as it is explained by researchers and there are many folks who know more about it than I do.  But I DO know that some form of co-creating text *AFTER MY STUDENTS HAVE BEEN ENGAGED IN A CONVERSATION* has really helped accelerate language acquisition.

I am here today to tell you that it can also help you differentiate, it can help you be inclusive in content classrooms, and it can help all the students with grade-level learning.

Why Write?

I mention all the reasons we want writing in content areas for the average learner.  You can read about that at this post I wrote for Seidlitz Education’s blog:

Some of the research I mention on the show is from John Hattie’s Visible Learning work.  Writing can help us reflect and Hattie’s work suggests that Reflection and Evaluation have a strong effect on learning (.75 effect size).

I always mention Joseph Maurer when I talk about effective content teaching.  Joseph was a math teacher when I trained with him and he was also my own son’s Algebra teacher. We all marveled at what a skilled math teacher he was with newcomer and low socioeconomic students.  But he was also effective with gifted and grade-level learners.  In his trainings, Joseph explained that writing in Math (or any content area) is important for learners because it is basic to thinking, it promotes introspection and speculation, and it individualizes instruction (Fulwiler 1979, 1983).

I mention this math lesson where the teacher is using Seidlitz’s Seven Steps to a Language Rich, Interactive Classroom.  It shows what I mean by writing in Math being effective for thinking:

I also quote Tom Romano from his book Clearing the Way: Working with Teenage Writers.  He explains that we are not asking Math teachers to teach writing.  We are asking them to USE writing to teach Math.  That is key for effective math instruction.

Co-Creating Text Before, During, or After Instruction

This show offers ideas about co-creating text with students prior to teaching, during a lesson or after instruction.  Here are a few examples of what co-created content writing can look like:

Don’t forget to follow the incredible HS educators, Kim Thyberg (@KimberlyThyberg) for more secondary examples!

I also mentioned the amazing Aly Averitt (@AlyAveritt) as someone to follow.  She is a great Elementary teacher sharing a lot on co-creating text.

Here is the video of Ali I mentioned as a great activity we do at the end of each school year.

Here is how Gisele Belyea (@GiseleBelyea follow her too!) and her students improved on this idea using heritage language:

Also gave Alan November a shout out!  He wrote, “Who Owns the Learning.”  That is a great book that shaped how I partner with students.

Thank you for tuning in or for checking out the show notes on Ep 117.  I appreciate you so much!

Hope to see you over on Twitter (@DrCarolSalva) or Facebook (  I’d love to be connected!

Take good care,


PS:  If you missed this workshop, check out Upcoming Events to see what else we might be offering through Seidlitz Education. 

And please email me ( if we can come to your district to help you develop a plan for serving Newcomers!  One day of consulting is making a huge difference for our clients!  Reach out if you’d like to hear!



BAP103 Motivation and Engagement for SLIFE

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:

Listen to “BAP103 Motivation & Engagement for SLIFE” on Spreaker.

You may prefer to watch this show on YouTube or right here:

And you can always just read through the notes below.

In this episode, I am standing on the shoulders of Dr. Lora Beth Escalante, who wrote “Motivating ELLs,” Researchers like Daniel Pink, and also the work of Larry Ferlazzo who is a practitioner, blogger, and author of many books on the subject. In fact, I’m following 4 things recommended by Larry Ferlazzo in this article.

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.

According to Ferlazzo, these are the 4 things that help students become intrinsically motivated:

  • Relatedness

  • Relevancy

  • Competence

  • Autonomy

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?

Here is a show on creating a social contract if you feel that your classroom needs a reboot on how we treat each other.

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.

Here is another example of relevancy from Kim Thyberg on Twitter:

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.

QSSSA is also a great strategy that gives your entire class an opportunity to have a win.  See Ep 26 for more on QSSSA.


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 Ebooks  These 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  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 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.


I follow Noa Daniel and her Building Outside the Blocks philosophy has made a huge difference in my classroom.

  • 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.

Here is a video of a newcomer presenting her Personal Playlist project.  More projects with resources can be found here also check out Noa’s site.

I hope this has been helpful.  Shout out to all the teachers who are collaborating with me this year. I love all I learn with them!

Please take good care!

❤️, Carol

PS:  Here are resources including a free chapter download for DIYpd4MLs book:

Other resources I used for this show:



BAP056 The Personalized PD Landscape and Derek Rhodenizer

This episode starts as a casual chat with an innovator and by the end of the show we have insight on how an administrator can execute a personalized PD system for their staff.  Scroll down or listen at the 24:00 mark to get right to that awesomeness.

You can listen to this show in your favorite podcast app or right here:

Derek Rhodenizer returns to the show and, as usual, we did not script or plan this show in any way.  Our chat ends up offering ideas and insight on

The Personalized Professional Landscape (24:50 mark in the show)

The whole show is great for my learning but this piece was probably the most profound.  Derek explains that there is an issue with personalized PD.  Many people are doing it on their own (you are right now by reading this blog), but administrators are at a loss for how to roll out personalized PD systemically.  He was frustrated that his theme each year wasn’t something that would be meaningful to all of his staff. He started realizing that one blanket theme wasn’t even meaningful to most.  Collaborating with Stephen Hurley, they decided to figure out how to execute a truly personalized PD system last school year. And they did it!  Derek explains how he did it in this show.  He created, modeled and ran a truly personalized PD system.

Derek explains it all.  He describes how he and his teachers gathered data, how his teachers created a landscape for their own PD needs, and how they shared their personalized efforts with him through a growing slide deck and how he used that information to drive his PD opportunities for teachers throughout the year.  One of the innovative breakthroughs here is that it is all documented in a kind of digital portfolio that offers reflection for teachers and opportunity for Derek to support and direct their growth.

I can’t help but think that this is EXACTLY what we could see in classrooms to help students personalize their learning.

Another awesome thing Derek shared was this slide deck that is growing with positive stories of teaching.  He invites you to visit it but also to add yours!


Deeper Uses of Kahoot MAD PD Session

Hello PLN!

Want to get the most out of Kahoot for your ESL students?  These two PD videos will offer ideas on how to do just that.

The first video PD is from #MADPD:

The second video is at the bottom of this post.  It was from #VirtuEL17, another online conference where I repeated this session with different examples.

A Google Doc with Notes is Here

#MADPD was a short PD session streaming live on May 7th at 6pm EST.

We had some great ESL/Linguistic folks joining me in the live Youtube session.  Emily Francies (@emilyfranESL), Carlotta Holder (@carlota_holder) and Rami Amin (@RmTux) graciously agreed to be in the hangout with me so you’ll get to hear their questions and ideas added to the mix!

In these sessions, I provide a lot of ideas for using Kahoot in deeper ways.  You may have seen some of these ideas on my other blog posts but in the Youtube session we will  have more insight from the guests.  And scroll down for links to even more MADPD sessions also.  Here are a few links for our session:

Kahoot Planning Template (Paper templates for any learner to create Kahoots!)

Our Holiday Traditions Kahoot. (Our class has created a Kahoot about holidays they celebrate throughout the year in different parts of the world.)

And here is the VirtuEL17 version of this training.

You can check out all the great #VirtuEL sessions at this smore:   


Teach Kahoot! (Everything you need to offer a Kahoot PD for other educators.)

Kahoot Professional Development Resources (Getting started and everything you want to know about Kahoot!)

I love blogging for Kahoot!  Here are some of my articles that offer more tips for ESL teachers:

Kahoot Blog on Using Kahoot for ELLs – Part 1, Students Creating Kahoots

 Kahoot Blog on Using Kahoot for ELLs – Part 2, Students Creating Selfie Kahoot

Kahoot Blog on Using Kahoot  for  ELLs – Part 3, Tips and Tricks

The Kahoot I used in this session:  Deeper Uses of Kahoot

These online conferences are fantastic for self-directing our own learning.  I hope you’ll consider submitting a proposal for MADpd in 2018.

Thanks to everyone who is here to get more ideas for your ELLs.   And thanks to all of you who are sharing so that all of us are building on each other’s strengths!

Check out ALL the great #MADPD sessions:.  There are over 60 teacher presenters from around the world who put out quick PD sessions on May 7th for you to see.  And they will be there whenever you have time to watch what has made a difference in our teaching.


See you next time,

Carol Salva

Find me on twitter: @MsSalvaC

Do you want more PD on ESL teaching strategies?  Please email me at carolsalva1@gmail.

I’m happy to bring Seidlitz Education training to your district.  And LOOK! Our new book on reaching under-schooled students is now out and available for purchase!  The training around it is also great.